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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KA’KAT, A MIDDLE EASTERN SNACK BREAD

These are serious contenders for the prize of World’s Cutest Bread… Plump, golden brown, topped with sesame seeds, they are simply irresistible! I found the recipe in Karen’s site, and fell in love at first sight.  I almost made them for the Nobel reception we hosted, but that day was frantic enough without bread baking. In a way, I’m glad I did not push the envelope and tried squeezing in one more culinary project.  But a couple of weeks later, I rolled my sleeves up and went to work.  Not only these are adorable little entities, but they are a ton of fun to make. Surprisingly easy too. I hope I convinced you to bake a batch soon.  You’ll need one exotic ingredient, though. Mahlab. Totally worth searching for, or if you want to make it easy on yourself, click on this link. 

KaKat Snack Bread

KA’KAT BREAD
(from Karen’s Kitchen Stories)

2 T sugar
2 tsp active dry yeast
2 cups warm (105 to 115 degrees F) water
17 to 21 ounces of bread or unbleached all-purpose flour, divided
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground mahlab
1 large egg, beaten
3 to 4 tsp sesame seeds
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In the bowl of a stand mixer, whisk the sugar, yeast, and water. Add 12 ounces of the flour, and mix on low with the dough hook for about 3 minutes. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let it sit for about 10 minutes.
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Add the salt and mahlab, mix on low. Gradually add flour until you have a dough that is cohesive (I used all of the flour). Mix on low for about 10 minutes. Let the dough rise in an oiled bowl until doubled, about 60 to 120 minutes.
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Line two baking sheets with parchment. Divide the dough into 32 equal pieces. Roll each piece into a 6 inch rope. Form the ropes into rings and place them onto the baking sheets. Keep the rings covered with oiled plastic wrap. Cover and let rise for about 30 minutes.
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Heat the oven to 400 degrees F and place the oven racks in the upper third of the oven. Brush the Ka’kat with the egg wash, and sprinkle with sesame seeds. Bake the Ka’kat for about 20 minutes, until golden. Rotate the pans halfway through.  Let cool on the pans for about 5 minutes before serving warm.
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Leftovers can be reheated in a hot oven.
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ENJOY!
to print the recipe, click here
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composite

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As you know, I have way too many cookbooks, and quite a few are related to bread baking. Still, I could probably get rid of all of them and be happy baking along Karen’s yeast-steps. Yeap, I made up the word. How’s THAT for taking liberties with a second language? Daring is my middle name! Seriously, though. Karen bakes the most amazing breads, and I find myself bookmarking almost every single one of her posts “to make very soon.” Ka’kat was such a nice baking adventure! The dough is smooth, pliable, the smell of the mahlab giving that subliminal message… this is going to be one tasty bread…

Shaping the rings is very easy, although when the dough rises the central hole may or may not be closed… As Karen, I decided not to even worry about it…

Shaped-2
A nice coating with egg wash followed by sesame seeds sprinkled on top…

ShapedSprinkled

And there you have it, a batch of Ka’Kat ready to be enjoyed, shared with friends, or stored in the freezer for later…

KaKat Platter

I cannot recommend this recipe highly enough, it would be a great project to tackle with kids, they would have fun forming the little dough ropes and then the rings. If you don’t have mahlab, don’t let that stop you from making the bread, but I must say the seeds add a flavor that will leave everybody wondering “what’s in it?”


Karen, thank you once again for inspiring me!  I have so many breads I want to bake from your site, it’s not even funny… but I bet you knew that already…
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THAI-STYLE PESTO WITH BROWN RICE PASTA

As someone who owns a disturbingly high number of cookbooks, subscribes to several cooking magazines, and downloads cookbooks on her iPad on a regular basis, I am aware that those should be my main source of inspiration for dinners. Surprisingly, one more time I will blog on something seen on FoodTV.  Go figure. Rachael Ray enticed me with this pesto, especially through her description of how floral and complex-tasting Fresno peppers can be.  I had most ingredients around, all I needed to grab at the grocery store was the bright red Fresno pepper.  Quick to put together, this turned out as a very delicious pesto.  Not sure about the floral, though. Read on…  😉

Thai-Style Pesto

THAI-STYLE PESTO WITH BROWN RICE PASTA
(adapted from Rachael Ray)
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1 pound brown rice spaghetti
1/2 cup fresh basil leaves
1 cup fresh baby arugula leaves
5 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds
2 tablespoons tamari
1 clove garlic, minced
1 lime, juiced
1 Fresno chile, seeded
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
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Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Salt the water, add the pasta, and cook until al dente.Place the basil and arugula leaves, 3 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds, tamari, garlic, lime juice, and chile into a food processor. Pulse into a paste. Drizzle in the extra-virgin olive oil. Pour the pesto into a large bowl and reserve.  If the pesto seems too thick, reserve a little bit of the pasta cooking water, and use it to thin the pesto right before incorporating into the cooked spaghetti.
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Drain the pasta, add to the pesto, and toss to combine. Garnish with the remaining 2 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds.
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ENJOY!
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to print the recipe, click here

ingredients

Comments: Rachael Ray’s title for this show was “Thai Tonight”, and she served the pasta with a stir-fry of chiles and chicken over shredded iceberg lettuce.  I had some iceberg lettuce in the fridge, but went with grilled flank steak.  I simply seasoned the lettuce with lime juice and a tiny bit of grapeseed oil, added some Campari tomatoes that were feeling ignored and risking the cruel fate of a compost pile. The grilled steak rested on the bed of this improvised salad.  A simple main dish to allow the pasta to shine.

meat

I did not have a lot of basil available, so I used baby arugula to compensate, I like its sharper nature. Now, let’s address the floral component of a Fresno chile.  When I plated the dish, I told Phil that next time I would use two peppers to make it more colorful, because “Fresno is all about flavor, not real heat.”  After the second forkful of pasta, lips burning, taste buds fried, we were both grateful that I used only one!   😉  Either Rachael’s tolerance for heat is a lot higher than mine, or I managed to pick a mutant pepper with unusually high levels of capsaicin at the grocery store. But, the interesting thing is that after a while we more or less got used to the heat and the sweat dripping from our foreheads, and thought the level of spice was just right.  So I say be brave, grab a Fresno (make sure you seed it) and go for it!

