1 Hour Hamburger Buns (or dinner rolls)

This recipe came about when we were in week 3 of the stay at home order due to CoVid19. My son wanted hamburgers and fries but my husband doesn’t want us to go out at all. We do not have hamburger buns and I had been reading that bread is almost always out of stock all over our town’s grocery store.

Lucky I know how to make bread. So I decided to make hamburger and fries from scratch…the bread, the patties, and the fries. I added additional yeast to make the dough rise faster as it was already late in the afternoon. The bread worked out really good so here I am sharing it with you. I promise it will be easy and fast to make these burger buns and that they taste great! A lot of work to make everything from scratch yes, but I feel truly blessed to be able to make it.

Now, with the COVID cases on the up swing again, AND 4th of July, I will probably make this today for our little BBQ, so we can stay home and try to avoid going out.

Happy 4th of July everyone! Stay safe!

2 tablespoons instant dry yeast

1 cup plus 2 tablespoons warm water

1/3 cup vegetable oil

1/4 cup sugar

1 large egg

1 teaspoon salt

3-1/2 cups all-purpose flour

Water, for brushing

Sesame for topping

  • In a large bowl, mix yeast and warm water. Add oil and sugar. Mix well. Add the egg, salt and enough flour to form a soft dough.
  • Turn onto a floured surface; knead until smooth and elastic, about 3-5 minutes. Do not let rise.
  • Divide into 9 pieces; shape each into a ball. Place 3 inches apart on parchment lined baking sheets. Brush tops with water and sprinkle with sesame seeds.
  • Cover and let rest for 30 – 40 minutes, until doubled. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 425F. Bake buns for 8-12 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from pans to wire racks to cool.

Thermomix directions:

1. Place yeast and water in the mixing bowl. Set to 2 minutes/37F/speed 2.

2. Add the oil, sugar, egg, salt, and flour. Set to 2minutes/Knead.

3. Divide into 9 pieces; shape each into a ball. Place 3 inches apart on parchment lined baking sheets. Brush tops with water and sprinkle with sesame seeds.

4. Cover and let rest for 30 – 40 minutes. Bake at 425° for 8-12 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from pans to wire racks to cool.

This recipe can also be used to make dinner rolls. Divide dough into 24 pieces, shape and let rise until doubled. Bake until golden brown.

Electric Lunchbox #24: Chocolate Chip Bread Pudding

I have been craving a lot of desserts lately and kept testing them out in the Itaki. I think I am not the only one that can devour a dessert meant for several people all by myself. This is where the Itaki comes in handy. Portion Control! Or so I’d like to think, as the desserts I make tend to be enough for 2-3 servings but I still am likely to eat it all, specially the not-too-bad failures during the recipe development and testing phase.

So Itaki bread pudding was made! I added chocolate chips because I had some, but you could add anything you like to have in a bread pudding. Or even omit it completely for a plain version. I added instructions for a cinnamon raisin one below.

Although I miss the golden brown, crispy edges of the baked version, I think this is a pretty good substitute for when you just want a small serving of bread pudding quick and without heating up the oven. I might try using my torch if i have left overs next time.

Serve warm, or cold, as is, or garnished with whipped cream, or go all out and add a scoop of ice cream. Whatever makes you happy! I know I am surely going to be in a good mood after I have my dessert! 😊

*NOTE that this recipe uses regular sized measuring cups, NOT the tiny Itaki cup*

1 egg

1/2 cup milk

2 tablespoons sugar

1/4 teaspoon vanilla

Pinch of salt

1 tablespoon melted butter

100 grams (3-4 slices) bread, cut into 1 inch cubes or smaller

1/3 cup chocolate chips

3 Itaki cups water for the base, about 50 minutes

Beat egg in the bottom Itaki bowl (or the medium Itaki Jumbo bowl if you are cooking a full meal). Add milk, sugar, vanilla, salt, and butter. Mix well.

Add the bread and stir until all cubes are coated with the milk mixture. Let it absorb for a few minutes. Add chocolate chips and stir again. There should be just a little liquid left in the bottom of the bowl.

Cover with foil and place in the base. Add 3 cups water to the base. Cover and let steam until it shuts off, about 50 minutes.

Carefully remove from the lunchbox and let cool. You can serve this warm or cold.


Cinnamon Raisin: replace the chocolate chips with raisins. Add 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon with the sugar.

Peanut Butter Jelly: replace chocolate chips with peanut butter chips. Serve with a side or drizzle of grape jelly.

