A SOURDOUGH QUARTET

Today I share four different ways to play with sourdough… Different amounts of whole-wheat flour, different ways to slash and decorate it, and a version studded with a mixture of Kalamata and green olives that was probably the winner with the resident bread taster.

First, a loaf that pushes the level of whole-wheat a bit higher than I normally go for. I am calling it 50:50 sourdough, for obvious reasons

50:50 SOURDOUGH
(from the Bewitching Kitchen)

100 g active sourdough starter at 100% hydration
390g water
250g whole-wheat flour
250g bread flour
10g salt

Dissolve the starter in the water in a large bowl, mixing well until it is well-dispersed. Add the flours and salt, mix with your hands or with a wooden spoon until it forms a shaggy mass.

After 20 minutes, do a minimal kneading, about 10 times or so until the dough becomes smooth. You will now allow the dough to ferment for 4 hours at room temperature, folding the dough every 40 minutes, and keeping it covered with plastic. You don’t have to be precise, but allow the full four hours fermentation to take place.  You can do foldings at 40 min, 1h 20 min, 2 hs, 2 hs 40 min, 3 hours 20 min. After that final kneading, leave the dough undisturbed for 40 minutes more, then proceed to shape as a round (or a batard, if you prefer).

Place inside a banetton well dusted with flour and keep it in the fridge overnight, from 8 to 12 hours.

Next morning, heat the oven to 450F.

Invert the dough on a piece of parchment paper and lightly, very lightly coat it with flour, then rub all over the surface with the palm of your hand. Score the pattern of your choice.

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 amount of whole-wheat flour in this bread makes it hearty and quite filling. I kept the hydration level of the final dough at 78%, because it makes it easier to slash the surface. If the hydration is too high, it’s a lot harder to get a pattern going.  I started from the center and drew a little spiral, not too deep but deep enough to coach the bread into opening a bit. Then I use a brand new razor blade to form the design inside the spiral.  I really liked the way it turned out, and the crumb was more open than I expected.

Next, a very similar formula, but lowering the level of whole-wheat a little bit.

70:30 SOURDOUGH
(from the Bewitching Kitchen)

100 g active sourdough starter at 100% hydration
400g water
350g bread flour
150g whole-wheat flour
10g salt

Dissolve the starter in the water in a large bowl, mixing well until it is well-dispersed. Add the flours and salt, mix with your hands or with a wooden spoon until it forms a shaggy mass.

After 20 minutes, do a minimal kneading, about 10 times or so until the dough becomes smooth. You will now allow the dough to ferment for 4 hours at room temperature, folding the dough every 40 minutes, and keeping it covered with plastic. You don’t have to be precise, but allow the full four hours fermentation to take place.  You can do foldings at 40 min, 1h 20 min, 2 hs, 2 hs 40 min, 3 hours 20 min. After that final kneading, leave the dough undisturbed for 40 minutes more, then proceed to shape as a batard (or a round, if you prefer).

Place inside a banetton well dusted with flour and keep it in the fridge overnight, from 8 to 12 hours.

Next morning, heat the oven to 450F.

Invert the dough on a piece of parchment paper and brush off all the flour stuck from the banetton to keep it as clean as possible. Place the stencil of your choice on top of the bread, shake some all-purpose flour, lift the stencil carefully. Slash the bread in a way that will be compatible with the design. You need to cut one or more reasonably deep slashes to coach the bread to open in those spots.

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 overall technique remained the same, but the reduction in the proportion of whole-wheat makes the bread considerably lighter not only in color but also in taste. Since the slashing was going to be a lot simpler and the main decoration would come from the stencil, I increased the hydration a little bit to 80%.

Next, comes a loaf with even less whole-wheat in the formula, but made more special thanks to the inclusion of a good amount of olives, both Kalamata and green. I had never mixed two kinds of olives in the same loaf, and I can tell you this will be happening again soon. Phil decided this might very well be his favorite bread of 2019. It turned out divine, even if I say so myself.

MIXED OLIVES SOURDOUGH
(from the Bewitching Kitchen)

50 g active starter
380 g  water
470 g  bread flour
30 g whole-wheat flour
9 g fine sea salt
150 g pitted green and kalamata olives, chopped
1 tsp Herbes de Provence

Dissolve the starter in the water in a large bowl, mixing well until it is well-dispersed. Add the flours and salt, mix with your hands or with a wooden spoon until it forms a shaggy mass.

