VALENTINE’S SOURDOUGH, THREE WAYS

You can use any formula for your sourdough bread, it is all about the scoring, or scoring & painting, if you are so inclined. I offer a simple recipe, that you can flavor with different spices or leave plain.

BE MY VALENTINE SOURDOUGH
(from the Bewitching Kitchen)

475g bread flour
25g spelt flour
365g water
70g sourdough starter at 100% hydration
10g salt
1 tsp spice flavoring (Garam masala, Ras-El-Hanout, Za’atar)

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. You can paint with an air-brush, if desired.

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

The first bread is a flash-back from a couple of years ago, and you can read all the details here.

If you like to add some color to this basic scoring, here’s how to do it…

Simply tie the bread as explained in the recipe, score the heart shapes, and carefully air-brush the design with red. This particular loaf was smaller (400g total flour instead of 500g), so I did not have much space to work on additional details with the razor blade. But I still like the end result…

And the third design, might be the simplest, as you won’t need to tie strings around the shaped dough before baking.

I floured the top of the bread, placed a cookie cutter on top, air-brushed the inside with red dye, removed the cookie cutter and cut the heart with a razor blade first, then used the scissors to clip all around it. A little spiral scoring all around, and that was all!

Comments: I am not sure which design is my favorite, maybe the last one, although the bread had such strong oven spring that the spiral scoring ended up a bit removed from the heart design on top. If you don’t have an air-brush, you can paint with a regular brush, diluting the food dye with a little vodka or water, depending on how fast you want the paint to dry (vodka or any other alcohol will dry faster than water). You can also just score the heart and leave it plain.

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CHRISTMAS SOURDOUGH

I love it when a friend shares a baking idea with me, and in this case I am talking about Alex, my tent-baker partner of three years ago (time flies!). I gilded the lily by coupling some air-brushing with the basic scoring pattern, and I must say I’m pretty smitten by this little loaf of sourdough, perfumed with a touch of za’atar.

ZA’ATAR CHRISTMAS SOURDOUGH
(from the Bewitching Kitchen)

385g white bread flour
20g whole-wheat flour
65g sourdough starter at 100% hydration
280g water
8g salt
1 tsp za’atar

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, the baharat and the salt. Turn the mixer on with the hook attachment and knead the dough for 4 minutes at low-speed all the time. If the dough is too sticky, add 1/4 cup flour, you want the dough to start clearing the sides of the bowl, but still be sticky at the bottom.

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. 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, rub gently white flour on the surface. Score with a pine tree pattern (see picture below) and paint them with air-brush in green, then go over the center lines with gold luster powder.

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: Alex brought to my attention this post from Instagram, so you can check how it is scored by watching the reel. I used the air-brush to add some green to the trees after scoring. It worked great because it goes fast, but of course there is little precision on the edges. I then used gold to hide the green that sprayed in between the tree pattern. Just like the Instagram post, my central star also bursted in the oven, but such is the price you pay for good oven spring. The green faded a little bit during baking so next time I will use a heavier hand with the air-brush. Now that I know the colors of air-brush dyes work well, I will be playing with other patterns and bringing stencils to play too. Stay tuned!

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LACE-DECORATED SOURDOUGH: A WORK IN PROGRESS

Friends, this has been a bit of an ordeal to get to work. The basic idea is to use lace and rub charcoal-activated powder on top of it to create a design. A few posts and reels on Instagram guided me, but it quickly became obvious that every single detail matters and can make or break the outcome. The variables are many: what kind of fabric, how open the design is, and most important, how to make the lace glue to the bread but not too much. I have not hit Nirvana yet, but with this third loaf, I feel good enough to share it with you. Stay tuned for future experiments in which I hope to get all the details optimized.

You can use any sourdough recipe you are fond of. For this particular loaf I used my basic formula described in this post, adding 1 tsp Garam Masala to the dough.

From what I saw in Instagram, the favorite method is to add the lace to the bottom of the banneton, leave it there overnight in the fridge for final fermentation, then rub charcoal, pull the lace and score the top, in a way that the design won’t be too compromised. When I did that, I had two different outcomes, none of them very nice. In the first, I rubbed too much flour over the surface of the dough, and that prevented the charcoal from staying well enough. The second time, I skipped the rubbing of white flour before inverting the dough on the lace, and that was a catastrophic move: the lace glued to the bread, and when I pulled it, it ripped the surface, ruined the design, it was a complete and utter mess.