Follow me for more recipes for the Itaki!

See Itaki’s offerings here! https://www.itakico.com/theresa

24 hour Pizza crust

Happy birthday to my son! Time flies by so fast he is 11 already! Pizza is one of his favorite food (well, aside from mac and cheese and Korean chicken) so I will feature a time consuming but very delicious pizza crust recipe today.

I make pizza for lunch or dinner at least twice a month, so I have been able to try different recipes and tweak them to my family’s tastes. This is Vito Iacopelli’s recipe. He is a professional pizza guy, a pizzaiolo, I saw on youtube who was sharing how to make pizza dough for home use. I scaled down his recipe to make 2 big 14-inch pizzas or 3 smaller 12 inch ones. This is usually enough for my little family of 3 with leftovers for another meal.

I tried baking this crust with the Breville Pizzaiolo, the Napoli wood fire pizza oven, and the Mont Alpi pizza oven (which I modified by adding a thick layer of refractive cement on the interior). Although the Breville gave the best result the easiest way (plug in, dial the temp and that’s it!), I kept the modified Mont Alpi as the Breville is a HUGE, single use appliance that I can not store easily. The Napoli cannot keep the wood burning properly, but I think if I buy the gas attachment it would be easier to use and keep a constant temperature. The Mont Alpi is an outdoor appliance so I just leave it in our outdoor barbeque area.

It takes a day to make this so plan ahead. You could also place it in the refrigerator for the 6-8 hour rest and use it with in 2 days. It is worth it though as the crust is really delicious and perfect for any topping you’d like to put on it!


333 grams water

1.7 grams yeast

3.3 grams honey

8.3 grams salt

16.7 grams olive oil

500 grams 00 flour or all purpose flour

Place water and yeast in a bowl. Mix. Add honey and mix well. Add 350 grams flour and mix well for a couple of minutes. Cover with a dishcloth. Leave for about 1 hour.

Add the rest of the flour, salt, and olive oil. Form into a ball and knead for about 5 minutes. Shape into a ball. Place in a greased bowl, turn dough over, cover with plastic wrap and let rise 1 hour.

Form into 2 balls and place in a floured pan. Flour tops and cover with plastic wrap that has been sprayed with non stick spray, then cover with a dish cloth. Let rest 6-8 hours.

Remove covers and drop in a bowl of flour. Take dough out and shape into circle, 14 inches in diameter. Place in a pizza pan or peel and repeat with the other half.

Brush olive oil on edges. Spread some tomato/pizza sauce on top, bake in 500F oven for 5 minutes. Top with desired toppings (mozzarella and pepperoni are my family’s favorites) and bake 10-15 minutes more.


Lotus Leaf Bread/Mantou (cua pao/gua pao buns/he ye bao)

So yummy!

Today I’ll teach you how to make Lotus Leaf/Mantou buns. This is the white steamed bread bun that looks like a half moon, usually seen in Chinese restaurants.

These buns are a traditional Chinese accompaniment to dishes such pork or roast duck. Gua Bao, famous in Taiwan, is one style which uses pork belly. A lotus leaf bun by itself is called a “he ye bing” but with filings is called a “he ye bao”. They are found all across China, Singapore, Taiwan, and Hong kong.

I always use my Thermomix to make my bread dough as it mixes it and kneads it in 3 minutes. Then the dough is ready for it’s first rise. I find that I’m willing make breads, pizzas, cookies, and such at a moment’s notice since getting the Thermomix about a couple of years ago.

I also included directions for making this recipe without the Thermomix, so that anyone who wants to try can make this.


240 grams water

1 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast

40 grams sugar

500 grams all purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

2 tablespoons oil

1 teaspoon salt

Place water, yeast, and sugar in the Thermomix bowl. Cover and set to 2 minutes/37F/speed 2.

Add flour, baking powder, oil, and salt. Cover and set to Knead/3 minutes.

Transfer dough into a bowl to rise.

Set aside in the bowl, covered, for 1 hour or until doubled.

*To make without a Thermomix: place yeast, sugar, and water in a large bowl and stir. Add flour, baking powder, oil, and salt. Stir until dough comes together. Transfer to a floured board and knead 8-10 minutes, until smooth and elastic. Place in a large bowl, cover and let rise until doubled, about 1 hour. Continue with the recipe.*

Divide dough into 12 equal pieces (I weigh them).