After 20 minutes, do a minimal kneading, about 10 times or so until the dough becomes smooth. You will now allow the dough to ferment for 4 hours at room temperature, folding the dough every 40 minutes, and keeping it covered with plastic. On your first folding cycle, add the mixture of olives. You can do foldings at 40 min, 1h 20 min, 2 hs, 2 hs 40 min, 3 hours 20 min. After that final kneading, leave the dough undisturbed for 40 minutes more, then proceed to shape as a round (or a batard, if you prefer).

Place inside a banetton well dusted with flour and keep it in the fridge overnight, from 8 to 12 hours.

Next morning, heat the oven to 450F.

Invert the dough on a piece of parchment paper and brush off all the flour stuck from the banetton to keep it as clean as possible. Place the stencil of your choice on top of the bread, shake some all-purpose flour, lift the stencil carefully. Slash the bread in a way that will be compatible with 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: A light crumb due to the smallest proportion of whole-wheat (only 6%), and a hydration of 76% bumped a little bit due to the water content of the olives. The presence of the olives also made me reduce slightly the amount of salt.

Hard not to use superlatives to describe this bread. Green olives are definitely under-appreciated and I admit to this sin. Of course the Kalamatas bring a lot of flavor and moisture, but there is definitely a lot more happening through the slightly sharper nature of the humble green creatures. I did not pay close attention to the ratio of the olives in the mix, but I think it was pretty close to 50:50.  The crumb turned out pretty open and very moist, difficult to eat only one slice, and it went well with pretty much anything we paired it with, including a nice lentil soup made by the husband.

To get the best effect of a stencil design made with white flour, start with the bread inverted from the banetton and delicately but thoroughly brush off any residual flour that might have stayed glued to the surface. Then sprinkle the white flour over the stencil of your choice. If the bread has any flour on the surface, the design won’t be as evident after baking. The other thing to keep in mind is that you need to try and avoid the bread from opening right in the middle of your design. The best way to avoid that is to make a deep slash coaching the dough to open where you want it to. You can never be 100% sure it will work, but that’s your best bet. You can see how I dealt with it on the composite picture above.

Finally, I share a bread that used the exact same formula of the previous one, but no olives. In this case, my main goal was to do a white-on-black stencil design. Some bakers use charcoal powder, I decided to go with black cocoa powder, the kind that is used to bake Oreo type cookies.

BLACK COCOA SOURDOUGH
(from the Bewitching Kitchen)

50 g active starter
380 g  water
470 g  bread flour
30 g whole-wheat flour
10 g fine sea salt

water and black cocoa powder to form a thin paste

Dissolve the starter in the water in a large bowl, mixing well until it is well-dispersed. Add the flours and salt, mix with your hands or with a wooden spoon until it forms a shaggy mass.

After 20 minutes, do a minimal kneading, about 10 times or so until the dough becomes smooth. You will now allow the dough to ferment for 4 hours at room temperature, folding the dough every 40 minutes, and keeping it covered with plastic. You can do foldings at 40 min, 1h 20 min, 2 hs, 2 hs 40 min, 3 hours 20 min. After that final kneading, leave the dough undisturbed for 40 minutes more, then proceed to shape as a round (or a batard, if you prefer).

Place inside a banetton well dusted with flour and keep it in the fridge overnight, from 8 to 12 hours.

Next morning, heat the oven to 450F.

Invert the dough on a piece of parchment paper and brush off all the flour stuck from the banetton to keep it as clean as possible. Make a paste with cocoa powder (preferably dark) and water. Brush the surface of the bread with it, then immediately place the stencil of your choice on top of the bread, shake some all-purpose flour, lift the stencil carefully. Slash the bread in a way that will be compatible with 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 goal for this bake was to play with a new stenciling technique. After the shaped dough is inverted out of the banetton, simply make a little paste of cocoa powder and water, liquid enough to brush with a silicone brush, but not too soupy.  Then, add the stencil on top and dust with all-purpose flour.  I imagine other colors could be used. Beet powder, sweet potato powder, butterfly pea powder…  I am not sure the red color of beet powder would be preserved during baking, I tried using it in the dough once, and the result was a brownish color with very little to do with my expectations. Worth giving it a try, I am sure. Even if it turns brown, could be still a nice contrast with the white pattern of the stencil. I should mention that there is absolutely no taste of cocoa in the baked bread.

