Saturday, December 20, 2014

Sourdough Stollen - Sourdough Surprises

I am somewhat of a Grinch. All around me people are talking about Christmas cookies and cakes and I am just not feeling it. In December, my main focus is usually on what kind of birthday cake I want to make for myself and Christmas baking is tossed to the wayside. If I am home with my mother, I will bake the traditional Jamaican Christmas cakes - rum, wine and fruit laden cakes. I love booze in my cakes but I do not like the fruit. But I "suffer" through it for the sake of tradition. Plus, if I am making them, I get to blend the fruits to oblivion and use as little of the brightly coloured peel as possible. Look, let me totally honest here, you won't tell anyone, right? For years, I barely ate a bite of those cakes. But now? If you gave me a slice, I would gobble it up - fruits and all. I really don't think I dislike the fruits that much anymore. Plus, it's hard to resist a slice of home. I just stick to the story and use it as a reason not to bake. Don't tell anyone. 

Mmmm. Melted butter.

I had no intention of doing any sort of holiday themed baking though. However, Sourdough Surprises insisted otherwise. I do love this group - my Grinchdom (not a word,  I know) is not tolerated! This month we are baking stollen - a German Christmas bread that is stuffed with lots of liquor soaked fruits. Fret not, if you are a dried fruit hater, you can simply choose ones you don't dislike. Cranberries? Mango? Homemade candied orange peel? That's what I used. And if you really don't like any at all - go for chocolate chips. If I weren't already riding a chocolate high, I would have gone chocolate. If you don't like chocolate, I have nothing to say to you. We can't be friends. That much I know. Wait...actually, we can be friends. You would give me any chocolate that you got and I would never have to share my chocolate with you ever. This could work. 

Do you think that's enough powdered sugar?

Now, I have never seen or tasted stollen before (another reason I love this group - introducing me once again to new things). This means that if you're a stollen expert reading this, you may be clutching your heart. I didn't use marzipan. I used non-traditional fruits. I didn't shape it correctly.  I'm sorry that I messed up your wonderful bread. If it's any consolation, what I made was delicious so your lovely stollen will not get a bad name from me.  

I really wanted to make a beautiful wreath but my dough just felt a little too soft. I didn't think it would show the cuts in the dough well so I shaped it in an oval instead. 

Be sure to scroll down to see all the beautiful stollen that the other Sourdough Surprise bakers made!

Sourdough Stollen
1 cup dried fruit (I used 1/2 cup of dried cranberries then a mix of candied citrus peel and dried mango)
1/2 cup rum, orange juice or brandy
250 grams 166% sourdough starter
35 grams oil
1 egg
12 grams sugar
1 teaspoon orange zest
280 grams flour
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon salt
melted butter for brushing dough
powdered sugar

At least a day before baking, soak the dried fruit in rum. On baking day, drain the fruit. 

Combine all the dough ingredients except cinnamon, cloves and salt. Mix until just combined - about two minutes then let rest for 20 minutes. 

After resting, add the spices and salt and knead for an additional 5 minutes. Cover dough and let rest at room temperature for 6 hours. Every two hours, perform three or four stretch and folds on the dough.

On the third stretch and fold, pat the dough out into a rectangle and add the drained fruits. Fold the dough several times to incorporate the fruit. If dough is extremely sticky, use a little flour to help this process. 

Place dough in an oiled container, cover and refrigerate overnight. Dough may only rise slightly.

Let dough come to room temperature and then shape into a log or oval. Place the dough on a parchment (or non-stick foilor baking mat) lined baking sheet and let sit at room temperature until puffy. This dough is slow to rise because of all the fruit and spices. Your dough may feel puffy but not double. I let mine sit about 4 hours before baking. 

Preheat oven to 350 F. Bake loaf for 30 minutes or until it reaches an internal temperature of 190 F. 

Immediately brush dough with melted butter. Wait until it seeps in and brush with more melted butter. Dust a generous coat of powdered sugar over dough. Allow to cool completely. You can dust with another coating of powdered sugar, if desired. 

Apparently, this bread tastes better if left to sit for a few days. Uh yeah...I wasn't that patient. 

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Dinner Rolls - Sourdough Surprises

Little flecks of basil

Soft dinner rolls were one of the first recipes that I tried when I first started baking with a starter 3.5 years ago. I was still very averse to kneading and when I saw Weekend Bakery’s No Knead Dinner Rolls, I thought they would be perfect. They were not. The dough was a goopy mess. Back then, the post made no mention of hydration/thickness of the starter used. I used a high hydration starter and probably even added more than called for. Oops. I left a comment on that post asking about the starter and found out that it was a thick (stiff?) one. Ah well.