Divide dough into 12 equal sized balls. I usually weigh the whole dough and divide the number I get by 12. Then I weigh the individual dough balls to get the same sized buns. Rest the dough balls, covered, for about 10 minutes. This makes it easier to work with the dough as the gluten relaxes a bit.

Flatten the ball using a rolling pin to a circle about 3-5 inches in diameter.

Roll out the balls, one at a time, on a clean surface into a circle about 5 inches in diameter. Fold in half and place on a square of parchment paper. Place this in the steamer basket and repeat with remaining dough balls. Leave about 1-2 inch space between the dough as it expands when steamed.

Fold the round in half and place on a square of parchment paper

*You can also brush the dough with canola or sesame oil before folding over. This makes it easier to open the bread to make sandwiches. If you do this, brush only half of each circle very lightly with oil, then fold the other half over it.*

Place in the steamer rack, cover, and let rise about 1 hour or until doubled.

Cover the buns and let rise for about 1 hour.

Steam over medium high heat for 20 minutes.

Prepare steamer by heating water over medium high heat. When it comes to a rolling boil, carefully place steaming baskets over the boiling pot of water and cover. Steam for 20 minutes. Turn heat off and leave, covered, for 5 minutes more. Do not open the steamer or the bread will collapse and be wrinkly instead of smooth. At least that’s what I was told. I never opened my steamer before the 5 minutes was over so I can’t tell you if it’s true. 😊

Remove buns to wire racks and cool completely.

Fill with your choice of filling: roasted pork belly, roasted duck, char siu pork, etc. or just use as the bread to make any regular sandwich you like!


Fluffy and easy to open!

Sourdough Pancakes

Happy Memorial Day! Thank you to all the brave serviceman and woman for the freedom we have!

It’s been a couple of weeks since I last used my sourdough starter. Last night I thought of serving pancakes for today’s breakfast since it’s Memorial Day and we are all off. I usually want a slow breakfast on days we have nothing planned. I decided to go with a sourdough discard recipe, that way I can have pancakes AND feed my starter too. A well fed starter is a happy one, and to me that means great tasting sourdough bread when I make it!

This pancake recipe needs a cup of sourdough discard so it’s perfect for when you have excess discard on hand. Otherwise, just feed your starter without discarding any of it. When it rises after a few hours, take 1 cup and you can store the remainder in the fridge until needed.

This recipe makes really nice, flavorful, fluffy pancakes that I hope you’ll love as much as my family does!

1 cup sourdough discard

1 1/2 cups milk

1 large egg

2 tablespoon canola oil, plus additional for cooking pancakes

1 teaspoon vanilla, optional

2 cups all purpose flour

1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

2 tablespoon sugar

1 teaspoon salt

Place sourdough discard, milk, egg, oil, and vanilla (if using) in a large bowl. Mix well to break up and incorporate the sourdough discard and other liquid ingredients.

Add flour, baking powder, baking soda, sugar and salt. Mix until just moistened and no traces of dry flour is visible.

Preheat a 10 – 12 inch skillet or a griddle over medium high heat and spray with non stick spray. Add a little oil or butter to the pan, swirl it around so it evenly coats the pan. Let it heat up for a couple of minutes.

Add about 1/4-1/3 cup batter for each pancake. I can usually fit 2 to 3 in a 12 inch skillet at a time. Let cook until bubbles appear on top and edges seem dry. Turn pancakes over and cook for a minute or two more, until nicely browned. Adjust the heat as needed.

Repeat with remaining batter. Keep cooked pancakes warm until serving.

Serve with softened butter and maple syrup. And/or jam…or sausages and bacon….however you want to enjoy your morning treat!

**In the Philippines, I saw pancakes slathered with softened margarine, sprinkled with sugar, and sometimes doused in evaporated milk. I serve it like that once in a while. Try it, it’s good!**

Makes about 15 4-inch pancakes.

This is how the batter looks like after it is mixed. It still has a few lumps. Do not over mix.
Flip the pancake once it looks like the pancake on the bottom left – it has bubbles on top and edges are dry.
I love pancakes with butter and maple syrup!

Sourdough Baking Basics

Sourdough – the ancestor of all modern day bread.

So you are thinking about learning how to make sourdough breads, but what is the first step? What do you actually NEED to make sourdough bread? Also, what are the NICE THINGS to have to make baking breads easier and more convenient? Read on as this post is intended to help you get started on this new hobby and make you understand as much as you can to ensure success in sourdough baking!

