OAT AND SESAME SEED SOURDOUGH

Some people find sourdough bread to be a bit “harsh” as far as texture goes. I am not part of that team, but I can understand where they are coming from. This bread retains the basic sourness of the classic, but the texture is so mellow that it reminded me of soft sandwich breads I enjoyed as a kid. It is the soaked oats and seeds that perform the magic. Absolutely delicious, I hope you’ll give it a try.

OAT AND SESAME SEED SOURDOUGH
(from The Bewitching Kitchen)

375g white bread flour (+ more to adjust consistency)
25g spelt flour
220g water
100g starter at 100% hydration
40g steel-cut oats
10g white sesame seeds
10g black sesame seeds (or 20g all one type)
10g salt

When you refresh your starter, maybe 6 hours before starting the bread, make the soaker: mix the oats and sesame seeds, and add enough water to just cover them. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and leave at room temperature until it is time to mix the dough.

Add the soaked seeds ad all other components of the dough to the bowl of a Kitchen Aid mixer fitted with the dough hook. If there is too much water not absorbed by the seeds, leave it behind, but keep in mind that a lot of the moisture of the water in the formula should come from the soaker. Knead for about 4 minutes, paying attention to the texture of the dough. It should just start to clean the sides of the bowl. If necessary, add more flour at this point. I had to add about 1/4 cup flour to mine.

Remove the dough from the Kitchen Aid, transfer to any appropriate container lightly oiled and perform a series of stretch and folds every 45 minutes. Do it four to five times, which will take you up to 4 and half hours from initial bulk fermentation. Even if you fold it only 4 times, leave it fermenting until you reach 4 and a half hours.

Shape as a round ball and place in a floured banneton, seam side up. Leave 45 to 60 minutes at room temperature, then place in the fridge overnight.

Remove the dough by inverting it on parchment paper, dust the surface with rice or white flour and slash any pattern you like. I used scissors coupled with a razor blade to get the leaf pattern.

Bake at 450F in a Dutch Oven, covered for 30 minutes, then remove the lid to brown the crust. Allow it to cool completely before slicing.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: I have included sesame seeds in my sourdough breads many times in the past, but don’t remember their flavor being as evident as in this loaf. I suppose the soaking step helps with it, which surprises me. Roasting them I could understand but just the soaking? Interesting. The texture of this bread is also remarkable, so I must repeat myself and tell you to try it and serve even to those who are a little uncomfortable with a rustic sourdough loaf in all its full glory.

ONE YEAR AGO: Moroccan Turkey Pie with Olive Oil Crust

TWO YEARS AGO: Another Twisted Sister of the Shepherd’s Pie 

THREE YEARS AGO: Cashew Chicken, My Way

FOUR YEARS AGO: Two Deliciously Simple Salads

FIVE YEARS AGO: In My Kitchen, April 2016

SIX YEARS AGO: Spring has Sprung with Suzanne Goin

SEVEN YEARS AGO: Chai Brownies

EIGHT YEARS AGO: Pomegranate-Molasses Glazed Carrots

NINE YEARS AGO: Braised Brisket with Bourbon-Peach Glaze

TEN YEARS AGO: The Real Vodka Sauce

ELEVEN YEARS AGO: Spring Rolls on a Spring Day



CHARCOAL PEANUT SOURDOUGH

I’ve been struggling with bread stencils lately. My designs end up not as sharp as I hoped them to be, lack of contrast after baking, all sorts of annoying little disappointments. I finally figured out what I was doing wrong, after watching videos from bread guru Morgi. I will share a couple of tips today, in case you’d like to use this method to decorate your bread.

CHARCOAL PEANUT SOURDOUGH
(from the Bewitching Kitchen)

470g bread flour
20g spelt flour
10g peanut flour
7g charcoal powder
10g salt
370g water
100g sourdough starter at 100% hydration

Make the levain mixture about 6 hours before you plan to mix the dough. It should be very bubbly and active.

