I don’t think I stopped smiling from the moment I started writing this post, to the time I hit publish… The cookbook I am reviewing today was written by a dear friend of mine, Elaine, who bakes and blogs from the UK. I had the pleasure of meeting her in person last year when the biggest adventure of my life took me to a certain tent. At that time, right in her kitchen, she broke the news that she was going to write a cookbook, the final negotiations were just taking place. And now, a little over one year later, it is out there for the world: Whole-Grain Sourdough at Home, by Elaine Boddy! She gave me permission to share one recipe here in my little virtual spot, so without further ado, let’s get to it…
CHEESE AND PESTO EMMER ROLL-UPS
(published with permission from Elaine Boddy)
makes 8 rolls
for the dough:
50g active starter (at 100% hydration)
400g bread flour
100g emmer flour
7g salt (I used 10g)
for the filling:
100g pesto of your choice
200g grated cheese of your choice
(my addition: black kalamata olives in pieces)
In the early evening, in a large mixing bowl, roughly mix together all the dough ingredients, leaving the dough shaggy. Cover the bowl and leave it on the counter for 1 hour.
After an hour or so, perform a set of pulls and folds on the dough, inside the bowl. It will be sticky, but stretchy. Cover the bowl and leave it on the counter.
Over the next few hours (3 hours or so), complete 3 more sets of pulls and folds on the dough, covering the bowl after each set. The dough will be nicely stretchy and will easily come together into a firm ball each time. Complete the final set before going to bed.
Leave the covered bowl on the counter overnight, typically 8 to 10 hours, at 64 to 68F. The next morning, the dough is ready to be used to make the rolls. Use immediately or refrigerate to use later.
When ready to bake, heat the oven to 400F (convection) or 425F (regular oven). Sprinkle water over your countertop, using a bowl scraper of your hands, gently ease the bubbly risen dough from the bowl onto the counter. Use your fingertips to start stretching and pushing out the dough, until it becomes a rectangle that measures about 16 x 20 inches, and has even thickness all over.
Dot teaspoons of pesto over the dough, spread the cheese and kalamata olives (if using). Roll up the dough from one of the longer edges toward the other to make an even roll of dough. Using a sharp knife cut the dough into 8 pieces. Place them gently, cut side down, on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until nicely browned. Remove from the oven, and enjoy while still warm.
to print the recipe, click here
Comments: When it comes to sourdough, I am for the most part pretty conservative. With this recipe, I realized I’ve been missing a whole universe of goodies that sourdough can bring to the table. Elaine shares several options of fillings for these fun coiled creatures, but of course the possibilities are endless. Spices, nuts, meats, roasted veggies, anything you fancy, just spread, roll, bake and enjoy! Pay attention to the level of liquid included, refrain from adding too much oil or stuff that might get a bit watery, because that might interfere with the bake. But using her basic recipes as starting points, you will have no issues.
The roll-ups were delicious, they smell absolutely amazing during baking, and the texture is quite a bit softer than a regular sourdough bread (which turns someone who wears braces into a very happy camper!). Elaine says they are best enjoyed fresh on the day they are baked, but I can tell you that they freeze very well and if you warm them in a low oven, they come back to life in excellent shape…
I made two additional recipes from her book, which I will share as “teasers”. Just the pictures and a brief overview.
THE WHOLE-WHEAT AND EINKORN MASTER
I am always weary of recipes that use a high proportion of whole-wheat flour, because it is so easy to get hockey-pucks and heavy loaves. But I decided to give this one a try, even though it has almost 56% whole-wheat in its formula.
In this composite picture you can see the beginning of the dough (cute scraper available on her site), with the typical, coarse texture given by the whole-wheat. It mellows with the foldings, and next morning it will be all bubbly and ready to be shaped and baked. The bread is AMAZING (yes, all caps), particularly with smoked salmon. In fact, there is something about the combination of whole-wheat with einkorn flour that reminded both Phil and I of a nice rye bread. Excellent! It definitely exorcized my fear of hockey-pucks… Thank you, Elaine!
And now, for the third recipe I made from her book…
SPEEDY SEED AND OAT CRACKERS
Aren’t they the cutest things? Super simple recipe, your starter does not even have to be at its peak, you can use it and have these crackers ready in no time! Plus, you can change the seeds according to your taste. Apart from oats, I used pumpkin seeds, black and white sesame seeds.
I baked them slightly less than I normally would, so that they ended up softer. Because… braces… (sigh). Definitely a great recipe to have in my repertoire.
