Mochi Whole Wheat Flower Buns w/Cinnamon Cherry Filling (Steam Baked)

[Equipment: convection oven with water tray for steam baking, baking tray with silicone mat. For more information about the terminology in this recipe, see Low Temperature Baking: A Journey of 3 Paths.]

Steam baking and mochi flour keep these low-fat brioche buns moist without lots of oil or butter. Because there is so little butter, it is rubbed into the flour for even distribution. For a chewy texture, I use pizza crust yeast, which contains dough relaxing enzymes. Regular rapid-rise yeast should substitute nicely, with a higher rise and lower density texture. The filling is low-fat too, a mixture of mashed potato flakes and brown sugar. To form the flower shape, I divide the dough into 6 portions, shape each one into a rectangular strip, fill and fold and then roll up and bake.

Makes 6 buns
– 200 calories per bun
– Oven Temperature: effective 250°F/121°C (steam baking)

Cherry Cinnamon Filling:

  • 12 cherries, halved and pitted
  • 1/2 cup mashed potato flakes
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon
  • 3/8 cup milk
  • 1/4 teaspoon allspice
  • 2 teaspoons butter, softened

Mochi Brioche Dough:

  • 3/4 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup mochi flour or glutinous rice flour
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons pizza crust yeast or rapid rise yeast
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/8 cup sugar
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 2 teaspoons butter
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup warm milk (130°F/54.4°C)

Dried Cherries Method:

1. Slice cherries in half and discard pits. Place cherries on baking mat, juicy side up.

2. Dehydrate cherries at 150F/C until the top surface is dry but the cherries are still pliable. Set aside.

Cinnamon Filling Method:

1. In a medium bowl, whisk the mashed potato flakes, brown sugar and spices until combined.

2. In a small bowl, mix the milk and egg yolk. With a fork, stir in the liquid until all ingredients are moistened. Continue stirring to break up mixture into a sandy, granular texture

3. Mix in softened butter, keeping mixture light and granular. Cover and set aside.

Buns Method:

1. In a large bowl, mix all the dry ingredients except the yeast.

2. Dice butter and add to flour. Rub butter with hands or cut butter with a pastry cutter until the mixture has a lightly sandy consistency.

3. In a small bowl, whisk together the milk and egg yolk.

4. Drizzle the milk over the flour. With a fork, stir the liquid into the flour until it forms a dough that holds its shape when squeezed.

5. Knead the dough for about 4 minutes until the surface is smooth.

6. Allow to rise in a proofing box or other warm place until double in bulk.

7. Gently deflate the dough and divide into 6 portions.

8. Roll each portion into a rectangle about 7-1/2 x 2 inches.

9. Fill only the top half of the rectangle. Place 4 dried cherry halves at one end. Spread about 2 tablespoons of the cinnamon filling along the remainder. Sprinkle 1 teaspoon of chopped nuts over the filling.

10. Beginning at the end with the cherries, fold the dough up to cover the filling. Then roll it into a standing spiral with the open end facing up. Pinch the end into the bun to seal.

11. Place each bun in a greased muffin cup. Cover and let rise in a proofing box or other warm place for about 30 to 40 minutes or until rolls have blossomed over the cups.

12. Prepare the convection oven for steam baking with an open water tray. Preheat the oven to an effective temperature of 250°F/121°C (my oven dial was set to 300°F/150°C and the effective temperature checked with a thermometer). Place a trivet in the tray to hold the muffin tin above the water line. Steam bake for about 30 minutes or the rolls are lightly golden.

13. Serve hot or warm.


Puff Pastry Rugelach w/Ginger Chocolate Fruit Filling (Baked)

At one time I was a paralegal at a large law firm in New York City. I worked every night (7 days a week) past midnight. For dinner, I and my crew would order from Carnegie Deli, and I almost always asked for rugelach for dessert. This version of rugelach simulates a cream cheese pastry dough with standard puff pastry as the base. I could have used the low-temperature puff pastry dough, but this recipe is the first of several LTB experiments with standard puff pastry (Pepperidge Farm brand), purchased at my local market.

In this first trials, I made rugelach like mini crescent rolls. The dough, cut into triangles and spread with a layer of a cream cheese paste and dried fruit and nuts, was rolled up and baked at 250°F/121°C. As seen in the pictures above, the rolls puffed up nicely. However, when cut open, the dough in the inner part of the roll and on the bottom did not puff as much and imparted a hard texture to the pastries.

