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.

(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.


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.

ONE YEAR AGO: Re-Visiting Hamburger Buns

TWO YEARS AGO: Nutella Time, one cookie, three decorations

THREE YEARS AGO: Marshmallow Macarons

FOUR YEARS AGO: Sprinkled Meringues

FIVE YEARS AGO: Incredibly Simple Times Three

SIX YEARS AGO: Dan Lepard Simple White Loaf

SEVEN YEARS AGO: Maureen’s Fabulously Fudgy Brownies

EIGHT YEARS AGO: Wheat Berry Caraway Bread

NINE YEARS AGO: Mexican Focaccia 

TEN YEARS AGOSunny Kamut Salad with Roasted Lemon Vinaigrette

ELEVEN YEARS AGO: Pane de Casa & Crostini

TWELVE YEARS AGO: Down-home Dig-in Chili



I consider this bread a work in progress, as the color is fading a bit during baking. Sugarprism stays very well on cookies (as I showed in the first cookie from this post), but I suppose 450F is a different story. However, this was only my second time doing it, and I already saw some improvement from the first attempt. Any sourdough recipe you are fond of will work. I opted for Elaine’s Herb and Olive Oil Sourdough, which I used as a teaser recipe in my recent review of her wonderful book (click here to read it, in case you’ve missed it). I like the way the olive oil in the dough seemed to tame a bit the crust explosion, and that worked well to keep the design untouched.

Basic things to consider when painting… minimize the amount of flour on the surface. When we do stenciling or even artistic slashing, a coating with flour is super important. In painting the dough, it makes things difficult and interferes negatively with the color. In today’s bread, for the outline I used black cocoa diluted with water. For the petals, Sugarprism in yellow and red. For the center of the sunflower, bronze luster powder diluted with vodka. As you can see, from the before pictures the bronze luster powder was the champion as far as keeping the color during baking. Black cocoa will always stay well, but if your goal is color, that cannot really help you much…

Just in case you are curious, below you see my first attempt painting sourdough. Two small issues happened: the dough had so much oven-spring that it lifted the design in ways that were not ideal. And I coated the surface with flour, which made the Sugarprism color interact with it and fade even more. The flour also gave a rough texture that made it impossible to spread the color nicely with a brush. In this case, I re-painted the bread the moment it came out of the oven to bring the color back. But my goal is to not have to do that, and get some method that retains the color during baking. Stay tuned then for my next adventure, in which I will use exclusively luster powder + vodka, hoping for a happy, very colorful ending…

ONE YEAR AGO: Over-the-Moon Blueberry Lemon Macarons

TWO YEARS AGO: Springtime Macarons Bake-Along

THREE YEARS AGO: Macarons for a Little Princess

FOUR YEARS AGO: Gilding the Sourdough Loaf

FIVE YEARS AGO: Lolita Joins the Bewitching Kitchen

SIX YEARS AGO: Cashew Cream Sauce

SEVEN YEARS AGO: Blood Orange Margaritas

EIGHT YEARS AGO: Smoked Salmon Appetizer

NINE YEARS AGO: Clementine Cake

TEN YEARS AGO: Springtime Spinach Risotto

ELEVEN YEARS AGO: The end of green bean cruelty

TWELVE YEARS AGO: Torta di Limone e Mandorle


Another example of a recipe that blew the doors of the competition once I spotted it at The Fresh Loaf forum. They highlighted this bread on their front page, since it is so unique and gorgeous. My starter was eagerly waiting for a chance to shine, I had wheat germ in the freezer, the only departure from the original recipe was the use of sage instead of rosemary.   Not for gastronomic preference, but because a “certain dog” – who used to wander the streets of Hollywood – destroyed our rosemary plant. The dog has a good lawyer, and is presently free on bail.

(adapted from Ross’ recipe at The Fresh Loaf Forum)

150 g starter (white, 80% hydration)
335 g  water
490 g bread flour
20 g toasted wheatgerm
2 Tbs  fresh sage leaves, finely chopped
9 g  salt
Mix all ingredients, except the salt, until they form a shaggy mass, no need to worry with kneading yet.   Let it rest undisturbed for 40 minutes at room temperature.

