Monthly Archives: January 2016

Preferment and how to take care of your seed

The last time we left off , we were around mixing the ‘ mother starter’ or we can call this ‘preferment’ stage . That previous entry was all about the ‘seed’ , without the seed we won’t be able to create a mother starter to make the bread .

So how did the mother starter / preferment looks like ? Well after leaving it on the counter for few hours . probably around 4 hours . This really depends on the temperature in your house , mine was at 68 F , warmer and it will double quicker for you . Remember i have 2 batches of the seed , from those 2 seeds , i tried 2 mother starters .

This one using the recipe from Peter Reinhart’s book , according to him , using bread flour . It rose really nicely .



The second batch was from MaryAnn’s recipe ( from Jaklamas Farm , , using regular all purpose flour preferment2

The first one rose significantly , the second one rose just enough by the time i took this picture . But i ended up using both of them with great result !

So what do we do with the rest of the seed ? Well i put them all in the fridge , Ben and Jerry , that’s what i call those 2 seeds in different bowls .

After almost a week in the fridge , i took them out to feed them . I haven’t fed them since Monday , so last night was day 5 since the last feeding , i believe you can do this once a week or if you use them often , you might need to feed them often and can leave them on the counter . I don’t need them often , so i left them in the fridge since i had enough preferment for me to make the bread anyway .

So i took them out , they look good , not as bubbly as the first time i put them in , but i let it sit on the counter while i mixed up their ‘food’ which i use equal amount of flour and water as the seed . So if i had 80 grams of seed , i fed them with 80 grams of flour and 80 grams of water . The flour and water has to be the same amount of the seed , because these seed ” ben and jerry ‘ will need to eat those flour and water in order to grow . And if there’s not enough food for the crowd , they won’t grow ( bubbles ) , which make sense anyway . Put it this way , if you have 2 babies , but you feed them with food for just 1 baby , the babies won’t grow and won’t be happy because they don’t have enough food . So 1:1:1 seed :flour:water

This is how they looked right after i took it out from the fridge , last feeding was 5 days ago , and right after i mixed up with the food .

ben and jerry1

They actually looked pretty good right after from the fridge before feeding , I had just stirred Ben so it didn’t look so bubbly , but before that it was as bubbly as Jerry . Then i fed them .

This picture below right here , took 2 hours right after the feeding , they’re already quite happy and bubbly. So they’re doing good , this morning they look even better . I didn’t check overnight , all i know they look good in the morning .

ben and jerry2

Also , usually during feeding , you will be instructed to discard some of them and just to keep certain amount , unless you want to end up with lot more seed !! In that case , since i hate throwing away food , i didn’t throw them away , i used half of the seed to make sourdough pancake just like i did before .

So now that your seed is happy again , either use it to make more preferment , which i just did this morning , or you can store it in the fridge . Always feed them before you store it in the fridge though .

Sourdough Pancakes/Waffles

How did i end up with sourdough pancake ?

Well .. my mother taught me never waste any food .. after trying to grow the seed for sourdough , i was really thinking that it’s such a waste discarding perfectly growing seed . The smells was already wonderful , with bubbles , so i knew i was on the right track . So at the end of day 5 of growing seed for sourdough , i was supposed to discard half of it , and fed the remaining half with flour water mixture . I thought .. i am sure you can do something with this leftover instead of discarding it .

Looked around and i found recipe for sourdough pancake ! And all i had to do just mixed the seed , with flour , sugar , water and buttermilk . Letting it sit overnight and add eggs , vanilla , more sugar if you think you need to , i did ! And oil .

