I’ve been interested in different types of breads for a while and if it uses sourdough as the leavening agent….all the better! I gave a shot a few weeks ago at making shokupan with commercial yeast, but I think I was supposed to use instant instead of active (even though the recipe said active) because it was a complete dud. I had 0 rise or any sort of activity from the dough and even though I baked it, I knew it was going to be inedible…and it was! However, fast forward to a few weeks ago, my new foodie friend Carla (Apt 2 Bread) was posting about her sourdough shokupan that she’s been making at home in Brooklyn! I reached out and asked her a few questions about it and she very graciously shared her recipe with me to try!
As soon as I started her process, I knew that this was going to go much better than the first try. There was actual activity in the sweet starter, and even when I was worried about the dough after the first bulk rise since it hadn’t grown much, Carla reassured me that the proof was going to completely make up for it, and she of course was right! Now my starter wasn’t at full strength when I used it to make the sweet starter so I didn’t get as much rise from my bread when it baked, but this is a simple fix that I will get right for next time!!! Even though I didn’t get the exact right activity out of my starter for this, the flavor and texture is incredible! Slightly tangy but still pretty sweet and so so soft and spongy. I absolutely can’t wait to make this loaf again soon and am excited for people to try it here in Cincy!
Sweet Stiff Starter
The night before when you typically feed your starter, make the following:
30g fridge water
20g light brown sugar
68g bread flour (AP works too)
Combine the ingredients to make the sweet starter and allow ~12 hours instead of normal starter feeding timeline to get the optimal growth.
128g whole milk
23g bread flour
152g whole milk
86g unsalted butter, cubed
450g bread flour
1. Combine the flour, sugar and salt in the mixing bowl and pulse to combine.
2. Take clumps of the stiff start and drop in the bowl. It’ll be sticky but manageable. Quickly blitz so that these chunks are coated in flour. Keep adding (usually just two rounds of this, I do about 5 clumps per round). Once it’s all added you can reach your hand in and tear the clumps into smaller pieces. It will obviously be very dry but soon it’ll come together when the wets are added. Set bowl aside.
3. Measure out the eggs and additional milk using the bowl you used for the stiff starter (fewer dishes). Give them a whisk with a fork. Set aside.
4. Use a saucepan to make the tangzhong. On medium heat continuously whisk the milk and flour until a paste (roux) is formed. This typically takes me about 3 minutes, more or less depending on the size of the batch.
5. Once done, remove from the heat and drop in all the butter cubes. Let melt the butter melt and keep whisking. It’s okay if it becomes clumpy and doesn’t smooth out completely, but try to get it as smooth as you can. After it’s cooled a bit longer, 5-10min, add the tangzhong-butter mix to the egg/milk mix, whisking as you pour it in. Again it’s okay if it’s clumpy.
6. Once together, pour the entire mixture into the kitchen aid bowl with the dry ingredients.
7. Turn on the mix to fully incorporate, about 1-2 min. Stop, scrape (get down in the bottom), then turn back on and turn it to med/high speed. It’ll start to come together and pull away from the bowl, and smooth out after about 10min.
8. Once it’s totally pulling away from the bowl and looking smooth and possibly even doing the bowl “slap”, you can move it to a lightly oiled bowl and cover.
9. Fold after 30min of rest. Fold again after another 30 min of rest.
10. Depending on the temp outside I then allow it to have a long ambient proof of 3 hours (perhaps less given this super hot/super humid weather).
11. After the bulk proof, prepare your pan. I simply spray it well and don’t line it. Shape your loaf into a pullman shape and drop it in seam side down.
12. Then, allow it to proof until it’s almost to the top, about .75 or .5 inches from the top. This will probably take 4-5 hours. I covered the whole thing in a plastic bag and put it in the oven with the light on to encourage this process. You’ll notice the dough will grow and fill out the size of the pan throughout this process.
13. Once it has reached the top, retard in the fridge overnight.
14. In the morning, brush the top with an egg wash of just egg and a tablespoon of milk. 15. Bake at 350F for 65min, turning it halfway. And let cool briefly once it’s out before slicing into it and enjoy!