Overview of Elaine Boddy’s book
Elaine breaks all the rigid rules you might have heard before on sourdough baking. First, if you use her method, you will not discard any starter ever. I know, who could imagine that? Second, she shows you can bake excellent bread without pre-heating the Dutch oven (which I also never do), and without pre-heating the oven! She bakes most of her loaves (the oval and round ones, not the crackers and coils) starting from a COLD oven. As she says, it takes a bit of a leap of faith, but try it and see how you like it. My oven heats extremely slowly, so what I did with that Einkorn loaf was to turn it on, and just finish preparing the bread to bake. By the time I stuck it in the oven, I think it was around 175F inside, not fully cold, but definitely not blazing hot. It is a great energy-saving method, no doubt.
The book starts with a description of the flours and how to make a sourdough starter, both using regular white flour and all sorts of whole-grain variations. That is followed by a series of questions and answers that cover pretty much all those nagging doubts that might scare a beginner sourdough baker. Great introductory chapter!
Welcome to my Master Recipe… In this chapter she covers her basic, uncomplicated, unfussy method, with plenty of pictures so you can have a clear understanding of how to succeed in your own kitchen. She offers two basic approaches, a “Same-Day-Sourdough” and a “Super Lazy” version. The chapter ends with a troubleshooting section, that will be very useful if you are a beginner, but also might give some pointers to those who bake sourdough regularly but might run into ‘issues.”
The Master at Work… In this chapter Elaine offers many variations of her basic recipe, by adding seeds, nuts, cooked grains, and playing with different combinations of flours. From this chapter I baked the Whole-Wheat and Einkorn loaf, which she made in oval shape, I went with round. I might even consider going for her 100% Whole Wheat (I need a bit of psychological preparation to try that one, though). From this chapter, my eyes are set on the White Spelt Poppy Seed Master and the Oat-Crusted Einkorn Master. They are two beautiful examples of sourdough baking…
Baby Master Sourdough Boules… In this chapter she offers recipes to make smaller breads, they all contain 300g flour and are proofed in a small banneton, but any round container will do. They are all adorable and perfect for a household with two people. My favorites in this chapter are: Khorasan and Golden Flaxseeds, Roasted Cashew (looks amazing), and Einkorn Chia Seed Baby Master.
Master Sourdough Focaccia… All recipes in this chapter should ideally begin the day before you intend to enjoy your gorgeous focaccia. Spelt and Cheese is calling my name, although Whole-Wheat, Tomato and Garlic Focaccia is also tempting. I would use kalamata olives in place of the garlic, but I bet she would not be mad at me… She ends the chapter with an alternative time-table in case you really want to make the whole thing in the same day. By following that method, you can have your focaccia at the table around 6pm. Perfect!
Buttermilk Sourdough Biscuits… In this fun chapter, all recipes can use highly bubbly starter, or even a dormant version that has been sitting in the fridge for a while, up to 7 days. Since the recipes contain baking soda, they rise faster and the sourdough starter will have less impact on the rise, but of course it will add a nice flavor and texture. I absolutely MUST make the Emmer and Za’atar Buttermilk Biscuits. Because… za’atar… But Einkorn, Cinnamon and Cranberry sounds like a perfect Christmas brunch addition…
Sandwich Loaf Sourdough Masters… All recipes in this chapter can be baked in a loaf pan, and end up with that perfect shape to slice and make sandwiches. My favorites are: Oat Milk and Whole Wheat, Coconut Milk and Rye (!!!!), and Almond Milk and Khorasan Sandwich Loaf.
The Simplest Sourdough Rolls… Brilliant, just brilliant! She uses her basic master recipe all the way through shaping and placing in the banneton, but right before baking she inverts the loaf and cuts into wedges, which makes the cutest little rolls ever! I intend to bake the Sesame Seed Emmer version in the near future. The chapter ends with an alternative version for “Same-Day Sourdough Wedge Rolls.”
Coiled Filled Sourdough Rolls… From this chapter I picked the recipe featured in this post. I remember when Elaine was developing recipes for the book, she raved about Almond Butter and Banana Khorasan Coils, and now I see the picture and the description in the book… seems like another great one to try this fun preparation.
Swap the Water… Very interesting chapter, in which she plays with different liquids replacing water. It starts with a Buttermilk White Spelt Master Loaf that might very well be one of the most beautiful breads ever! The picture took my breath away… Note to self: make it. Potato cooking water and beer are other examples found in this section.
Crackers… Love them all! What can I say? I was very tempted to use the crackers as featured recipe, but in the end decided to leave them as little teasers. They look adorable and taste great. But I also want to try her Whole Wheat Sesame and Oat Crackers.
Elaine, thank you so much for allowing me to publish a recipe from your first cookbook, hopefully not the last! Your book is beautiful, the pictures are amazing, and I can sense passion and love for all things sourdough in every sentence of every chapter. I know fully well the amount of work, the commitment and energy you put into it. I can say it totally paid off, and I know everyone who gets your book will lear a lot and have a blast baking from it.
For those who want to order the book, click here.
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