I am absolutely thrilled to share my review of a GREAT sourdough bread cookbook, published just this week by my friend Elaine! This is her third cookbook, I have reviewed her two first babies here and here. Let me tell you, this is her best one. I wanted to make every single one of her recipes, they all had some kind of intriguing twist, unexpected addition, or unusual shaping. But first, let me share the first recipe I made, the moment the book arrived at my doorstep. The husband is crazy for peanut butter and jelly, so of course that was an easy choice for me.
To order Elaine’s book, click here
PEANUT BUTTER AND JELLY BABKA
(printed with permission from Easy Everyday Sourdough Bread Baking)
for the dough:
50 g active sourdough starter at 100%
350 g reduced-fat milk (I used full-fat)
500 g white bread flour
7g salt or to taste (up to 10 g)
for the filling:
50 g peanut butter, smooth or crunchy
100 g jelly of your choice (I used seedless raspberry)
In the early evening, mix all the dough ingredients in a large bowl until you have a rough dough. Cover with plastic wrap or a shower cap and leave in the counter for 2 hours. Perform a set of pulls and folds. The dough will be stiff at first, but will become smooth and come into a ball. At that point, stop, cover again and leave it on your center for one hour.
Perform one more set of pulls and folds, then leave over the counter at room temperature overnight (8 to 10 hours at around 68F). Our kitchen is warmer, but I had no issues with overnight fermentation.
Next morning place the bowl of the dough in the fridge, without touching it, for one hour. Prepare a 9 x 5 in loaf pan by spraying it with oil or lining it with parchment paper.
After one hour, sprinkle flour on the countertop and open the dough with your hands and/or a rolling pin to a dimension of 8 by 16 inches, making sure it has even thickness. Spread the peanut butter gently all over the dough, then the jelly. Roll up the dough from the shorter end. Once rolled, use a sharp knife to cut the sausage lengthwise down the middle in two equal pieces. Twist the two pieces together, then lift the dough and place it inside the prepared pan.
Allow the dough to proof again until it reaches the edge of the pan, 2 to 4 hours, depending on the temperature of the room. You can also proof in the fridge for up to 24 hours and bake straight from the fridge.
Bake at 400F for about 40 minutes, making sure to protect the surface with aluminum foil after about 30 minutes to prevent excessive darkening.
Remove the loaf from the oven and the pan, remove the paper, tap the base of the loaf and if it sounds hollow, it is baked, if not return it to the oven, out of the pan, directly into the oven rack to bake for a further 5 to 10 minutes. Allow it to cool before slicing.
to print the recipe, click here
Comments: The dough is a pleasure to work with. My only change was to use the KitchenAid for the initial mixing, just because I got so used to doing it that way for all my sourdough baking, that it became second nature. Of course, you can just mix by hand and it will be even simpler, less stuff to wash. Don’t worry about leaving the bread overnight at room temperature, it will be perfect. The amount of peanut butter and jelly is just right, don’t add more. Even though the peanut butter seemed to disappear once it baked, the taste was there, in the exact intensity needed. In the book Elaine gives alternatives to bake from cold oven, which is something she does often. In fact, every single one of her recipes offers the option of starting from cold oven.
The bread feels surprisingly rich, when you consider it has no butter or eggs in it. I love the texture, and because it has no sugar, you can definitely use the exact same formula and take it into savory territory with pesto, cheese, tapenade, or as Elaine herself did in her book with a surprising combo of flavors (check my summary of Chapter 2). I will definitely be doing that in the near future.
Of course, the husband loaded the bread with peanuts, because that’s what he does!
Now let’s dig into the review of Elaine’s beautiful cookbook shall we?
The book is divided into chapters, according to the general way, in which you will bake your breads and that in itself is unusual and fun. I will now go into each chapter and give you a few examples of the recipes you will find
Chapter 1: THE BREAD PAN COLLECTION
In this set of recipes, you will be using a regular Dutch pan or enameled pan with the cover that if you are used to baking sourdough bread is pretty much the container of choice. She opens the chapter with her Easy Shape Crusty White Loaf, which is what she described as the archetypal sourdough loaf.
Many recipes called my attention, but my favorites would be Same-Day Chia Seed Boule, the Yogurt and Nut Boule, the Turkish-Style Seed-Topped Pide and her Cheesy Herby Pull Apart Rolls.
