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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DANISH RYE BREAD

Back in November we were in New York City and took stepson Dr.A and his beautiful partner to a special dinner at Aquavit. Funny story here. I admit to having a virtual crush on Marcus Samuelsson the chef behind it. So when Phil surprised me with the news of our upcoming dining adventure, I almost passed out. Would Mr. Samuelsson come to our table to say hello? Would I be able to survive that without making a complete fool of myself? Then, the shock. Marcus has left the restaurant many years ago. I must be living in a cave or something. Well, it’s quite clear that I don’t follow the restaurant scene that closely.  The current chef is Emma Bengtsson, a beautiful 33 year-old Swedish chef who is one of only three women to run a restaurant with 2 Michelin stars. Isn’t that super cool? No wonder our meal was memorable! Seriously, the food was spectacular. Absolutely top-notch, one of those evenings to be remembered forever. I include at the end of this post a little slide show. One item I fell in love at first bite was their Danish Rye bread. They brought it in a small basket, three types of bread, the Danish Rye definitely not a heavy contestant for its looks. With no high expectations,  I tried a bite. Then I saw Phil’s expression when he took a bite of his little roll. Our eyes locked, and a symphony started to play in our minds… It was moist, it was dense, but not heavy. It had this incredibly sweet/savory  complex taste, like nothing I ever had before. I  simply had to try and make it at home. Once we flew back, I started obsessively searching for recipes, even wrote the restaurant (no reply, unfortunately), and finally settled on a recipe by Planet Earth’s Baking Goddess Extraordinaire, Karen.

cooling

RUGBRØD – DANISH RYE
(from Karen’s Kitchen Stories)

for the Rye Sour – (prepare 12 to 15 hours prior to the final dough)
300 g whole rye flour
245 g water
55 g sourdough starter at 100% hydration

Combine the ingredients in a medium bowl with a dough whisk or large spoon until you have a fully incorporated dough. Cover with plastic wrap and let sit for 12 to 15 hours.

for the Levain
103 g bread flour
103 g water
14 g sourdough starter

Combine the ingredients in a medium bowl and mix until smooth. Cover with plastic wrap and let ferment for 8 to 10 hours.

for the soaker
75 g rye chops 
150 g water

Mix the ingredients in a small bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let sit overnight at room temperature.

for the Final Dough
130 g bread flour
200 g whole rye flour
180 g water
2.5 g instant yeast
16 g salt
All of the soaker
All of the rye sour
All of the levain
15 g black strap molasses
4.5 g whole fennel seeds, coarsely ground

In the bowl of a stand mixer, mix all of the ingredients with the dough hook on slow for about 4 minutes, then increase the speed to medium, and mix for an additional 3 to 4 minutes. The dough will be very sticky.

Heat the oven to 475 F.

Spray a 13 inch Pullman pan with spray oil, and sprinkle it with rye flour. Scrape the dough into the pan and smooth the top. Sprinkle the top with whole rye flour. Cover the dough with the lid of the pan, and let rise for 45 to 60 minutes, until the dough reaches about 1 inch below the top of the pan.

Bake the loaf at 475 F with the lid on for 15 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 400 F and continue baking for 15 more minutes with the lid on.

Remove the lid and reduce the oven temperature to 325 F. Bake for an additional 45 minutes, until the bread reaches about 205 F internally (check with an instant thermometer).

Remove the bread from the pan and cool on a wire rack. Let the bread sit for 24 to 48 hours to cure before slicing (this is important to avoid a gummy crumb)

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

danishcomp

Comments: Danish Rye is the most beloved bread in Denmark, consumed by everyone particularly at breakfast, but pretty much whenever the mood strikes. I suspect if I lived in Denmark I could survive on it alone. Ok, maybe some butter. A little cheese. Some smoked salmon, but the pièce de resistance would be the bread. I realize that it doesn’t look like much. A brownish, tight crumbed, dense-looking loaf of bread. Looks can be so deceiving! This is the kind of bread that speaks to your soul, each bite a little different, it plays with your taste buds in magical ways. Trust me, you need to bring it to your life if you’ve never tried it.  Plus, it’s pretty straightforward to make. You do not need the special pan with the lid, actually. Many recipes will bake it in a regular loaf type pan, and the bread will end up with a little crack on top. Nothing wrong with that.  Make sure to plan ahead, Danish Rye must sit for at least 24 hours before slicing. Rye is a temperamental flour, with a tendency to develop a gummy texture.