The bread had absolutely amazing oven spring, which in a way messed up the design a little, but a baker should never complain of too much oven spring, since that can upset the Gods of the Sourdough and result in failure after failure for months to come. Yeah, I am a scientist. Very pragmatic. But I try to keep a sense of humor.

Final remarks: these loaves use a very simplified method.  I did not do autolyse, and did not bother adding the salt later, it all went into the dough at the same time. As you can see from the photos, I got enough oven spring and a nice crumb using these shortcuts. Also, I never bother waiting for the shaped bread to sit at room temperature before baking, or keeping the oven at 450F for an hour before baking. Some bakers insist those steps are important for a good bake. They are not. Once the oven reaches temperature, my cold, shaped bread goes in. It amazes me that people would waste so much energy heating up an oven to very high temperature for a long time before baking their loaves. Trust me, it is not at all necessary.

ONE YEAR AGO: When bad things happen to good people

TWO YEARS AGO: Sweet Potato “Hummus”

THREE YEARS AGO: Cauliflower Crust Pizza

FOUR YEARS AGO: Silky Rutabaga Puree

FIVE YEARS AGO: Bon Bon Chicken: Light and Spectacular

SIX YEARS AGO: Red Wine Sourdough Bread with Cranberries

SEVEN YEARS AGO: Award-Winning Sourdough Baguettes

EIGHT YEARS AGO: Country Rye (Tartine)

NINE YEARS AGO: Penne a la Vechia Bettola

 

 

 

 

A STAR FROM ENGLAND IN THE BEWITCHING KITCHEN

Kit Harington? You’d think? Well, that did not happen (Sally fans herself). But another superstar from England did arrive, albeit inside an envelope. Star, the sourdough starter produced by my dear friend Elaine, from foodbodsourdough.  I wasted no time. Opened the package, refreshed my new baby, made my first loaf a couple of days later. The starter is really powerful, I love it.  For my first adventure with Star, I chose a turmeric-scented loaf, full of black sesame seeds.

BLACK SESAME TURMERIC SOURDOUGH
(from the Bewitching Kitchen)

200 g sourdough starter (at 100% hydration)
325 g water at room temperature
450 g bread flour
50 g dark rye flour
9 g salt
1/2 tsp turmeric
30 g black sesame seeds

Dissolve the sourdough well in the 325 g water. Add the flours, salt and turmeric, mix until a shaggy dough forms. Leave 10 minutes undisturbed.  Add the sesame seeds and mix well by kneading/folding.

Leave to ferment for 4 hours with folding at 40 minutes, 1 hour and 20 minutes, 2 hours, and 3 hours. At the end of four hours, shape as a round loaf, and place in a banetton, seam side up. Transfer to the fridge and leave it overnight (about 12 hours).

Remove the shaped dough from the fridge as you heat the oven to 450 F.

Invert the dough on parchment paper, slash and bake with initial steam (I use a covered Dutch oven for 30 minutes, then remove the lid).  Bake for 45 to 55 minutes, reducing the heat if necessary to 425 F.

Cool completely on a rack before slicing.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments:  Elaine’s Star Sourdough starter comes in a very nice package containing the dried up sourdough in small pieces, and a beautiful card explaining how to deal with it. A little water, a little flour, and you are done for that day.  The composition photo above shows in the bottom right the starter just a few hours after the first refreshment, and on the bottom left what I found on the morning of the day I made the bread. Star maybe missed his Mom and wanted to leave me?  It definitely seemed like it!

I used my regular method of folding the dough. As for slashing, the sesame seeds definitely prevent too much artistic input, as they make slashing a bit trickier, so I opted for a more random approach. The bread had tremendous oven spring, and when it was cooling, it sang “The Song of My People”, as great bread always do. I love it when it happens.

Phil went crazy for this bread, thought that the crust in particular was perfect. It turned out thinner than most sourdoughs I usually bake (no idea why), and the taste was spectacular. The turmeric flavor is quite subtle. Saffron would be equally nice too, I just did not think about it in advance to soak a little water with saffron threads and have it ready.  I prepared the dough on a Friday, end of the day, and the bread was in the oven by 6am next day. Nothing beats the smell of fresh bread to start a weekend.