Chapter 2: THE LOAF TIN COLLECTION
In the second chapter, you will be using loaf pans like the regular 9 x 5 in that is often used in bread baking. She will also bring into play the fun Pullman type pan, and will share formulas to get absolutley beautiful square loaves, that are so handy to make sandwiches. I wanted to bake pretty much everything! The chapter is divided in two sections, “Simplest” and “Flavored”. In the simplest section, the breads are made with seeds, ancient grains, or the super cool Whey and Honey Sandwich Loaf, that is calling my name really loud. In that recipe, the whey component can be the liquid that accumulates over yogurt. We consume A LOT of yogurt at home, so that is going to happen, trust me. The flavored section is unreal! The Peanut Butter and Jelly Babka I highlighted is from that part, but Elaine went wild on this brings all sorts of twists: Cheese and Ketchup Babka (I know this is a real winner because we talked about it when she first made it), Roasted Cumin, Coriander and Caraway Loaf, Dark Chocolate Chip, Hazelnut and Rye Loaf (be still, my heart!), Satay-Swirled Black Sesame Seed Loaf. Need I say more? The teaser recipe at the end of my post is also from this section.
Chapter 3: THE CAKE TIN COLLECTION
She opens the chapter with a question: How many cake tins do you have? I have quite a few and I never bake cakes!
Well, I bake cakes and have more cake pans than I care to admit in public, so this chapter is dear to my baker’s heart. And we are not talking just big cake pans! Elaine makes these small cute loaves in circular 8 inch cake pans, so adorable! I a a bit lazy to adjust amounts to different sizes of pans, so it was nice to have it all laid down nicely for me. Also, she puts Bundt pans into the universe of sourdough baking. Yes you got that right Bundt pans are not just for cakes anymore! Many recipes tempting me, I give you just a few: Pumpkin Spiced and Shaped Loaf, Fast Coconut and Cherry Tea Loaf, Feta and Spinach Bundt Tin Loaf with Red Onion Topping, Holiday Chocolate Enriched Bundt Tin Loaf (!!!!), and wait for the last one… Gingerbread Cookie Enriched Bundt Tin Loaf (wow, just wow!).
Chapter 4: THE MUFFIN TIN COLLECTION
Ok, now I really have to tell you, I was in Nirvana with this chapter. The whole idea is to use your muffin pan to bake sourdough in all kinds of cute shapes and flavors. Apple and Apricot Enriched Sourdough “Roses”, Sweet Potato Apple and Cheese Roll Ups, Stuffed Pizza Rolls (OMG), Sweet Potato, Za’atar and Tahini Rolls. And the last one almost took my breath away (the picture is amazing): Falafel-Spiced Chickpea Bites.
Chapter 5: THE OVEN TRAY COLLECTION
This chapter lists a series of recipes you can bake in a simple, humble baking sheet. Same-Day Cheats Baguettes, Seeded Pide with Cheese, Red Pepper and Baked Eggs (the picture made me drool), Butternut Squash, Pecan and Fall Spiced Focaccia, Spiced Cheese Sandwich Crackers. After this chapter, what she calls a bonus recipe: Air-Fryer Pitas. Needless to say, that goes into my list to bake very very soon.
The photography of the book is simply outstanding! Every single recipe has a picture, they are stylish, beautiful, and since I know Elaine personally, I realize that they convey her style perfectly. The method behind her recipes is the same of he previous books: simple, straightforward, instead of feeling intimidated by a bunch of parameters and temperatures and factors you need to control, she makes you feel confident and ready to go to the kitchen and play. A perfect book if you are a beginner and a total delight if you are an experienced sourdough baker.
and now, for the teaser recipe….
FAST SPELT, DRIED FRUIT, NUTS AND SEEDS LOAF
I am going to tell you something pretty major: this was one of the tastiest breads I’ve made. It is ready in less than 2 hours, essentially you mix all the ingredients, sourdough starter, baking powder and baking soda, and bake. It is rich, loaded with nuts, seeds and dried fruits (figs, apricots, cranberries, raisins), and OMG SO SO GOOD! If you can wait until it is totally cool and slice it thinly, place it in the toaster and you will have a ticket to Nirvana. Absolutely wonderful!
Elaine, thank you so much for allowing me to publish one of the recipes in my blog! You outdid yourself with this cookbook, and I know I will have a blast making more recipes from it!
ONE YEAR AGO: Painted Sourdough
TWO YEARS AGO: Over-the-Moon Blueberry Lemon Macarons
THREE YEARS AGO: Springtime Macarons Bake-Along
FOUR YEARS AGO: Macarons for a Little Princess
FIVE YEARS AGO: Gilding the Sourdough Loaf
SIX YEARS AGO: Lolita Joins the Bewitching Kitchen
SEVEN YEARS AGO: Cashew Cream Sauce
EIGHT YEARS AGO: Blood Orange Margaritas
NINE YEARS AGO: Smoked Salmon Appetizer
TEN YEARS AGO: Clementine Cake
ELEVEN YEARS AGO: Springtime Spinach Risotto
TWELVE YEARS AGO: The end of green bean cruelty
THIRTEEN YEARS AGO: Torta di Limone e Mandorle