Pepper Parmesan Sourdough
So sourdough is already an amazing thing all on its own. We also know that cheese, especially parmesan cheese, is an amazing thing. So naturally, the combination of parmesan (and pepper) in sourdough is the ultimate food experience! I’m still not going to post the Tartine method that I use for my bread since it’s from a book of theirs that you should absolutely go buy, but I will say that if you do get the book and want to make pepper parm, I use 50g of parmesan cut into medium sized cubes (with some of it grated throughout) + 8g of black pepper per loaf. Having the cheese grated as well as cubed allows for the flavor to not only be in every bite of the bread (because it’s grated), but also to have nice pockets of parmesan throughout that are the best part to bite into! Enjoy!
Hot Cross Buns!
Happy Easter everyone!!! I Finally got around to making hot cross buns and while I didn’t use the traditional flour paste cross on top like you’re “supposed” to, I promise these are well worth making! I had seen differing reports about whether or not making the flour paste cross affected texture and taste significantly, but I just couldn’t take the chance!
The recipe that I followed this time was from Sally’s Baking Addiction and while she has the flour cross on hers, she also gives ways to get around it if you don’t want to, and I definitely took that route! These buns are filled with warm spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice, as well as tart cherries and golden raisins. I absolutely love these flavors together and while they remind me a bit of Christmas, the orange in the glaze and in the icing cross helps to bring a bit of spring bright flavors! These buns come together just like the recipe says they will and would be a great reference to use if you’re looking to make them yourself! Maybe next time I make them I’ll use a real piping bag instead of a sandwich bag since the sandwich bag was near impossible to control in order to get straight lines!
Hope you have a wonderful Easter if you celebrate and enjoy!
Garlic Herb Flatbreads
After buying Ottolenghi’s new book Flavor a few weeks ago I had been looking for something to try out from it to start and I think I chose a pretty solid option! Everyone knows I love bread and Amanda LOVES garlic….like loves garlic. So I thought that these garlic herb flatbreads would be perfect! They included making a compound butter with roasted garlic and herbs that was spread on top with some fresh thyme after baking them and then finally topping with some freshly grated tomatoes! These flat breads where incredibly light and delicious and crispy and will definitely make a great appetizer for future dinner parties!!
Honey Oat Sourdough Sandwich Loaf
I finally did it! I have been meaning to make a sourdough sandwich loaf for quite some time but never really had an occasion to do so. Thankfully, my sourdough monthly collaboration for March was to make a sourdough sandwich loaf! I had a recipe that I honestly can’t remember where it came from or how I found it but I know it was public access so I’ll share it below (if you know where it is from please message me on instagram so I can give proper credit!).
I knew that some people normally just make a regular sourdough mix and then throw it in a pullman loaf pan and call it but I wanted to make something a little more fun and with some flavor so I was so happy that this honey and oat loaf turned out so well! It’s got really great texture and freshness but also enough honey and oat to just be that much different than a standard loaf of bread. I’ve been using it to make toast for breakfast the past few days and it’s honestly been perfect! I am sad to see this one about to be finished but I’ll definitely be making it again soon!
Mix together with a fork to whisk then add:
105g whole wheat flour and whisk to combine.
Let this sit for 3 hours or overnight
175g hot water
Let soak for 1 hour (10 min if using quick oats)
When the preferment is done add
175g warm water and mix
Then add the oat soaker and mix that together with
375g bread flour
- Mix this together and that’s the completed dough.
- Stretch and fold every 30-40 min 4 times
- Then let finish bulk fermentation for total of 4 hours.
- Shape and place into bread tin to rise for 1.5-2 hours (gently roll in some oats before)
- Bake 425F for 10 mins and then lower the temperature to 375F and bake for another 35-40 minutes or until golden on top! Let cool completely before slicing in to enjoy!
Sunflower and Flax Seeded Sourdough
Happy Friday!!! It’s almost the weekend so that means more baking and more bread!! I’ve loved seeded sourdough loaves ever since I was young and eating it from the amazing Zingermann’s Deli/Bakery in Ann Arbor, MI. I just love the nutty flavor that the seeds bring to the bread and it’s truly the best source of bread for toast (which I’m eating as I type this).
I had been getting requests to make seeded loaves an option for people to order so I was glad to finally get this loaf right and can’t wait to share the seeded sourdough love around to my friends!! Hope you all have an amazing weekend and that it’s full of great food!
Irish Soda Bread!!
