Tag Archives: sourdough

Baking Plans And A Couple Of Loaves

I’ve been trying to work out how I can make more bread. I love making it and trying new recipes, but there are only two of us in this house & we can only eat so much! Of course I can give bread to family/friends, but I still want something more regular to work on. So I’ve been debating getting some part time work in a bakery or selling some loaves, which would be amazing because I could try more loaves, learn more and hopefully make some money at the same time. Wins all round I think.

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I was on the Real Bread Campaign website (which I frequent) and spotted an advert from a local cafe looking for home bakers to help them supply bread to their market stalls. I had heard of the Hornbeam Cafe in Walthamstow, but I’ll admit I didn’t know a lot about it. It turns out that all of their bread is provided by the Hornbeam Bakers Collective, which is made up of a group of keen local bakers. They also provide bread to three market stalls on a Saturday, one outside the Walthamstow cafe, one in Leyton and one in Stoke Newington.

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Last week I went and met with Pilar from the collective and took her a couple of my loaves to try, a mixed white & wholemeal loaf made with tea (top) and a 50% spelt loaf (above). It was the first time I’d made the 50% spelt, so it wasn’t perfect but I was really please with the mixed grain loaf. Thankfully they both went down a storm, so from this Saturday I will start to provide bread to the stalls. Just 8 loaves at first as I only have a little oven, but if it goes well then who knows where it will lead…

Fresh Bread In Time For Lunch

Last night I mixed up a couple of 60% white flour, 22% spelt flour & 18% wholemeal flour sourdough loaves following Dan Lepard’s recipe for the mill loaf. After 4 hours fermenting with periodic stretching and folding, I shaped them just before I went to bed and left them in the fridge overnight to proof. Then this morning, while getting on with various chores I baked them for 50 minutes each and by lunchtime I had fresh homemade bread to enjoy.

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As I took the loaves out of the oven they were making cracking and popping sounds, which was rather worrying, but after a quick google I discovered that this is a good thing. The loaves were ‘singing’ to me, the sign of a well baked loaf apparently.

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Upon cutting these open I discovered a really soft, spongy crumb with lots of holes. I think the spelt had a real impact on the smoothness on the crumb, and it tastes divine. Just a little nutty from the wholemeal flour and rye starter but otherwise a light texture with a delicately sour flavour. I think these might be my favourite loaves to date.

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As I had this beautiful fresh bread to use, for lunch I made my perfect fried egg sandwich. Fresh sourdough bread smeared with butter, a sliver of mature cheddar cheese and pile of crisp lettuce topped with a juicy fried egg. A decadent lunch that’s hard to beat.

Sourdough Successes

I realised that after documenting my struggles with learning how to make sourdough bread, I never got round to blogging my successes!

White Leaven Bread

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I finally got Dan Lepard’s White Leaven Bread recipe to work after repeated disasterous attempts. I was already placing a baking sheet in the oven to get hot and sliding the dough onto it, but this time I added a cloche in the form of an enormous saucepan, upturned on the baking tray. I baked the loaf under the cloche for 30 minutes, enough time for the steam to work it’s magic and then removed the cloche & baking sheet to finish the loaf on the wire oven shelf for the last 20 minutes. The result was a beautifully risen, light and airy white loaf.

The Mill Loaf

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As I felt like I’d finally conquered that recipe, I turned the page and attempted the second recipe in Dan’s The Handmade Loaf, The Mill Loaf. This is a 60% white flour & 40% wholegrain flour sourdough loaf. The recipe makes two much larger loaves than the White Leaven Bread recipe and shaped as batons rather than balls and because of this I couldn’t fit them under my makeshift cloche which left me expecting disaster. I needn’t have worried. Both loaves came out beautifully. The first I baked seam side up and it split spectacularly, the second I slashed and baked, it split a little on the bottom seam and opened up at the top slashes. Interestingly while everyone in the online sourdough world loves enormous rips  and ears on their loaves,  all the non-bakers I showed the pictures to thought the slashed version looked more professional.

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I much prefer wholemeal bread so for me this bread wins over the white loaf as it’s much more flavoursome. I will definitely make this again and I’m looking forward to experimenting with different flours to see what happens.