When you are ready to make the final dough, place the water in the bowl of a KitchenAid type mixer and dissolve the starter in it, mixing with a spatula briefly, then add the three types of flour, charcoal and salt. Turn the mixer on with the hook attachment and knead the dough for 4 minutes at low-speed all the time. You will notice the dough will gain quite a bit of structure even with just 4 minutes in the mixer. If the dough seems too soft, add a bit more bread flour. Remove from the machine, and transfer to a container lightly coated with oil, cover lightly with plastic wrap and allow it to ferment for 4 hours, folding every 45 minutes or so. Because the dough is already a bit developed from the initial time in the mixer, you should get very good structure after 3 and a half hours, or even sooner than that.

After four hours bulk fermentation, shape the dough as a ball, and place, seam side up, in a lightly floured banetton. Leave at room temperature one hour, and then place in the fridge overnight, from 8 to 12 hours.

Next morning, heat the oven to 450F. Invert the dough over parchment paper, if the surface seems moist you can place the stencil right away on top of it. If it seems dry, spray lightly with water and position the stencil. Shower some white rice flour on the stencil and rub gently with the fingers of your right hand as you steady the stencil with your left hand (do the opposite if you are left-handed). The idea is to rub the flour on the surface through the openings of the stencil, so that you get a good pattern formed. Carefully lift the stencil and slash the bread around it, so that the bread will not open and compromise the image.

Bake at 450F for 45 minutes, preferably covered for the first 30 minutes to retain steam. Cool completely over a rack before slicing.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: If you use a banneton for the final rise of your shaped loaf and it glues to it when you try to invert it to bake, you know that can be VERY frustrating. Sometimes it even distorts the beautiful shape achieved slowly overnight in the fridge. I normally add quite a bit of flour to the banneton before the dough goes in, but when I want to do the stencil decoration, I prefer not to have too much flour on the surface to start with. My tip is simple: place a plastic wrap (like Saran-wrap or other brands) inside the banneton and THEN add your bread – it does not prevent the ridges from making that cute impression on the surface (although it will be slightly less evident) and you will have NO issues inverting the dough to bake.

For the image to be sharp and evident, the trick is to have a little moisture on the dough, and rub the flour, gently but firmly. Hold the stencil in place with one hand, and rub the flour with the other. Lift the stencil as delicately as humanly possible. Finally, whatever design you choose, slash the bread in ways that coach the opening away from the design. You can cut four deep slashes in a square shape with the design in the center, or do what I did, a circular series of small, deep cuts all around.

Peanut flour has no fat, but transfers the taste of peanuts quite well to the bread. It has a softer crumb than a straight sourdough with just bread and whole-wheat flours. And the charcoal contributes no taste. When we freeze slices after a couple of days, we like to cut one or two into croutons, because they look pretty amazing in that shocking black color.

ONE YEAR AGO: Chocolate Cake with Coconut Buttercream

TWO YEARS AGO: Berry Rebellion Tarts 

THREE YEARS AGO: Bergamot-Cherry Macarons

FOUR YEAR AGO: Roasted Veggies with Queso Cotija Dressing

FIVE YEARS AGO: Creamy Broccoli and Mushroom Casserole

SIX YEARS AGO: Maple Walnut Biscotti

SEVEN YEARS AGO: Barley Risotto with Peas

EIGHT YEARS AGO: Oatmeal Fudge Bars

NINE YEARS AGO: Cauliflower Steaks

TEN YEARS AGO: Soft Spot for Chevre

ELEVEN YEARS AGO: Quick sun-dried Tomato Crostini

I WILL CRACKER YOU UP

THIS IS MY 1,400th BLOG POST!

