Sourdough bread – take 2

sourdough-12

As I wrote about earlier, I tried 5 & Spice’s recipe for sourdough bread and was partial successful. I updated how I maintained my sourdough and tried making it again the other day, this day with more success.

I had fed the sourdough starter the day before, and left it out that night. Next day it was nice, risen and ready to use. I mostly changed what I did on day 2, leaving it out much longer. The bread was not uniform as the original recipe, but with some large holes in it, I am not sure if it rose too long in the end, but it was much less dense and just as moist.

Here is the recipe again, for reference, and the steps I ended up doing, still very close to the original.

  • 200 g sourdough starter (1 cup)
  • 400 g bread flour (3 cups)
  • 8-10g salt (2 tsp)
  • 300 ml room temperature water (1 1/3 cup)

Method:

1. Stir together sourdough, flour, salt and water and mix well. It is pretty sticky. Turn the dough out on a working surface and see if it might need a little more flour, but be careful, it is a sticky dough at this point. (I know that where I store my flour it ends up having a high moisture content, so I usually need to add a little more flour than a recipe calls for).

sourdough-1

2. Stretch the dough to a rectangle, and then fold one end 1/3 over the piece, then again with the other end, so you end up with a 3 layer rectangle. Turn the dough 90 degrees and fold again. You can’t really see the layers at this point, it is that sticky.

sourdough-2

3. Oil a clean bowl, and put the dough to rest in it and cover with plastic wrap. Leave it to rest for 1 hour.

4. Take the dough out and repeat the stretching and folding like before, 3 layers one way, 3 layers the other way. Put the dough back in the bowl, cover and let rest for another hour.

5. Repeat the folding again, the dough should be less sticky now. Rest for another hour.

sourdough-4

6. Stretch and fold again and put the dough in a large, clean bowl. Cover with a damp towel or plastic wrap and and rest overnight in the refrigerator.

sourdough-6

7. Take the dough out of the refrigerator the next day, about 2-4 hours before you want to bake. Now is a good time to pull a little of the dough from the top to put back in your starter, if you like to do put developed dough back in there. Be sure to close it up nicely. Let it stand to rise at room temperature for about 2-3 hours. It should be puffed up a little bit.

sourdough-7

8. Turn the dough out on your work surface, stretch it and form a round loaf.

9. Dust a cutting board with corn meal and place the loaf there. Let rest for another 1 hour or so. Score the top of the bread.

sourdough-8

10. Preheat your oven to 475 F/ C and put a Dutch oven in there.

11. When the oven is ready, take the Dutch oven out, and take off the lid. Careful, remember this is all really hot! Gently life the bread up and put into the Dutch oven and put the lid back on.

12. Bake with the lid on for 25 min, then take the lid off and bake for another 10 min.

13. Take the Dutch oven out, and carefully take the bread out ( I used grilling thongs). Remember, HOT!

14. Put the bread on a rack to cool

sourdough-11

I was pretty happy with this, and so was the family, it was perfect with some potato leek soup. It was not perfect, however, I might try some other sourdough recipes next to compare.

Soup and bread  - perfect toddler meal!

Soup and bread – perfect toddler meal!

Danish Pancakes

pancake-3

Danish Pancakes are basically crepes, but they are usually made on a regular pan and not a fancy crepe pan. My husband calls them ‘real pancakes’, as opposed to American pancakes. He enjoys these a lot more than the soft, risen American ones that I prefer to make.

This is a basic batter you can use for savory or sweet fillings, as these are not sweet in themselves. My husband decided to make these for dinner and dessert the other day, and I quickly snapped some shots of it. Making heaps of them is a practiced skill, and he is quite good at it, much better than me.

Recipe adapted from the Danish basic cookbook, Politikens Nye Kogebog.

Ingredients:

  • 125 g all purpose flour (4.4 oz)
  • 1 pinch of salt
  • 1 egg
  • 300 ml milk (1 1/4 cup)
  • 50-100 ml water (1/4 – 1/2 cups)
  • butter for frying

Method:

1. Line up 2 pans on your stove, and a plate to keep the cooked pancakes on, with another plate on top to keep them warm. Get your butter ready too.