For the final version, I rolled the puff pastry into a single-layer log, because a single layer bakes faster and more thoroughly. The cream cheese paste was reformulated to be drier, as the wetter paste made the interior soggy. I conclude that for this kind of pastry, the low-temperature puff dough or a cream cheese tart dough would produce a result closer to the traditional rugelach. On the other hand, if these were baked at the package-recommended temperature of 350°F/177°C, these log-style or the crescent rugelach would be very crisp, flaky and spectacular puffs.

Makes 12 rugelach
– 60 calories per rugelach
– Oven Temperature: 250°F/121°C


  • 3 rectangles prepared puff pastry (2 x 4-1/2 x 1/8 inches – see text)
  • 1 egg, beaten

Chocolate Cream Cheese Filling

  • 2 tablespoons cream cheese
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 teaspoons cocoa powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon powdered ginger
  • 1 tablespoon whole wheat flour

Fruit-Nut Filling

  • 1/8 cup dried cherries, chopped
  • 1/8 cup raisins, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon chopped nuts

Ginger Sugar

  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon powdered ginger

Filling Methods:

1. To make chocolate cream cheese filling: in a small dish, mix the cream cheese and sugar.

2. Add cocoa and ginger and mix until well combined. Set aside.

3. Mix in flour to form a thick paste.

4. To make fruit-nut mix filling, in a small dish, mix the chopped raisins, dried cherries and chopped nuts.

Rugelach Method:

1. For each pastry, cut a sheet of 1/8-inch thick puff pastry dough 2 x 4-1/2 inches.

2. Spread a thin layer of chocolate cream cheese over the surface.

3. Sprinkle about 1-1/2 tablespoons of the fruit-nut mix over the top half of the dough only.

4. Fold the dough up and seal the edges to form a log.

5. Cut the log into 3 pieces and place on baking mat.

6. In a small dish, combine 1 teaspoon sugar and 1/4 teaspoon powdered ginger.

7. Lightly brush the surface of the rugelach with beaten egg or apricot/peach jam and sprinkle with the ginger sugar.

8. Bake rugelach for 50 minutes until golden. They will crisp up as they cool.


Walnut and Valerian Biscotti (Baked)

[Equipment: convection oven for slow baking, baking tray with silicone mat. For more information about the terminology in this recipe, see Low Temperature Baking: A Journey of 3 Paths.]

Note: This cookie contains a medicinal ingredient: valerian root. Please research any concerns about the ingredient before making this recipe.

These relaxing cookies get their mild but noticeable tranquilizing effect from homemade valerian root oil. Valerian has a bitter taste, so I played with the bitterness by adding complementary flavors of brown sugar, walnuts and coffee. Baking soda offsets some of the acidity, for a cookie that tastes very smooth. The sedating effect is truly mild for me, and I could eat them all day. However, anyone not familiar with valerian root should consume them cautiously.

My local market sells solid valerian root, which is very hard – like wood – and cannot be cut with a knife. For the oil infusion, I snipped off small chunks of it with a set of wire cutters, the kind sold in hardware stores. The same amount (2 grams) of powdered valerian root could be infused more easily, and could be added to the cookie dough after infusion with the risk of more bitter cookie. Choose a bland oil (I had canola) to avoid any off flavors. The infusion time should be at least 24 hours at 115°F/46.1°C.

The infusion could be heated in an oven, a dehydrator, on an insulated incense burner, even in a box heated with an incandescent bulb, but keep the temperature no higher to preserve the efficacy of the valerian essences.

Makes 10 cookies
– 117 calories per cookie
– Oven Temperature: 250°F/121°C


  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tablespoon valerian oil (see text and see below)
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 4 packets sucralose (equal to about 3 tablespoons sugar)
  • 1/2 teaspoon instant coffee
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts (or other nuts)

Valerian Oil:

  • 2 grams valerian root or valerian powder
  • 1-1/2 tablespoons vegetable oil

Valerian Oil Method:

1. If using valerian root, weigh out 2 grams. With mini clippers, break up the root by snipping off small chunks. If using valerian powder, measure out 2 grams of powder.

2. In a small heatproof dish, mix the root pieces with the vegetable oil. Cover the dish with heat-resistant plastic wrap.

3. Heat the oil over an insulated incense burner or put the dish in a low oven for at least 24 hours. In either case, the temperature of the oil should rise no higher than 115°F/46°C. Check it occasionally with a thermometer. Use immediately or store until ready to use.

Biscotti Method:

1. In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, salt, baking soda, baking powder until well combined.

2. In a small bowl, mix the egg, brown sugar, sucralose, valerian oil, vanilla and water until the brown sugar has completely dissolved.