Elaine, I wish you all the luck with your new adventure! For those who live in the UK, Elaine is offering sourdough baking classes in her home in Milton Keynes, north of London. She offers basic and advanced classes, so anyone will find a reason to join. She is a natural teacher, and passionate about sourdough baking. If I lived closer I would take her advanced class for sure.

Here is the address of her new website and Facebook group (closed group, she loves to get new members). In her site you can find all the information for her classes and how to order Star (she ships worldwide).

ONE YEAR AGO: Hommage to the Sun

GILDING THE SOURDOUGH LOAF

Two sourdough posts in a row! But this one brings back the subject to its most classic use: a rustic bread made less rustic with a razor blade and a ton of fun. Here is my baby, all dressed up for party!

CLASSIC SOURDOUGH BREAD
(adapted from Anna Gabur)

for the levain:
120g water
40g starter
40g whole-wheat flour
80g all-purpose white flour

for the final dough:
Half of the levain above (about 140g)
375g water
50g spelt flour
150g whole-wheat flour
300g bread flour
10g salt dissolved in 15g water

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, dissolve half the prepared levain in water (375g), then add all flours. Save the remaining levain in the fridge for later.  Mix well with your hands until a shaggy dough forms.  Leave it at room temperature for 30 minutes.

Add the salt dissolved in the remaining water, and incorporate by folding repeatedly the dough over itself. Now let the dough ferment for a total of 4 hours, folding a few times every 40 minutes. You don’t have to be precise, but allow the full four hours fermentation to take place.

Shape as a round ball and place inside a banetton covered with a cloth and lightly floured. Keep it in the fridge overnight, from 8 to 12 hours.

Next morning, heat the oven to 450F.

Invert the dough on a piece of parchment paper and lightly, very lightly coat it with flour, then rub all over the surface with the palm of your hand. Score the guiding lines according to the desired pattern, use a razor blade to slash the dough with firm, short slashes.

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: I love a rustic sourdough that is left untouched, opens up in the oven according to its own desire, or one that gets a very basic crisscrossed slash at the top to get things started. But I must admit it’s nice to work a little magic on the crust. However, my previous attempts failed to match my expectations. In other words, I had issues to transfer to the razor blade the image I had in my mind for the baked loaf.

A couple of weeks ago I found an online course taught by a gorgeous woman named Anna Gabur on artistic bread slicing. I asked myself, do I really need this? Not sure what happened, but before I could give an honest answer to that question, my paypal account was activated and the online class was playing on my screen. Very odd. Must be a computer virus or something. At any rate, I am very glad this odd phenomenon happened, because I loved the class, learned a lot and was very pleased with the results of my very first attempt. I followed her design very closely, but maybe at some point I’ll feel confident to come up with my own creations (fingers crossed).

Between you and me, I can hardly believe this bread came out of our own oven… I was in total awe when I opened the lid and saw the oven spring, the pattern, the crust starting to get golden. A real baker’s thrill…

I highly recommend that you get Anna’s course if you are passionate about bread baking. You don’t need to make a sourdough, any bread formula will work, as long as it’s not very high in hydration. You need some structure to be able to slash it, so high-hydration formulas won’t work as well. Also, it helps a lot if the bread gets its final fermentation in the fridge, so that its surface is tight and easier to slash. My loaf went straight from fridge to pre-heated oven, it took me less than 10 minutes to finish the slashing, and I bet most people can do it much faster.  You’ll need a regular razor blade that you will hold between two fingers, not using a lame holder. And, according to Anna, one blade should last you for about 5 loaves. It needs to be truly sharp. She makes it seem so easy, it is a pleasure to watch her in real-time making a very elaborate design on the loaf. You can also marvel at all her photos on Instagram.

The bread had excellent taste and crust, the crumb was not super open, but that was expected from a bread with a lower hydration level.

Anna has quite a few articles about bread baking written on her blog, like this one that goes over basics of artistic slashing, and this one that shares her favorite bread formula. If you’d like to sign up for her online tutorial, follow this link.    She lives in Moldova, and often has to adapt her bread baking for the types of flour she can find. I often get a bit upset with “trendy” bread cookbooks that insist you must obtain the flour that was milled 4 days ago under a full moon, otherwise don’t bother making the recipe.   All you truly need is flour, water, a bit of yeast, a touch of salt, and the right amount of passion… Anna’s masterpieces prove this point!