2. Whisk all the ingredients together. In the end the batter should be a little thicker than heavy whipping cream, but not by much. Add a little more milk or some water if it is too thick, and continue to check the thickness as you cook the pancakes.

batter

3. Melt a little bit of butter in one pan, about 1/4-1/2 tsp. When melted, pour batter on to cover your pan, tilt the pan to distribute it evenly. You should use just enough batter to cover the pan in a thin layer.

4. While the first pancake cooks, melt butter in the second pan and repeat. Flip the first pancake, and pour batter in the second pan. You want to stagger the cooking a bit.

5. When the pancake is nicely browned on both side, lift it to your prepared plate. ( You can keep the plates in the oven at a low temperature if you plan to make lots and lots to keep them warm). Don’t worry if your first one breaks apart or looks strange – usually the first one does.

6. Keep staggering your pancake making on the pans, buttering for every second pancake.

pancake-2

7. Serve warm!

You can make any sort of filling to go with it, like spinach, mushroom and cheese,  ham and cheese or even meat sauce and cheese for savory fillings. Fill them either by putting the filling on a quarter and them folding them twice, or put the filling down the middle and roll them up (the square fold you see for crepes are not really done with these small pancakes).

For sweet fillings we have lots of favorites, like fresh berries, whipped cream, jam, sugar, icecream, nutella, bananas and any combinations there off. Sugar & lemon juice is really good too!

Sorry there are no pictures of the rolled up pancakes, we were too  busy eating!

Enjoy!

Sourdough musings

Due to my latest sourdough experiment, I have been reading a bit about maintaining a sourdough starter.
In my original sources it said to keep the starter in the refrigiator and feed it every 3-4 days.

On a work trip to San Fransico my husband recently picked up the book Tartine Bread, which is an amazing book, though I have yet to try any of the recipes in it. I hope to review it a bit later, but he does spend some time discussing his experimentations (over years!) with sourdough starters.

There was a couple of things that stood out to me when reading about his sourdough.
The first thing was having a predictable feeding schedule, and feeding more often. His recommendation was every day, at the same time, with the same amount of flour water. This would lead to predictable yeast activity.
The second thing was discarding 80% of the starter every time it was fed, too keep it young and fresh, this should lead to a less sour sourdough.
Thirdly, he would keep it at 65-75 F. Two types of acids are formed in a sourdough, and the more sour one thrives better a lower temperatures.

I decided I would try modify my own sourdough caretaking based on this, but tweak it so it fit my baking. I don’t plan on baking sourdough that often, and I plan on use it for different things and in varying amounts (for the basic Tartine bread, only one table spoon is used to create a leaven before making the dough, then you use the leftover leaven as your new starter). It needed to work for my Danish Rye bread too, and I didn’t mind it would be a bit more sour maybe.

I will try to a) discard about half of it when feeding. b) Feed it every second day instead of less often, and with different time intervals in between. I can probably not achieve feeding on the same time every day, but I can try. c) Feed it a predictable amount of food, 50g bread flour, 50g rye and 100ml of water. I chose to use whole grain rye, as it fit the types of bread I would like to make, and I think it would give it a unique flavor.

I don’t have anywhere it would always be between 65 and 75 degrees. In the winter our house is usually colder at night, and in the summer hotter in the day. I will keep leaving it out after feeding it, and then store it in the fridge.

After only 2 times doing this, I noticed a lot more yeast activity in the starter. I fed it in the afternoon, and forgot to put it in the fridge by bedtime, and I think that might actually work well me – feed in the evening, leave out overnight.

I also discovered that having a lot more yeast activity does lead to a lot more gas being created – the lid of my patent jar came off with a loud pop! when I opened it. I will probably just cover it with some plastic wrap going forward, even though those jars are pretty solid!

We will see how this will work for the sourdough breads I would like to make. I definitely want to try the Tartine bread too, as well as some other things from his book.

Blueberry Muffins

Blueberry

I wanted to make some blueberry muffins and I remembered a recipe I used from allrecipes.com years ago, probably 8-9 years or so.