Sour 100% Rye Bread

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Then this week I moved on to the third recipe in The Handmade Loaf the 100% Rye loaf. My shaping needs work, hopefully I’ll learn some shaping skills on the E5 Bakehouse sourdough bread course next month. The result was a dense and moist loaf with that rich, nutty rye flavour. I loved the feel of this dough too, it was very sticky and springy. I left this loaf wrapped in greaseproof paper & tied up with string overnight as instructed and cut into it for lunch today. I topped slices with pesto, soft cheese, ground black pepper, lettuce & cherry tomatoes for a simple, refreshing lunch. These classic flavours worked with the dense, nutty bread perfectly.

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Guinness Chocolate Chip Sourdough Hot Cross Buns

The flavour combination I am completely obsessed with is back, this time in hot cross bun form. Sourdough hot cross buns obviously. These are not your traditional hot cross buns, in fact if you like a traditional spicy, fruity hot cross bun then these are not for you! These hot cross buns are for those of us who like the idea of a hot cross bun, but then take an hour to eat it because we have to pick out all of the dried fruit as we go. I used to be that person, then I made spiced stout hot cross buns and my mind was changed. If you like a traditional hot cross bun, those are the buns for you.

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Instead these hot cross buns harness the richness of Guinness to flavour a soft, dense dough containing lots and lots of dark chocolate chips that melt when toasted and mingle with the melting butter that you will smear across it to create the most decadent breakfast I’ve had in a while. But I’m in training, so I’ve been living off porridge for longer than I dare to remember. I can’t wait to get back into proper Sunday morning breakfasts.

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You could of course use any kind of stout and another type of chocolate, but Guinness and dark chocolate are particularly strong together. In total these took me a day and a half to make, but you can follow the timings for the spiced stout sourdough hot cross buns if you want to make them in a day (plus overnight leaven creation). I know we’re only really supposed to eat hot cross buns on Good Friday, but as these aren’t traditional hot cross buns I think I’ll be untraditional and carry on eating them for a few more weeks!

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Guinness Chocolate Chip Sourdough Hot Cross Buns

Makes about 16 buns.
Adapted from Dan Lepard’s Spiced Stout Buns recipe.

Ingredients

325ml Guinness (or another brand of stout if you must)
100g sourdough starter
2 teaspoons cinnamon
2 teaspoons allspice
800g strong white flour + a couple of tablespoons extra for the crosses
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
50g caster sugar + 1 tablespoon extra for the glaze
1 large egg
50g melted butter
200g dark chocolate, chopped into chips

In the morning, whisk together the Guinness & the sourdough starter in a large bowl and stir in the spices and 250g of the strong white flour. Cover with cling film and leave to ferment for at least 6 hours.

That afternoon, mix the remaining 550g of strong white flour with the salt and caster sugar in a large bowl. Mix in the Guinness batter, egg and melted butter until you have a shaggy mess of a dough. Note added: If the batter is struggling to absorb all the flour, then add a little extra Guinness, a tablespoon at a time until it’s all mixed in. Leave for 10 minutes, I took this time to chop up my chocolate as I’m never very good at preparing things like that before I start. Add the chocolate chips to the bowl and stretch & kneed the dough until the chocolate chips are fully incorporated, cover with clingfilm or a clean, damp tea towel and leave to rest.

After 30 minutes, stretch or kneed the dough for 10 seconds or so, then cover and leave to rest again. After a second 30 minutes take the dough out of the bowl, stretch it out to a rectangle then fold the right third to the centre and then the same with the left third, turn the dough 90 degrees and repeat (check out this video for a visual aid, but don’t panic when your dough takes a lot more effort to stretch). Return it to the bowl for another rest. 60 minutes later, repeat the folding technique and return to the bowl for a final 2 hour rest.

By now we’re well into the evening, perhaps even nearing bedtime, so line a baking tray with baking paper and clear a shelf in your fridge. Divide the dough up into 100g lumps, roll them into balls and place them on the baking tray. They should be touching, but only just. Cover with clingfilm (lightly greased with a little vegetable oil to avoid sticking) or your damp tea towel and place in the fridge overnight.