 

ONE YEAR AGO: Lolita Joins the Bewitching Kitchen

TWO YEARS AGO: Cashew Cream Sauce

THREE YEARS AGO: Blood Orange Margaritas

FOUR YEARS AGO: Smoked Salmon Appetizer

FIVE YEARS AGO: Clementine Cake

SIX YEARS AGO: Springtime Spinach Risotto

SEVEN YEARS AGO: The end of green bean cruelty

EIGHT YEARS AGO: Torta di Limone e Mandorle

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EMILIE RAFFA’S HIGH HYDRATION SOURDOUGH

As you might imagine, I should stop buying cookbooks because I’d need to live to be 173 years old to go through the ones I already own. However, I am thrilled that I got the latest one from Emilie, pre-ordered the moment I saw it available: Artisan Sourdough Made Simple.


I’ve been following Emilie’s blog for a long time, and even reviewed her first cookbook a while ago (click here for a flashback).  The salad I chose to feature in that post is one of those rare recipes that ended up in our regular rotation. You know how it goes in the kitchen of a food blogger. We are always trying new recipes, it’s a bit compulsive sometimes, but when a truly spectacular thing lands on our table, we go back to it. With this new book, Emilie does exactly what the title states: simplifies the making of artisan sourdough bread. She offers a very detailed explanation on how to make your first sourdough starter (that method that collects microorganisms from the environment), how to keep it healthy and use it to make all sorts of wonderful concoctions, going beyond bread baking.  Formulas are simple, the timing is flexible, as exemplified in the recipe I share with you today. I was so fond of it that I made it four times in 5 weeks! Yes, talk about re-visiting something spectacular. I am not the only one smitten with Emilie’s book. Celia, the one and only blogger who lives in beautiful Australia, composed a wonderful review of Artisan Sourdough Made Simple, and I urge you to stop by and take a look… It might just be the push you need to take the book home with you (at least virtually, as I did with my Kindle version…). So, without further ado, my first sourdough bread from Emilie’s book…

HIGH-HYDRATION SOURDOUGH
(printed with permission from Emilie Raffa)

Tips from Emilie: The first step toward bigger holes is to add more water, or to increase the dough’s hydration. The second step is to expand your sourdough technique: Gently dimple the dough after the bulk rise and then shape it twice. Both techniques will help to open up the crumb and can be applied toward other doughs to achieve the same effect.

Suggested baker’s schedule: Thursday and Friday: Feed your starter until bubbly and active. Saturday Evening: Make the dough and let rise overnight. Sunday Morning: Shape the dough, let rise again, score and bake.

Bread formula
50 g (¼ cup) bubbly, active starter (mine was at 100% hydration)
375 g (1 ½ cups plus 1 tbsp) warm water
500 g (4 cups plus 2 tbsp) bread flour
9 g (1 ½ tsp) fine sea salt

Making the dough
In the evening, whisk the starter and water together in a large bowl with a fork. Add the flour and salt. Mix to combine, then finish by hand to form a rough dough. Cover with a damp towel and let rest for 1 hour.  After the dough has rested, work it into a ball, about 15 to 20 seconds.

Bulk fermentation
Cover the bowl with a damp towel and let rise overnight at room temperature, about 8 to 10 hours at 70 ° F (21 ° C). The dough is ready when it has doubled in size, has a few bubbles on the surface, and jiggles when you move the bowl from side to side.

Shaping the dough
In the morning, coax the dough onto a floured surface. Dimple the dough all over with floured fingertips. Gently shape it into a round and let rest for 5 to 10 minutes. Meanwhile, line an 8-inch (20-cm) bowl or proofing basket with a towel and dust with flour. Using a bench scraper, scoop up the dough and flip it over so that the smooth side is facing down. Shape it again, and then flip it back over. Cup the dough and gently pull it toward you in a circular motion to tighten its shape. Place into your lined bowl, seam side up.

Final fermentation
Cover the dough and refrigerate for 1 hour to set its structure. Note: You can chill this dough for up to 6 hours or more. When ready to bake, let sit at room temperature while the oven heats up.