Crackers are a lot of fun to make and bake. Ok, there is the rolling step to consider but if you are not too wild about a rolling pin and elbow grease, a pasta machine attachment can do wonders for the ones that need to be super thin. Today I share four recipes. Salted Egg Yolk Crackers and Moroccan Tortitas are quite unusual, different from any kind I’ve ever had. A copy-cat version of a Trader Joe’s favorite is a bit more involved to make but pretty amazing to eat. And finally, a lightning-fast Sourdough Cracker that can be made quite dramatic with a small amount of charcoal powder. Grab your flour, and let’s get crackin’!

SALTED EGG YOLK COOKIES
(from Dana’s Wakeandbakemama)

240g plain flour
15g cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon baking soda
1 tablespoon milk powder
4 salted egg yolks (use this recipe to make them)
170g butter, at room temperature
1/2 teaspoon salt
85g sugar

Topping:
1 egg yolk + a little water for wash
1 tablespoon each of black and white sesame seeds

Make the egg yolks at least one day in advance, preferably a couple of days, so they are nice and dry. Once it is ready, smash with fork or pastry cutter until crumbled and set aside.

In separate bowl, sift flour, cornstarch, baking powder, baking soda and milk powder. In the mixer bowl, add butter, salt and sugar. Mix until well incorporated. Add smashed salted egg yolks and sifted flours until well combined. Chill dough for a few minutes. If it gets too cold it will crack easily. Roll out to 1/4 inch thick and use any cutter you desire. Place them on lined cookie sheets and refrigerate for 15 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Place sesame seeds in a small bowl and mix. Remove cookies from refrigerator and brush with egg wash and sprinkle with sesame seeds. Bake for 15 minutes or until golden brown.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: Dana called them cookies, and it’s true, they are cookies. But their flavor is so unique, I see them quite well as “crackers”, going well with sweet or savory items. They are addictive, with a very intriguing texture. Definitely, the salted egg yolk talking. For people who bake macarons often (if the shoe fits, I better wear it), salted egg yolks are a great ingredient to play with.

MOROCCAN TORTITAS
(slightly adapted from The Jewish Journal)

3 eggs
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup grapeseed oil
1 tsp anise oil
1 tablespoon fennel seeds
1 tablespoon sesame seeds
1 tsp baking powder
2 and a half cups all-purpose flour

In large bowl on stand-up mixer, mix eggs, sugar and oil until well blended. Add the anise extract, seeds and baking powder and mix. While mixing, add flour half a cup at a time and continue to mix until the dough forms a ball. You may not need all the flour, or you may need a little bit more, it all depends on the size of your eggs and the moisture of the flour. Let the dough rest for 10 minutes.

Heat the oven to 350 F. Divide dough in tennis ball-size pieces. Roll out dough as thinly as possible, a pasta rolling machine works great. Pierce dough with fork or decorating tool. Cut into squares or use cookie cutters to cut in circles. Bake on parchment paper-lined cookie sheet for 15 minutes or until golden. Let cool for several hours, as they get crunchy as they fully dry.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: Don’t let the humble look of these crackers prevent you from making them. Much like the Salted Egg Yolk version, you will grab one and go back to munch on another. Fantastic with hummus. I made them twice, first time with a pasta roller machine (the ones in the photo), second time rolling by hand. They turned out slightly thicker when rolled by hand, but equally delicious. They keep very well at room temperature.

TRADER JOE’S CRACKERS WITH RAISINS AND ROSEMARY
(from Luci’s Morsels)

1/2 cup raisins or currants
1/2 cup unsalted sunflower seeds
1/4 cup almonds
1/2 cup each white and whole wheat flour
2 tablespoons fresh rosemary chopped
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup buttermilk
1 + 1/2 tablespoons maple syrup
extra salt for top

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Spray one large bread loaf pan with nonstick cooking spray.

Combine raisins, seeds, and almonds in a small bowl. Stir to combine, and reserve. In a large bowl, combine flours, rosemary, baking soda, salt, buttermilk, and syrup. Mix in fruit, nuts, and seeds. Pour batter into loaf pan. Sprinkle top with salt.

Bake 35 minutes until top is firm. Let bread come to room temperature. Wrap in plastic wrap or foil. Place in freezer for at least 2 hours or overnight. The cold bread helps with thinner slicing.