Rachael used brown rice pasta as the starch component.  Traditionally, one would choose the regular, white rice noodles associated with Thai cooking, and of course they work great for this type of dish.  But I loved the slightly firmer texture of the brown rice spaghetti.  Nowadays I use whole wheat pasta almost exclusively, but both brown rice and quinoa pasta have their spot in the Bewitching pantry.

platedDinner is served!

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CARROT AND SESAME SANDWICH LOAF

From the one and only Dan Lepard, a loaf to satisfy your cravings for a hearty sandwich bread, with the slightly nutty flavor of sesame seeds and a very subtle sweetness from grated carrots in the crumb.  Very easy to make, very easy to love…    You can find the full recipe on The Guardian site, by clicking here.

loaf
Here’s a little virtual tour of the process, starting with a quick preparation of your loaf pan.  You might be surprised to learn that I am a complete disaster when it comes to using scissors. I cannot make a straight cut to save my life.  So I was proud of my job here, although truth be told, it took me almost 15 minutes to do this.

prepbowl

You weigh your ingredients, and make a nice, smooth round of dough…
weighingdough
Thanks to the use of Rapid Rise Yeast (which is unusual for me, I normally go for the regular kind), you will end up with a shaped loaf that will threaten to escape its container, so make sure not to leave the house to run a few errands as the dough rises…  😉
risingslashed

The carrots are very evident in the dough, but they get baked into the crumb in a wonderful way. They won’t disappear, but you won’t feel any harsh bits of carrots as you bite into the bread.  A very soft crumb, with a nice crunchy top given by the sesame seeds.  Make sure to follow Dan’s tip on adding them: wet the surface of the slashed dough with a little water so that the seeds can stick better.  He used black sesame seeds, for quite a dramatic look.  I could swear I had black sesame seeds somewhere, but I could not find them, so I used regular, white seeds.
crumb

And I share with you a favorite lunch option: an open-faced sandwich made with  this bread, slightly toasted, some smoked ham, and cottage cheese with enough salt and black pepper to make it all shine…  Perfection, if you ask me!

sandwich

I am submitting this post to Susan’s Yeastspotting

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SESAME AND FLAXSEED SOURDOUGH

This  loaf of bread was made on a whim on a busy weekend mainly devoted to the lab. Tired of refreshing my starter and putting it back in the fridge, I decided that – no matter what – we would be having home-made bread on Super Bowl Sunday.  I had to cheat, though. The dough got spiked with some commercial yeast to speed up fermentation. Let’s hope the Wild Yeast Gods will have mercy on me…  😉
boule1

SESAME AND FLAXSEED SOURDOUGH
(inspired by Hamelman’s Bread)

Starter mix:
2.4 oz bread flour
3 oz water at room temperature
1 Tablespoon mature sourdough culture

Soaker:
1.5 oz flax seeds (about 1/4 cup)
1/2 cup water at room temperature

final dough:
12 oz bread flour
1.6 oz rye flour
2 oz sesame seeds, toasted
5.7 oz water
10 g salt
all the soaker
4.8 oz starter mix (you will have a small amount left)
1/2 teaspoon active dry yeast

Prepare the levain build 12-18 hours before making the final dough. Mix all ingredients and leave in a covered container at room temperature.  At the same time, make the soaker placing the flax seeds with water in a small bowl.  The seeds will expand quite a bit, so use a bowl that will allow that to happen without overflowing.

Next morning, make the final dough by mixing all the ingredients together in the bowl of a KitchenAid type mixer.  Mix on lowest speed for a couple of minutes.  Check the hydration level, adjust if necessary.  Increase speed to medium-low (level 3 of a KitchenAid), and mix for 3 to 4 minutes.

Let the dough ferment in a lightly oiled bowl for 2 and half hours, folding the dough twice at 50 minutes interval. After 2.5 hours, shape the dough as a ball and place in a suitable container for the final proofing.   My bread was ready to bake in 2 hours and 45 minutes.

Bake in a 450 F oven for 45 minutes. If baking covered to generate steam, remove the cover after 30 minutes.  Cool completely before slicing.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

composite

Whenever I bake a loaf of bread, I go into full scrutiny mode. I stare at the crust,  inspect the edge of the slashing,  and look for small blisters on the surface.  Then, after patiently waiting for the bread to cool,  I cut a slice and start the convoluted process of analyzing the crumb.  Phil knows better and allows me this important “bread-introspection” time before reaching to grab a piece. But, once he senses the green light, it never fails:  “This is good bread”.  Really, this bread is awesome!”   It gives me a thrill… I know he means it, and it puts all my bread scrutiny into perspective.   For instance, I had to stop beating myself up because the holes in the crumb did not organize into the pyramidal shape I love so much.  Oh, well… This is good bread.

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The flax seeds are visible, of course, but the sesame more or less disappears in the crumb. However, the flavor is there beyond any shadow of a doubt, and complements very well the small amount of rye and the hint of sourness.  Everyone watching the Super Bowl loved this loaf, some even preferred to turn the back to the TV and concentrate on it.  😉

Buck2

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

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