I never tried dinner rolls again after that. There were too many other things to bake and I was not sure that I could achieve soft rolls. Thankfully, this month’s Sourdough Surprises has forced me to try dinner rolls again. Armed with a little more knowledge and a tiny bit more confidence, I was ready to take on the dinner rolls challenge. This time, I based my recipe on Txfarmer’s Pani Popos. (Side note: I baked and blogged about some amazing pumpkin pani popos over here. Stop by some time.) This time things were much better. The house smelled amazing as the garlic basil rolls baked. 

I had intended on brushing them with garlic-basil butter when they came out of the oven but I had to leave immediately after pulling them out. I only had time to grab a hot roll from the pan to eat on the go. Soft. Tasty. The sourdough flavour was shining too. Loved them. It’s a pity that I only made a small batch. 
Brushed with butter
I then made a second batch of rolls but this time, I left them plain. I needed some crumbs for a sweet recipe so didn’t want to add herbs and garlic to them. I loved how buttery they were. Less than ten minutes out of the oven, I had already devoured two. I was hungry and they were good. This second recipe was really me just playing it by ear. I’m glad it worked out. I have a future plan for dinner rolls and hope to use this as a base. I'm only listing the garlic basil recipe below. I have had a hectic week. It's 5:30 am and I have not slept yet. I think I am supposed to leave home in 2.5 hours. Ha! So yeah, I'll have to update this tonight. Sorry!

Less than 5 minutes out of oven

Garlic Basil Rolls
50 grams 166% sourdough starter
18 grams milk
41 grams flour
Remaining dough
205 grams flour
12 grams sugar
20 grams oil
3 grams salt
50 grams sour cream
20 grams milk
1 egg.
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon basil

Combine all the levain ingredients and leave at room temperature for 8-12 hours. Add the remaining ingredients and knead well. Dough should be tacky but not sticky. If it's sticky, add more flour. Cover and let bulk ferment for 2 hours then refrigerate overnight. 
Let dough come to room temperature and divide into 9 pieces. Roll each piece into a ball and place in a greased baking pan. Let rise at room temperature until doubled. 
Bake at 350 F or until rolls are 200 F.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Sourdough Croissants - Sourdough Surprises

My phone died 11 days ago and while I knew that I was wholly dependent upon the device, I certainly did not realise how much until I woke up that morning to an eerie error message. I feel almost cut off from the world. And I don't mean from phone calls and texts. I rarely did either. Facebook, Feedly and Twitter were daily rituals.

Sure, I can access all three from the web. But the experience is just not the same. I vaguely saw that Sourdough Surprises asked a question about their Pinterest board. I tried to shout - "YES! YES! I love the inspiration board!" But my browser froze or something and I don't think I hit send on that post. There are several other things that are not social media related that I'm missing. Evernote is one. I used to use Springpad but the company went out of business and I turned to Evernote. It's just not the same trying to quickly scroll through my recipes from the browser and I keep forgetting to download the desktop app. Runkeeper. MyFitnessPal. The list goes on and on. I'll be out of the dark ages soon enough. I hope.

 The day of the phone mishap, I started working on these croissants. I have a love - not-really-love relationship with laminating dough. I love the effect. I love eating flaky layers. I love smelling the buttery dough baking. But I just can't stop my butter from leaking. I sprinkle some extra flour and roll with it but I wish it wouldn't leak. Geez. Laminating really isn't that hard. You just need to make sure everything is cold. If you live in a hot climate, like I do, freeze everything. Ice down surfaces. Lower the a/c. Put the dough in the fridge or freezer very often. You can do it! And even if it's not perfect, mine certainly weren't, rest assured that buttery dough will always taste good.

 One thing I thought about after I placed these in the oven was that I should have taken the vol-au-vent (puff pastry) approach and chilled the croissants right before baking. That would have hardened the butter a bit then it would melt and give off steam in the oven and would have given that extra lift that they so desperately needed. I'll try that next time. I will also sprinkle some cinnamon sugar over them right before baking. I am really kicking myself for forgetting that. Buttery, flaky, cinnamon-y dough? I missed out.

 Well, here's the recipe. I only used my starter instead of adding the commercial yeast insurance. I did not get the lift that I would have liked but I know that it can be done without the commercial yeast so I wanted to try. Also, I use a very wet starter so very little liquid was required after adding my starter. There's clearly lots room for improvement here but it's definitely a good (delicious) start.

 Sourdough Croissants

213 grams mature 166% starter
180 grams flour
12 grams water
15 grams oil
33 grams sugar
130 grams cold butter
egg for egg wash

Combine starter, flour, water, oil and sugar. Knead at low speed for 10 minutes. Flatten dough into a disk, wrap in plastic and refrigerate for 2 hours.