Sourdough has a reputation of being unpredictable, difficult, and needy. Most of us use commercial yeast because it can easily reproduce the results we want over and over. It can be ready to bake in less than 2 hours. And in our busy daily life, that is totally understandable. However, sourdough is not at all that difficult, you just need to give it time. Harvesting wild yeasts and bacteria to make your dough rise has been done since ancient times. Once your starter is mature enough and you have done a few bakes, you will learn how to feel the dough and know when it’s ready. Remember, practice makes perfect!



You cannot have a sourdough bread without first having a starter. You can acquire this several ways: 1. prepare your own starter, 2. buy some online or from someone you know, 3. ask some from a friend or relative that you know bakes with a starter, most of the time they will be happy to give you some and even share tips and recipes with you. If you want to make your own starter, you can follow my easy instructions here: https://athomewiththeresa.com/2019/10/14/sourdough-starter/.

*Please note that I believe that even if you get Alaskan or San Francisco sourdough, the taste will eventually be altered by the local yeasts and bacteria from where you live and the flour you feed it. Because of that, I recommend making your own sourdough starter. I do want to try this theory out though, so one day I will most likely acquire sourdough starters from faraway and see if the flavor changes after a bit. I will update this post when I do start that experiment.*


Next, you will need flour, of course. I have several different varieties of flour in my pantry but a lot of time I use plain Unbleached All Purpose Flour for making sourdough breads. It works fine for any baked good and is readily available. All purpose flour generally makes bread with a light and fluffy texture.

I also use Bread Flour often, specially if I want a more chewy texture as bread flour has a higher protein content than all purpose flour. If I have enough bread flour on hand, I try to use bread flour for all of my bread making.

00 Flour – I recently bought a big, 55 pound bag of Caputo 00 flour from Italy for pizza making and was using it often to feed my sourdough. I noticed a better structured dough when I use it to make baguettes, and of course, it is the default flour I use for making pizza dough and pasta.

*Note that because of flour unavailability lately due to the COVID19, I purchased some Target brand All Purpose Bleached Flour in 5 pound bags as those were the only ones I found. I was praying my sourdough won’t notice that it was bleached and I believe it did not. 👏 I baked with bleached all purpose after the starter was ready and the resulting bread was good, lighter and softer than I am used to with regular sourdough breads. I added a photo of one of the three loaves below. Before, I would only use bleached all purpose to make mantou buns and siopao doughs, chinese steamed buns, as the white color is desirable in these breads. However, I intend to go back feeding with unbleached flour as soon as I find some.

Made using Target all purpose bleached flour. Winner!

Specialty flours – there is an abundance of specialty flours in the baking aisle of every grocery store. Most of these flours require more water than all purpose or bread flours. They also impart flavor and most of the time, texture to the finished bread. Whole wheat or rye flour is used at the beginning in making your own starter as they contain more of the wild yeasts and bacteria needed than white flour. These are what causes your starter to come alive.

One thing to remember is that flour is perishable. It definitely can go bad, so try to check the longest expiration date when buying flour. And don’t be afraid of mixing or substituting flour. That is part of the fun of making your own breads.


I just use regular filtered tap water. Bottled spring or purified water should be fine too. I have not used distilled or RO water as I have read somewhere that it is not good for sourdough starter aside from the fact that I do not like the way it tastes.


Bread without salt tastes bland, as I found out when I accidentally forgot to add salt to a big batch of dinner rolls (it was saved by slathering on salted butter, which I specifically purchased to salvage that batch of bland bread!). Salt also help control the proofing of your dough and preserve the bread.

One thing to remember is that salt and yeast do not like each other, that is why when baking with commercial yeast you have to place them in the mixture separately. When making sourdough, salt is usually added with the flour, or after the autolyze stage. I try to keep recipes simple by just mixing it after the flour is added. If you follow a recipe, your bread should turn out fine.

Fine sea salt, available in any grocery or big box stores, is what I use in my recipes. The brand I have at home that I also use in my daily cooking is Sosalt from Italy. Sure sounds fancy but it only costs $1 for a box and is a good all around salt.


I will say, the most basic things you will need are a dough scraper, a few different sized stainless bowls(those with silicone covers are a plus!), a kitchen towel, a dutch oven/clay baker, parchment paper, and a blade. Not in that order but these are the essentials.