After letting it sit overnight on room temperature , in the morning i was surprised , they’re fluffed up , doubled in size

sourdough pancake3

So here’s the recipe :

Make this to sit overnight on your counter :

1 cup of the seed  ( from growing seed starter entry )

2 cups of all purpose flour

4 tbsp.  of sugar

2 cups of buttermilk

Mix and let it sit overnight .In the morning , add in :

2 beaten eggs

1/4 cup of vegetable oil

1 tsp. baking soda

pinch of salt

Add the eggs and vegetable oil into the buttermilk mixture , then add in the baking soda and salt . Stir well and cook your pancake on the skillet / griddle .

sourdough pancakes1

sourdough pancake2

Growing Seed for Sourdough

A while back ago , i bought Peter Reinhart’s bread book , it has how to step by step to grow seed for sourdough starter . I was always tempted to try it , but at the time i thought such a hassle to make the seed culture .

What is actually seed culture anyway ? Well , it is a mix between flour and water and when you let it sit for a day in room temperature , ideally about 70-80 F , it will eventually grow into seed , where you will turn this seed when it’s totally developed into a mother starter , which basically yeast to make your bread dough .

So , years later i still wasn’t tempted to make the seed , though my journey with bread baking has been awesome , i’ve learned a lot , from someone who didn’t even know how to cook or bake , now i think i can say that i am a good bread baker . I don’t need a machine to help me making bread , in fact i don’t care for bread machine , how about standing mixer ? It’s always nice , but nowadays i always opt to use my own hand to knead my dough . There’s special feeling about the correct stickiness about the dough , where with the machine , you run a risk adding too much flour and therefore you end up with drier bread .

Anyway let’s get back to seed for sourdough . I don’t know what got me into this , i am always up for trying something new , not that commercial yeast is bad , no not at all .. they give me a good flavor bread , and i have no problem with them . But .. i wanted to take my bread baking to the next level , and that’s how i ended up , let’s do this .

So , ironically i did not follow Peter Reinhart’s recipe to grow the seed , i followed this . During the first day , i mix the water and rye flour and all purpose flour . This is how it looked like on 1st day , right after i mixed it


Letting it sit for a day , the next morning i had no clue what i was getting myself into . I woke up , happily i saw the mixture has bubbles on top , as i opened the lid / wrap ..well i almost died .. to put it mildly , unpleasant odor is such an understatement , when waking up at 6 in the morning , and you’re pretty much welcomed with smell so horrendous , it smelled like baby’s barf ! Yuck ..

This is Day 2 in the morning before feeding


Patiently , i discarded half and mixed another rye , all purpose flour and water , to feed the bacteria ( that is what i am trying to grow ) . The bad smell was from the bad bacteria which eventually will be beaten by the good bacteria ( the good smelling .. alcohol smell .. ) Covered it back up and let it sit in warmer area . Speaking about warm area , my house indoor temp during winter is 68 F , we live in Texas btw , so it doesn’t get very cold here , i still put it in the oven with light on because we do like temperature cooler in the house . We don’t always turn the heater on too when it gets down to 30’s and 40’s at night . So we thought oven with light on was a good place for them to grow .

Day 2 evening feeding , i had to feed it every 12 hours now . This is how it looked like on day 2 before feeding ( discard half , and feed with flour and water everytime )


Does have bubbles , the smell was still bad , NOT as bad , but still bad .. LOL .. i started to think maybe i shouldn’t do this . Between me dyeing yarn with the smell of acid / vinegar , then the smell of baby barf from growing bacteria and having cinnamon candle on .. i was really hoping that we won’t have any company for the next few days LOL .. Still fed it , rye ,all purpose and water .

The next morning , day 3 , this is how it looked like from the side , all tiny bubbles everywhere


From the top , there wasn’t much difference than the night before so i wasn’t sure but after seeing the side , i was feeling positive ..


And the smell was much much better , still not the greatest but much much tolerable !! I fed it again , this time only with white flour and water , i cut the water down a little bit . I still fed it 2 times per day , every 12 hours .

This is Day 5 , the smell was like yeast bread !! There’s no bad smell whatsoever , i had a smile on my face !! I was happy and i knew my seed is growing on the right track . I fed it again every 12 hours . At this time , they doubled in size within 8 hours or less .



