BAHARAT FLOWER SOURDOUGH

I am quite fond of adding Middle Eastern spices to sourdough bread, and this time I experimented with “baharat.” Interestingly, the word “baharat” means “spices” and a commercially available mixture might have different proportions of many kinds, depending on the origin. You can also make your own, using the formula suggested in this article. I went with a store-bought product, and chose this one. It has intense flavor, but it is not overly hot.

BAHARAT FLOWER SOURDOUGH
(from the Bewitching Kitchen)

385g white bread flour
16g whole-wheat flour
1/2 tsp baharat mixture
8g salt
280g water
65g sourdough starter at 100% hydration

optional for decoration:
egg white + a little water (egg wash)
sesame seeds (I used a mixture of white and black)
luster powder + vodka

Make the levain mixture about 6 hours before you plan to mix the dough. It should be very bubbly and active.

When you are ready to make the final dough, place the water in the bowl of a KitchenAid type mixer and dissolve the starter in it, mixing with a spatula briefly, then add the two types of flour, the baharat and the salt. Turn the mixer on with the hook attachment and knead the dough for 4 minutes at low-speed all the time. If the dough is too sticky, add 1/4 cup flour, you want the dough to start clearing the sides of the bowl, but still be sticky at the bottom.

Remove from the machine, and transfer to a container lightly coated with oil, cover lightly with plastic wrap and allow it to ferment for 4 hours, folding every 45 minutes or so. After four hours bulk fermentation, shape the dough as a ball, and place, seam side up, in a lightly floured banetton. Leave at room temperature one hour, and then place in the fridge overnight, from 8 to 12 hours.

Next morning, heat the oven to 450F. Invert the dough over parchment paper, rub gently white flour on the surface. Score with a flower pattern and paint the details with a bright color using luster powder diluted with vodka. You need it to be a bit on the thick side, and don’t worry about precision, it will more or less mix with any flour bits around it. Do not worry. Paint the center of the flower pattern with egg wash and gently press sesame seeds on it.

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: If you ask me which type of spice is my favorite for sourdough, I would have to politely decline to answer. I love them all. I tend to use curry more often than others but probably because I have two or three types of curry in the pantry and like to put them to use. The amount included gives just a hint of flavor and the bread is still good to enjoy with anything you want. Even plain with a little olive oil or butter.

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MINI-PULLMAN SOURDOUGH BREAD

First things first. Full credit to my dear friend Elaine, for inspiring me to use a pan I had bought a few months ago and was sitting in the basement, feeling neglected (the pan, not the baker). The gadget is a mini-loaf, Pullman style, that makes a cute cube-shaped bread. You can use any type of dough you like, but I went with a simple sourdough.

MINI-PULLMAN SOURDOUGH BREAD
(adapted from Elaine’s master recipe)

225g white flour
25g whole-wheat flour
40g sourdough starter at 100% hydration
175g water
5g salt

Lay a piece of parchment paper in the mini-loaf pan with a little overhang to make it easier to pull the baked bread later. Reserve.

Mix all ingredients for the dough in a medium-size bowl. Cover and let sit at room temperature for 1 hour.

Do a series of foldings every 45 minutes or so until you reach 5 hours bulk fermentation (so do folds for 4 more hours, don’t worry about timing, try to make 4 more cycles of folding. Shape it loosely as a ball, and place in the mini-loaf pan. Cover loosely with plastic and place in the refrigerator overnight. It should fill a little more than half the volume of the pan.

Next morning, heat the oven to 425F. When it reaches that temperature, remove the plastic cover, shut the pan with the metal lid, and bake for 30 minutes. Open the lid, and leave in the oven for another 5 to 10 minutes.

Cool in the pan for 5 to 10 minutes, and invert to remove the bread. Cool completely on a rack before slicing.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: For this size of pan, you need to have enough dough so that during baking it will reach the top. However, if you add too much it will end up badly compressed at the top, and the texture of the crumb won’t be homogeneous. The picture above shows the dough before it went into its final fermentation in the fridge. It is perhaps 70% full.