Happy St. Patrick’s Day everyone!!! Every year Amanda asks for her favorite St. Patty’s Day treat, Irish Soda Bread!!! It’s an incredibly delicious, extremely easy quick bread that has the best texture (and flavor when you use cranberries and orange zest). My favorite way to eat this honestly just is with some butter because anything else will mask the amazing flavor that it brings!
Irish soda bread became so popular in Ireland because it was cheap and easy to make, and would absolutely fill you up! It was also an easy vessel to mop up the soups and stews that are popular food in the country, but was also made for times of celebration. Funnily enough, Irish soda bread isn’t actually originally from Ireland. The first attributed recipe or development of the bread was with Native Americans, who used pearl ash, which is a natural source of baking soda made from the ash of wood, to leaven the bread. The Irish later adopted this new form of making bread and popularized it, giving it its name! I have a fool-proof recipe that is imperial system friendly for all of you who may want to give it a shot! As Amanda says, this was one of the first things that I made when I was just starting to get more into baking so you know it’s not that hard! Let me know if you give it a shot and hope you enjoy!
- 4 cups of flour
- 4 tbsp sugar
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1 1/2 tsp salt
- 4 tbsp of butter cut into small cubes and chilled in the fridge prior to baking
- 1 3/4 cold butter milk shaken
- 1 large egg lightly beaten
- 1 cup of dried fruit (cranberries)
1. Preheat the oven to 375F. Take an 8” cake pan and butter it (or a sheet pan).
2. Combine the flour, salt, baking soda, and sugar and sift it into a large bowl.
3. Mix in the butter cubes until everything is well incorporated (using stand mixer or hand mixer).
4. Beat the egg lightly in the buttermilk then slowly pour the buttermilk into the mix while the mixer is running to form the dough.
5. Once buttermilk/egg mix is fully incorporated, fold in the cup of dried fruit until homogenous.
6. Generously flour a cutting board or counter and turn the wet/sticky dough out on to the floured surface.
7. Fold several times, until the mass resembles a round loaf.
8. Put the loaf in the buttered cake pan or the baking sheet and take a sharp serrated knife and cut a large “X” pattern into the bread.
9. Bake for 45-55 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean. Let cool and then enjoy!
This month’s sourdough group collab was ancient grains!!! I had been meaning to use my bag of einkorn flour as well as finally use my new starter, Regina! This loaf was the perfect combination for new things and boy did it turn out well!!! I loved the subtle whole grain flavor that the einkorn contributed and it made for great toast as well as just by itself with some good butter (my personal favorite way to enjoy sourdough). In starter news, my new starter Regina is fed on 50% rye flour and while I didn’t think anything drastic would occur, wow was I wrong!! Rye flour seems to be the magic bullet when it comes to starter activity and I’m now the first person to tell you so! I’ll still use George from time to time but for now, he’s having a much-deserved rest in the fridge while Regina picks up the baton. Long live the queen!!
I’m always looking for new recipes to try and if I can use my new rye fed starter to do that, I’m all for it!!! This was the first test for Regina and I think she passed with flying colors! I can’t wait to use her to bake a loaf to test out this week!! This focaccia is so simple, yet so so so delicious! It comes together incredibly fast and with only a few turns you let it sit out overnight where the magic happens. I woke up and baked this beauty and enjoyed some warm and crisp focaccia for breakfast to complete the lazy Sunday vibes!!! Thanks to my friend Paulina (@nokneadtoworry) on socials for this amazing recipe on her new website!!! Definitely check out her website and this recipe in particular for amazing creations!
Once the dough comes together, it’s just a simple turn and fold for a few hours to help build strength and then into a pan to sit overnight!
Once the dough was put into the 9 x 13 pan, it didn’t quite cover the whole thing, but overnight as the sourdough did its work, it expanded and became quite light and spongy!! After I preheated the oven, I did my favorite part (dimpling) and then layed down some more olive oil, Maldon salt and rosemary. Finally it was ready to go into the oven to bake!
This focaccia has 25 minutes to bake until it’s entirely browned before I took a look (according to Paulina’s recipe which worked perfectly), before I put a tent of aluminum foil on top to keep it from burning. Once it came out though it was absolutely perfect and I could barely wait until I cut into it and enjoyed a few slices for the perfect Sunday breakfast! Hope you all have a great Sunday and start the week strong!!!