The important question is – did it match the Aquavit concoction? Let’s say it’s pretty close, close enough to make me thrilled about this baking project. I still would love to have their recipe, but so far, no cigar. So my plan is to continue assembling examples in books and blogs, and try a few more. The bread freezes beautifully in thin slices, by the way.  Removing from the freezer, in a few minutes it can go into a low oven to bring it back to life. It is quite simply put, a fantastic loaf of bread. Phil went nuts for it, in fact he now insists that at any given time we must have at least 4 slices in the freezer. Just in case. And of course, I am more than happy to make sure he is happy!

danish-rye

One very tasty lunch!

I am submitting this post to Bread Box Round Up,
hosted by Karen, the Bread Baking Goddess.

danish-rye-bread-from-bewitching-kitchen

For those interested, a little slide show of the great evening we spent at Aquavit, NYC

November 2016

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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ONE YEAR AGO: The Best Sourdough Recipe

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CURRY TURMERIC SOURDOUGH

Bewitching Kitchen is a food blog and I like to keep it focused on the subject with only small detours into two passions of mine: science and fitness. I must say, though that a couple of recent posts by bloggers I follow echoed deeply inside me, so I share them with you. First, I invite you to read A Texan New Yorker’s take on chili. I must make that recipe in honor of a family I admire and already miss immensely. Then, please stop by Cecilia’s site, who just published a post called “I am an immigrant.”  While you are reading it, keep in mind that I am one, one who got her green card and naturalization through long, complex processes several years ago. Her article is a very well-written piece describing the pleasure and pain associated with leaving your home country and starting all over somewhere else. I firmly believe that we are stronger when we are together. That prejudice and divisiveness should be fought against.

earth

When we have friends over, I love to welcome them with a loaf of homemade bread. I did that when our friends Denise and Helio stayed with us over a weekend (see my post here), and last month did it again when our friend Cindy stopped by briefly on her road trip from St Louis to Oklahoma. I made a batch of parsnip hummus and thought that a loaf of sourdough with a subtle hint of Middle Eastern spices could be a good option to enjoy it with it.  I did not want to add anything else to the bread, was hoping for a nice, golden crumb, with no nuts or goodies to distract from the spice components.  I know you cannot judge if I succeeded as far as taste is concerned, but what do you think of its looks?

curry-turmeric-sourdough-2

 

CURRY TURMERIC SOURDOUGH
(from the Bewitching Kitchen)

200g sourdough starter
325g cold water
450g white bread flour
50g spelt flour
1/2 teaspoon curry
1/4 teaspoon turmeric
1 ½ tsp fine sea salt

In a large bowl, whisk the sourdough starter with the water. Add the flours, spices and salt. Stir until you have a soft, sticky mass. Cover the bowl and leave it for 10 minutes. Perform a series of quick kneads, 10 seconds or so, making sure you incorporate as much of dried bits of flour as possible, but if something remains stuck to the bowl, don’t worry about it.  Leave the dough to rest for 10 minutes.

Remove the dough to a slightly oiled surface. Wash and dry the bowl, Coat it very lightly with oil.  Knead the dough again for a quick 10 second period and put it back in the clean, oiled bowl.  Wait 30 minutes.  Perform another cycle of kneading, or if you prefer, use the folding method, in which you stretch one side of the dough way up in the air, bring it over the full extension of the dough, turn it, repeat it four or five times from all directions.  Wait 1 hour, with the dough covered lightly.  Perform another series of kneading or folding.  Wait one more hour, knead again.  Wait 2 hours, divide the dough in two, and shape each half in a round or oblong shape.

Place in an appropriate containers lightly coated with flour, seam side down. Leave them for a final proof for 4 hours.