Baking the bread
Heat your oven to 500 ° F (260 ° C). Cut a piece of 
parchment to fit the size of your baking pot. Place the parchment over the dough and invert the bowl to release. Dust the surface with flour and rub with your hands to coat. Using the tip of a small knife or a razor blade, score the dough with the pattern of your choice. Use the parchment to transfer the dough into the baking pot.  Place the pot on the center rack, and reduce the heat to 450 ° F (230 ° C). Bake the dough for 20 minutes, covered. Remove the lid, and continue to bake for 30 minutes. Lift the loaf out of the pot, and bake directly on the oven rack for the last 10 minutes. Cool on a wire rack for 1 hour before slicing.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: One of the advantages of a simple bread recipe is that you can concentrate on aspects other than the making of the dough, or its shaping, since it’s all so straightforward. This recipe was my gateway to practice different slashing patterns. My conclusion was that bread has a mind of its own. Almost every single time the final product was not exactly what I had in mind. But, isn’t that what life is all about? The more we try to control things, the more frustrated we might get. Until… until we learn to dance to the music and enjoy the unexpected, the stuff that does not go exactly as planned. No, I am not that wise yet, but working on it.

Indeed, for some members of our home, the way the bread looks is totally irrelevant…

Let me now show you my quartet of breads, all made with the same basic Emilie’s recipe, except that for the third loaf I increased the hydration even further (385 g water instead of 370g), and included one series of folds before the dough fermented at room temperature overnight.  I did that after the dough had rested for one hour, then waited 45 minutes more to shape it into a ball and leave it alone at room temperature until next day. The more you push the hydration up, the more you’ll need some type of folding or kneading to make sure you have some structure in it.  All things considered, I think Emilie’s formula as written is spot on,  considerably simplifying the process.

Slashing #1

That is the exact slashing that produced my featured bread.  You probably did not see anything wrong with it, but that’s because I picked the best angle of the bread to take the picture. Full disclosure? Here we go:

The slash at the base of the circle was probably a bit too deep, and the thing lift off like a lid! Looked pretty funny, almost like a Trilobite fossil in search of food. And the crust got a tad too dark in that spot.  Lesson to learn: be more gentle with the slashes at the base of the dough.

Slash #2

I was aiming for a yin-yang kind of thing.  Here’s the result after baking…

Nice, open ears, but definitely not what I expected. Not sure if I had to be more delicate with the depth of the central slashing… but I liked the way the bread looked.

Slash #3

I went with a star-type pattern, and diagonal small slashes all around….  This time I had no particular expectations, just decided to accept whatever the Gods of the Yeasty Things rewarded me with…

Slash #4

and the final, resulting loaf….

Probably my favorite… all plump and was singing out loud as it cooled…

All breads made with the high-hydration sourdough tend to have open crumb,
very creamy texture, with a hard crust.
The kind of bread we really love!

So there you have it, four loaves of bread made with a basic sourdough formula, according to Emilie’s Artisan Sourdough Made Simple.  The same formula produces amazing – let me state that again – produces AMAZING focaccia…

It is really a lovely book, Celia did a great job reviewing it, so let me just tempt you with a very simple list of breads included in one of her chapters. I want to bake every single one of them. Period.

Decadent Chocolate Chip (O.M.G)

Dill and White Cheddar

Olive, Thyme, and Parmesan

Seeded Pumpkin Cranberry (O.M.G. #2)

Cinnamon Raisin Swirl

Chocolate Peanut Butter Chip

Pickled Jalapeno, Cheddar and Chive (O.M.G. #3)

Roasted Garlic and Rosemary

Sticky Date, Walnut and Orange (I rest my case)

Emilie, thanks for giving me permission to share one recipe from your lovely book…  I am looking forward to baking more and more goodies from your tasty collection!

Note added after publication… I am thrilled to share with you a bread made by one of my followers, Sue (check her comment below). She used this recipe to make a real masterpiece in bread form! 

Great job, Sue!  Thanks for sharing your bread with me!

ONE YEAR AGO: Short-Ribs with Chickpeas and Chard & London Cookbook Review

TWO YEARS AGO: Asian-Style Short Ribs 

THREE YEARS AGO: Herbed Goat Cheese Souffles

FOUR YEARS AGO: Barley Risotto with Peas

FIVE YEARS AGO: Jammin’ Blueberry Sour Milk Pancakes

SIX YEARS AGO: Scallops with Black Pasta in Orange Cream Sauce

SEVEN YEARS AGO: Stir-fried Chicken with Creamed Corn

EIGHT YEARS AGO: Potato, Cheddar, and Chive Torpedo

 

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ELAINE’S SOURDOUGH BOULE


The recipe for this bread, also known as 500 g overnight sourdough,  is beyond tried and true. My dear friend Elaine has been baking this very recipe for years, probably at least twice every week, if not more often. Her very detailed blog post about it can be found here. You can also marvel at her slashing skills, which inspired me to become more adventurous. Remember?