DOUGH SCRAPER – makes working with a high hydration dough easier and gets every last bit off the working surface. A dough scraper also makes quick work of folding the dough by making a scooping motion from one side and pushing it down onto the dough, turning the dough 1/4 turn and repeating the motion 3 more times.

DIFFERENT SIZED STAINLESS BOWLS – very useful for mixing a small or big batch of dough, making different flavored or filled breads at a time, or even using it to cover the dough the first 20 minutes of baking to hold in steam if you only have a baking stone/sheet. I use the set of 3 nesting bowls from Magnolia (Target), it comes with lids so it’s super useful as I do not need to struggle with plastic wrap!

KITCHEN TOWEL – you can use this to line a basket or bowl for proofing the shaped dough. Make sure to flour generously to prevent the dough from sticking.

My current assortment of baking pots!

DUTCH OVEN/CLAY BAKER – this is, for me, the easiest way to make up to 3 loaves of bread at a time with minimal supervision. The vessels trap in the steam created by water escaping from the dough and gives the bread a really nice oven spring, all without extra effort on your part.

PARCHMENT PAPER – I never used to own parchment paper even when I baked often. It wasn’t until I got a bread badly stuck in an Emily Henry Bread Pot that I started using it regularly for baking breads. It sure makes easy work of removing the bread from the baking container and nothing ever sticks. You can also reuse it as long as it is still in good condition. *Now that I also have a beautiful Romertopf Clay baker, I never bake sourdough without parchment, as I can only imagine how badly the bread will stick to unglazed clay.*

BLADE/LAME/SERRATED KNIFE – for scoring, a regular double edged razor blade will work fine, just be careful you don’t cut yourself as they are sharp. I am able to reuse the same corner at least a few times. I also own some bread lames, but they are just razor blades with handles. A sharp serrated knife can do the work too. My UFO lame is from Wire Monkey via Etsy.

There are also some good things to have when making bread, or even just baking in general. My list would include a silicone mat or a large wooden board, weighing scale, a baking/pizza stone, a spray bottle, oven thermometer, banneton with cloth liner, lame, loaf tin.

SILICONE MAT OR LARGE WOODEN BOARD – I usually use a lightly floured silicone mat or the Vitamix cutting board (thin, pliable plastic) on the counter when dividing, weighing and shaping the dough. It is easy to scrape the dough away from the surface using a dough scraper.

WEIGHING SCALE – when you want to be accurate with baking, you have to go by weight and not volume. The same “cup” can vary in weight depending on the way the ingredients were place in the cup, if it was packed, or if it was sifted, etc. I usually use my weighing scale to divide the dough evenly into buns, loaves, etc.

BAKING/PIZZA STONE – if you want to bake multiple loaves, this is the way to go. I can bake 3 loaves on each stone at a time. However, I have to prepare the oven with a baking pan at the bottom and ensure enough steam is produced in the first few minutes.

SPRAY BOTTLE – good for spraying water the first 5-10 minutes of baking if baking on a stone. I do not like that the temperature drops everytime I open the oven and spray water though.

OVEN THERMOMETER – this is to ensure that your oven temperature is accurate. I have an new oven and it is off by 50F. I found out after baking cookies took almost 30 minutes. So I now heat to 550F if I need it to be at 500F.

BANNETON WITH A CLOTH LINER – this is simply a basket with a linen liner used for second proofing after shaping. I like the impression it makes on the dough if you use it without the liner. Do not forget to flour generously before placing the dough in. Dust with a lot more flour if you are not using the cloth liner.

LOAF TIN – this is to make loaf sourdough bread for sandwiches. I also have some pullman tins that will produce an almost square loaf, similar to the ones sold at Asian grocery stores. I love boules but it’s easier to fit a loaf shaped sandwich bread in kid’s lunchboxes!


There are a few approaches I learned in baking the finished dough. I will explain each method the best I can.

First Method is you preheat the oven with an empty dutch oven/clay baker, covered, in the oven. When temperature is reached you, you carefully remove the HOT dutch oven from the oven, make sure you place it on a heatproof surface, open it, ease the dough in, score it, cover, return to the oven and start timing. This method works well but I had my share of burns even if I am very careful handling the heavy, hot vessel. Plus my arms are not as good as they were so I am always afraid of dropping the hot container.

Second is place the shaped dough in the dutch oven/clay baker with a parchment paper on the bottom and let it proof the second time. Score, cover and place the room temperature dutch oven into the oven, then start preheating the oven. When temperature is reached, start timing. This is how I usually bake nowadays.