Invert the dough on parchment paper, slash the surface, and bake at 435 F with initial steam for a total of 45 minutes. I like to use a Dutch oven covered for the first 25 minutes, then remove the lid and allow the bread to brown uncovered for the final 20 minutes.

Cool the bread on a rack before slicing.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

compositecurry

 

Comments: Such a pleasure to work with this dough!  All soft and bubbly, with the delicate scent of curry… I actually made two loaves, and decided to shape one as a batard, a shape I find very tricky to achieve. You can see, there is room for improvement…

siblings

My batard formed a little bulge in one side, and I also would prefer a more pointed edge. Well, gotta keep trying. Still tasted pretty amazing, and as we all know, beauty is skin deep. HA!

 

crumb

The mandatory crumb shot!  What I love the most about this bread is the smell not only while it baked, but when a slice is gently warmed in the toaster oven next day. The hummus went perfectly well with it, but it was superb as a player in the ultra fashionable avocado toast.  I smashed a slice of ripe avocado over the bread, sprinkled drops of lime juice and a light dust with Tajin. Sorry, no pictures, I think the blogosphere is already crowded with avocado toast photos, no need for me to add yet another one.  But, do try it if you make this bread.

curry-turmeric-sourdough-from-bewitching-kitchen

I am submitting this post to Bread Box Round Up,
hosted by Karen, the Bread Baking Goddess.

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SOURDOUGH LOAF WITH CRANBERRIES AND WALNUTS

I blogged on a similar sourdough last year, but this is a slightly different version, with a bit of semolina and whole wheat flour. I baked this bread for a very special occasion, the visit of dear friends I had not seen in 15 years!  A cute story behind our friendship needs to be told.  Back in 1995. When I moved from Paris to Norman to join the University of Oklahoma, a colleague from our department insisted I should meet Denise, a Brazilian graduate student from the College of Education.  It so happens that I’m not that wild about this type of arranged meeting.  I don’t know exactly why, maybe I simply prefer to meet people naturally and make connections independently of the place where they were born. And guess what? Denise felt exactly like me about the whole thing. But we both liked that Professor very much, and decided what the heck, let’s just give this a try. To make a long story short, we “clicked” in a way that we could not have anticipated in a million years!  Our friendship continued after she, her husband Hélio and three kids (now three adults) emigrated permanently to England a few years later. Hélio now travels to Texas on a regular basis for work, and that made it easier for them to plan a quick visit to our neck of the woods. Fifteen years!  Hard to believe time passed so quickly… Denise loves cranberries, so this bread was a natural choice to welcome them to our home. She also loves white chocolate, but that story shall be left for another post…

denise-sourdough

DENISE’S SOURDOUGH WITH CRANBERRIES AND WALNUTS
(from the Bewitching Kitchen)

For the starter (you won’t use everything)
30 g sourdough starter (at 100% hydration)
55 g water
45 g all-purpose flour

For the dough:
65 g starter (about half of starter prepared)
220 g water
160 g semolina flour
120 g bread flour
35 g whole wheat flour
7 g sea salt
80 g dried cranberries
50 g toasted walnut pieces

Make your starter 12 hours before you intend to prepare the dough. Let it ferment at room temperature.

To the appropriate amount of starter (65 g, remember you are not using the full amount made) add the water and mix gently to dissolve it. No need to completely dissolve the starter at this point. Add the flours and mix, allow it to sit with the water for 30 minutes at room temperature.

Sprinkle the salt over the dough, mix it by folding several times, to incorporate the salt. Add the cranberries and the walnuts, mix them gently. Allow the dough to ferment for 5 hours. Fold 5 times at 30 minute intervals. That will take you to 2.5 hours fermentation. Allow the dough to ferment for 2.5 more hours undisturbed.

Shape the dough as a ball, place it in the fridge overnight. Remove it from the fridge one hour before baking, as you heat the oven. Invert the shaped loaf on a baking sheet covered with parchment paper for easy transfer to the oven.