3. Add wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix to form a stiff dough.

4. Add walnuts and knead into the dough.

5. Transfer the dough to a baking mat. Shape into flat log about 9.5 x 3 inches.

6. Bake at 250°F/121°C for 30-35 minutes until lightly golden.

7. With a serrated knife, cut the log on a diagonal into 1-inch cookies. Place the cookies on the baking mat, one cut side facing up. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes. Turn cookies over so that other cut side faces up. Bake for another 15 minutes.

8. Let cool and serve or store in an airtight container.


Low Temperature Baking – A Journey Of Three Paths: Updated

Every year I update this article. See the new pictures, a new History Of LTB and more about convection ovens and medicinal foods. The section on slow-cooker ovens has been revised.

Low Temperature Baking: A Journey Of Three Paths


Maple-Sugar Yam and Chicken Pizza (Steam Baked)

The difficulty with pizza is that the cheese topping dries out if dry baked at low temperature for long periods. That’s why I was so excited about steam baking a pizza, because the superheated moisture would keep the cheese moist long enough to melt, while the crust browned. As the above picture shows, the recipe was a success. The cheese had a lovely drippy quality, fresh from the oven.

This recipe was also a test of a new yeast: Fleischmann’s Pizza Crust Yeast, a rapid-rise yeast with dough-relaxing enzymes, for a lower-rise, dense but chewy, crust. I liked it very much, for very easy to make dough with just 4 minutes of hand-kneading. Fleischmann warned against using Pizza Crust Yeast in other bread recipes. but I’ve seen excellent results in other kinds of breads. This product should be great with soft pretzels too. Substitute regular rapid-rise yeast, if not available locally.

The maple sugar yams were yam slices, steamed and then marinated in a bit of maple syrup. Likewise, the chicken was steam cooked, shredded and marinated in soy sauce. For both, I would marinate for at least an hour. For tomato sauce, I had a jar of Prego mushroom pasta sauce in the fridge.

Makes 6 servings
– 125 calories per serving
– Oven Temperature: effective 250°F/121°C (steam baking)

  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vegetable oil
  • 1/3+ cup warm water
  • 1 teaspoon pizza yeast or rapid rise yeast (see text)
  • 1/4 cup sliced cooked broccoli
  • 1/4 cup sliced maple sugar yams (see text)
  • 1/4 cup soy-marinated, cooked chicken pieces (see text)
  • 3/8 cup tomato sauce (see text)
  • 3/8 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1/4 teaspoon Menudo spices

Dough Method:

1. In a large bowl, mix the flour, salt, sugar, yeast until evenly distributed.

2. Mix in 1/3 cup warm water and 1-1/2 teaspoons vegetable oil to form a moist pebbly dough (add more water, by the teaspoon, if necessary).

3. Knead dough for 4 minutes until smooth.

4. If using fast rise yeast, cover and allow to rise until double in volume, about 30 minutes to 1 hour.

Pizza Method:

1. Flatten dough into an 8-inch disk and set inside a greased 8-inch cake pan.

2. Spread the tomato sauce over the top of the dough.

3. Arrange yams, broccoli and chicken on the pizza.

4. Top with the mozzarella cheese. Drizzle 1/2 teaspoon vegetable oil over the cheese and toppings.

5. Prepare oven for steam baking. Fill the water tray with boiling water, enough for at least 40 minutes of baking (about 1/4″ deep in my tray). Do not cover the tray. Heat oven to 300°F/149°C (effective temperature of 250°F/121°C with the water tray uncovered, checked with a thermometer). Put the pan on a trivet, so that it doesn’t touch water.

6. Bake for 40 minutes, until the crust is golden and sounds hollow when tapped, and the cheese has melted.


Citrus-Lychee Pavlova with Mango Sauce (Wet-Dry Baked)

[ Equipment: Steam oven or convection oven water tray for wet-dry steam baking, baking sheet with silicone baking mat. For more information about the terminology in this recipe, see Low Temperature Baking: A Journey of 3 Paths ].

This is my second Pavlova cake. In addition to a different combination of fruits and sauces, it comes with a slightly different recipe for the meringue. The first one (a ginger-blueberry-banana pavlova) was baked in a dry oven. The batter spread out during baking and did not have quite the classic marshmallow texture. The wet-dry steam technique addresses both problems. A wet-dry steam oven steams for a fraction of the baking time only; then it switches to dry heat. The wet phase transfers heat quickly to the food to raise its temperature and set the batter or dough. The dry heat phase crisps the food.

I had reservations about the texture of meringue in the last pavlova. In testing the wet-dry technique, I mixed up a pavlova batter with a higher cornstarch-to-egg-white ratio (identical to other standard recipes), cornstarch being the ingredient that transforms the meringue into a marshmallow-like consistency. The result was excellent on the very first try. The all-sugar batter only spread a little before setting. It had a lovely crackly top crust that began to sink within seconds of being taken out of the oven.