Place the dough on a lightly oiled surface,  open flatten it out slightly, sprinkle the salt all over, and knead a few times to distribute the salt.  Place the dough in an oiled bowl, cover, let it sit for 1 hour.    Knead by stretching and folding a few times –  it will feel very smooth and easy to fold – put back in the bowl and let it rise 1 hour.   Repeat the stretch and fold one more time, cover the dough and let it rise for 2 hours and 20 minutes.

Form the dough into a ball, place it in a floured banetton type container, cover it and place in the fridge overnight.

Remove from the fridge 1 hour and 30 minutes before baking.  Bake in a 450F oven, using your favorite method to generate steam.  After 20 minutes, reduce the temperature to 425F, and bake for a total of 40-45 minutes. If you baked the bread covering with a roasting pan, remove the cover after 30 minutes.

Let it cool for at least 2 hours before slicing.


to print the recipe, click here

What a delicious loaf of bread this one turned out to be!  I used very little sage because it is such a strong-tasting herb, so its flavor was barely noticeable.  This bread would be great at a Thanksgiving dinner.  The wheat germ lends a bit of moisture to the crumb, allowing it to last longer than your regular sourdough.

The crust, hearty and crunchy, was covered with those tiny blisters that make the baker very happy.  Inside, the crumb was open, airy, and light. Cannot ask for much more than that…  😉

I am submitting this post to Susan’s Yeastspotting, please make sure to stop by and marvel at her weekly display of breads. I know my Friday is not complete without it!

ONE YEAR AGO: Polenta-Crust Tomato Loaf

TWO YEARS AGO: Watermelon Granita

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I’ve wanted to make crumpets from scratch for the longest time! I love the fact that they are full of tiny holes, smoother and creamier than regular bread, perfect to slather with butter or jam, or top with a poached egg and indulge…   Recently  I took a major step in the right direction, by getting crumpet rings (remember?).  And tried not one, but two recipes, one leavened by sourdough starter, and the second a more authentic version, with commercial yeast and baking soda.  Both methods produced completely different types of crumpets, and I favored the non-sourdough version.  I know, who could imagine that?   😉
                                                      (click to enlarge)

(From Andy’s blog at The Fresh Loaf forum)

250 g bread flour
5 g salt
15 g yeast
275 g water
0.75 g bicarbonate of soda
70 g water

Add the flour and the salt to the bowl of an electric mixer, and mix on first speed for a minute.  Dissolve the yeast in lukewarm water.  Combine the yeast with the flour/salt and beat on first speed for 2 minutes.  Scrape the bottom and the sides of the bowl, and beat on second speed for 6 minutes.   Cover the bowl and let it sit on a warm place for 1 hour.

Heat a griddle to 390F (200 C).  Dissolve the bicarbonate in the cold water and mix this solution to the batter.  Use right away, pouring a small amount of batter in well greased crumpet rings.   Cook for about 8 minutes on the first side, until bubbles form and the batter seems almost dry on top.   Remove the rings – carefully, they are hot! – and flip the crumpets, cooking for no more than 2 minutes on the second side.   Cool on a rack, and enjoy!

to print the recipe, click here

(from The Sourdough Companion)

125 g all purpose flour
175 g water
12.5 g sourdough starter

125 g all purpose flour
175 g milk
300 g preferment (all the amount made)
5 g salt
5 g bicarbonate of soda

Make the preferment and let it sit at room temperature for 12 to 24 hours.

Next day, mix all the ingredients for the batter, and let if sit for 4 hours undisturbed at room temperature.  Heat a griddle to 390 F (200 C).  Pour small amounts of the batter in greased crumpet rings, and cook for 8 minutes on the first side, remove the rings carefully, and flip them to cook on the second side for a couple of minutes.  Cool on a rack, and enjoy…

to print the recipe, click here

Comments:  Both recipes are pretty straightforward, with little hands-on time required. The traditional method allows you to have crumpets ready in about 1.5 hours, versus a little over 4 hours for the sourdough variation (not counting the pre-ferment prepared the day before).   The next sets of photos give you an idea of how different the batters looked right before cooking, and how the authentic version gave a more hole-y texture in the crumpets already during cooking.

A few pointers for success:

1. Do not fill the rings more than halfway, because if you do, the holes will close when you flip the crumpets.  It is tempting to add more batter, but resist the urge to do so.  Also, it will be harder to cook them through if they are too thick.