This time I allowed the bread to sit in the fridge overnight in the banneton, inverted it over parchment paper, placed the lace on top and pressed it as best as I could. Next I added charcoal and rubbed it in. My mistake was to mist the surface with water, a bit too much water went on top, and made the charcoal sip underneath the lace. So the top did not reveal the design, and got way too dark. I think it is easy to fix next time, so I am sharing with you this version and maybe you can play with it and hit the jackpot on you first attempt! Go ahead, make me proud!

The bead had great oven spring, so if I had managed to get the design imprinted all over, it would have been pretty awesome… But, this is much better than my previous two attempts. My advice to you is, try this method if you like it, but don’t expect it to work on your first time, you might have to tweak things depending on the fabric you have, and the design itself. But no matter what, the bread underneath will always taste great, no major harm done if you don’t get it right. This is really a super fun technique and with a ton of possibilities…. Stay tuned for more soon!

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POILANE-STYLE BREAD, A SIMPLIFIED VERSION

Pain Poilane might very well be one of the most famous breads made in France. The process to make it is convoluted and slow. The bread has a crumb that is not very open, with deep, complex flavor. All in all, a super hearty bread. I’ve made a few versions since I started playing with sourdough 15 years ago, but today I share one of the simplest ways, in which time does most of the work for you. Handling the dough is reduced to a bare minimum. If you are searching for a light tasting bread with very open crumb, this is not it. It is a superb bread to make Croque Monsieur or to enjoy with toppings such as smoked salmon or the very best ham you can find. 

POILANE-STYLE BREAD
(adapted from several sources)

for the fermented sourdough component:
200g water
120g sourdough starter (at 100% hydration)
240g whole-wheat flour

for the dough:
275g water
85g light rye flour
170g spelt flour
250g bread flour
12g salt

If you have a chance to turn your regular sourdough into a rye-based, you can do that by feeding it for about 3 days with rye flour instead of regular white flour. If you don’t have any, just use your regular sourdough.

In the evening, mix all the ingredients for the fermented component in a medium-size bowl. Leave it at room temperature for 12 hours. It won’t rise much, but you should notice fermentation next day.

On the morning of the next day add the water to your starter and mix well. Add all the flours and salt, and knead with the KitchenAid for about 3 minutes. Remove from the KitchenAid, place in a large bowl, and leave at room temperature for 90 minutes. Knead by hand for a couple of minutes at the 30 minute and 90 minute mark. Cover and place the dough in the fridge overnight.

Remove the cold dough from the fridge, form into a ball, and place in a lightly floured banneton, with the seam side up. Leave at room temperature for 5 to 6 hours. Heat the oven to 450F, invert the dough on parchment paper, score the surface and place in a Dutch oven, with the lid on. Bake for 30 minutes, remove the lid and bake for further 20 to 25 minutes.

Allow the bread to cool completely before slicing, preferably overnight.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: Contrary to regular sourdough, this version that contains so much whole-wheat and rye flour, is not appropriate to fold and stretch. It is – if I am to be honest – not very nice to handle. There is a harshness associated with the coarser nature of the whole-wheat component, which in this case is a pretty substantial part of the formula. So, instead of folding, I opted for minimal kneading, a technique Dan Lepard is quite fond of. It is actually the basis for all his breads in The Handmade Loaf, which was my personal introduction to sourdough baking. This bread turned out super flavorful! It was a huge hit with the husband, who already requested that slices of “Poilane” be found in the freezer at all times…

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FOR THE LOVE OF SOURDOUGH


Playing with different scoring styles for sourdough… The only new recipe is Pecan Flour Sourdough (top left). I had a bag of pecan flour hanging around, and did a little sourdough experiment with it. Pecan flour brings flavor and some fat to the party, but no gluten, so it’s not a good idea to add too much to your basic bread formula. We loved the texture of the crumb, the delicate flavor, and the slight purple tone it contributed. The bread lasts longer at room temperature without drying. And of course, it freezes beautifully, like any sourdough does.


PECAN FLOUR SOURDOUGH
(from the Bewitching Kitchen)

480g bread flour
20g spelt flour
20g pecan flour
10g salt
370g water
80g 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, and the salt. Turn the mixer on with the hook attachment and knead the dough for 4 minutes at low-speed all the time. If the dough is too sticky, add 1/4 cup flour, you want the dough to start clearing the sides of the bowl, but still be sticky at the bottom.

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. 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, sprinkle tapioca flour over it for a very light coverage. Next, use a brand new razor blade to score the design.

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: The picture did not really show the color too well. In real life, there was a very very light hint of purple. The bread is delicious, with a complex flavor, not clearly associated with pecans. I wanted to keep just the flour in this version, but adding pieces of toasted pecan to the formula will be happening in the future.


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