Roll out the cold butter between two sheets of wax paper into 5 inch square. Refrigerate for 2 hours.

Remove the dough from the fridge and roll into a 7 inch square. Place the chilled square of butter into the center of the dough with the corners of the butter facing a straight side of the dough. Fold over the four flaps to encase the butter.
Roll the dough out into a 6" x 14" rectangle. With the 14" edge facing you, fold a third from the left and the third from the right. That's the first book fold. Refrigerate for 1 hour.

Roll out to 6" x 14" and perform another book fold. Refrigerate for 1 hour. That's the second book fold.

Once again, roll out to 6" x 14" and do the third book fold. Chill for at least two hours.

Roll the dough out to 8" x 16". Rest the dough often in the fridge while doing this if necessary. If at any point it feels sticky, put it in the fridge.

Divide the dough into 4 4" x 8" rectangles. Slice each diagonally into triangles.

Stretch each triangle then roll up into the croissant shape.

Proof until puffy. This can take up to 3 hours.

Mix the egg with a tablespoon of water. Gently brush over each croissant and bake for 10 minutes at 425 F and 10 minutes at 375 F.


    An InLinkz Link-up

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Mealie Muffins for Sourdough Surprises

There are very few foods that I will not eat. Typically, when I dislike something, I may still try it (e.g, tofu). But when it comes to cornmeal, I just cannot do it. I don't even like the smell. Corn tortillas - no. Festival (a jamaican fried dough - flour, cornmeal, baking powder and sugar) -only when I am extremely homesick. Cornmeal porridge - are you trying to kill me? But I LOVE corn. I could eat a pound of corn kernels in one sitting. Roasted. Boiled. Raw. Love it all. But once it has been turned into cornmeal, I run the other way. 

So I was a bit distressed when Sourdough Surprises announced cornbread for this month. I did not want to sit the month out. But how would I get around the cornmeal? Should I just make it and have others taste it? That could take a while.Should I try to figure out the ratio of cornmeal to flour that I would like? I recently added Jiffy cornbread mix to a few loaves of bread. And after the initial whiff of cornmeal when they were just out the oven, it was fine.  Then I remembered mealie bread. 

Mealie bread is a type of corn bread made in southern Africa. It's made with corn kernels (mealie) instead of cornmeal. I saw several versions - some with and without wheat flour. Some steam the mixture in much the same way that Jamaicans make cornmeal pudding. I opted to use flour and to bake it. I then crossed by fingers and hoped that I would like it. 

Fresh out the oven, these were delicious! I didn't blend all the corn and enjoyed biting into a few kernels here and there. They were light and wonderful with butter. I had to stop myself from eating the entire batch all at once. But then they cooled. And there was that unmistakable cornmeal smell. It's weird how my beloved corn transforms like that. Ah well, this just means that I will have to warm or toast these delicious muffins before I bite in. I can live with that. 

Sourdough Mealie Bread


1 cup of flour 
2 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons of baking powder
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)
1/2 teaspoon of salt
2 eggs
1 1/2 cups corn, divided 
2 tablespoons oil or melted butter 
1/2 cup 166% sourdough starter


Preheat oven to 350 F. Thoroughly grease 8 wells of a muffin pan. 

Whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, red pepper flakes (if using) and salt. Blend eggs,oil and 1 cup of corn until smooth. Add the remaining half cup of corn and the starter. Pulse for a few seconds. You want some larger pieces to remain. You could also leave the kernels whole or completely blend everything. 

Pour mixture into the dry ingredients and gently stir until just combined. 

Divide evenly among 8 muffin wells. 

Bake for 15 minutes. 


Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Granola Bars - Sourdough Surprises

Is there anything that a sourdough starter cannot be used for?  Don't answer that. If you say "no", I might be heartbroken. I must say that I was shocked when I heard about sourdough granola bars for Sourdough Surprises this month. But that shock turned into excitement. I love granola bars. Occasionally I make loose granola in my slow cooker but I have never made the mixture into bars.

These granola bars are extremely simple. I love that you can put pretty much anything into granola bars. I simply used ingredients that I had on hand and they were great. I made these relatively thin and tried to use as little honey as possible. Increase the honey if you prefer things to be sweet. It's a tricky balance with the honey - too little and the bars may be too crumbly. Too much and it may be sweeter than you would  like for a quick breakfast/snack bar.

