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.

ONE YEAR AGO: Embossed Chocolate-Cherry Sourdough Loaf

TWO YEARS AGO: Springerle Painting 101

THREE YEARS AGO: Mincemeat Pies, when the third time is a charm

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THIRTEEN YEARS AGO: Slow-Roasted Chicken Thighs: an Ice-Breaker

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!

ONE YEAR AGO: Star-Shaped Sun-dried Tomato Bread

TWO YEARS AGO: Cranberry White Chocolate Tart

THREE YEARS AGO: I dream of Madeleines and a Tower of Cheesecakes

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TWELVE YEARS AGO: Miso-Grilled Shrimp

THIRTEEN YEARS AGO: Pain Poilane

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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THREE YEARS AGO: A Really Big Announcement

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SIX YEARS AGO: A New Way to Roast Veggies

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TEN YEARS AGO: Chicken Parmigiana, the Thriller

ELEVEN YEARS AGO: Wild Mushroom Risotto

TWELVE YEARS AGO: Tartine Bread:  Basic Country Loaf 

THIRTEEN YEARS AGO:  Pugliese Bread

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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ENRICHED SOURDOUGH JAM-FILLED ROLLS, AND A COOKBOOK REVIEW

I am absolutely thrilled to share this recipe, fresh from the press, part of the second cookbook of my dear friend Elaine (click here for her sourdough site and here for her new book ordering info). Sourdough taken straight into brioche territory, with just the right level of sweetness, filled with your favorite jam. The recipe makes 16 rolls, I actually halved it and divided the dough in 8 pieces for shaping as rolls. To divide the egg, I just mixed one egg with the yolk, weighed that, and used half. It ended up being 30g egg mixture for half the recipe, in case you’d like to go that route.

ENRICHED SOURDOUGH JAM-FILLED ROLLS
(from Elaine Boddy’s Sourdough Whisperer)

Either line a large baking or cookie sheet with parchment paper and sprinkle with rice flour, or prepare fluted baby brioche pans (3 1/8 inches [8 cm] in diameter and 11/4 inches [3 cm] deep), lined up ready to fill on a baking sheet.

Makes 16 snack-sized buns
50 g active starter at 100% hydration
270 g milk, cold or room temperature
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk (reserve egg white for brushing)
75 g butter, at room temperature
50 g runny honey
500 g strong white bread flour, plus more for dusting
7 g (1 tsp) salt, or to taste
200 g jam of your choice (about 2 tsp per roll)
Powdered sugar, for sprinkling (optional)

In the early evening, in a large mixing bowl, roughly mix together all the ingredients, except the reserved egg white and jam. It will be a very sticky dough, and it may be easier to use a bowl scraper or spatula to mix it at this stage. Leave it roughly mixed, cover the bowl with a clean shower cap or your choice of cover and leave the bowl on the counter.

After an hour, perform the first set of pulls and folds on the dough. Lifting and pulling the dough across the bowl until it starts to come into a soft ball, then stop. The butter will not be fully mixed in yet; it will become more so as you work with the dough. Cover the bowl again and leave it to sit on the counter. During this first set of pulls and folds, the dough will still be sticky, but keep working with it.

Over the next few hours, perform three more sets of pulls and folds on the dough, covering the bowl after each set. The dough will remain sticky but nicely stretchy and will come together into a nice soft ball each time. Do the final set before going to bed. Leave the covered bowl on the counter overnight, typically 8 to 12 hours, at 64 to 68°F (18 to 20°C).

In the morning, turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and pull the dough into a 14-inch (35-cm) square that is an even thickness all over. Using a dough knife or pizza cutter, cut the dough into sixteen equal squares. Place a heaping teaspoon of jam in the middle of each square, pull the corners and edges of each square together and stick them together. Turn each parcel over and shape into a ball. Place each ball onto your prepared pan, allowing space between them to grow, or place them in your baby brioche pans. Cover the balls with a large plastic bag and leave on the counter for the rolls to proof again for 2 to 3 hours, or until doubled in size.

Heat the oven to 325F. Mix the egg white with a tablespoon of water and brush the top of each ball gently with it. Bake uncovered for 20 to 25 minutes. Remove from the oven and place the rolls directly on a rack to cool briefly. These are best eaten warm, with an optional sprinkle of powdered sugar.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: This dough is wonderful to work with… smooth, elastic, easy to shape. Do not be afraid of letting it sit overnight at room temperature, unless you live in a super warm climate without air-conditioning. This rich type of dough tends to proof a lot slower than regular sourdough. For the final proofing, I used these brioche pans. They are a bit pricey but excellent quality. Love the way they look… But as Elaine mentions in the recipe, you can simply shape them as round little balls instead.

You can fill them with any jam you like. I used Morello Cherry preserves and it was absolutely delicious… A little bit leaked from the bottom of some of the rolls, but no harm done.

I don’t think I need to say much more, right? The picture is worth 1,000 words… They actually freeze well too. Just wrap them, and when you are ready to enjoy them, bring to room temperature for 20 minutes or so, then place in a warm oven to heat through. They will be as good as freshly baked!