Bake at 450 F with initial steam for 20 minutes, reduce temperature to 425 F and bake for about 25 more minutes. Use your favorite method to generate steam, I like a covered Dutch oven with the lid moist with water before covering the bread. After 30 minutes I open the lid to allow the bread to brown. Cool completely on a rack before slicing.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

crumbshot222
Comments: I am always a bit anxious when it comes to baking bread for special friends. I want it to be perfect, delicious, awesome, but sourdough is a harsh mistress… You can make one perfect loaf, use the same starter, the same recipe a couple of days later and open the oven to find a bread that turned out more like a flat pancake. Usually still very tasty, but… well, you get my point. I made this bread the day before they arrived, so that if it was not worthy of my friends, I could have time for a plan B: a frantic drive to the grocery store. Imagine that!  But to my relief it all had a happy ending. A beautiful marriage between cranberries and walnuts, nice balance of whole wheat with regular flour so that the bread itself had a nice texture and taste.  Perfect with goat cheese, but even just a little butter will work well.  Honestly, even naked it’s great. The bread. Obviously.

I am submitting this post to Bread Box Round Up,
hosted by Karen, the Bread Baking Goddess.

 

cranberries-and-walnuts-sourdough-from-bewitching-kitchen

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

TWO YEARS AGO: Our Green Trip to Colorado

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FOUR YEARS AGO: Celebrate Wednesday with a Thai Seafood Curry

FIVE YEARS AGO:  Post-workout Breakfast

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WALNUT CRANBERRY SOURDOUGH BREAD

Not too long ago I shared with you The Best Sourdough Recipe, and in that post mentioned that a second bread from Maurizio’s site was undergoing fermentation. So, here I am to talk about that bread, probably one of the top ten best we’ve enjoyed in the Bewitching Kitchen. Considering how many loaves of bread I’ve baked through several years of blogging (almost seven, my friends), I wouldn’t take such a remark lightly…  Something about mixing a sweet and tart fruit with toasted walnuts, plus the complex flavor of the sourdough makes this loaf pretty spectacular.  It was superb with a nice Roquefort cheese, but toasted and enjoyed even without adornments it was a feast for the taste buds.

Cranberry Walnut Sourdough2

WALNUT CRANBERRY SOURDOUGH
(adapted from The Perfect Loaf blog)

for the liquid levain starter:
(make 12 hours before making the dough)
35 g liquid starter (at 100% hydration)
35 g whole wheat flour
35 g bread flour
70 g water

for the final dough:
400 g white bread flour
88 g whole wheat flour
12 g rye flour
440 g water at about 90 degrees F (divided, 400 g + 40 g)
10 g sea salt
100 g toasted walnuts, in pieces
70 g dried cranberries
125 g levain (made as above)

Build the liquid levain 10 to 12 hours before you want to make your final dough. Leave it at room temperature (around 72 F).

Next morning, mix flours and  400 g of water very well in a bowl and cover. Ensure all dry flour is hydrated. Leave it to autolyse for 1 hour.  Add the levain with the reserved water and hand-mix it into the dough until it is very well incorporated.  Leave it 30 minutes at room temperature, or if you have a proofer, set it to 78 F and keep the dough at this temperature all the way through. After 30 minutes, add the salt, and mix well.

After the salt is incorporated perform folds for about 2-3 minutes in the bowl. Grab under one side, pull up and over to the other side, then rotate the bowl a bit and repeat. Do this about 30 times or so (it goes fast and easy). At the end the dough should still be shaggy, but it will be a little more smooth and will slightly start to hold itself together more in the bowl. Now you are ready to start bulk fermentation.  If your home is at 78 to 82 F, bulk fermentation should last 4 hours.

During fermentation, do 4 to 5  sets of stretch and folds (I did five), adding the walnuts and cranberries on the second cycle of folding. Perform the first three foldings at 15 minute intervals, the remaining ones at 45 minute intervals then leave the dough to ferment for a full hour undisturbed.  If your dough is too “weak”, seeming to lack structure, add one extra cycle of folding, then leave the dough undisturbed for another hour.

