Yeast Water Wheel Buns, Cold Oven Method
Yeast water + Water wheel + Buns = Yeast water wheel buns
Get it? Got it? Good.
“Wait, hold on, what’s yeast water?”
Oh, right, I should explain that. Well, yeast water is exactly what you think it is. It’s the cultivation of wild yeast in a liquid medium, usually unchlorinated water. What I did was, I poured a cup (250 ml) of water into a plastic container, stirred in a tablespoon (15 ml) of honey and loose tea leaves (pieces of fruits are also acceptable), incubated it at above room temperature, and shook it up at regular intervals. After two weeks of this—voila, yeast water!
Not only did this experiment entailed my first bake with yeast water, but it also investigated the effects of cinnamon on dough and yeast when used in small quantities. Various sources claim that a negligible amount of cinnamon can accelerate yeast growth. Beyond a certain point, however, cinnamon becomes inhibitory and sharply decreases the rate at which the yeast multiplies.
Nevertheless, I was a lil’ bewildered by my results.
(This post has been submitted to YeastSpotting.)
The primary objectives for the yeast water wheel buns were the following:
Adapted from the blog Koubo, the following adjustments were made to the original recipe:
Additionally, if available, I’ve listed brand names of the food products I used in the tables below. Disclaimer: This isn’t an endorsement. I’m simply indicating the names of branded products used in my baking experiment.
Yield: 12 yeast water wheel buns
Total Prep Time: N/A
Total Bake Time: 35 + 35 minutes
|Pre-Ferment: Yeast Water Starter|
|All-purpose flour / Plain flour, Unbleached, Enriched, Chilled||264 g||Gold Medal|
|Yeast water||190 g||N/A|
|All-purpose flour / Plain flour, Unbleached, Enriched, Chilled||474 g||Gold Medal|
|Palm sugar||20 g||Palma|
|Roasted sea salt||11 g||Hakata Noshio|
|Unsalted butter, Room temp.||75 g||Westgold|
|Mineral water, Room temp.||195 g||Mineré|
|Whole milk / Full cream milk, Chilled||60 g||Dutch Mill|
|Chicken eggs, Yolk, Room temp.||39 g||CP|
|Ground cinnamon||< 1 g||McCormick|
|Glaze: Egg Wash|
|Chicken egg, Yolk, Room temp.||N/A||CP|
|White sesame seeds||N/A||N/A|
|Tap water, Room temp.||N/A||N/A|
|Extra virgin olive oil||N/A||Campagna|
|Countertop convection oven, Refrigerator, Digital scale, Plastic bin, Sheet pan, Bowls, Mixing bowls, Strainer, Chinese chef’s knife, Spatulas, Spoons, Pastry brush, Pump sprayer, Oven mitten, Wire rack, Cutting boards, Parchment paper, Plastic bags|
Warning: Do not attempt my “recipe” (i.e., experiment) without considering the following; variations in room temperature, humidity, altitude, food products, kitchen utensils and equipment, techniques and methods, amongst other factors, will influence the outcome of your baked goods.
Before I began, I measured, prepared, and organized my ingredients and kitchen equipment. This includes:
- preparing the yeast water by pouring one cup (250 ml) of water into a container, stirring in a tablespoon (15 ml) of honey and loose tea leaves, and incubating it at above room temperature for over two weeks
- cutting sheets of parchment paper
Step 1: In preparation of the pre-ferment, I assembled the all-purpose flour, yeast water, and plastic container.
Step 2: After pouring the flour and yeast water into the container, I attempted to mix the ingredients with a spoon.
Yielding to my overgrowing frustration, I muttered “whatever”, plunged my hands into the container, pulled out the underdeveloped dough, and hand-mixed it in midair.
Step 3: Once hand-mixed to my satisfaction, I placed the yeast water starter back onto the bottom of the container. Thereafter, the starter was rested at above room temperature for approx. thirteen hours.
Step 4: My first set of dirty kitchen equipment to clean. Thankfully, it’s not much.
Step 5: Thirteen hours had passed and the starter had nearly tripled in volume.
Note: The elastic band indicates the original volume of the starter.
Step 6: Gathering the dry ingredients of the final dough, I fetched the all-purpose flour, salt, and palm sugar, along with a mixing bowl and strainer.
Step 7: Sifting the said dry ingredients into the mixing bowl, I whisked the ingredients until they were well blended.
*Insert profane expletives here.*
It had just occurred to me that the salt was to be added later.
Step 8: Never mind the salt. We must march onward!
Next, I fetched the soften butter and rubbed it into the mixture until it resembled fine bread crumbs (above).
Step 9: Shortly afterwards, the wet ingredients were retrieved: mineral water, whole milk, egg yolks, and yeast water starter.