Sourdough Granola Bars

96 g (1/2 cup) rolled oats
59 g raisins
50 g shredded coconut
1 tsp cinnamon
96 g (6 tablespoons) crunchy peanut butter
2 tablespoons honey
100 g 166% sourdough starter


Preheat oven to 350 F
Combine oats, raisins, coconut, and cinnamon. Warm peanut butter (~30 seconds in a microwave) and stir in honey. Add along with starter to oat mixture.

Press mixture into an 8" x 8" pan. Bake 20 - 25 minutes.

Score while warm and then slice completely when cool. Keep in an airtight container.


    An InLinkz Link-up

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Sourdough Surprises Gozleme

I love when I get to learn about new dishes and this month Sourdough Surprises is serving up something wholly new but somewhat familiar. Gozleme is a Turkish pastry that consists of a thin dough filled with meat, vegetables and/or eggs. The name refers to the little eyes ("goz") /brown circles  that form on the dough when it's cooked. I read somewhere that there were sweet fillings available too but I could not find any specific flavours. I love that almost every country/region has some form of filling wrapped dough. I guess in Jamaica we would have beef/chicken patties (flaky pastry filled with ground meat). Hello, instant craving. Let me get back to gozleme

I loved the gozleme but the dough just did not love me. I expected trouble. I have gotten a lot better at rolling out dough but it's still not perfect.I would never be like those ladies in the videos I watched of gozleme-making. I did have a dough recipe that has never given me trouble and thought it would be perfect for this. I added some yogurt because one vendor said that it stopped the gozleme from becoming brittle. But my dough was just too soft. And even with a cold bulk ferment, rolling it was a nightmare. I didn't understand. I weighed everything. Why was my "perfect" dough suddenly sticky and tearing each time I tried to roll it? Maybe it was because I was rushing to get them ready for lunch with a friend, I thought. I ate the batch myself and decided that I would try again when I was not in a hurry.

I ditched the yogurt for the next round.  But my nice firm dough still became way too soft dough when I was ready to roll it out. As I swore at my suddenly non-existent dough making skills, I peered outside at the heavy downpour. And then it hit me.

The weather.

The weather was messing with my dough. It has been humid and very wet for over a month. This meant that every dough that I made would get just a little bit wetter after sitting out for a while. On to round three - with a lot less water this time. I think that I had to almost cut the water in half for the last two loaves of bread that I made. This weather is no joke.

Round three worked out fine but I think by then I was becoming a little frustrated with gozleme. For the first batch, I had made a lovely ground turkey and vegetable filling. For the second, I used potatoes and made caramelized onions for the first time. One even used a leftover spicy cranberry sauce with the potatoes. For round three? Just potatoes. I had lost faith. Still delicious though. I  should note that the previous batches tasted great too. It's just that since I had a hard time rolling and folding because it was sticky,I didn't like how they looked.

 As I type this, I am even contemplating making some for breakfast or lunch in the morning. But you know, perhaps I will wait to see what delicious fillings everyone else came up with for this month. I need some inspiration. And of course, you do want to make gozleme so scroll down for some inspiration from those other bloggers too.



1/2 tablespoon oil
1/2 small onion, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 teaspoon curry powder
1 large potato, mashed
salt and pepper to taste

Saute the onion and garlic in the oil until softened. Add the curry powder, stir for a minute then add the potato. Season with salt and pepper. If it seems a bit dry, add a little water. Allow to cool.


3 oz 166% Sourdough Starter
3.5 oz water
9 oz flour
1 teaspoon salt

Combine all the ingredients and knead well until it forms a homogeneous dough. Cover and let rest overnight.

Heat a large non-stick skillet on medium heat. Divide the dough into 4 ballss and cover with a damp cloth.  Take each ball and roll out to a 5 inch circle then return to each circle and roll out to larger 9-10 inch circle. Make sure that the circle is not larger than your skillet. (Oh yes, that happened to me.)

Fill half of each circle with the potato filling and fold over and seal. Place in heated pan and cook on each side until you see brown circles - about 3 minutes per side.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Fried Cantaloupe - Sourdough Surprises

Yes. You read that right. I fried cantaloupe. Actually, we could end that sentence earlier. I fried. That is already an achievement. When Sourdough Surprises announced that we'd be channeling our inner fair food and using our starters to batter and fry, I immediately checked out.

I LOVE fried foods but I HATE frying. My oil is always too hot or too cold. And when by some miracle I get the temperature right, I always walk away from the stove for too long and things start burning. Frying is just not for me. I could use a thermometer to check the temperature of my oil (I did that last night) but what is going to stop me from wandering out of the kitchen? I'm a set it and forget it (for at least a little while), kinda cook. It's why I love baking and adore my slow cooker.

So why cantaloupe? I had some left from another cooking challenge that had also left me scratching my head this month. I was eating a cupful last night when I thought - why not fry it? What's the worst that could happen?