Lightly shape the dough into a round, cover with inverted bowl or moist towel, and let rest for 20 minutes.  After 20 minutes remove the towel or bowl and let the dough rest 5 more minutes exposed to air. This step helps dry out the dough just a bit so it’s not too sticky during shaping.  Lightly flour the top of your dough rounds and flour the work surface. Shape into a batard or boule. Place in a banneton very well floured, leave it at room temperature for about 20 minutes, then retard in the refrigerator  for 15-16 hours.

Heat oven at 500ºF. Bake 20 minutes at 500ºF with steam, and an additional 25-35 minutes at 450ºF, until done to your liking. Cool completely on a rack before slicing.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

doughcollage

Comments: For a bread so heavy with goodies, the crumb turned out a lot more open than I expected. I decided to add one extra cycle of folding (for a total of five) because I felt the dough was asking for it. When the dough speaks to me, I listen.  This method of retarding the dough in the fridge overnight and baking early next morning is perfect. You can use this basic recipe and add other nuts, seeds, dried fruits, olives, just use it as a basic formula.  If your additions are heavy, wait for the second cycle of folding to incorporate them, because it will be easier.  The proportion of white, whole wheat and a touch of rye was perfect to our taste, I would not change it a bit.

Maurizio, thanks again for a great recipe!

crumb shot
ONE YEAR AGO: Ottolenghi in Brazil?

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FIVE YEARS AGO: Roasted Lemon Vinaigrette

SIX YEARS AGO: Whole Wheat Bread

THE BEST SOURDOUGH RECIPE

Bread bakers are a very passionate bunch. The passion can become obsessive, particularly once you get into baking with wild yeast and slowly reach that snobbish point of view that baking with commercial yeast is “for sissies.”  Granted, I am not that snobbish, but I admit that once you start down the wild path, it’s hard to turn back.  The flavor of bread leavened with wild yeast is more complex, and the whole process a lot more elusive, therefore so much more fun! Some days your bread will be spectacular, others not so much, even when everything seems to be the same.  Last month I stumbled onto this post by a super passionate baker named Maurizio.  Of course,  a post entitled My Best Sourdough Recipe got my attention right away, and what I found inside was a very detailed picture-loaded tutorial of the making and baking of a superb sourdough loaf. If you are new to bread baking, then dive into his article, read it carefully, and go to work.  I am sharing with you just the basic recipe, but insist that you should visit his site for the full details. He’s got a ton of great bread recipes! In fact, just as I type this post, I have another recipe from his site undergoing its bulk proof. One hint: it has walnuts…  Are you in love yet?  What if I say it has a particularly tasty dry fruit too?

😉

Best Sourdough2

 

MAURIZIO’S BEST SOURDOUGH RECIPE
(slightly modified from The Perfect Loaf blog)

for the liquid levain starter:
(make 12 hours before making the dough)
35 g liquid starter (at 100% hydration)
35 g whole wheat flour
35 g bread flour
70 g water

for the final dough:
402 g white bread flour
37 g whole wheat flour
375 g water at about 90 degrees F (divided, 350 g + 25 g)
9 g sea salt
75 g levain (made as above)

Build the liquid levain 10 to 12 hours before you want to make your final dough. Leave it at room temperature (around 72 F).

Next morning, mix flour and  350 g of water very well in a bowl and cover. Ensure all dry flour is hydrated. Leave it to autolyse for 1 hour.  Add the levain with the reserved water and hand-mix it into the dough until it is very well incorporated.  Leave it 30 minutes at room temperature, or if you have a proofer, set it to 78 F and keep the dough at this temperature all the way through. After 30 minutes, add the salt, and mix well.

After the salt is incorporated perform folds for about 2-3 minutes in the bowl. Grab under one side, pull up and over to the other side, then rotate the bowl a bit and repeat. Do this about 30 times or so (it goes fast and easy). At the end the dough should still be shaggy, but it will be a little more smooth and will slightly start to hold itself together more in the bowl. Now you are ready to start bulk fermentation.  If your home is at 78 to 82 F, bulk fermentation should last 4 hours.