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Remove bread from freezer. Let sit 10 minutes to thaw slightly. With a serrated knife, cut 1/8-inch slices. Slices should be as uniform as possible. Place slices cut side down on an ungreased pan. Bake 8-10 minutes until crackers are a deep golden brown and corners start to crisp. Let cool completely for best texture.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: Whenever we have a chance to stop by Trader Joe’s, we get a couple of boxes of their delicious crackers. I am usually disappointed with copy-cat recipes, but I love these crackers so much, I decided to give the recipe a chance. I am very glad I did. Off all the versions I am sharing today, this is by far the most involved. Think about biscotti, but even a little worse because you need to cut the slices very very thin before the second baking. As you place the slices in the oven for the second bake, pay attention to how they are baking, because small variations in thickness will affect the outcome. Chances are you will have to remove some crackers before others are done baking. For my taste, these crackers are very close to perfection. Sweet, savory, crunchy, they are perfect with any type of cheese or jam.

My dear friend Heather from California designed a recipe for another copy-cat version of a wonderful cracker, the brand is called Raincoast, maybe you’ve seen them in grocery stores. They can be super expensive, actually. Her recipe, which she called Suncoast Crisps, is another big winner, but I don’t feel it’s fair to share it. It took her quite a bit of work to perfect it, so I will leave it as a teaser…. These have pumpkin seeds, dried cranberries and pecans.

20 MINUTE SOURDOUGH CRACKERS
(slightly modified from Phil’s Home Kitchen)

50g sourdough starter
50g bread flour
2g fine salt
charcoal powder to achieve desired color (1/2 tsp or more)
cold water to mix
olive oil
sesame seeds, black and white

Heat the oven to 400F. Mix the starter, flour, salt and charcoal powder in a bowl. Add enough water to give a soft but not sticky dough. Knead for a moment until smooth, but you do not need to knead the dough as fully as you would for full bread.

Take pieces of dough and either roll it by hand or pass it through the pasta machine: start with the widest setting 0, increasing a setting at a time until you get to two-settings before the last, thinnest one. That ensures a thin enough dough that won’t tear. You can bake it in large pieces and then break them in random shapes, or if you roll it by hand, make the dough thicker and cut in diamonds, squares, or circles. Brush the surface very lightly with olive oil and immediately sprinkle sesame seeds all over.

Bake over parchment paper for 10 minutes, turning the pieces over after 7 minutes or so. If baking large pieces uncut, cool completely before breaking them.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

The composite above shows the two types of dough, rolled by pasta machine, very thin, or rolled by hand and cut in diamonds. The dough rolled in the machine will give a very crisp texture, whereas the other one will still retain some bread quality in it.

I cannot quite pick a favorite in this group, I really like them all. I make the sourdough version more often because it is so easy. The starter does not even have to be fully active. Stop by Phil’s blog for instructions on how to use regular yeast, if you prefer. One of my goals is to bake Ak-Mak from scratch, but that has proven quite tricky. I found a couple of recipes online but they were not even remotely close to the real thing. I am tempted to improvise from the ingredients list in the box, but have not yet gathered the energy for it. Stay tuned, if I get to Nirvana, I’ll share my recipe with you. Come to think of it, I might enlist the help of Heather to reach my goal…

ONE YEAR AGO: Pickling Ribbons

TWO  YEARS AGO: Green Beans and Carrots with Spicy Almonds

THREE YEARS AGO: Quiche 101

FOUR YEARS AGO: Persian Butternut Squash Soup

FIVE YEARS AGO: Walnut Cranberry Sourdough Bread

SIX YEARS AGO: Ottolenghi in Brazil?