I'm here to tell you that the worst did not happen. This was surprisingly good. Very good. And it got even better when I just ran to the kitchen (I need to taste while I write!) and made a quick glaze with powdered sugar and some orange rum I had lying around. Oh my. That orange really adds an amazing flavour. Highly recommended. Use orange juice or liqueur in lieu of rum.

Though my starter isn't very sour, I did wonder if I would have needed a little sugar in the batter. I didn't. That vanilla alone was enough. I hope that I'll be brave enough to fry again because next time, I want to add some spices to the batter.
So what would your perfect fried fair food be? Be sure to check out what the other bloggers made. I'm sure there'll be at least one you'll want to try.

Fried Cantaloupe
Oil for frying
1/2 cup sourdough starter, 166%
1/4 cup flour
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
2 tablespoons water
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1-2 cups cantaloupe diced*
Powdered sugar, optional
Orange juice, liqueur, or rum, optional

Heat oil to 350 F.
In a small bowl, combine starter, flour, cornstarch, baking soda, water and vanilla. Lumps are OK.
When oil is ready, dip pieces of cantaloupe into batter. Scoop up a tablespoon of batter and cantaloupe pieces and place carefully into hot oil. Fry for 2-3 minutes per side.
Sprinkle with powdered sugar or dip into a glaze made with powdered sugar and orange juice, liqueur or rum. Serve warm.
I found that small quarter inch pieces worked best for fitting into the tablespoon with enough batter. You could also use larger chunks or slices. Simply dip and coat them in the  batter without the need for a tablespoon. I did that with a few pieces.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Sweet Potato Burger Buns: Sourdough Surprises May

I think this may be the third time that I am using sweet potatoes in a recipe for Sourdough Surprises. I do like sweet potatoes, but even I am surprised at how often I think of it when deciding on a recipe. I think it's the colour that draws me in. But let's not get too caught up on that. Let's talk about these sweet potato buns.

I did some extra research when I was planning these buns. Sure, I scoured the internet as usual. But this time I went to the supermarket and touched all the unbelievably soft hamburger and hot dog buns. Sorry, customers who came after me. I promise that I did not manhandle your buns. (That sounds kinda wrong.) I also read the ingredients. I wanted soft buns! Almost all the buns had vital wheat gluten and vinegar. Vinegar was a strange one. It seems vinegar strengthens gluten but inhibits yeast. Tricky. I added it here but honestly, I don't think it made a difference or was necessary. My buns had a long rise, gluten formation was not an issue. I think I will try vinegar again in something with high hydration. .

Potatoes are supposed to soften the dough. But it occurred to me that I did not know if sweet potatoes acted in the same way as white potatoes. And what proportion of potatoes to flour would be best? This simply means that I have rounds 2 et al. in the works.

Fair warning: This recipe makes a lot of dough - almost three pounds. For my next trial, I will use a stiff starter and less flour. That will give the potatoes a chance to show me just how much they really enhance the dough.

Now, all of this does NOT mean that I was disappointed with my buns. Not in the slightest. They were not grocery store soft but the crumb was still soft and very much delicious. In fact, the firmer crusts here, actually made these buns more sturdy and more perfect for fillings like sloppy joes. You can do an overnight bulk proof for a stronger sourdough flavour or if you simply run out of time to shape and bake your rolls (*ahem*).

Sweet Potato Sourdough Burger Buns


6.25 oz all purpose flour 
9 oz mature sourdough starter 166%
3 oz milk 

Final Dough
8.25 oz mashed sweet potato (~1 cup)
3 oz water
1 oz oil
2 egg yolks
1 tablespoon sugar
13 oz flour
0.6 oz vital wheat gluten (1 1/2 tablespoons)
0.3 oz salt
1 tsp vinegar (optional)
egg whites for brushing dough


Combine the sponge ingredients and leave overnight.

Combine the sponge, mashed potatoes, water, oil, egg yolks and sugar in a mixing bowl until thoroughly combined. And the flour and vital wheat gluten and knead for 3 minutes. Allow to rest for 20 minutes then add salt and vinegar (if using). Knead in a stand mixer for 5 - 7 mins. Leave to rise until doubled (~6 hours). Dough can be refrigerated before moving onto the next step. 

Divide the dough into 16 equal pieces ( ~ 3 oz each) and shape each piece into a tight ball. Allow to rest for an hour then flatten slightly. Let rise until doubled. 

Preheat oven to 425 F. 

Gently brush the tops of each bun with egg whites. Bake for 15 minutes.