During fermentation, do 6 sets of stretch and folds, the first three at 15 minute intervals (it will take you to 45 minutes of bulk fermentation), the last three at 45 minute intervals (by the time you do the last one you will be at 3 hours, with a final hour in which the dough is left undisturbed). If your dough is too “weak”, seeming to lack structure, add one more cycle of folding after 30 minutes and leave the dough undisturbed for another hour.

Lightly shape the dough into a round, cover with inverted bowl or moist towel, and let rest for 20 minutes.  After 20 minutes remove the towel or bowl and let the dough rest 5 more minutes exposed to air. This step helps dry out the dough just a bit so it’s not too sticky during shaping.  Lightly flour the top of your dough rounds and flour the work surface. Shape into a batard or boule. Place in a banneton very well floured, leave it at room temperature for about 20 minutes, then retard in the refrigerator  for 15-16 hours.

Heat oven at 500ºF. Bake 20 minutes at 500ºF with steam, and an additional 25-35 minutes at 450ºF, until done to your liking. Cool completely on a rack before slicing.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click

sourdoughcomp
I made this bread a day before our dear friends from Brazil arrived for their visit. They loved it, and were actually quite interested in the process of sourdough baking. So, I decided to refresh my starter and make a second loaf with them, this time shaping it as a round loaf instead of slightly oblong. The second loaf, much to my delight, had even better oven spring…

best sourdough boule

That loaf traveled all the way with us to Colorado, and made our first evening in Silverthorne quite special… nothing like a nice loaf of  bread to make you feel home and cozy….

So, is it the best sourdough recipe ever? I think the best bread recipes are the ones that work consistently and fit your schedule well. It also helps to have a method that is easy to follow, so that by the time you make it for the third or fourth time, it becomes second nature. I don’t have the exact same flours Maurizio used, so every time I baked this bread I felt that as written the formula had a tad too much water.  It was hard – for my level of technique with the folding – to obtain good gluten structure. Once I held back a little of the water the dough turned out perfect, it had more “muscle”, which ultimately gives a better oven spring and crumb structure.  You will have to play with it a little. I published the recipe the way it worked best for me.

The schedule is perfect for my style of baking. I can start mixing the dough early in the morning on a Saturday or Sunday, by 3pm maximum it is in the fridge and I don’t need to think about it until next day. I am usually up at 5am, so I can turn the oven on and have the bread ready before it’s time to go to work, if I made the dough on a Sunday. So, all things considered, it is a GREAT recipe that I intend to use often and play with to add goodies to the dough. Walnuts, seeds, cheese, olives, herbs… you just wait and see!

ONE YEAR AGO: Two Appetizers for those who like it hot

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THREE YEARS AGO: Pumpkin Uncanned

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SIX YEARS AGO: Celery and Apple Salad

 

KEN FORKISH’S PAIN AU BACON

PainAuBacon2It’s been a while since I baked a loaf of sourdough bread. A quick browse through my archives proves this sad turn of events: October 13th was my last adventure in the Land of the Wild Yeast. But, with so much going on, trips, busy schedule, I was forced to let my starter sleeping in the freezer a lot longer than I expected.  Finally, the second weekend of December shaped up as a perfect opportunity to resume bread baking. The weekend schedule seemed flexible enough – just a cocktail party Saturday night – and the perfect weather to crank the oven up all the way to 450 F.  Sometimes a tropical being is forced to find positive aspects in outside temperatures falling below 60 F.  I sat down next to our fireplace with quite a few of my bread cookbooks, and went through the very elaborate process of choosing which recipe to work on.  Keep in mind that if I have to dress up for a party, my outfit is decided in 5 minutes, accessories included. But choosing a sourdough bread takes me hours. And I mean  hours  in the strict sense of the term, in which 1 hour equals 360 seconds.  After intense mental struggle, I picked a winner from Ken Forkish’s book “Flour Water Salt Yeast“.   It was worth all the pacing back and forth, the many stick-it notes, and the snide remarks of the husband asking if I needed another couch to spread some more cookbooks. Very uncalled for. Obviously, I can only endure this type of treatment because I am an easy-going, serene, and forgiving human being. PainAuBacon1PAIN AU BACON
(recipe reprinted with permission from Ken Forkish)