Third, Preheat the oven. Place shaped, proofed dough into a dutch oven. Score and place in the preheated oven when temperature is reached and start timing. I learned this from one of the books I acquired. This is the easiest of all method as this is how we normally bake.

Fourth, if you want to bake more loaves at the same time, you can purchase baking stones that are almost the same size as your oven racks, save for at least a 1 inch gap on all sides, for airflow. Make sure they are the thick, hefty ones. If you can only find thin ones, use two. You have to place the stone in your oven before you preheat the oven, so that the stone has enough time to heat up as well. Otherwise, it may crack with the sudden temperature change. With this method, you can create steam by 1. preheating the oven and stone with an empty baking pan with lava rocks in the bottom of the oven, then add hot water and/or ice cubes to the pan after sliding in the dough (on parchment paper) onto the baking stone. Or 2. cover the dough with a stainless steel bowl to hold the steam and allow the dough to rise one last time (oven spring). I would spray the oven with water a few times in the first 10 minutes of the baking time. Or 3. throw a few ice cubes or a little hot water directly on the oven floor.


INITIAL MIXING – Place the starter and water in a bowl and mix to break up the starter. Add the flour and mix until you have a rough, shaggy dough, making sure the flour is all incorporated.

FIRST REST (AUTOLYZE) – this is to allow the flour to absorb the water and makes the dough manageable. It is usually done before the salt is added, but I find my method of adding everything in the first step easier.

STRETCH AND FOLD – pull the dough up on one end, and fold and press it down onto the center of the dough, turn the dough a quarter turn and repeat 3 more times. This is done around 4 times, every half an hour or so.

BULK RISE – takes about 6 – 12 hours. This is when you wait for the dough to double in size. I usually just leave it on the counter overnight. Remove dough from the bowl gently to preserve the bubbles created.

SHAPE – divide dough if necessary, and shape into the boule, batard, loaf, or rolls you would like it to be.

BENCH REST – rest the shaped dough for about 15 minutes, then reshape to it’s final shape. If using a banneton, place the dough in a generously floured banneton and cover with a slightly moist cloth, shower cap (yes this works!), or plastic wrap.

SECOND RISE (RETARDING) – after shaping, the dough needs time to double in size again. If you have to extend the rise time, refrigerate the dough to slow down the rise. You can leave the dough in the refrigerator overnight or while you are at work (around 8 hours). Remove the dough from the refrigerator before you preheat the oven to allow the dough to come to room temperature.

SCORE – this is for more than decorative purposes although I admit that I admire beautiful scoring. This helps steam escape and allows the dough to open up where you scored instead of just bursting where ever it can.

BAKE – Make sure the oven is preheated and at the temperature suggested by the recipe you are following before starting your timer. Check for doneness at the minimum time.

COOLING – make sure you allow the bread to cool down before cutting into it. Otherwise, the texture will turn gummy. I cannot resist warm bread so I often do not follow this myself! 😊


If I bake on weekdays or days that I work, I tend to start the night before. My timing goes like this:

1. I mix the dough before dinner. Cover and let it sit to autolyze while we enjoy our food.

2. Stretch and fold before doing the dishes, and again after the dishes are done. Then I prepare breakfast/lunch next day. Stretch and fold again after. Tidy up the kitchen a little then another stretch and fold. This is not a strict requirement for me as I’ve done as little as 2 stretch and folds and the bread still turned out good. Don’t stress if you only got 2 in.

3. Then I let it sit on the counter all night.

4. The next morning, I would roughly shape the dough and cover, let it rest while I get breakfast ready.

5. Reshape the dough to it’s final shape, and place in a banneton, if using, cover and into the fridge it goes to proof while I’m at work. When I come home form work, I get it out of the fridge and onto the counter.

6. After about 20-30 minutes, preheat the oven, then score and bake! Tada! I tailor it to my schedule instead of the other way around! Sometimes, I put a baking tray with chicken pieces, potatoes, carrots and onions, seasoning and olive oil on the top shelf to roast while the sourdough bakes. Dinner is done at the same time!