However, the cake shown in these pictures contains the sugar-sucralose blend. For the crispest crust, I recommend making the meringue with sugar only. The sucralose-sugar blend cake has a softer crust and fewer calories, but also more height and does not sink very much. Do not omit the lemon juice; it really perks up the flavor of the lychees, and canned lychees benefit most from the soaking. An assortment of juices could substitute for the mango nectar. A thinner juice may need more cornstarch to thicken.

Makes 6 servings
– 120 calories per serving
– Oven Temperature: Wet-Dry Steam-Baked effective 250°F/121°C

  • 3 large egg whites (room temperature)
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon orange extract
  • 1/2 cup sugar (or 1/4 cup sugar + 8 packets sucralose – see text)
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1 10oz can of mango nectar
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 7 or 8 fresh or canned whole lychees, peeled and pitted
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 4 oz. of prepared whipped topping
  • 1/4 teaspoon lemon extract

Mango Sauce Method:

1. In a small dish, mix the cornstarch and cold water.

2. In a small saucepot, heat the mango nectar until it simmers, stirring constantly. Whisk in the cornstarch slurry until the sauce thickens. Remove from heat and let cool.

Meringue Cake Method:

1. Drain lychees. In a small bowl, mix lychees and lemon juice. Cover and let macerate in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour.

2. In a large bowl, beat the egg whites, lemon juice and salt until frothy.

3. Sprinkle in the sugar in 2 portions and beat to the stiff peak stage. Beat in the orange extract. Sift the cornstarch over the batter and fold in.

4. Spoon batter onto a silicone baking mat sitting on a baking sheet. Shape into a 6 x 4 inch block.

5. Prepare oven for wet-dry steam baking. For a convection oven, fill the water tray with about 1/8 inch water (or the equivalent amount to steam bake for about 30 minutes). Set a trivet in the center to hold the baking sheet above the water line. Preheat the oven to 300F/148C to get an effective 250F/121C steaming temperature (check with a thermometer).

6. Place baking sheet on trivet and bake meringue for 30 minutes.

7. Siphon off any remaining water in the water tray (or allow to steam off if nearly evaporated). Turn dial down to 250°F/121°C for dry baking. Continue baking for another 40 to 60 minutes. Surface of crust should be dry and golden brown.

Note: If using the sugar-sucralose blend, the crust may not crisp.

7. Let cool and transfer to a serving plate.

8. In a medium bowl, combine the whipped topping and lemon extract.

9. Spread the lemon whipped topping over the top of the meringue cake. Drain and cut the lychee fruits in half. Place the lychees into the whipped topping.

10. Drizzle mango sauce over the lychees and whipped topping. Sprinkle top of pavlova with craisins.


Cactus Hominy Polenta Cake

[ Equipment: steam oven, steamer or low-temperature-capable convection oven, an 6-inch (2-cup) round cake pan. For more information about the terminology in this recipe, see Low Temperature Baking: A Journey of 3 Paths. ]

This steamed cake is a savory companion to the Maple Polenta Cake with Chamomile Hominy. The batter mixes cornmeal and rice flour for a softer polenta than from cornmeal alone. The tomato bullion contains chicken bullion with dried tomato essence, and regular chicken bullion with a spoon or two of tomato sauce should substitute fine. My local market sold jars of prickly pear cactus nopalitos, cooked and cut into strips. They have a light vinegary flavor and a mucilaginous texture, a great match for the soft polenta. If cactus isn’t available, substitute chopped string beans.

Makes 4 servings
– 105 calories per serving
– Oven Temperature: effective 250°F/121°C steam baked

  • 1-1/2 cups water
  • 1-1/2 tablespoons tomato bullion powder
  • 3 tablespoons plain tomato sauce
  • 1/2 cup cornmeal
  • 2 tablespoons glutinous rice flour
  • 1 cup prepared (canned) hominy
  • 1/3 cup chopped cactus nopalitos (cooked cactus strips)

1. In a small bowl, whisk cornmeal and rice flour until evenly combined.

2. In a saucepan, heat water, bullion and tomato sauce until simmering.

3. Whisk in cornmeal-flour and continue whisking until mixture has thickened and coming away from sides of saucepan.

4. Mix in hominy.

5. Mix in chopped cactus.

6. Pour into greased 6-inch pan or 2-cup baking dish. The polenta cake can be steamed or steam baked. For steam baking, leave the water tray uncovered and place a trivet or stand to hold the dish above the water line. Steam bake at 250°F/121°C for 70 minutes.

7. Cool. Slice and serve.