I think it was this one, so I went ahead and made them, both as blueberries and as chocolate muffins (no lemon zest added). They were actually a little disappointing to me, not as fluffy, not as moist as I wanted them.

This led me to look at other recipes and see if I could find a way to make them better, without making them more complicated to make. My first idea was to substitute the oil for butter, but keep it melted so I wouldn’t have to deal with softening butter. Butter would give a much better taste in my opinion. I find that oil will add fat, but not a lot of taste to baked products, and while fine in (savory) bread it tastes a little ‘sad’ in cakes to me. It would of course be different if I was trying to do something dairy free, but the recipe already had dairy in it.
The next idea I had was to substitute 1 tsp of the baking powder for baking soda, I think using both gives a little more rise. I also saw that many muffin recipes called for yogurt to be added, so I wanted to try that to make it extra moist. Finally I wanted to replace the white sugar with light brown, as I think it gives more depth of flavor. I did like the amount though, these are not too sweet.

In the end I was pretty pleased with the result, so here is the complete recipe for my enhanced blueberry muffins.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups all purpose flour (475 ml)
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar (120 ml)
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1-2 tsp lemon zest
  • 1/3 cup butter, melted (38 g)
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup milk (120 ml)
  • 1/2 cup yogurt (120 ml)*
  • 1 cup blueberries
  • *Note: This is using American style yogurt which is pretty solid. If you are using pourable, European style you might want to use a little less milk

Makes 12 muffins.

Method:
1. Melt the butter and line a 12-muffin pan with muffin liners or grease it well. Preheat oven to 400 F / 205 C.

2. Mix all the dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, baking soda, sugar, salt, lemon zest). Make sure it is completely mixed.

Blueberry-1

3. Mix all the wet ingredients (egg, milk, butter, yogurt).

Blueberry-2

4. Pour the wet ingredients over the dry, and mix until just incorporated, batter will be lumpy. Be careful not to over mix.

Blueberry-3

5. Add the blueberries and stir a 2-3 times until mixed in.

Blueberry-4

6. Spoon the batter into the prepared tins.

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7. Bake for 20-25 min, until golden and a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Let cool a few min in the muffin pan, and then gently take out the muffins.

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8. Cool some more before serving, they can be served warm or cold.

Blueberry-7

I thought these turned out really moist and fluffy, my husband thought they might be too fluffy for blueberries and wanted to try them with chocolate. Chocolate will probably be good in them too. I also think that adding a teaspoon or two of lemon juice to wet ingredients would be great, if you want a more pronounced lemony flavor. That will be for next time, for now we are all muffin’ed out.

A Sourdough Experiement

sourdough-16

Last week I saw this post, and thought that looked like a really good bread. I also wanted to find a good recipe and opportunity to do an all wild-yeast sourdough white bread (many recipes I see use commercial yeast in addition to your sourdough).

I tried making it, and I wouldn’t say I was 100% successful. I have a few things I would do differently along the way when I try next time, and I think my sourdough might have been a little too inactive.

I started out by removing half the starter and feeding it the day before, this should make it less sour in taste. I did see yeast development, but maybe not enough.

Here is the recipe and how I did the steps, original at 5 & Spice.

Ingredients:

  • 200 g sourdough starter (1 cup)
  • 400 g bread flour (3 cups)
  • 8-10g salt (2 tsp)
  • 300 ml room temperature water (1 1/3 cup)

Method:

1. Stir together sourdough, flour, salt and water and mix well. It is pretty sticky. Turn the dough out on a working surface and see if it might need a little more flour, but be careful, it is a sticky dough at this point. (I know that where I store my flour it ends up having a high moisture content, so I usually need to add a little more flour than a recipe calls for).

sourdough-1

Ingredients

Sticky dough

Sticky dough

2. Stretch the dough to a rectangle, and then fold one end 1/3 over the piece, then again with the other end, so you end up with a 3 layer rectangle. Turn the dough 90 degrees and fold again. You can’t really see the layers at this point, it is that sticky.

Folded once

Folded once

Folded twice

Folded twice

3. Oil a clean bowl, and put the dough to rest in it and cover with plastic wrap. Leave it to rest for 1 hour.

4. Take the dough out and repeat the stretching and folding like before, 3 layers one way, 3 layers the other way. Put the dough back in the bowl, cover and let rest for another hour.