    An InLinkz Link-up

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Multigrain Hot Cross Buns for Sourdough Surprises

As I sit here typing it's 11:26 pm on the 19th of April. I'm sipping lemon water in between spoonfuls of delicious white bean chicken chili. (All hail the slow cooker!) I am more than a little late working on this month's Sourdough Surprises post.  It's been a stressful week for me. It was already going to be a horrible week and I was bracing for the worst when on Monday morning I noticed that the Wi-Fi adapter for my computer wasn't working. Small issue in the grand scheme of things but when you're already stressed? That mole hill is now a mountain. I stayed calm enough about that. And then on Thursday morning, while editing photos, my hard drive decided it was tired of this life. Yeah. This is most definitely a mountain now.

It's a good thing that I had these hot cross buns to comfort me throughout the week.  I won't discuss the number of calories per bun or the number I ate per day. Let's just call it food therapy and leave it at that.

I made sourdough hot cross buns before (using this recipe) and loved them. For this round, I added some rye and oats so that I could have some whole grains. I also reduced the amount of raisins. Additionally, I added them to my dough early. I knew that the raisins would cut the gluten strands but I just never liked kneading them in later. My crosses always get kinda lost on my buns. I think I need to use a thicker flour paste or I may need to try frosting.

Sourdough Multigrain Hot Cross Buns


Dried Fruit

150g raisins plus liquid for soaking

340g milk
250g all purpose flour
2 tablespoons starter

170g all purpose flour
30g rolled oats
50g rye
75g brown sugar
75g melted butter
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
7 g salt

Flour paste
White frosting

Simple syrup

Soak the raisins in water, rum or wine and leave overnight. Combine the starter ingredients and leave overnight (8-12 hours) also.
Add raisins to the starter mixture and mix until distributed. Then add flour, oats, rye, sugar and melted butter. Knead for 2 minutes then allow to rest for 20 minutes. After resting, add salt and spices and knead for an additional 4 minutes. The dough will be sticky.
Leave to bulk ferment for 4 hours, stretching and folding every hour. Place dough in the refrigerator for 8 - 12 hours.
Divide the dough into 12 equal pieces. My pieces were just under 100g each. Shape and leave to proof for 2 hours or until puffy.
Preheat oven to 400 F. When buns are proofed, pipe on a flour paste (equal parts flour by weight), if using. Bake 20 -25 mins. Remove from oven and brush with sugar syrup (equal parts sugar and water, heated until thick) or melted jam. If using frosting instead of flour crosses, pipe crosses after brushing with syrup or jam.


    An InLinkz Link-up

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Sourdough Surprises March: Irish Soda Bread Two Ways

As soon as the dish for Sourdough Surprises is revealed, I go into planning mode. What can I do that is different? Cinnamon rolls? Let's add strawberries and mangoes. . But for this month, I thought I would stick to tradition. (Well, tradition plus the required sourdough starter.) I've never had Irish Soda Bread in any form so why not start with the basics?  I started looking for traditional recipes and that's when I came across the Society for the Preservation of Irish Soda Bread and they take this thing SERIOUSLY.

Let me share some quotes.

"If your "soda bread" has raisins, it's not "soda bread! It's called "Spotted Dog" or "Railway Cake"! If it contains raisins, eggs, baking powder, sugar or shortening, it's called "cake", not "bread." All are tasty, but not traditional Irish Soda Bread!"

"Would "French Bread" (15th century) still be "French Bread" if whiskey, raisins, or other random ingredients were added to the mix? Would Jewish Matzo (unleavened bread) used to remember the passage of the Israelites out of Egypt still be Matzo if we add raisins, butter, sugar, eggs, and even orange zest? So why is traditional "Irish Soda Bread" (19th century) turned into a dessert and labeled "Traditional Irish Soda Bread?" OK, maybe you don't like the analogy, but you get the point!"

Alrighty then.

The recipe provided for white (as opposed to brown - which is whole wheat) has

4 cups of all purpose flour.
1 Teaspoon baking soda
1 Teaspoon salt
14 oz of buttermilk

I used 1/2 cup of sourdough starter to replace some of the flour and the buttermilk. I also halved the recipe. So here's what I did:

Sourdough Irish Soda Bread 

1 3/4 cup all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup sourdough starter, 166%
1/2 cup buttermilk

Preheat oven to 425 F
Mix flour, baking soda and salt together. Add starter and buttermilk. Mix lightly to bring together into a ball. If the dough is too dry, add additional buttermilk or water by the teaspoon.
Place the ball into a lightly greased cake pan. Flatten slightly and make a half inch deep cross in the top of the dough.
Cover with another cake pan and place in the oven.
After 30 minutes, remove the top cake pan and continue baking for another 10 minutes.