Day 6 was this morning , and my seed is looking really good . Since Day 5 i was really thinking what a waste that you had to discard almost half of it , and just used the other half and feeding it . But there’s a good reason for it , because you want to feed the bacteria with enough food .. that’s why you have to discard half of it . But last night , instead of throwing it away , the part that was supposed to be discarded , i put it in a bowl and turned it into sourdough pancake ( another entry coming up ! )

So , i fed it anyway .. though it looked really good already and smells so delicious


You really do need patience .. as with everything patience is a virtue ! You’re pretty much rewarded with a healthy happy seed , after taking care of it for almost a week .

After feeding it this morning at 7 am , i took my son to school bus and i went running . I came home about 8.30 , and my seed has ALREADY doubled in size !! It’s not even 3 hours .. it’s basically 2 hours and they’re doubled already , so i thought  GOOD , it’s time to create the Preferment , or as Peter Reinhart calls it Mother Starter .

Since i have enough seed to experiment , i tried recipe from this lady on bread baking i belong to , hers using regular all purpose flour , i mixed little bit of the seed , with all purpose flour and water . Here’s hers

mother starter1


The second bowl , i used Peter Reinhart’s recipe for mother starter , using bread flour and water .

mother start2er2

Now my job is waiting for these preferments / mother starters to grow , double in size . Once it’s done doubling in size within 4-8 hours or more , i can use it or store it in the fridge up to 3 -5 days i believe . And according to Reinhart’s book , if i haven’t used it for 5 days i can always revive it . Now what do i do with the seed ? I have 2 containers with seed still .. so after doubling in size within 2 hours , i put them in the fridge , i am sure i can revive them too if i needed to .

I will update with how the 2 mother starters are doing ..

Tres Leches Cake

Never heard of tres leches cake when we were back in Indiana . When we moved to Texas , our friend said tres leches was her favorite , so on her birthday , we had tres leches cake , but it didn’t do any good impression to me because to me the cake was overly sweet . It was just an okay cake , put it this way , i wouldn’t spend $25 for cake like that . It was .. yes .. store bought .

Fast forward , my mother in law came to visit over this past holiday , i was too busy to make dessert , so i ended up picking up this tres leches cake from grocery store . It was just a small cake , my son loved it , everyone loved it . The cake was so moist but to me .. again .. it was too sweet . I wouldn’t be able to eat more than 1 small slice nor that i wanted to .

So , then , this past time we went to Mexican restaurant , my son asked if he could have Tres Leches cake for dessert . This time it was really good and i liked it , we all liked the cake . It wasn’t overly sweet and was just perfect . I decided to try to make the cake the next day , turned out pretty well after a few adjustment . I think next time i will cut down the amount of sugar in the whipped cream and also the condensed milk to the milk mixture as well .


Cake :

1 stick of unsalted butter , room temperature

slightly under 1 cup of sugar

5 eggs

1 tsp. of vanilla extract

1 1/2 cup of all purpose flour

1 tsp. of baking powder

pinch of salt

  1. Beat the butter with sugar until light and fluffy . Add in the egg one at a time , and the vanilla extract until well combined .
  2. Add the flour and baking powder and salt mixture a little at a time into the egg butter mixture .
  3. Bake at 350 F , on 9×13 inch greased pan . About 30-40 minutes , or until it’s done , depending on your oven . Let it cool and poke with fork all over .

The Milk mixture :

2 cups of reduced fat milk , or you can replace it with half and half , i don’t use whole milk , i used 1% milk

little less than the whole can of condensed milk

a whole can of the evaporated milk

Mix the milk and then pour over the cake , all of the milk mixture needs to be poured into the cake , the cake will absorb it .

Optional :

1 1/2 cup of whipped cream

1/2 cup of sugar or none

Beat the cream and sugar until stiff . Spread all over the top and refrigerate the cake overnight .