SEVEN YEARS AGO: Roasted Winter Vegetables with Miso-Lime Dressing

EIGHT YEARS AGO: 2012 Fitness Report: P90X2

NINE YEARS AGO: Caramelized Bananas

TEN YEARS AGO: Roasted Lemon Vinaigrette

ELEVEN YEARS AGO: Whole Wheat Bread

BE MY VALENTINE SOURDOUGH BREAD

I had different plans for this post. It was going to be Kung Pao Chicken. Then it hit me. This is the last week before Valentine’s Day, so Kung Pao can wait. I shall dance to the romance. I have a special bread for you, decorated with a trio of hearts. Share it with someone who lives in your heart. If you are all alone in these crazy times, bake it for you. You deserve it.

BE MY VALENTINE SOURDOUGH
(from the Bewitching Kitchen)

450g bread flour
50g spelt flour
370g water
75g sourdough starter at 100% hydration
10g salt

Make the levain mixture about 6 hours before you plan to mix the dough. It should be very bubbly and active.

When you are ready to make the final dough, place the water in the bowl of a KitchenAid type mixer and dissolve the starter in it, mixing with a spatula briefly, then add the two types of flour, and salt. Turn the mixer on with the hook attachment and knead the dough for 4 minutes at low-speed all the time. You will notice the dough will gain quite a bit of structure even with just 4 minutes in the mixer. Remove from the machine, and transfer to a container lightly coated with oil, cover lightly with plastic wrap and allow it to ferment for 4 hours, folding every 45 minutes or so. Because the dough is already a bit developed from the initial time in the mixer, you should get very good structure after 3 and a half hours, or even sooner than that.

After four hours bulk fermentation, shape the dough as a ball, and place, seam side up, in a lightly floured banetton. Leave at room temperature one hour, and then place in the fridge overnight, from 8 to 12 hours.

Next morning, heat the oven to 450F.

Place three strings over the dough nicely spaced, and touch the strings to glue them lightly to the bottom of the bread. Place a parchment paper on top, a flat baking sheet, and invert the dough, flipping it out of the banneton. Flour the surface of the dough, and tie the strings on top as shown in the composite picture. Score as desired, forming a heart pattern.

Bake at 450F for 45 minutes, preferably covered for the first 30 minutes to retain steam. I cut the strings quickly after 30 minutes when I open the pan, and moved them gently out of the bread. Don’t worry if some parts of the string stay glued to the bread, you can remove later. Cool completely over a rack before slicing.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: The other day I was chatting with my friend Dorothy from Shockingly Delicious and she suggested that I make a Valentine-inspired sourdough. I jumped on the idea right away. However, I cannot take credit for the look of this bread, I had seen the scoring months ago on youtube and simply followed more or less her method with a few minor differences because I found myself with less space for additional details around the hearts. I wanted to use beets and make a vibrant red concoction, but there was no way I would go to the store under the dreadful weather conditions of this past weekend. If you don’t know what Polar Vortex is, count yourself lucky. Enough said.

I’ve been a bit puzzled by the way my designs sometimes tend to disappear during baking, and just the other day saw a tip about it. Apparently if you bake it in a Dutch oven (as I do), cracking the lid open allows some of the moisture to escape and the flour rubbed on the surface of the dough is not incorporated into it, so the design will be more evident and crisp. Obviously I forgot all about it when I baked this loaf. I will try it next time for sure.

ONE YEAR AGO: Orange Streusel Cake

TWO YEARS AGO: Pink Praline Brioche

THREE YEARS AGO: A Spinach Salad to Write Home About

FOUR YEARS AGO: Karen’s Four Hour French Country Bread

FIVE YEARS AGO: The Siren’s Song of the Royal Icing

SIX YEARS AGO: Blog-worthy Roasted Butternut Squash

SEVEN YEARS AGO: Chocolate Currant Sourdough Loaf & Roasted Beet Hummus

EIGHT YEARS AGO: Sesame and Flax Seed Sourdough

NINE YEARS AGO: Spanakopita Meatballs

TEN YEARS AGO: Saturday Morning Scones

ELEVEN YEARS AGO: Pain de Mie au Levain

TANGZHONG HAMBURGER BUNS

There are hamburger buns, and hamburger buns with Zen. These will Zen you out. Tanzhong is a method of Japanese baking in which part of the flour is cooked before being incorporated into the dough. What that does is create quite a unique crumb, with more moisture and tenderness. Perfect for hamburger and hot dog buns in which the crust is secondary. All you want is pillowy bread. You will need about 30 minutes of extra time before mixing the dough, but the outcome it totally worth it.