This was the end result. It had a yellowish tint which I associate with not having enough acid in the dough to neutralise the baking soda.. However, it didn't taste soapy so I didn't worry about it. But here's the thing. This was just OK. I wasn't in love. We needed to do something to this bread.

So let's add cheese, garlic and parsley and make it Cheddar Bay style. Now this bread? This bread I LOVED. This bread I shoved into my mouth every time I walked by it. This would not be approved Society for the Preservation of Irish Soda Bread. And that's fine by me.

"Cheddar Bay" Irish Soda Bread

1 3/4 cup all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1/2 cup sourdough starter, 166%
1/2 cup buttermilk

1/4 cup melted butter
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon dried parsley

Preheat oven to 425 F.

Mix flour, baking soda, salt and garlic powder together.Toss in the shredded cheese.  Add starter and buttermilk. Mix lightly to bring together into a ball. If the dough is too dry, add additional buttermilk or water by the teaspoon.
Place the ball into a lightly greased cake pan. Flatten slightly and make a half inch deep cross in the top of the dough.
Cover with another cake pan and place in the oven.
After 30 minutes, remove the top cake pan and continue baking for another 10 minutes.
Combine melted butter, garlic powder and parsley.
Remove bread from oven and immediately brush with butter mixture.


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Thursday, March 13, 2014

Ramblings I

Lots and nothing much have been happening lately. Yes! You can certainly have both. I've wanted to post about my latest exercise exploits, things I'm loving on TV, and things I'm burning in my kitchen. But instead of waiting until I have all the words for individual posts, I figured that I would just put it all together.

  1. I have been trying to exercise consistently since December. I may not have an intense workout every day but I do something so that exercising stays a part of my daily activities. I haven't seen any major improvements so far but that could be directly related to me not giving it my all.
  2. This week, I am giving it my all. I have several videos lined up to do each day. I get bored easily so I am cycling through all the videos available to me. My lineup includes - Fitnessista's Winter Shapeup 2013 (I did this for 4 weeks in Jan/Feb), Fitness Blender videos (LOVE this site), Jillian Michaels videos and any other videos available on Amazon Instant Video.
  3. I still want to try running again but I haven't made it outside to run yet. (I still do long walks (8 miles) each week.) While it was relatively cold in South Florida would have been an excellent time to try. Alas, it's hot again. It may still happen though. I am hoping that as I gain strength from my at home workouts, running might be easier when next I try. Plus, I was dealing with some dizziness issues. I'd get extremely dizzy when I'd stop running. Rapid blood pressure changes? Who knows?
  4. I don't hate my body but I want to have a body that I LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE by the end of the year. Toned abs, come to me!
  5. In my drafts folder there is a post about hate-watching television shows. I should finish it.
  6. I just finished season 1 of Orphan Black (it's on Amazon). Great show! I am shocked that the actress was not nominated for an Emmy. When are the Emmys anyway? September? What's the deal, Powers That Be? BBC America gets no love?
  7. I am still posting over on Passion Kneaded (and still have no idea what my ultimate goal is for my two corners of the internet). Anyway, I started cooking with the Crazy Ingredient Challenge back in August. Then in January, I started with the Bundt Bakers. Bake a cake every month? Oh, twist my arm, won't you?
  8. Posting can get pretty hectic (particularly for someone who doesn't post regularly) because all 3 cooking groups post about the same time and sometimes on the same day. Sourdough Surprises (that I still blog over here for logistical purposes) always posts on the 20th. CIC is the 20th also. Bundt Bakers posts on the third Thursday but that has either been on the 20th (February & the upcoming post for March) or pretty close to it.
  9. Kudos to you food bloggers who post religiously several times per week! You guys rock! I wish I had your blogging, cooking and photography skills. One day, I will. Well, the last two anyway. 

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Strawberry & Lime Monkey Bread - Sourdough Surprises February

I was really excited about this month's Sourdough Surprises. I made a sourdough monkey bread once before but it was savoury. And while it's written up somewhere, I never got around to posting it. I tried the loaf-style pull-apart bread some time ago too. That flopped. My dough just wasn't enough to fill the pan and it didn't rise much. And so, I actually chickened out of trying that loaf-style one here.

This monkey bread was supposed to be a strawberry lemon one. That is, until I started thinking about evenings spent at Flanigan's and their delicious (and CHEAP!) strawberry daiquiris. And then I thought - well, why not use lime instead? I was nervous - really nervous. Would there be too much lime? Too little?

I need not have worried. It was simply perfect. I finished making this late one night. And I really wanted to wait until morning to take pics. But I realised that there was no guarantee that I would be able to resist grabbing pieces throughout the night. It was best to take the pics right then and if possible, take more in the morning.