When you bake them the next day is up to you. I intended to get up and bake them first thing, but in the end I didn’t have time until the afternoon. The buns will be fine in the fridge for most of the day unless you have a particularly vigorous starter. Take them out of the fridge 30-60 minutes before you plan on baking them and preheat the oven to 200C/180C fan.

Mix a little flour & water into a paste. Initially add a tablespoon of each then add flour/water a teaspoon at a time until you get the consistency you like. Spoon this into a piping bag & pipe long lines across the rows of buns to create crosses. Go slowly to ensure the batter follows the undulations of the buns & creates even crosses. Put the buns into the preheated oven & place an oven dish with a cup of boiling water at the bottom of the oven to create steam. Bake for 25 minutes.

Take the buns out of the oven and dance round the kitchen to celebrate how great they look. Then, while they are still warm, mix a tablespoon of boiling water and a tablespoon of caster sugar together to form a syrup. Brush this over the buns, making sure you get in all the dips and cracks and between any lumps and bumps from the chocolate chips. It’s worth the effort.

Slide the baking paper with the buns still attached onto a wire rack to cool. The sooner you take them off the paper the better, but you need to let them cool down enough to handle as you’ll probably need to break them into individual buns to do so.

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To enjoy: Choose the biggest bun, cut it in half, lightly toast it and smear it with a large quantity of butter. Follow with the tea/coffee of your choice.

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Time for round two…

Sourdough Pizza

I’ve been talking for ages about making sourdough pizza and I finally got round to making it! I made up the dough in the afternoon & let it proof and then my friend joined me in the evening for some homemade pizza & beers, or tea in my case as my commitment to my marathon training is such that I’m not drinking this month*.

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I followed the recipe from Dan Lepard’s Short & Sweet which still my first stop for all baking tasks. So at about 2.30pm I combined 200g sourdough leaven with 300ml water, 500g strong white flour, 1 1/2 teaspoons of salt and 2 tablespoons of olive oil to create a shaggy mess of a dough. The dough only needed stretching once after 10 minutes resting, at which point I realised that it was the most gloriously smooth and stretchy dough I have ever had the joy of working with. I then left it for 4 1/2 hours to proof. This may well have been the easiest dinner I have ever made.

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Once my friend arrived that evening, I heated the oven to 220C fan; it’s hottest temperature, with 2 baking trays inside to heat up. I divided up the dough into 6 x 150-200g balls leaving 2 on the side to rest for 20 minutes and popping the extra 4 in the freezer.

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Then the fun bit. We stretched the dough out on some makeshift peels, which in this case were chopping boards lined with baking paper. There was much hilarity as we realised that the dough’s elasticity meant that every time we stretched it out it sprang back, it was much trickier than we thought it would be! We topped the dough with sundried-tomato pesto, tomatoes, chorizo, mozzarella and a few chilli flakes before sliding them on to the baking trays in the oven and baking for 15 mins.

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The result was two light, crispy crusted pizzas, with some rich, spicy toppings. We were probably a little heavy on the toppings which meant the centre wasn’t as crisp as it could have been, but it was a minor complaint. I think just scrapping the fresh tomatoes or swapping them for a few small cherry tomatoes would be enough to fix this. I’m looking forward to getting the spare dough out of the freezer and seeing how the second batch go!

*Paris being the exception, because going to Paris and not drinking wine is wrong.

Sourdough Surprises : Sourdough Chocolate & Guinness Cake with Whiskey Caramel Glaze

It’s time for another challenge from Sourdough Surprises – a group for bakers who want to experiment with making more than just bread with their sourdough starter. March’s challenge was cake – a challenge I’m always happy to take on.