TANGZHONG HAMBURGER BUNS
(slightly modified from Domestic Gothess)

for tangzhong:
20 g (2tbsp) strong white bread flour
100 ml water

for the dough:
350 g strong white bread flour
7 g (2 tsp) fast-acting dry yeast (or regular instant yeast, but expect longer rising times)
1 tsp salt
50 g (1/4 cup) sugar
125 ml (1/2 cup) full fat milk
1 large egg
35 g softened butter

to glaze:
1 egg, beaten with a splash of milk
sesame seeds

To make the tangzhong, place the flour in a small saucepan and gradually whisk in the water. Place over a medium heat and cook, whisking constantly until it has thickened to a wallpaper paste-like consistency. Remove from the heat, scrape into a bowl and cover with clingfilm directly on the surface, set aside to cool.

Place the flour, yeast, salt and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook, lightly stir together and make a well in the center. Add the egg, milk and tangzhong to the well and mix on a low speed until it comes together into a dough.

Add the butter and mix on medium-high speed until the dough is very stretchy and comes away from the sides of the bowl, about 10 minutes. Transfer the dough to a lightly greased bowl, cover with clingfilm and either place somewhere warm to rise until doubled in size, about 1-2 hours (dough can be refrigerated overnight at this point if you prefer).

Line a baking sheet with baking parchment. Divide the risen dough into 8 equal pieces (or fewer if you like bigger buns) and shape each piece into a ball on a lightly floured surface. Spread the balls out well spaced apart on the baking sheet and loosely cover with oiled clingfilm. Leave to rise for about 1 hour until puffy.

Heat the oven to 400F. Brush the risen buns with the beaten egg and sprinkle with sesame seeds. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes until deep golden. Transfer the buns to a wire rack to cool. They are good for couple of days stored in an airtight container, or for a few months frozen.

ENJOY!


to print the recipe, click
here

Comments: Mitsuo Ayano was the person who first came up with the idea of making a water roux (yu-dane) and use it to bake bread. Later the process was simplified by a baker from Taiwan. In the US and Europe it is more widely known by its Chinese name, Tangzhong. At any rate, it is a nice technique to have in your repertoire, and pretty much all kinds of breads can be adapted to take some cooked flour in the formula. Check out this great version, made a few years ago by my friend Karen.


The crumb is so tender and flavorful! I’ve been making this recipe regularly, the moment we have 2 buns left in the freezer, another batch gets started. They can be shaped of course as regular buns or oblongs for hotdogs. I now settled on shaping each bun with around 110g dough, because the husband likes to slice each large roll in four thin slices crosswise, so it’s easier if the buns start big. I get about 6 large buns from one batch buy doing so.

ONE YEAR AGO: Potato Soup with Spicy Shrimp

TWO YEARS AGO: Rose-Harissa Chicken Thighs

THREE YEARS AGO: Caramel-Chocolate Tartlets

FOUR YEARS AGO: Chicken Korma-ish

FIVE YEARS AGO: Sunday Gravy with Braciola

SIX YEAR AGO: In My Kitchen, February 2015

SEVEN YEARS AGO: Avocado and Orange Salad with Charred Jalapeno Dressing

EIGHT YEARS AGO: Green Olive, Walnuts and Pomegranate Salad

NINE YEARS AGO: Romanian Flatbreads

TEN YEARS AGO: Ziti with Artichokes and Meyer Lemon Sauce

ELEVEN YEARS AGO: Blasted Broccoli, Stove-top version