When you bake bread on a regular basis, it is nice to have a formula that is not overly complicated, one you can do it almost without effort. This is it. Of all sourdough breads I’ve baked, this is the one that I will go back to when I want a great loaf of bread, pure with regular bread flour, just that delicious sourdough tang, and a crumb that has the type of texture I enjoy. Some holes, but not a bread sieve. And add to that great crust too. All bases are covered.

Here is a simplified overview of the recipe. First, you need a bubbly sourdough starter, at 100% hydration, that is 50:50 flour to water ratio.

You’ll use 150 g of your bubbly sourdough and mix it with 285 g water, 500 g bread flour, and 9 g of salt. Incorporate it all with your hands, no need to work very hard.  Leave it for 30 minutes at room temperature, then knead it by folding a few times.  Let the dough proof at room temperature overnight. Mine was ready to walk outside and greet the world…

Pour the dough gently out on a floured surface, shape it.
Let it sit for 30 minutes, while you heat the oven to 450 F.
Slash it with enthusiasm…

Bake for 45 minutes, leaving the bread covered for the first 30 minutes, generating steam whichever way you like.
I use the moistened lid of a Dutch oven.

To view the detailed recipe, visit Elaine’s site.

I loved this recipe so much, that I baked it twice in the same week, so that we had enough bread for a bunch of golfing buddies that visited us.  On my second time around, I went for a wheat-stalk design, but the bread had a mind of its own…
Still, it’s fun to try different patterns.

The goal… a few wheat stalks decorating the bread….

The outcome…  not exactly a wheat stalk, but it’s always nice to see a strong oven spring in action!

I can hardly wait to bake again, and try new slashing patterns on the bread.  For the wheat stalk, I think the key is to either omit the central slash of the stalk, or make it very delicate and shallow. Must practice…

Elaine, thanks for bringing sourdough baking back to my routine,
you are a constant source of inspiration!

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SALZBURG SOURDOUGH

So many months without baking a single sourdough bread! The problem is we don’t eat a lot of bread. One bake lasts us for a long time, as after enjoying a couple of slices, the rest goes straight to the freezer. But I am still quite passionate about bread baking, and have a list of recipes I intend to try. They just sit and wait, poor things. Like this one, from Discovering Sourdough Part II, by Teresa Greenway. In theory, you need a specific sourdough strain from Austria, but I used my good American sourdough, born 9 years ago in Oklahoma, and headed to his teenage years in Kansas. I am sure Teresa will forgive me. But, did you know you can actually buy many sourdough starters from all over the world? Pretty amazing. Take a look at this site. Of course, over a long period of time a sourdough might change and incorporate yeast and bacteria from the new environment, but it’s fun to start from a pure culture born in some exotic, distant place. In the site, they actually dispute the claim that cultures change, but until I see solid scientific evidence it’s all a bit in the air (pun intended).

 

SALZBURG SOURDOUGH
(printed with permission from Teresa Greenway)
(I modified slightly to make a single loaf and use my preferred method of baking)

1 cup Austrian sourdough starter at 166% hydration  (9 oz)
3/4 cups water  (6 oz)
3 oz  evaporated milk
0.6 oz  rye flour
14 oz bread flour
2 teaspoons salt

Mix all ingredients, except salt, just until incorporated and then allow the dough to rest for 20 minutes (autolysis).

After autolysis, add salt and mix dough on low-speed for about 2 minutes. Then let the dough bulk ferment (first rise) for 6 hours or until doubled. Fold it once each hour during the six-hour bulk fermentation. After bulk fermentation, place the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead enough to gather into a ball.  Shape it into the general shape you wish and then allow the dough to rest for 5 – 10 minutes (bench rest). After benching shape loaves into their final shapes and put them into the proofing baskets, pans, or couche. Cover the dough with plastic bag and refrigerate overnight.