Strawberry & Lime Monkey Bread

9 oz sourdough starter, 166% hydration
3 oz water
3 oz sour cream
0.5 oz oil
1 tablespoon sugar
15 oz all purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt

1 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons lime zest
1 teaspoon lime juice
1/4 cup melted butter, cooled
1/2 cup strawberry preserves

Mix together starter, water, sour cream, oil and 1 tablespoon of sugar. Add flour then mix at medium speed for two minutes then allow to rest for 20 minutes. After resting, add salt and knead for four minutes. Cover the dough and allow to bulk ferment for four to six hours or until doubled.

While dough is resting, rub the lime zest into the cup of granulated sugar and set aside.

When dough has doubled, take a bundt pan and spread 2 to 3 tablespoons of strawberry preserves onto the bottom. Combine the melted butter and lime juice in a small bowl. Pinch off approximately 2 tablespoon-sized pieces of dough and roll into balls. Dip each ball into the melted butter mixture and then roll into the lime zest-sugar. Place each ball into the bundt pan. Top each layer of dough balls with approximately 2 tablespoons of strawberry preserves.

When all the dough balls are in the pan, pour over any remaining  melted butter, sugar and preserves. Cover the bundt with a damp towel and and allow to proof for 2 - 3 hours.

Bake in a preheated 400 F oven for 50 minutes. If the top (later bottom) is browning too quickly, cover with foil. The dough balls at the bottom will take a bit longer to cook. Use a thermometer to check if the bottom balls are at approximately 205 F.

Remove from oven and allow to cool for 15 minutes before inverting on a serving platter. The syrup is HOT (and delicious). Be careful.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Sourdough Surprises January: Focaccia

When I first started making bread, I read a lot about hydration and was pretty sure that I would never make anything with a hydration higher than 70%. In fact, when I first made rolls without knowing the hydration of the starter the recipe writer used, I was horrified at the wet dough in front of me. I started throwing in as much flour as I could and it just never seemed enough.

And then I saw a video of Martha Stewart making focaccia. I wanted it.  I didn't care about the high hydration. I had to have it. It went well. I loved my first focaccia and really wanted to make one again. But there were so many other breads to make do it never happened. So of course, I was extremely excited when Sourdough Surprises announced focaccia for this month.

I made this on Christmas Eve and enjoyed pieces with breakfast on Christmas morning. I tried to be a little creative and make a pattern on my focaccia. (Can you guess what it is? Hint: It should have been a flag.) The pattern wasn't perfect but, the taste was amazing!

I adapted Peter Reinhardt's focaccia in ... It's a long x hours before you can bite into your bread. Worth it? Perhaps. I'll let you know when I make one that is done in a shorter time frame and can compare the two.

Sourdough Focaccia

Adapted from Peter Reinhart's Artisan Breads Everyday
Garlic Oil
4 oz olive oil
6 cloves garlic, crushed 

18 oz flour
12.5 oz water
4.5 oz sourdough starter
0.5 oz oil

Banana Peppers

Warm the 4 oz of olive oil and add the cloves of garlic and set aside. 

Combine flour, water and starter for one minute. Allow to rest for 20 minutes then add oil and 0.5 oz of oil. Resume mixing on medium to low speed with a paddle attachment for 1 minute. The dough will be extremely sticky. Using a wet bowl scraper, transfer dough to an oiled bowl and let rest for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, stretch and fold* the dough inside the bowl. Then let rest. Repeat this 3 more times. 

After the final stretch and fold, line a half sheet pan with parchment paper or a silicone mat. Drizzle 2 tablespoons of garlic oil over the pan then transfer it to the pan. Drizzle another tablespoon of oil over the dough then use your fingertips to dimple the dough and spread it over about half of the pan. Make sure that the dough is covered in oil then cover the pan with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight. 

The next day, remove the dough from the refrigerator, drizzle some oil over the dough and begin working the dough from the center to cover the entire pan. When the dough starts resisting, stop, cover and let it rest for 30 minutes. Drizzle more oil then dimple the dough for another minute moving it to cover the entire pan. 

Cover and let rise at room temperature for 11/2- 2 hours. 

Preheat oven to 500 F. 

Top with more oil, if needed, olives and peppers. Place pan in oven and lower temperature to 450 F. Bake for 12 minutes then rotate pan and bake for another 10 - 15 minutes. The underside should be mottled golden brown. 

Transfer focaccia while still on parchment or mat to a wire rack. Cool slightly then serve.

*Stretch & Fold Video by Peter Reinhart
Stretch & Fold Video by Weekend Bakery
More Stretch & Fold