60% Whole Wheat Sunflower and Flax Seeded Loaf
I have been looking for a reliable seeded sourdough loaf recipe for a long time. I had tried a few that just didn’t seem to work that well for me, and then I got Tartine No. 3. I had first tried the standard Tartine method for making a regular loaf of sourdough a few weeks ago and was pretty skeptical. It calls for ~60% of the leaven I normally use with NO commercial yeast.
I had made pure sourdough loaves before but they all had crazy 12-18 hour bulk fermentations at room temperature and none of them had ever had seeds incorporated into them. A couple weeks ago I tried to just add seeds without real planning or prep into a loaf and it severely impacted the hydration because, well, seeds soak up moisture…oops.
BUT I finally found a method that seems to work really well!!! I followed the Tartine No 3. recipe for flax and sunflower seeded loaf and it turned out great! It had the seeds being soaked in hot water prior to incorporation and while I had followed a recipe that also did that, this time seemed to work out a lot better. When I took off the lid I was happy to see a fairly good rise and a decent split on the loaf and continued to let it bake and set the crust.
Next time I make this recipe, I will also let it bake for 5-7 more minutes with the lid on, as there were parts that weren’t entirely baked through on one of the loaves, but overall very pleased with this loaf.
Because the recipe calls for whole grain flour and I could only find whole wheat whole grain flour, this loaf has 60% whole wheat (much higher than I typically go for), but combined with the seeds and it has a very earthy, and hearty flavor and feel to it. It goes AMAZING toasted with butter or jam (had that for breakfast this morning post run) and I can’t wait to make another one of these in the future!
Cinnamon Raisin Challah
I feel like it’s been years since I did a monthly sourdough collab challenge so I had to step it up for the holiday theme for December! I love love cinnamon raisin challah and since it’s traditionally served around the holidays I thought I’d give it a shot! I had only ever made regular challah before but thanks to Lions Bread’s recipe I was able to throw these two loaves together!
While I love cinnamon raisin challah, Amanda is not as much of a fan, so I made the second one flavored with everything bagel seasoning, and yeah, that was incredibly delicious as well.
I love challah because it’s so easy to throw together if you plan ahead the time and the texture is incredible! The one thing I will say, is that if you are planning on making the sourdough version for the first time, definitely look at the time that is required ahead of making it, because it does take a couple days to make!!
Once you do make it though, it has all the classic amazing characteristics that I love about challah. The rich, deep brown color on the bake is so comforting and just looking at it warms me up! I also did a little experiment with the challah later so stay tuned to hear more about that next week! Hoping everyone stays safe and has a great holiday!!!!
Perfect bread is one of my life goals. Why? Bread is amazing. Quality sourdough bread and amazing butter could sustain me for the rest of my life I’m sure. I always felt annoyed that I couldn’t bake more sourdough during the work due to the classic time constraints that bread making usually takes. Well, now I have realized I can make an amazing loaf of bread while I’m at work and the timelines work out well! As long as I keep my kitchen as cool as it is now (68F), I can have a ~10-11 hour bulk fermentation (including the first two hours of folds)! Seeing as how most bread books and professional bakers talk about a 4 hour bulk fermentation, this does seem quite extreme, but you just have to go with what your bread is telling you!
If you ever felt like you wanted to get into bread baking I’m here to tell you it’s one of the best addictions I have! The desire for perfection and the endless frustrations and complications and art that go into it make it one of the most rewarding things once you get it just right! Highly recommend Flour Water Salt and Yeast as well as Tartine for your baking references!
Peace and bread!
Tartine 75% Hydration
Sourdough Bread is one of my favorite things in the world. It contains just flour, water, salt, and yeast, yet the variations in results are vast. From ratios of ingredients, to temperature, to method for incorporation and variety of ways to build strength and gluten, no two loaves of sourdough are ever going to look identical when you cut into them.
I’m always searching for better and different ways to make “the best loaf” that I possibly can. For over a year I relied on Ken Forkish’s Flour Water Salt Yeast, and I was extremely grateful for the instruction it had and the results it yielded. However, once I started to get a better handle for the basics, I started to want to branch out with recipes and techniques.
I finally bought the book Tartine, from the famous bakery in San Fransisco. A brain child from the amazing Chad Robertson, Tartine uses a very basic and humble method, not involving any special lamination folds or coil folds, just using the basic stretch and fold method to build strength throughout the bulk fermentation stage.