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Checking out the Sourdough Surprises Pinterest Board I immediately repinned this recipe for a sourdough chocolate cake from Tracey’s Culinary Adventures. I was given a bundt tin for Christmas, so this seemed as good a time as any for it’s first outing. I also did a little research on the Herman The German Friendship Cake that is doing the rounds at the moment. It’s essentially a sourdough starter maintained specifically for cake, which you’re supposed to keep splitting and passing on to friends. However the recipes didn’t seem to use the sourdough to enhance the flavour or volume as there was no resting time for it to develop, it was just added for the sake of it. It got me wondering if all those people with Herman’s living in their cupboard realise his full potential…

In the end two things heavily influenced the way I adapted the sourdough chocolate cake. #1 – I had been making a lot of stout hot cross buns, and had an open can of Guinness on the kitchen side and #2 – this recipe for Guinness brownies with a whiskey glaze cropped up in my Google Reeder (more on my heartache at the demise of Google Reader on my social media blog). I am obsessed with Guinness & chocolate cakes, I’ve made several variations in the past, one of which won me a prize at a cake competition! So it was decided, I would make a Chocolate & Guinness Bundt Cake with a Whiskey Caramel Glaze.

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I refreshed my rye starter with water and white bread flour and left it for 6 hours before mixing up the cake – next time I think I’ll use Guinness at this stage as well to deepen the flavour. Then I mixed a cup of this starter with Guinness & flour and left it for 2.5 hours to ferment, you can see the before and after above. After that it was just a case of putting all the ingredients into the stand mixer to create the most bizarre consistency cake mix I have ever seen. It clearly couldn’t decide if it was dough or batter. At one point it looked a lot like blancmange, but it turns out that is no bad thing. The resulting cake was dense and moist, the Guinness isn’t so much a seperate flavour as a boost to the rich chocolate flavour.

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The next day I went to make the whiskey caramel glaze, but wasn’t entirely happy with the recipe. I googled a few other caramel sauce recipes and came up with my own version. As you can see from the photos, it was still a bit runny! If you prefer your glaze thicker then keep adding icing sugar, a little at a time, until you get to a consistency you’re happy with. The glaze was to die for. I couldn’t stop eating it. I’m not ashamed to say I even spread it on toast.

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Sourdough Chocolate & Guinness Cake with Whiskey Caramel Glaze

Makes 1 large bundt cake.
Based on the recipes for this cake and this glaze.

Cake Ingredients

1 cup sourdough starter fed approx. 6 hours ago
1 cup Guinness
2 cups plain flour
1 1/2 cups caster sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
3/4 cup cocoa powder
1 tsp espresso powder
2 large eggs

Glaze Ingredients:

1/2 cup caster sugar
1 1/2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp double cream
1/4 cup Jameson Irish Whiskey
1 tbsp Guinness
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup icing sugar (to reach my consistency – add more as required)

Mix together the fed starter with the Guinness & plain flour. Cover with clingfilm or a damp tea towel and leave to ferment at room temperature for roughly 2.5 hours.

Preheat the oven to 180C or 160C fan & grease your bundt tin with butter.

In a stand mixer with a paddle attachement (or by hand), combine the caster sugar, vegetable oil, vanilla extract, salt, bicarbonate of soda, cocoa powder & espresso powder. Beat on a low speed to combine, and don’t worry about it being grainy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well in between.

Add the Guinness leaven to the batter and beat on low until well mixed. At this stage the batter goes through a range of textures (it’s very elastic!), just keep going until it’s nice and smooth. Scrape down the paddle & bowl a couple of times to make sure it’s all mixed in evenly.

Transfer the batter into the bundt tin and level the top. Bake for around 45 minutes, until a skewer inserted into the center comes out clean, mine took 47 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool for 10 minutes in the tin before turning out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

Now for the glaze.

Combine the caster sugar with 2 tbsp water in a heavy saucepan over a medium heat. Stir briefly until the sugar dissolves and then leave it, any more stirring will cause sugar crystals to form and you’ll have to start again. Continue to cook until the sugar has turned a dark amber colour, keep a close watch on it as it can turn quite quickly once it gets to the right temperature.

Remove from the heat and quickly whisk in the butter and double cream until combined. Add the whiskey, Guinness and salt, whisk and return to the heat, cooking until the caramel is smooth.

Cool the sauce for 10-15 minutes, it will still be a little warm. Using an electric mixer, or by hand add the icing sugar a bit at a time, until you get to the consistency you like, then drizzle over the bundt cake. Pop the cake in the fridge for half an hour to set the glaze, then enjoy!

Check out the other Sourdough Surprises entries here, and don’t forget – the leftover glaze is cracking on toast!

Can't get enough of the whiskey caramel sauce. #caramel #friday #love

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