Step 10: In this exact order, I poured the water, yolks, and milk into the mixing bowl, then grabbed and chucked pieces of the starter into the mixing bowl. Subsequent to that, I used my hands and a plastic spatula to mix the ingredients.
Fairly stiff, tacky, and casting different shades of yellow, the dough was then left to rest for thirty minutes (in a plastic bag) for purposes of proper hydration and gluten development.
Step 11: After thirty minutes had elapsed, the dough was pried onto a cutting board and divided into halves (631 g), where each half was placed onto their own cutting board.
Following that, I sprinkled less than a gram of cinnamon over a dough (above), then implemented the French kneading method for five minutes. After that, I covered the dough with a plastic bin and proceeded to knead the other dough, switching back and forth every five minutes.
All in all, each dough was kneaded for a total of twenty minutes upon reaching medium-high gluten development.
Note: I didn’t break sweat. Rather, it felt as if my back had released a sea of perspiration.
Step 12: Once each dough was kneaded for a total of twenty minutes, I applied a thin coating of extra virgin olive oil on two separate bowls, pre-shaped each dough into a ball, transferred each dough into an oiled bowl, inserted each bowl of dough into a tented plastic bag, then bulk fermented (i.e., rested) the dough for three hours at above room temperature.
Step 13: After three hours had elapsed, the dough ballooned into a glossy yellow orb.
Step 14: Dividing one of the two dough into smaller portions (ranging from 100 to 104 g), I attempted to round the portions using a new technique demonstrated in this video. However, I found it too awkward shaping the dough with my palm, stopped, then tediously folded and rounded each portioned dough.
*Five minutes later.*
“Alright, I gotta do this again.”
With the remaining dough (not containing the cinnamon), I divided it into smaller portions similar to the first dough, then implemented the aforementioned technique.
HOORAY!!! I did it! And it was spectacular! Feeling the dough tightening beneath my palm was truly fascinating.
Step 15: Thereafter, with the blade of my Chinese chef’s knife, each ball of dough was compressed with modest pressure and cut five times along the rim. Once completed, three balls each of the spiced and non-spiced dough were transferred onto two separate sheets of parchment paper, then sprinkled with seeds.
The poppy seeds indicated that the dough contained cinnamon, whereas the white sesame seeds indicated that the dough contained no spice whatsoever.
Step 16: Promptly, one set of the dough was chilled in the refrigerator, while the other set was covered with a plastic bin and proofed (i.e., rested) for one hour at above room temperature.
Note: Above is a photo of a set of dough proofed for an hour.
Step 17: Once the dough was proofed for an hour, I set the oven to 150°C / 302°F, transferred the parchment paper (where the dough laid upon) onto a non-heated baking tray, slid the baking tray into the middle slot of the oven, then baked the dough for fifteen continuous minutes.
Subsequent to that, the dough was baked at 220°C / 428°F for a total of twenty minutes, rotating the baking tray at intervals of five minutes.
Note: The heating procedure described above is known as the “cold oven method”—another technique I haven’t used until recently.
Step 18: Dark brown yet lustrous, the buns were removed from the oven and cooled on a wire rack.
Note: The dimness of my room exaggerated the darkness of the buns.
Step 19: Heigh-ho, heigh-ho, it’s off to wash I go!
Above, the left crumb does not contain cinnamon, whereas the right crumb is spiced with cinnamon.
Within an hour after being baked, the crust of the bun was fairly firm (producing an oily sensation on the glazed area), whereas the crumb was faintly moist to the touch and somewhat soft. In regards to taste, slight savouriness and sweetness was perceived, sometimes punctuated with a bitter taste originating from the upper crust. Lastly, a burnt eggy odour was detected when the bun was in near proximity of the nose.
After an hour of being baked, characteristics of the bun remained largely unchanged, with the following exception: the crumb was slightly less moist and firmer, thus elevating the chewiness.
After twelve hours of being baked, characteristics of the bun remained largely unchanged, with the following exceptions: 1) the crust was slightly softer; 2) the crumb was dryer and firmer, increasing the sensation of a dry mouthfeel, as well as chewiness to the point of discomfort.
Note: The yeast water wheel buns were stored at above room temperature.
Prior to the bake, I had hypothesized that a small addition of cinnamon would increase yeast activity, leading to a more open crumb. This was what I observed in my experiment: the buns containing cinnamon was slightly more porous, with larger holes. However, it later occurred to me that this could be influenced by how I handled the dough, specifically the stage when I compressed each ball of dough.
Is it possible that I applied less pressure to the dough containing cinnamon than the dough containing no cinnamon? Mayhaps…
Anyway, if I were to bake these yeast water wheel buns again, I’d reduce the baking duration and use a “softer” flour. The crust was simply too thick and burnt, and the crumb was overly dense—but perhaps fitting for juicy burger patties.
Thanks for dropping by. Farewell for now and happy baking. :D