I’ll admit I was very skeptical. Throughout the process of the bulk fermentation, the dough was not building gas and height in the bowl like I’d been familiar with. It had ~25% more flour and water than what I was used to, yet it didn’t grow in size nearly as far as my previous loaves had. I thought it might be because it’s a bit colder in the kitchen these days, so I let the bulk fermentation go for nearly 9 hours (usually 4-6 hours) before I finally divided and shaped. I did see some great micro bubbles appear during the bench rest before I put them away for proofing so I held out hope through to the following morning that this new experiment wasn’t a waste.
Following through to the bake I took the lid off of my dutch oven for the first loaf to my joy and I saw a wonderful bake with moderate oven spring and I was incredibly relieved that maybe this would be okay. I finished that bake and took the loaf out before reheated the dutch oven for the second loaf and was content. Then when it came time to take the lid off again, I was pleasantly shocked to see an even greater oven spring (the loaf pictured below) and I couldn’t wait until they were both cooled enough for me to cut in and see what sort of crumb awaited me!
Finally, I was able to cut in and to my joy I saw the best distribution of a wild crumb with irregular pockets throughout and now I’m a complete convert to the Tartine method! The bread was delicious as always and I can’t wait to try more recipes and methods from Tartine in the near future!
Keeping this one short and sweet. I finally got the new dutch oven I’d been waiting for on my wedding registry and I can now bake regular sized loaves!! I realize it doesn’t look any different than previous posts because of perspective but I promise this loaf is significantly larger.
It had been a few weeks since I had last baked because of the craziness of wedding and honeymoon stuff so it was really nice to get back to doing one of my favorite hobbies (read: obsessions). I wanted to do a simple easy loaf so I went for a 75% hydration loaf with simple flavors (garlic and pepper for this loaf and plain for the other) and while the crumb looks just like it used to before, I am excited at the prospect of having more options for future loaves with more space!
I’m definitely going to be practicing with my shaping and folding and development of gluten to get different types of crumbs but I was happy with the texture and taste of these loaves and it’s exactly what I needed on this election morning.
Sourdough 78% Hydration
Flour. Water. Salt. Yeast. These four simple ingredients are all you need to bake one of the best and most fundamental culinary creations known. Sourdough bread.
My love for sourdough began at an early age. My family spent a lot of time in northern Michigan (specifically Petoskey) which is home to one of the best smelling places on Earth, Crooked Tree Breadworks. One of the first places our family went to whenever we went up north was to Crooked Tree. You have to call in many times to reserve specific flavors of bread because they run out so fast. My Mom being the detail-oriented amazing person that she is, always remembered to call ahead to reserve at least one loaf of pepper parmesan and then whatever else my family wanted for that trip. One of the greatest things about food is its ability to bring us back through time to some of our best memories, and let me tell you, I have so many amazing memories connecting me back to those times up north with my family eating sourdough bread. It’s something that I absolutely had minimal appreciation for growing up but looking back I realize just how fortunate we were and how fortunate I am now to be able to relive some of those memories through food.
Once I started to get more into cooking and baking in graduate school I knew that sourdough bread was going to be something I’d have to try. I had read quite a bit about how challenging it can be and how it takes many trials and errors before you can get a consistent product, but being a scientist, I’m quite use to powering through failed attempts before achieving success. I tried (and failed) at creating a starter once and gave it some time before I created George. My favorite kitchen tool and most resilient creation, and he’s now ~1.5 years old at the writing of this post. It was very exciting for me the first time I used George to make sourdough and although the ending product was not great, I was instantly hooked. At this point I knew that the starter was fine and it wasn’t a question of whether or not I had a living culture, but rather how to use it.
Over the course of the next several attempts I got better and better and finally was able to come up with a consistent product. While it would take a decade for me to potentially even consider myself a “master” of sourdough baking I’d like to think that I’ve made pretty good progress through the first year and a half and would consider myself intermediate at this point! The loaf pictured above is a 78% hydration “standard” loaf. While I love adding various spices and cheeses and other flavors, I’ll always be ready to bake this loaf. This simple combination of flour, water, salt, and yeast is a representation of what I love most about cooking and baking. Taking a small number of simple ingredients, and through technique and time, creating something amazingly delicious that you can share with others.