Folded again

Folded again

5. Repeat the folding again, the dough should be less sticky now. Rest for another hour.

Stretching, this time less sticky

Stretching, this time less sticky

6. Stretch and fold again, but when done fold the corners of the dough under to form a round shape and place on your work surface.

sourdough-25

7. Rub a bunch of flour in a linen towel and use that to line a large, clean bowl. Put the dough in there, cover with a damp towel and rest overnight in the refrigerator.

Towel with flour

Towel with flour

Ready for resting

Ready for resting

8. Take the dough out of the refrigerator the next day, about 2-3 hours before you want to bake.  Now is a good time to pull a little of the dough from the top to put back in your starter, if you like to do put developed dough back in there. Be sure to close it up nicely. Let it stand to rise at room temperature for about 1-3 hours. I should be puffed up nicely at this point, which mine really wasn’t.

Just out of the refrigiator

Just out of the refrigerator

9. Preheat your oven to 475 F/ C and put a Dutch oven in there.

10. Dust a cutting board with cornmeal and carefully turn out the loaf on the board. I found this to be quite hard, but in theory you should do it without ripping the bread. Score the top of the bread.

Ready

Ready

11. When the oven is ready, take the Dutch oven out, and take off the lid. Careful, remember this is all really hot! Gently life the bread up and put into the Dutch oven and put the lid back on.

Bread in the Dutch oven

Bread in the Dutch oven

12. Bake with the lid on for 25 min, then take the lid off and bake for another 10 min.

13. Take the Dutch oven out, and carefully take the bread out ( I used grilling thongs). Remember, HOT!

Done!

Done!

14. Put the bread on a rack to cool

The bread tasted good, but clearly didn’t rise enough, even if it did rise some.

I think that after resting the dough in the refrigerator it took a very long time for my dough to even get warmer, I keep my house pretty cool at the moment, so I should probably have left it out longer. I also didn’t like the method of resting the dough in a cloth, next time I will just rest in in the bowl, and probably take it out of it to reform the loaf and let it rise longer on day 2. I think a bunch of cold moisture was retained in the towel for me.

I really liked the high water percentage in this bread, as well as the Dutch oven method of baking, I will be doing that again for sure.

Banana Bread

banana bread-6I love banana bread, and I find it even better loaded with nuts and chocolate. I find the concept of ‘load breads’ a bit funny – after moving to the US I was surprised to see the various breads at Starbucks and other places. I would call all those loaf cakes, and this is definitely a sweet cake.

I have adapted some recipes to make it my way, and I think this is pretty good. I wish it had a little more banana flavor, but I think it might be hard without artificial banana flavor. My husband claims that the chocolate masks the banana flavor, but that it is an excellent chocolate-nut cake. You can definitely add less chocolate or nuts if you want.

It is best with very, very ripe bananas. If they are not as ripe as you like, you can nuke them a bit in the microwave to make them soft. I was thinking if I could find some other ways of enhancing the banana flavor (maybe bake them first?), maybe next time.

Ingredients:

  • 1 3/4 cup all purpose flour (400 ml)
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2/3 cup brown sugar (160 ml)
  • 1/3 cup butter, soft (38 g)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1-2 cup very ripe bananas, mashed. About 3 bananas. (200-450 m1)
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts (120 ml)
  • 3/4 cup chocolate chips (180 ml)

Method:

1. Preheat the oven to 250 F (180 C) , and grease a loaf tin. Mix together the sugar, flour, salt, baking powder and baking soda.

banana bread-1

2. Mix in the eggs, mashed bananas and softened butter. Beat together, either with an electric mixer or by hand – if you do it by hand keep mixing until the butter is not lumpy.

banana bread-2

3. Add the nuts and chocolate chips and mix well.

banana bread-3

4. Pour the batter into your prepared tin, and bake for about min or until nice and brown. Let cool on a rack for a bit, them take out of the tin to cool completely. You can eat it while it is still a little warm, but the chocolate will be a bit messy.

banana bread-4

banana bread-5