I don’t think you need to add the parchment paper, but it was my first time using this method and I was afraid of the dough sticking to the pan. Not at all the case. I did not grease the pan, and the dough stayed inside overnight in the fridge without any issues.

This recipe makes a small loaf perfect for a family of two or three. Another great advantage is that leftovers will be perfect for cutting as croutons, something we do often. I know I will be using my pan all the time now, not only with sourdough but other types of bread too. I am thinking a marbled charcoal and white in the near future..

Elaine, thank you for that much needed push to put my baking toy to good use!

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CURRY SOURDOUGH WITH SESAME SEEDS

Vadouvan Curry once again joined our sourdough bread. This time I went a little crazy and tried two new things in the same loaf. Inspired by amazing stuff I see on Instagram, I decided to use a stencil, some luster powder, a razor blade, and a little edge decoration with sesame seeds.

PAINTED CURRY SOURDOUGH WITH SESAME SEEDS
(from the Bewitching Kitchen)

385g white bread flour
16g spelt flour
1/2 tsp Vadouvan curry (or any curry you like)
8g salt
280g water
65g sourdough starter at 100% hydration

optional for decoration:
egg white + a little water (egg wash)
sesame seeds (I used a mixture of white and black)
luster powder + vodka

Make the levain mixture about 6 hours before you plan to mix the dough. It should be very bubbly and active.

When you are ready to make the final dough, place the water in the bowl of a KitchenAid type mixer and dissolve the starter in it, mixing with a spatula briefly, then add the two types of flour, the curry and the salt. Turn the mixer on with the hook attachment and knead the dough for 4 minutes at low-speed all the time. If the dough is too sticky, add 1/4 cup flour, you want the dough to start clearing the sides of the bowl, but still be sticky at the bottom.

Remove from the machine, and transfer to a container lightly coated with oil, cover lightly with plastic wrap and allow it to ferment for 4 hours, folding every 45 minutes or so. After four hours bulk fermentation, shape the dough as a ball, and place, seam side up, in a lightly floured banetton. Leave at room temperature one hour, and then place in the fridge overnight, from 8 to 12 hours.

Next morning, heat the oven to 450F. Invert the dough over parchment paper, place your chosen stencil over it, and rub gently white flour on the design. Paint the details with a bright color using luster powder diluted with vodka. You need it to be a bit on the thick side, and don’t worry about precision, it will more or less mix with any flour bits around it. Do not worry. Paint a band around the perimeter of the bread with egg wash and gently press sesame seeds all over it. Slash quickly with a razor blade according to the design of your stencil, so that when it expands in the oven it won’t affect too much 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 trick about painting the surface of the bread is keeping in mind the color will considerably change during baking. If you start with a brown, soft red, or golden, chances are they will almost disappear once the bread bakes. So if you like some contrast, pick something that will be super bright to start with. I used a luster powder called Mexican Rose, and it is wild. But it did bake to a shade I liked and very visible in the bread. Water alone won’ t be enough to stick the sesame seeds in a defined pattern, so use egg white instead.

Next I want to try a simple design made with a razor blade and couple it with the luster powder. It was a little tricky to join the stencil (with the required extra amount of flour on the surface) with the paint. But I am still pretty happy with the way it turned out for a first time.

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SUNDRIED TOMATO SPELT SOURDOUGH

This is just another little departure on my basic formula for sourdough bread, also using my default method of KitchenAid first, folding next. I decided to try a totally different type of scoring, and must say I am pretty happy with the way it turned out.

SUNDRIED TOMATO SPELT SOURDOUGH
(from the Bewitching Kitchen)

480g bread flour
20g spelt flour
50g sundried tomatoes, chopped in pieces
10g salt
370g water
80g sourdough starter at 100% hydration

Make the levain mixture about 6 hours before you plan to mix the dough. It should be very bubbly and active.

When you are ready to make the final dough, place the water in the bowl of a KitchenAid type mixer and dissolve the starter in it, mixing with a spatula briefly, then add the two types of flour, and the salt. Turn the mixer on with the hook attachment and knead the dough for 2 minutes at low-speed all the time. Add the sundried tomatoes and knead for 2 more minutes. If the dough is too sticky, add 1/4 cup flour, you want the dough to start clearing the sides of the bowl, but still be sticky at the bottom.