In the morning, allow the dough to final proof for 2 – 3 hours (whenever the dough looks about 1 ½ times its size and is spongy) then turn dough out on peel and slash, cover with roasting lid moistened with water, and bake in a 425F degree oven for 30 minutes. Alternatively, use your favorite method to generate initial steam. After 30 minutes, remove roasting lid, turn down the oven to 400F degrees and continue baking for about 10-15 more minutes, turning halfway for even browning. Bread is done when the internal temperature reaches 200-205F.

Take out loaf and cool on a rack.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

 

Comments: Inspired by my friend Elaine,  I decided to be a bit more daring and creative with the slashing. Elaine always comes up with amazing patterns on her bread. So I took a deep breath and went at it with a razor blade. I love the way the bread turned out, and intend to keep practicing, as the slashes on top were not exactly the way I wanted.

My sourdough ended up quite assertive this time – it was hibernating in the fridge for a very long time, so I refreshed it and fed it daily for a full week before making the bread. Not sure if that affected the level of acidity, but it was really good. Teresa’s recipes all call for 166% hydration, which is easily translated into equal volumes of flour and water. It is easy because you won’t even need a scale to keep the starter going, simply pick your desired volume, and mix half and half.  I refreshed it using 1/2 cup water and 1/2 cup flour. It ends up close enough to 166% hydration. For the final starter, I just made a bit more than needed for the bread, so I could keep it for the next baking adventure.

And once again, we have great bread stored in our freezer, although some members of our home hoped that one or two slices would fall to the floor instead… Or at least a few crumbs…

Teresa, thanks for giving me permission to publish this great recipe!

 

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SESAME AND POPPY SEED SOURDOUGH

It’s been a while since I baked a loaf of sourdough bread, Dan, my poor starter was definitely feeling neglected. This time, I decided to make something heavily loaded with seeds, but not big ones like pumpkin or sunflower. More delicate, seeds that would disperse nicely in the crumb. My starting point was a recipe from Josey Baker’s book Bread, but I added a few twists and modified the method slightly. Very pleased with the way it turned out.

SESAME AND POPPY SEED SOURDOUGH
(adapted from Josey Baker’s Bread)

for seed mixture:
1/2 cup toasted sesame seeds (80 g)
1/4 cup poppy seeds (40 g)
1/2 cup hot water (120 g)

for dough:
240 g sourdough starter at 100% hydration
240 g water
300 g bread flour
75 g spelt flour
12 g salt (2 tsp)
all seed soaker

The day before, feed your starter and make sure it is all bubbly and ready to go. Prepare more than you need, so you can save some for future bread baking.

Prepare the seed soaker by mixing sesame and poppy seeds in a small bowl, adding the hot water on top. Mix and let it sit for one hour.

Prepare the dough by mixing all ingredients in a large bowl.  Mix until it’s a shaggy mass, leave it covered with plastic wrap for 30 minutes.

Knead or fold the dough (ten times or so).  Cover and let it ferment for 30 minutes.

Knead or fold the dough again. Cover and let it sit for 30 minutes. Perform two more cycles of kneading 30 minutes apart.  Knead again and let it sit for 1 hour.

Shape the dough. Place it inside a banneton or other appropriate container, seam side up. Let it ferment for 2 hours. Place it in the fridge overnight, or around 12 hours.

Remove from the fridge one hour before baking, as your oven heats to 450 F.  Invert the dough on parchment paper, slash the top and bake for 45 minutes with initial steam (use your favorite method for that). I bake inside a Dutch oven, covered, and uncover after 30 minutes to brown the crust.

Allow it to completely cool on a rack before slicing.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments:  I’ve been trying to work on more “artistic” slashing, inspired by greater bakers such as Elaine from foodbod. Evidently, I need to bake more often and practice. The thing is, slashing is so…. final!  Once you do it, that is it, there’s no going back to fix it a little, and the finality of it makes me nervous and a bit paralyzed. Maybe that’s the same problem I have with golf. Once you take that golf club back, it’s over, my friend. Either you get it or it is a disaster of dire consequences. Usually option two happens for me, particularly with the 5-iron. But I digress…  Independent of my slashing skills, the bread tasted exactly how I hoped. Sesame is such a nice flavor, and the seeds gave a pleasant extra chew to the bread.

Most important step in the recipe: make sure the dough is proofed enough. It needs the seal of approval of experienced eyes.

Yes, Mom. It looks perfect. And smells great too… Now, if only you would leave the premises for a few minutes….

I close the post with the mandatory crumb shot. This bread was particularly awesome with Brie cheese.

 

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