CHEESE AND PESTO EMMER ROLL-UPS, AND A SPECIAL COOKBOOK REVIEW

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)
300g water
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.

ENJOY!

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.

ONE YEAR AGO: Mango-Hazelnut Entremet Cake

TWO YEAR AGO: Lebanese Lentil Salad and a Cookbook Review

THREE YEARS AGO: Cottage Loaf

FOUR YEARS AGO: Sourdough Loaf with Cranberries and Walnuts

FIVE YEAR AGO: Sichuan Pork Stir-Fry in Garlic Sauce

SIX YEARS AGO: Our Green Trip to Colorado

SEVEN YEARS AGO: Ditalini Pasta Salad

EIGHT YEARS AGO: Celebrate Wednesday with a Thai Seafood Curry

NINE YEARS AGO:  Post-workout Breakfast

TEN YEARS AGO: Semolina Barbecue Buns

ELEVEN YEARS AGO: Lavash Crackers

 

 

THE POWER OF CHEMISTRY: RED BEET SOURDOUGH

I will start by blowing your mind. Below, same exact recipe for sourdough bread, with or without vitamin C added to the formula.

For the past year I’ve been playing with adding beets to bread, both using beet powder and roasted beets, but my experiments failed in the color department. Everything tasted pretty good, but the beautiful red color of beets was consistently lost during baking. I had resigned myself to brownish breads until I remembered using vitamin C to preserve the color of basil for freezing. Works like magic. Sorry, it is actually pure science. Vitamin C is a powerful anti-oxidant, and the browning reaction is simply oxidation of compounds during storage or cooking.  I searched Google University and found out that others had already figured it all out and many bakers use vitamin C in their beet-containing breads.

RED BEET SOURDOUGH
(from the Bewitching Kitchen)

Comments: I was absolutely shocked by the results! You might think that the same outcome could be achieved by using some lemon or orange juice, as those fruits are loaded with vitamin C. It turns out that a whole lemon has about 20mg of vitamin C, so clearly not enough to do the job. I used purified ascorbic acid, borrowed from our lab, but I know home bakers use vitamin C tablets, usually each one contains 500 mg, so one or two tablets will be what you need. I intend to use that in the future and report back.
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Same bread without vitamin C, nothing wrong with it, except that the beautiful red color is lost during baking. Even though, as you see in the composite below, until you put the bread in the oven, all seems totally fine.
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I hope you consider playing with vitamin C if you had issues with your bakes using beets.  It would be interesting to add it to other things that involve color, be it spinach or butterfly pea flower.
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And let me tell you, Red Beet Sourdough makes amazing croutons!
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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

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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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SUNFLOWER SEED KAMUT SOURDOUGH

Inspired by classic recipes around, this bread is for those who love a little texture with their soft crumb, and a very mild sourdough taste. The kamut flour makes the crumb slightly more “creamy” than a sourdough made exclusively with white flour. You can substitute it with spelt, whole wheat, or semolina flour, all will work well in the formula.

SUNFLOWER SEED KAMUT SOURDOUGH
(from the Bewitching Kitchen)

100 g sourdough starter at 100% hydration
110 g water, at room temperature
200 g bread flour
50 g kamut flour (or another flour of your choice)
100 g sunflower seeds, toasted
3/4 tsp sea salt
2 tablespoons honey
1/2 teaspoon instant yeast

Combine the flours with the toasted sunflower seeds and the salt in a large bowl. In another bowl, mix the water with the sourdough starter, dissolving it gently. Add the honey and the yeast, mix to combine.

Add the liquid ingredients to the bowl with the flour mixture, and incorporate it all using your hands. It will be pretty shaggy, once it’s more or less incorporated, allow it to rest for 10 minutes.

Knead briefly on a surface coated with oil (avoid adding more flour), allow it to rest for 10 minutes.

Knead briefly again, and let the dough rest for 30 minutes.

Knead briefly one last time and let the dough rest for 1 hour.

Shape it as a ball, place in a banetton with the seam side up to rise for 2 hours.

Invert it on a piece of parchment paper, slash the surface and bake in a 450 F oven for 40 minutes, with initial steam.

Allow it to cool completely before slicing.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here 

Comments: This recipe makes a reasonably small loaf, perfect for the two of us to enjoy and then freeze a few more slices for delayed bread pleasure. The toasted sunflower seeds have almost a popcorn flavor, do not skip the toasting part because it is a game changer in this type of bread.

A perfect match for this sourdough is a slice of Roquefort cheese. Something about the sunflower seeds meeting the salty and sharp nature of the blue cheese makes it all pretty hard to resist.

ONE YEAR AGO: Sweet Potato “Hummus”

TWO YEARS AGO: Cauliflower Crust Pizza

THREE YEARS AGO: Silky Rutabaga Puree

FOUR YEARS AGO: Bon Bon Chicken: Light and Spectacular

FIVE YEARS AGO: Red Wine Sourdough Bread with Cranberries

SIX YEARS AGO: Award-Winning Sourdough Baguettes

SEVEN YEARS AGO: Country Rye (Tartine)

EIGHT YEARS AGO: Penne a la Vechia Bettola

 

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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!

 

ONE YEAR AGO: If I had One Hour

TWO YEARS AGO: Apple Cinnamon Oatmeal Cake

THREE YEARS AGO: Sourdough Rye Bread with Flaxseeds and Oats

FOUR YEARS AGO: Apricot-Raspberry Sorbet: A farewell to Summer

FIVE YEARS AGO: Marcela’s Salpicon

SIX YEARS AGO: Pork Kebabs

SEVEN YEARS AGO: Fondant au Chocolat

EIGHT YEARS AGOGot Spinach? Have a salad!

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