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100% Whole Wheat Hearth Bread

While I predominately make french breads from King Arthur Unbleached All Purpose Flour, sometimes you want something a little heartier (and healthier). Using the 100% Whole Wheat Hearth Bread recipe from Peter Reinhart’s “artisan breads every day,”* the personal boules were pretty tasty.

Whole wheat boule

whole wheat boule

* I mention this book a lot since it contains simple and satisfying recipes. There are better recipes out there, including Reinhart’s other books, but “artisan breads every day” is nice for lazier home bread bakers – which I definitely am, especially during weekdays.

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Best Cutting Board

Best wood cutting board

I had spent a few weeks last year researching cutting boards, relying heavily on Cook’s Illustrated reviews, Amazon reviews, and comparing the available boards at Sur La Table and other food shops. Based on the information at hand, I purchased a John Boos cutting board.

Unfortunately, I had missed a crucial piece of information – food and cooking Internet forums, and more importantly knife Internet forums. I was misguided in believing that the popular, mainstream kitchen equipment was indeed the best. On the Internet forums, one board maker stood out – The BoardSMITH.

Now that I have one of his boards, it is the best cutting board. The selection of wood, the craftsmanship, and the artistry exceeds other wood cutting boards on the market. I only wish that I had found these boards sooner.

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Personal Boules with Lodge Combo Cooker

I love bread, but for weekdays I just don’t have time. I’ve adapted Peter Reinhart’s classic french bread recipe from his “artisan breads every day book” with good success.

I have made some variations:

  1. Use a Lodge Combo Cooker to create a steam rich baking environment.
  2. Add diastatic malt powder to enable the yeast
  3. Fold the dough for added structure. This is an optional step in “artisan breads every day.”
  4. Halved the original recipe and adjusted yeast and water a smidgen.

Because the bread cold ferments over night, there is minimal effort. In addition, the 67% hydration makes the bread easy to work with. For me, the most difficult part of this recipe is finding the final 2 hours to bake – 1.5 hours for final rise and 30 minutes for baking.

Personal Boule

Hardware required:

  • Lodge combo cooker.
  • digital scale. If you don’t have one, buy one. Making bread with volume measurements (ex. cups) is rough.
  • 2 mixing bowls. Can probably get away with one bowl, but I find two cleaner to use.
  • curved or rubber scraper. For cleaning the bowl after hand mixing, and for stretching/folding the dough.
  • flat or bench scraper. For separating the dough, and then cleaning the work surface.
  • wicker proofing basket. You can bench proof too, but I prefer the basket.
  • baker’s blade / lame. A serrated knife will also work for scoring..
  • a peel to transfer the dough to the combo cooker.

Recipe for 2 personal size boules


  • 340 grams of unbleached King Arther all purpose flour (the famous red bag)
  • 7 grams of salt
  • 4 grams of instant yeast
  • 5 grams of malt powder
  • 228 grams of warm water (95 degrees F)

Advance (30 minutes total, 15 minutes active):

  1. Combine all dry ingredients in a bowl.
  2. Add warm water and mix by hand.
  3. Mix until dough comes together and there are no dry clumps. The dough should still be shaggy at this point.
  4. Cover in plastic and let rest for 10 minutes.
  5. With your hands or a rubber scraper, stretch and fold the dough* while in the bowl.
  6. Transfer the dough to an oiled bowl** and cover with plastic wrap.
  7. Store in fridge at least overnight.

Baking Day (2 hours total, 15 minutes active):

  1. Take the dough out of the fridge.
  2. Slightly dust the top of the dough in the bowl and dust the work surface.***
  3. Transfer the dough to the work surface so that the floured dough rests against the floured surface.
  4. Degas the dough by lifting underneath the dough and stretching it slightly and making it larger in diameter.
  5. Cut the dough in half. You can make both immediately, or simply bake one and return the other 1/2 to the fridge (folding to a round beforehand)
  6. With the dough you plan on baking, form a boule and dust the top lightly with flour.
  7. If you have a proofing basket, dust it with flour, and place the dough so seam side is up. Cover with plastic wrap. ****
  8. You’ll want the final rise to be 1.5 hours or when the dough has risen 1.5x the original size.
  9. 45 minutes before baking time, place the combo cooker in the oven and set to 500 degrees.
  10. After the final rise, carefully invert the proofing basket onto a peel.
  11. Score the dough.
  12. Take out the combo cooker, and place the dough in the shallow pan. Cover with the deeper pot and return to the oven.
  13. Lower the over to 450 degrees.
  14. Bake for 20 minutes.
  15. Uncover the combo cooker, and bake for 10 more minutes.
  16. After 30 minutes of total baking, take the bread out of the oven and rest a wire rack. Internal temp should be 210 degrees F.