Now let me walk you through Elaine’s new book, “The Sourdough Whisperer.” And in the end of this blog post you will see another bread I baked from her book, as a teaser recipe..

The book is organized in two parts, the first deals with everything you need to know about making sourdough: making a starter from scratch, maintaining it, ingredients, tools, her master recipe and timing your bread baking to suit your schedule. The essence of it all is exactly what we’ve seen in her first book: simplicity. I tell you one thing, in this first part she covers EVERY single question a baker might have as far as tweaking recipes, or changing proofing time and/or temperature. A must-read even if you are a seasoned sourdough baker.

Part Two is devoted to recipes, and you’ll find eight sub-chapters in it.

#1 – The Master Recipe Sourdough Collection. In this chapter she shows how versatile her Baby Master Recipe can be, adapting it to make different shapes, Wedge Rolls, Sandwich Loaf, a beautiful concoction using a Bundt Pan (yes, that is right, and the photo of that one is worth a prize), a Pullman Loaf, and she closes it with a cute little method to use up “ends of bags” of flour. Every single bread in the whole book has a picture, so keep that in mind. I love that.

#2 – The Enriched Sourdough Collection. I love this section! Normally I do a straight sourdough bread, so to me playing with enriched dough is not very common, which is one of the reasons why I chose the featured recipe. Elaine uses her default Enriched Sourdough in some formulas, and also offers a lighter alternative. The chapter opens with a total beauty, Enriched Sourdough Pesto Babka. Stunning! The Jam-Filled Rolls are part of that chapter, and I almost chose the Cinnamon and Raisin Enriched Bundt Pan Bake to showcase here.

#3 – The Spiced Sourdough Collection. I love bread with spices, if you follow my blog you’ve probably noticed. I definitely will be trying some of her versions like Smoked Paprika, Rosemary and Sun-Dried Tomato Master Loaf, and her Turmeric and Onion Seed Sandwich Loaf.

#4 – The Softer Sourdough Collection. Super interesting chapter. It centers on methods that will produce a sourdough with a much softer crust, something she achieves by adding milk into the formulas. She starts with a “Half-Milk, Half-Water Baby Master Loaf”, and moves to variations using different proportions and different liquids such as buttermilk (Buttermilk and Spelt Loaf with Pine Nuts and Oats, another thing of beauty). I made the teaser recipe from this chapter, “Olive Oil and Herb Master Loaf”, so check it out in the end of this post.

#5 – The Filled Collection. Maybe my favorite chapter, I just don’t know. In this section, she really shows her creativity, joining interesting ingredients together. First comes a Cheese, Fig and Walnut Sandwich Loaf, absolutely gorgeous and mouth-watering photo… Apricot and Almond Babka Loaf with very detailed pictures of the shaping. I absolutely MUST make the “Chickpea, Barberry and Lemon Pantry Loaf”.

#6 – The Flat Sourdough Collection. Elaine uses her master recipe to make focaccia, pizza, ciabatta, and fougasse. In other words, she covers all the classics. Pictures are wonderful, including once again quite detailed shots of shaping ciabatta, which can be tricky.

#7 – The Shaped Collection. Another super fun and creative chapter, she shares techniques for special shaping. Braided Loaf is the first example, but don’t think about challah, this braid decorates the top of the bread, super cool. Looks intimidating but the pictures show you exactly how to do it. A Chocolate and Nut Sourdough Crown follows, would be just amazing at a party. The one I intend to try soon is… Pull-Apart Sharing Sesame Sourdough. The chapter closes with baguettes, in my opinion the trickiest bread to shape correctly.

#8 – The Same Day Collection. Sometimes we want to speed things up, right? This series gives recipes to have sourdough prepared and baked the same day. It is all a play with amount of starter and proofing temperature. Sourdough Pizza and Pita are two examples, but my favorite might be Same Day Poppy Seed Sourdough Rolls. They are adorable.

If you bake sourdough bread, or if you flirt with the idea of venturing into it, you need this book. The tone is always friendly, supportive, positive, and again, reading the book and browsing through the wonderful pictures, I just wanted to stop and start baking right away. The mark of a captivating cookbook!…

And now, as I always like to do when reviewing cookbooks, I share…

A TEASER RECIPE

OLIVE OIL AND HERB SOURDOUGH

Isn’t that amazing? The crust is a lot softer than a regular sourdough, and the bread stays fresh longer. A pleasure to work with, great flavor with the herbs spread inside the crumb.

ONE YEAR AGO: Monet’s Glazed Carrots

TWO YEARS AGO: Brownies, Three Ways

THREE YEARS AGO: Berry Rebellion Tarts  (one of my favorite blog posts)

FOUR YEAR AGO: Emilie Raffa’s High Hydration Sourdough

FIVE YEARS AGO: Short-Ribs with Chickpeas and Chard

SIX YEARS AGO: Asian-Style Short Ribs 

SEVEN YEARS AGO: Herbed Goat Cheese Souffles

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NINE YEARS AGO: Jammin’ Blueberry Sour Milk Pancakes

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