Makes one loaf.

for the levain:
50 g mature active sourdough starter
200 g unbleached all-purpose flour
50 g whole wheat flour
200 g lukewarm water

for the final dough:
432 g unbleached all-purpose flour
8 g whole wheat flour
343 g water (warmed to about 90 degrees F)
10 g fine sea salt
250 g (about 1/2 pound) bacon, fried to crispy, and then crumbled
1 T reserved bacon fat
108 g of the levain
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Mix the levain ingredients in a medium bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let sit for about 10 hours, until bubbly. In a large bowl mix the flours and water by hand until just incorporated. Cover and let it rest for 20 to 30 minutes (that is the autolyse step).
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Sprinkle the salt all over the flour mixture, then add the levain.  Using wet hands to prevent the dough from sticking, mix the dough by pinching it to distribute the salt. Cover and rest for 10 minutes.
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Spread the bacon fat over the dough and add the crumbled bacon. Using the pincer method alternating with folding, mix all of the ingredients in the bucket. Cover the dough with plastic wrap, and let it sit for 30 minutes. In the next 2 hours, stretch and fold the dough 4 times, every 30 minutes. Cover and let rest at room temperature for 12 hours, until about tripled in volume.

Gently shape the dough into a loose boule. Flour a banneton,  shape the dough into a medium tight ball and place it seam side down into the proofing banneton. Cover with oiled plastic wrap. Let the loaves proof for about 4 hours, depending on the room temperature.

About 45 minutes before baking, heat the oven to 475 degrees F with an empty covered Dutch oven placed on the middle rack.

Remove the Dutch oven from the oven and remove the lid. Place a piece of parchment over the banneton with the proofed bread inside, and a flat baking sheet over it. Flip the dough over, remove the basket, and place the shaped boule in the Dutch oven using the parchment to help move it. The paper can stay in during baking.  Cover the Dutch oven and place it in the hot oven.  Wet the lid of the Dutch oven, and quickly use it to cover it. Alternatively, you can use your own favorite method to generate steam during baking.

Bake covered for 30 minutes, and then uncover it and bake it for 15 to 20 minutes more, until the interior of the bread reaches 205 to 210 degrees F and the bread is a deep brown.

Cool on a rack completely before devouring it…

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

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Comments:  After such a long time away from my starter, I get a little anxious when baking a loaf like this.  I was particularly worried about leaving the dough to ferment at room temperature for 12 hours, something I had never done before.  But, the dough behaved exactly as Ken mentioned in the book.  Take a look at these couple of shots:

Before…
Before

After…
After

A very nice, soft, bubbly dough, quite easy to work with and shape as a boule.
Proofing

One of the things I love about Ken’s book, is that he offers a sample timeframe for all recipes. Just for fun, I include my notes, prepared the night before. On top you see his suggestion of timing, and as I move along, I jot down my actual timing, adapted to fit my schedule. If you have the book, you may notice I actually halved the recipe to make a single loaf instead of two.

Notes(click to enlarge, if so desired)

The subtle smell of bacon while the bread baked was wonderful!  I made this bread especially to share with my youngest stepson and our great friends from Oklahoma who were coming to visit us the following weekend. So, the bread cooled completely over a rack, rested for a day, and the following morning I sliced it and froze the slices, in small packages.  It is a perfect way to have bread as good as freshly baked at a moment’s notice.

Here is the mandatory crumb shot…
CrumbShot

And the slices on their way to the freezer…

Bagged

This was a superb loaf of bread!  In fact, when we served it – alongside a hearty pasta with Bolognese sauce – it was hard to believe that bacon was the only ingredient added. It tasted very complex, almost as if a mixture of nuts were also incorporated into the dough. Salty, spicy, and smoky at the same time.

Ken, thank you for allowing me to publish the recipe for one of the most flavorful loaves of bread I ever made!I am submitting this post to Susan’s Yeastspotting event…

HAPPY HOLIDAYS, EVERYONE!

maracujaDad and son enjoying a nice passion fruit “caipirinha”…

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