2. Do not cook them on a griddle that is too hot, or you will have a hard crust at the bottom and the crumpets won’t cook uniformly. Better to keep a lower temperature and cook longer.

3. Do not cook the second side longer than 2 minutes, or you might end up with an English muffin!   😉

4. Grease the rings again for each batch of crumpets, so that they are easily removed.  Crumpets are fragile, if they stick to the ring their shape can be compromised.

5. The rings are hot, and stay hot for a while once you remove them from the griddle.  It is easy to forget about it as the second batch gets going (sigh).

In my second attempt – the traditional recipe – things worked a lot better, and even the crumpets that were a bit too thick and “lost the holes” on the surface after flipping, revealed a wonderful crumb structure…

You don’t need rings to cook English muffins because they hold their shape well, but they are a must-have for crumpets.  You can of course improvise using empty, clean cans of appropriate diameter.  This would be a fun weekend project, kids would love to help you out…

I am submitting this post to Susan’s Yeastspotting

ONE YEAR AGO: Sweet Emergency

TWO YEARS AGO: The Bread We Love

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I’ve made it before during the Bread Baker’s Apprentice Challenge, but was not very happy with the way it turned out.   Hard to believe that it took me 17 months to bake another batch, but time tends to fly by me.   November?  Are we in November already?  What happened to 2010, that started just the other day?   😉

Ciabatta, take two: the recipe from  “The Italian Baker” calls for a mixture of flour, water, and yeast made the day before (the “biga“), and used as part of the final dough.  A total fermentation time of 3 hours allowed us to have the bread in time for lunch, as it bakes very quickly, less than 25 minutes.   I am quite pleased with this recipe, I suppose that it would work even better in a real oven, but my Breville rose to the challenge!

(from The Italian Baker)

for biga:
1/8 tsp active dry yeast
1 cup + 1 Tbs water at room temperature
1 + 1/4 cup all purpose flour (165 g)

Dissolve yeast in water, add the flour and form a sticky dough.  Leave it covered at room temperature for 16 to 24 hours.

for the final dough:
2.5 Tbs milk
1/2 tsp active dry yeast
5.5 ounces water (1/2 cup + 1.5 Tbs)
1/2 T olive oil
1 cup biga (250 g)
250 g all purpose flour
1/2 Tbs salt (7.5 g)

If kneading in a mixer, stir the yeast in the milk  and let it stand for  a  couple of minutes in the bowl.  Add the water, oil, the biga, and mix to incorporate, dissolving the biga in the liquid. Add the flour and salt, and mix at low speed for a couple of minutes.   Change to the dough hook and knead 2 minutes at low speed, and 2 minutes at medium speed.  Finish kneading by hand on a well-floured surface, but adding as little extra flour as possible.

Place the dough in an oiled bowl, cover, and leave at room temperature for 1 hour and 15 minutes.  Divide the dough, which will be very soft and bubbly, in two equal pieces.  Place each half on a well floured piece of parchment paper, and shape each as a cylinder, keeping the seam side down.  Stretch it gently to give the ciabatta overall shape (a rectangle of 10 x 4 inches), and use the tip of your fingers to make deep dimples all over the dough. Cover with a damp towel and let them rise for 1.5 to 2 hours.

Bake in a pre-heated 425 F oven, spraying the bread with water three times in the first 10 minutes.   Total baking time should be 20 to 25 minutes.   Cool the loaves on a rack, and…


to print the recipe, click here

Comments:  Carol Field advises against kneading this dough by hand, because it is very hard not to add more flour to prevent it from sticking.  However, if you are familiar with the way a high hydration dough behaves,  go ahead and give it a try.  Keep in mind that the less extra flour you add, the better.   She also keeps the seam side up during rising, which forces her to invert the dough on the baking sheet (or stone).  I prefer to shape them seam-side down, then transfer them gently to the oven with the parchment paper still underneath. I think that this method minimizes deflating the dough.

We enjoyed our ciabatta with mozarella and ham for lunch, and at dinner it complemented spaghetti with meatballs that shall be the subject of a post in the very near future (they were AWESOME!)…

I am submitting this post to Susan’s Yeastspotting event…

ONE YEAR AGO: Lamb Stew with Parsnips, Prunes and Chickpeas

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