Remove from the machine, and transfer to a container lightly coated with oil, cover lightly with plastic wrap and allow it to ferment for 4 hours, folding every 45 minutes or so. After four hours bulk fermentation, shape the dough as a ball, and place, seam side up, in a lightly floured banetton. Leave at room temperature one hour, and then place in the fridge overnight, from 8 to 12 hours.

Next morning, heat the oven to 450F. Invert the dough over parchment paper, rub some flour all over the surface, and use a string to lightly score lines forming a grid on the surface. Next, use a brand new razor blade to score those lines, and scissors to form a star pattern at the corners (see picture below).

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: To score the bread you’ll need a string, so that you can very lightly mark the pattern. I don’t have enough confidence with a razor blade in my hand to go at it without these markings, but you might not need it. After scoring with the blade, make the details with the scissors. I now visualize a next bread in which the grid won’t be squared, but tilted in some way. Not sure exactly how I’m going to do it, but I will definitely play with it.

The sundried tomatoes I used were soft and moist, I got them from our grocery store in their salad bar, they were lightly marinated with herbs. I would avoid using super dry tomatoes, but if that’s the only kind you have, maybe softening a bit in warm water can be a good idea.

It is really a totally different look from what I’m used to. I like the way it allowed the bread to rise very uniformly, which is not always the case for some patterns. Contrary to cookies, which I have a venue to donate, I only bake bread for us, so it becomes a “once-a-month” kind of project. I have quite a few things to try, but they tend to materialize more slowly. Maybe I should start giving bread to neighbors? Departmental colleagues? Graduate students?

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OAT AND SESAME SEED SOURDOUGH

Some people find sourdough bread to be a bit “harsh” as far as texture goes. I am not part of that team, but I can understand where they are coming from. This bread retains the basic sourness of the classic, but the texture is so mellow that it reminded me of soft sandwich breads I enjoyed as a kid. It is the soaked oats and seeds that perform the magic. Absolutely delicious, I hope you’ll give it a try.

OAT AND SESAME SEED SOURDOUGH
(from The Bewitching Kitchen)

375g white bread flour (+ more to adjust consistency)
25g spelt flour
220g water
100g starter at 100% hydration
40g steel-cut oats
10g white sesame seeds
10g black sesame seeds (or 20g all one type)
10g salt

When you refresh your starter, maybe 6 hours before starting the bread, make the soaker: mix the oats and sesame seeds, and add enough water to just cover them. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and leave at room temperature until it is time to mix the dough.

Add the soaked seeds ad all other components of the dough to the bowl of a Kitchen Aid mixer fitted with the dough hook. If there is too much water not absorbed by the seeds, leave it behind, but keep in mind that a lot of the moisture of the water in the formula should come from the soaker. Knead for about 4 minutes, paying attention to the texture of the dough. It should just start to clean the sides of the bowl. If necessary, add more flour at this point. I had to add about 1/4 cup flour to mine.

Remove the dough from the Kitchen Aid, transfer to any appropriate container lightly oiled and perform a series of stretch and folds every 45 minutes. Do it four to five times, which will take you up to 4 and half hours from initial bulk fermentation. Even if you fold it only 4 times, leave it fermenting until you reach 4 and a half hours.

Shape as a round ball and place in a floured banneton, seam side up. Leave 45 to 60 minutes at room temperature, then place in the fridge overnight.

Remove the dough by inverting it on parchment paper, dust the surface with rice or white flour and slash any pattern you like. I used scissors coupled with a razor blade to get the leaf pattern.

Bake at 450F in a Dutch Oven, covered for 30 minutes, then remove the lid to brown the crust. Allow it to cool completely before slicing.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: I have included sesame seeds in my sourdough breads many times in the past, but don’t remember their flavor being as evident as in this loaf. I suppose the soaking step helps with it, which surprises me. Roasting them I could understand but just the soaking? Interesting. The texture of this bread is also remarkable, so I must repeat myself and tell you to try it and serve even to those who are a little uncomfortable with a rustic sourdough loaf in all its full glory.

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