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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
This bread is simply amazing. If you are not too sure about mixing chocolate with sourdough bread, let me tell you, it works! As the husband put it, this is dangerously good. He also said that “we” absolutely must make it again and have slices of this bread in the freezer at all times. I cannot take any credit for the basic formula, but I completely changed the method, and will explain my reasons in the comments. With this loaf, I tried a new way to decorate the surface, using paper towel to emboss a pattern. I definitely intend to explore this method further in the near future.
260g water 80g active sourdough starter at 100% hydration 320g bread flour 40g spelt flour 12g cocoa powder 12g canola oil 60g dark chocolate chips 60g dried sour cherries 8g sugar 7g salt additional flour for embossing effect (optional)
Bloom the cocoa. Heat the oil in a small saucepan. Add the cocoa and heat, stirring until it thickens slightly. Allow it to completely cool.
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 all other ingredients, except the chocolate chips and cherries.
Turn the mixer on with the hook attachment and knead the dough for 2 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. Add the chocolate chips and cherries, knead in the machine for 2 and a half minutes more.
Remove the dough 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. If you intend to do the decorative embossing, rub all-purpose or bread flour all over the paper towel. Reserve.
After four hours bulk fermentation, shape the dough in any shape you like, and place, seam side up, in a lightly floured banetton. If embossing, the bread lays on top of the paper saturated with flour. 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, slash the surface with a sharp razor blade. Bake at 450F for 45 minutes, preferably covered for the first 30 minutes to retain steam. Cool completely over a rack before slicing.
Comments: The technique to do the embossing is explained very well in this video from youtube. I was hoping for more staying power and contrast after baking, so on a loaf made a few days later I tried tapioca flour and rice flour, but they did not work. The tapioca behaved very oddly when rubbed in the paper, so I did not use it, and the rice flour never formed a pattern after overnight in the fridge. So, as far as my limited experience goes, it might be better to use regular white flour.
The bread had great oven-spring, and the smell was amazing as it baked. My modification of the method involved super-simplifying it. As I like to say, your kitchen, your rules. If you prefer to go along the path of autolyse, and adding water in different stages, go for it. I’ve been baking sourdough for 15 years pretty much non-stop, and I stick with the simplest way to do it. It works well for me. Would it be better if I did the autolyse and all the other convoluted tricks? Maybe, but honestly, I don’t really care. Some bakers go to the extent of measuring the temperature of the room, the water, the flour, adjust the number of revolutions per minute in the KitchenAid to get to the perfect increase in temperature by friction etc etc. I have zero interest in this type of precision. My default method works fine for all bread formulas I’ve tried so far. Quoting my dear friend Elaine (author of two bread cookbooks): “Keep It Simple.”
The flavor of this bread is hard to describe, but Maurizio really hit the jackpot with this one. It is not a sweet bread. Biting into the pieces of cherry around the crumb? Added bliss. Make it, and you might find yourself with a new favorite loaf of bread to keep around the house.
Of all the nuts out there, the peanut is the ugly duckling. Simple, humble, affordable, available everywhere. It does not have that majestic feel of a macadamia, or the sexy aura of a hazelnut. Most sourdough breads include walnuts or pecans, leaving them once again neglected. Not in my kitchen, though. This bread gets a double load of peanuts. Peanut butter, and roasted peanuts joined together with flour, salt and a wild bunch of yeast and bacteria aka sourdough starter.
DOUBLE PEANUT SOURDOUGH LOAF (from The Bewitching Kitchen)
370g water 70g active sourdough starter at 100% hydration 470g bread flour 20g spelt flour 10 g rye flour 30g peanut butter (smooth) 30g roasted peanuts, unsalted 10g salt
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, the peanut butter and the salt.
Turn the mixer on with the hook attachment and knead the dough for 2 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.
Add the peanuts and continue kneading in low-speed for 2 and a half minutes more.
Remove the dough 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 any pattern you like.
Bake at 450F for 45 minutes, preferably covered for the first 30 minutes to retain steam. Cool completely over a rack before slicing.
Comments: If you follow my blog, you know that my default method for sourdough involves the Kitchen Aid initial kneading and never heating the Dutch oven before dropping the bread inside, over parchment paper. Those two details make life a lot easier in terms of clean up of bowls, hands, and lack of burning marks in forearms and fingers…
I add the peanuts after 2 minutes kneading with the KA, and run the machine for one additional couple of minutes or so. That is enough to incorporate the nuts in the dough, which will continue to happen during the subsequent foldings. You can slash the dough in patterns or just do a simple slash. Below I show you another type of pattern, a kind of geometric flower.
We loved the subtle peanut flavor of this bread, and biting into a little peanut here and there was also very nice. The peanuts will end up softer than other nuts normally used in breads.
This is a type of bread we see often this time of the year, because it looks so festive, but it is actually quite simple to make. The filling can be sweet (think Nutella, caramel, raspberry jam) or savory. My version used sundried-tomato and cheese. You can take it in different directions, and it will always turned out great, with that visual impact we love so much, particularly during the holiday season.
for the dough: 3/4 cup lukewarm milk 2 teaspoons active dry or instant yeast 360g all-purpose flour, divided 1 large egg 3 tablespoons olive oil 1 teaspoon salt
for the filling: ¾ cup shredded mozzarella ½ cup oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes 1/2 tsp herbes de Provence ½ teaspoon salt
1 egg for egg wash
To make the dough, place the milk, yeast, and 120g all-purpose flour in a large mixing bowl and stir to combine. Cover and let rest for 15 minutes.
Add the egg, olive oil, salt, and the rest of the all-purpose flour. Mix to make a soft dough, then knead for 6 to 8 minutes, until smooth and supple. Place in an oiled bowl, cover, and let rise for about 1 hour, until doubled.
Mix together minced sun-dried tomatoes, salt and herbes de Provence. Reserve.
Divide the dough into four pieces and shape into balls. Cover and let rest for 10 minutes.
Place one piece of dough on a piece of parchment. Roll it into a 10″ circle. Spread ⅓ of the sun-dried tomato mixture on the first layer of dough in an even layer. Sprinkle ⅓ of the cheese, leaving ½” around the outside edge uncovered. Roll out the second ball of dough to the same size as the first. Place it on top of the first circle and repeat the three layers of filling. Again, repeat with the third ball of dough and the last ⅓ of filling. Roll out the last ball of dough and place it on top.
Place a 2″ round biscuit cutter or drinking glass in the center of the dough to serve as a guide. Using a sharp knife, cut the larger circle into 16 equal strips, from the outside edge to the cutter/glass in the center, through all the layers. Using two hands, pick up two adjacent strips of dough and twist them away from each other twice, so the top side is facing up again. Repeat with the remaining strips of dough all the way around the circle. Remove the cutter/glass.
Pinch the ends of adjacent strips together all the way around the bread to create eight star-like points. Transfer the star on the parchment to a baking sheet. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise for about 45 minutes. Dough should look expanded and airy.
Heat the oven to 400F. Remove the plastic wrap and brush the star with a thin coat of the egg wash. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until nicely golden. Remove the bread from the oven and cool for 10 minutes before serving.
Comments: This is a very rich dough, and a pleasure to work with. Even if you are a beginner at bread baking, the whole process is pretty forgiving. The circles of dough do not have to match precisely, it is all going to get twisted and any little gaps won’t affect the final product.
There are many videos available on youtube to show you how to shape the bread, like this one.
If you are still searching for a nice bread as a centerpiece for your holiday festivities, this is truly a great option…