  1. Steam in the beginning of baking allows your bread to expand as it softens the crust enough to let the dough grow without bursting. Scoring (cutting the dough right before placing it in the oven) is not only for decorative purposes, it also helps guide the expanding dough. It allows the dough to open up at the scores instead of bursting anywhere the pressure is forming.
  2. The easiest method I have found to help with steaming is simply baking the bread in a covered, oven proof vessel. It can be a dutch oven, a clay pot (Romertopf, Emily Henry), a Pyrex bowl and pie plate combo (make sure it is made of borosilicate glass and heat only to temperature stated), or even enamel roasters. This eliminates the need to create steam by lava rocks, chains, ice cubes, and spray bottles. It uses the steam created by the baking bread to help soften the crust in the first few minutes until it sizzles off.
  3. If you neglected your starter in the fridge for a few weeks, you might notice a layer of dark liquid on top of it. This is called “hooch” and can smell like alcohol. I always remove this layer and the very top layer of my starter, take some starter from the bottom and transfer it to another clean container. Then I start with regular feedings of 1 cup flour and 1/2 cup water until my starter is revived. Some advice to stir the hooch back into the starter to add a more sour flavor to the starter but I never did.
  4. If all you have left is about a tablespoon of starter, that is okay too. Just feed it until it doubles and produces a lot of bubbles.
  5. Feeding: my starter is a 100% hydration starter, meaning it is equal parts flour and water. By volume, it is 1/2 cup water and 1 cup flour. I try to feed the starter at least once a week, removing half the amount before feeding, and leaving the fed mixture at room temperature until doubled, 4-8 hours. It is then ready to use or if not using, refrigerate until needed.
  6. The half removed before feeding is called a “discard”. However, you need not discard it as there are numerous recipes using discards to make waffles, pancakes, cakes, etc.
  7. DRY YOUR STARTER FOR FUTURE USE, BACK UP, OR SHARING: Use a parchment paper to line a baking pan. Spread a thin layer of active starter over the parchment and let it air dry until brittle. When completely dried and brittle, break into small pieces. You can leave it as is or run through a blender to get a more powdery texture. Place 1 tablespoon portions in a ziplock bag and store in a cool, dry place. This is the easiest way to share them with friends too.
  8. TO REACTIVATE YOUR DRIED STARTER: Start in the morning if possible. Add the contents of the ziplock bag to 1/4 cup all purpose flour and 2 tablespoons water in a jar. Stir, cover loosely and leave in a warm area for about 6-8 hours (top of the refrigerator is perfect). After 6- 8 hours, add another 1/4 cup all purpose flour and 2 tablespoon waster in the jar and cover loosely. Leave for another 6-8 hours in a warm area. This time, add 1/2 cup flour and 1/4 cup water to the jar and mix well. let sit overnight. Next day, discard half of the starter and repeat feeding until it doubles in size.
  9. Rubber band – very useful if you like marking the starting volume on your sourdough container to help you know when it doubles. Just use a rubber band!

Electric Lunchbox #9: Beef Stew and Corn Bread with optional Flan

Comfort food!

Someone asked for an American dish for the Itaki, so I made beef stew and cornbread! My dad loved beef stew and for me cornbread goes really well with it so here goes!

Disclaimer: I used the Itaki Jumbo since my son and I wanted flan again! 😊 The second tier, medium bowl, had another experimental flan recipe! I am trying to make a softer flan so I upped the amount of milk to see if it would work better.

Although it is perfectly fine to just use the Itaki pro and make beef stew and cornbread only, I figured since we’re steaming for a good amount of time, I want to maximize the food created.

*Please note that the word “cup” in any of my electric lunchbox recipe refers to the little itaki cup included with the lunchbox. It holds 40ml.*

Beef stew:

6.5 oz beef, cubed (I used ground beef as that was what I had)

1 tablespoon flour

1/4 teaspoon each of salt and pepper

1 small potato, peeled snd diced

1 small carrot, peeled and diced

3 green beans, trimmed and cut into 1 inch pieces

1 stalk celery, chopped

1 tablespoon diced onions

2 tablespoons tomato paste

2 1/2 cups beef broth

Salt and pepper


2 1/2 T melted butter

1/4 cup milk

1 egg

1/4 c cornmeal

1/4 cup + 1 T all purpose flour

2 T sugar

1/4 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

For the Beef Stew:

Place the beef, flour, salt and pepper in the bottom bowl of the electric lunchbox and mix well. The flour will help thicken your stew. Do not pack the meat down.

Place the potatoes, carrots, green beans, celery, and onions on top of the meat. Add tomato paste and beef broth and mix the ingredients in the bowl. You can add a little more beef broth if you want a runnier stew but remember to leave at least an inch space between the ingredients and the top of the bowl. Place the bowl in the Itaki base.