*Grab the end closest to you, stretch it over the top. Grab the end furthest from you, stretch it back over the top. Grap the right end, stretch it over the top to the left. And finally, grab the left end, stretch it over the top to the right. This is one fold. Once complete, flip the dough over so seam side is down.

**Spray oil or rub the bowl with a little oil, either works.

***I’ve been using a pizza peel lately. Nice working surface, plus I use it to transfer the risen dough to the combo cooker.

****If you don’t have a proofing basket, cover with the dough with plastic wrap or an inverter bowl.

Personal Boule

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IKEA Cinnamon Buns

Say what you must about IKEA’s furniture – well designed furniture for the masses or disposable consumerism package products made in China – their cinnamon buns are good eats.

And at $4 USD per 6-pack, it’s a bargain as well.

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Palm Sugar in Kanom Chan

In an attempt for authenticity, I made two kanom chans today.  The first is my standard kanom chan recipe.  The second was with palm sugar instead of refined white sugar.

Because palm sugar is less sweet than white sugar, I changed the recipe to include 1 cup of palm sugar.

The result was surprising (at least to me).   Even with 1 cup palm sugar vs 3/4 cup palm sugar, the sugar syrup was less sweet.  This was expected.  What I didn’t expect was the intensity of the caramel flavor of the palm sugar after cooking.

The biggest surprise was that I preferred the white sugar version. The palm sugar and coconut flavor was hedonistic – slightly custardy is taste, but it reminded me of another Thai dessert.

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Kanom Chan recipe

I have over 10 Thai cookbooks from the 70’s to 00’s, and surprisingly no Kanom Chan recipes.

The range of recipes on the Internet is quite daunting. Different flours, different ratios, different cooking times, etc. The basic recipe appears to be a mix of two different liquids and two types of flour.

The liquids are always coconut milk and water infused with a flower (jasmine or rose). The first flour is always rice flour, not glutinous rice flour. The second flour is often tapioca flour (also known as cassava flour).

Given the variety, I knew it would be a lot of time in the kitchen. Based on my biases and availability of product, I selected a UK kanom chan recipe as my base line.

Over the course of the week, I produced 5 kanom chan. First following the recipe explicitly, second reducing the liquid amount, third adjusting the sugar content, and lastly playing with different flavorings and cooking times.

My Kanom Chan Recipe


  • 1/2 Cup Tapioca Starch/Flour
  • 1/4 Cup Rice Flour
  • 1 Tablespoon Arrowroot Starch/Flour
  • 3/4 Cup Sugar*
  • 1/2 Cup Water, infused with Jasmine **
  • 1 Teaspoon Concentrated Pandanus Juice***
  • 1/2 Cup Coconut Milk


  1. Add 1 Tablespoon of water to Arrowroot Starch to create a slurry. Avoiding this step resulted in Arrowroot clumps.
  2. Combine flower water and sugar, and heat till sugar is completely dissolved.
  3. Sift Tapioca Starch and Rice Flour together.
  4. Mix Arrowroot Starch, coconut milk, and sugar water into the flours.
  5. Divide the batter into two equal parts – should yield two cups total. To half of the batter, add the pandanus flavor.
  6. Steam a tray in boiling water.
  7. Add coconut only flavored batter to cover the bottom of the tray. Cook for 10-15 minutes until done (no visible liquid on the surface).
  8. Add pandanus flavored batter to cover the bottom. Cook for 10-15 minutes until done.
  9. Repeat Steps 7 and 8 until no batter remains.

* The original recipe called for 1 cup of sugar, but it was just too sugary sweet. Interestingly, after reducing the sugar content to 3/4 cup, I read an article on palm oil and palm sugar. In the article, Kasma Loha-unchit uses palm sugar for her Thai desserts. As a side note, sugar in Thailand is less sweet than in the US. So straight conversions of recipes will not work.

** To make, infuse Jasmine in water overnight. However, I omitted this step entirely and just used plain water.

*** This will depend greatly on your pandanus concentrate. Some are quite intense, and the original tablespoon requirement is too much. Add a little to the batter and taste. The flavor will be more intense when cooked.

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Kanom Chan

Growing up, kanom chan was only one of two desserts that my older brother would eat. The sweet pandan flavor offered a familiar floral vanilla flavor that resonated well with our Americanized taste buds.

In our last trip to Thailand in December, we comb the markets of Bangkok and tasted kanom chan from as many vendors as possible. The best was delicate but not sticky. The layers were of alternating colors and easily separated for playful eating. The taste of pandan was pronounced yet not overpowering.

So that our friends in the US could enjoy the taste, we hand carried a few samples back (along with 70lbs of other thai treats). But now that they are long gone, what are we to do?

Thanks to the Internet, there are many many options. A search on Yahoo! yields 12,500 results. Google brings back 11,500 hits. Well, that’s actually too many options. Looks like I’ll be spending the next week making a lot of kanom chan. Will report back with the success and failures.

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