Now for the CORNBREAD:

Grease the small Itaki bowl or spray with nonstick spray. Mix all ingredients in a separate bowl until combined and pour into the prepared bowl of the Itaki. Place over the prepared beef stew bowl and cover with foil.

For the JUMBO:

If you have an Itaki Jumbo and want a flan for dessert after this meal (like me and my son did!), you can use the second tier for it! Follow the Italicized instructions. Otherwise continue to the Steaming instructions below.

Flan in the Jumbo

1 tablespoon sugar

1 teaspoon water

1 egg

1 cup condensed milk

4 cups milk

1/4 teaspoon vanilla

Place sugar and water in the medium Itaki bowl. Caramelize over low heat until you get a golden syrup, swirling constantly by holding the bowl with a stainless tong. Set aside.

In a bowl, mix egg and condensed milk until smooth and condensed milk is incorporated. Add milk, and vanilla, stir to combine. Strain into the bowl with caramel. Cover with foil and place on the second tier of the Itaki Jumbo.


Add 3 cups water to the Itaki base, clip on the top cover and turn it on. Let it steam until it shuts off by itself, around 1 hour 12 minutes.

Open the Itaki carefully, refrigerate the flan if you made one, stir the beef stew and adjust seasoning to taste. Remove the cornbread from the pan and cut into wedges, if desired.

The flan did turn out softer than my previous trials. It is a keeper for me. Chilled, it firmed up a little but still delicious. I will still try to make an all yolk flan soon.

Enjoy your meal!

Follow me for more recipes for the Itaki!

See Itaki’s offerings here! https://www.itakico.com/theresa

Garlic Bread Knots

I am a big fan of the Magnolia Table cookbook. The recipes that Joanna Gaines shares are delicious, easy to make and surely, kid friendly. Her first cookbook made Sour cream Chicken Enchiladas our new favorite and I now almost always have canned enchilada sauce and diced chilis in the pantry. Biscuits and gravy, After- school Banana Bread, Sausage and Kale Soup, Brussels Sprouts, Scalloped Potatoes, Corn Spoon Bread, Fatayar…we loved going through the book and finding new dishes to try. I never served brussels sprouts before this and my son said he loves it! I am happy to serve different dishes and making it with easily accessible ingredients really helped.

A couple of weeks ago, I got my new cookbook from Target, Magnolia Table Volume 2. Although I miss the narratives before every recipe that volume 1 had, this new cookbook is still more than worth it’s price. It is beautiful, with photos and recipes that are easily made.

This is the first recipe my son chose after I asked him if he wanted the dinner rolls or these garlic knots. Of course, I make the dough in my Thermomix to help speed up the process. As always, it is absolutely delicious!


3/4 cups warm water

1 teaspoon sugar

2 1/4 teaspoons instant yeast

2 1/4 cups bread flour

1 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons olive oil

Garlic butter:

5 tablespoons butter

2 teaspoons garlic

2 tablespoons minced parsley

1/2 teaspoon salt

1. To make the dough: In a small bowl, combine the warm water, sugar, and yeast. Let sit around 5 minutes.

2. In a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook, combine bread flour and salt. Add the yeast mixture and 1 tablespoon of the olive oil and mix on low speed for about 5 minutes, until dough pulls away from the bowl.

3. Shape the dough into a ball. Place in a bowl well coated with olive oil and cover with plastic wrap. Let rise in a warm spot until doubled, 1-2 hours.

4. Spray a baking sheet with nonstick spray or line with parchment.

5. Uncover the bowl and punch down the dough to release the air. Turn out onto a surface sprinkled with flour. Weigh the dough and divide the number by 16. Roll each into a rope 6-7 inches long. Tie into a knot and place on prepared pan. Repeat with remaining dough to make 16 knots, leaving 2 inches between the knots.

6. Brush with the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil and cover with plastic wrap or damp towel. Let rise until doubled, about 1 hour.,

7. Preheat oven to 400F. Transfer the pan to the oven and bake until the knots are golden brown, 12-15 minutes.

8. Garlic Topping: In a small saucepan, melt the butter and add the garlic. Heat until garlic turn golden then remove from heat and stir in parsley and salt. Stir to combine. Brush on hot knots. Serve warm.

Perfect with pasta dishes, with pizza, with soup or on it’s own, this bread is delicious and very pretty.