Tag Archives: sourdough

Fig and Anise (and kefir) Sourdough

This was for a friend from the south of France. I figured he would like anise (although that was a bit of a gamble, since anise is something you either like or hate). Turns out he was fine with anise but couldn’t take figs on account of his kidney stones (who knew figs are high in oxalic acid?!?) I love anise-flavoured breads, actually anise-flavoured anything, and Farine MC’s fig and anise wholewheat loaf has been on my list for the longest time. But I did not have cracked wheat grains, so I turned to another source: Phil’s recipe on TFL, figuring it must work like a charm, and adapted it to what I had on hand.

Fig and Aniseed Sourdough (adapted from PiP’s blog on TFL)
Levain
25g            Starter
50g            T65 flour
29g            Water
A pinch of salt

I left to ferment at room temp overnight, but made sure that my starter and water were fridge cold, to slow things down a bit. Nonetheless, by early morning, my leaven was raring to go.

Final dough
81.5g           Levain
410g            T65 flour
50g             Whole rye flour
[original recipe calls for 393g bread flour and 70g spelt]
140g            Dried figs [original recipe: 188g]
7g             Aniseed, toasted
356g            Water [hold back 25g to add if necessary]
9g             Salt

Phil does a very long autolyse, then adds the levain etc.
I use my usual method of an hour-long-or-so autolyse with flour, water and levain. I took advantage of the fact that the mixer was out to use it, instead of mixing and kneading by hand.
I folded in the figs and aniseed during the first fold. A couple more folds, then a rather short first proof before shaping.
My second proof was also shorter than usual (running late!!) and that accounted for the massive oven spring.

* I used less figs than called for because I simply couldn’t squeeze them in any more! These very moist dried figs (not the very dried ones you can buy lined up in a flat box) are like dates; they simply disappear into the dough! Next time I’ll chop them up into slightly smaller pieces and add the full amount called for.
* The quantity of aniseed is spot on—present but not overwhelming.

Barely was the bread baked that I had to whisk it out of the house. It rode on a trivet in the car. Which is a good thing otherwise I might have burnt my arms carrying it.

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The travelling bread on a trivet enjoying the view.

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Unceremoniously plonked next to the bonsai.

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Last time poor bread was seen intact.

Wish I had a crumb shot of the loaf but I think I would have gotten weird looks from our friend. It was so amazingly tender and cake-like and open. Like a “gateau,” exclaimed the recipient. We made short work of this bread that, embarrassingly, was supposed to last him for a few days. I’m really wondering if it isn’t the effect of the water kefir because the last sweet potato hazelnut loaf also had a beautifully soft and moist crumb. Experiments are in order.

Wonderful bread with just the right amount of aniseed flavor. We also paired it with goat’s cheese, and two days later, I had it dipped in olive oil. The combination of mellowed anise flavor and a very good olive oil was a revelation.

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Small loaf carved out of the big batard, for tasting purposes.

 

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Sweet potato hazelnut sourdough

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Hadn’t intended to make this at all, but I had some leftover sweet potato, and recalling how delicious the roast potato bread from Hamelman was (must make again…), I found and adapted TX Farmer’s sweet potato walnut recipe on TFL. I substituted hazelnuts for walnuts and omitted the maple syrup. Also went out on a limb and threw in some excess water kefir. Yes, summer’s nigh, temperatures are up, and time to bring out the poor water kefir from hibernation!!! The critters fizzled like they had been given a new lease of life, and before I knew it, I had more water kefir on my hands then I could use up. I had no idea about the water/sugar content of the sweet potato (which varies anyway), and from the last experiment, I was afraid it would proof too fast, but it turned out all right.

Very delicious bread. You can taste the sweet potato even after baking (unlike the potato bread, which smells irresistibly potato-ish while baking but doesn’t taste so) and the hazelnuts… It was as if I were tasting hazelnuts anew.

Sweet potato hazelnut sourdough (Adapted from TXFarmer’s recipe)
230g            T65 flour
70g             T80 flour (semi-wholewheat)
105g            sweet potato purée (from roasted sweet potato)
105g            Leaven, 100% hydration
155g            Water kefir
77g             Hazelnuts

Autolyse with flour, leaven and water. (I added the puree after autolyse, but will add it the next time at autolyse stage; once the gluten forms, it’s harder to incorporate the puree).
Add salt and knead somewhat.
A couple of stretch and folds over the next few hours, adding the hazelnuts after the first fold.
Shape and either refrigerate straight away—or if you’re like me—after letting it sit out another hour or so on the counter.
Bake the next morning to gorgeous smells. And be chuffed that you still had decent oven spring despite the wet dough and lack of shaping skills and overall negligence, and wonder why sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t but you won’t push it.
The bread gods must occasionally look away  while I blunder along.

Sweet potato hazelnut

Sweet potato hazelnut

Recent bakes—old favourites and new ones

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Black sesame sourdough pain de mie

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Tomato pesto sourdough

Black sesame sourdough pain de mie. I used Tx Farmer, amazing baker on TFL’s fluffy sourdough pain de mie recipe, but added black sesame. The first and second proofs were very long so the sour overrode the black sesame taste. I’ve had this problem before (probably my leaven was not quite up to the mark as well) but next time I’ll use a young and raring to go leaven/add a pinch of yeast.

Emmanuel Hadjiandreou’s tomato paste sourdough which I’ve made before. This time I used tomato pesto and the crumb was barely reddish. We had it with sheep’s cheese and ham from the Basque region.

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Dan Lepard’s mill loaf (left) and semolina sourdough (right)

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Dan Lepard’s mill loaf in his The Handmade Loaf, don’t know why I’ve never made this before. And semolina sourdough, which I really do love for its taste and colour.

 

 

Joanna of Zeb Bakes’ Kefir Levain Bread

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Kefir levain – a different kettle of fish – but makes for flavorful bread.

I’ve wanted to make this ever since Joanna posted about her 38% wholemeal kefir levain bread, which she adapted for people who wanted to keep it sugar-free (although who could argue with this date syrup one)?? This yielded a really delicious bread. But it’s a long, slow and less predictable bread, because of the preferment using milk kefir, so be prepared to wait and adapt. I started the preferment at night. The next morning, I noticed it had risen a little but there were hardly any bubbles. It took warm afternoon sun shining on it and a very slight rise in temperature for the preferment to almost double (3/4 towards doubling), and it never attained the sort of liveliness of my usual levain. On hindsight, I should have used it then; I think it was at its peak. But Joanna had warned that it could take anywhere between 36-48 hours, so for the sake of experimentation, I decided to see how far it could go. And without resorting to nestling it near the heater! Since she mentioned temperatures between 16-19 degrees celsius. By the next morning, it was ‘crestfallen’ and smelled sour so I knew I had taken it beyond its peak.

I used it anyway and went for an autolyse of about an hour. Everything came together easily and I did a few folds before popping into the the fridge for an overnight proof. The dough was strong but lacked structure (if this makes any sense) but I expected it, with the sluggish and acidic levain. As with the preferment, it was slow-moving and it was hard to read the dough. It never became light and full of air, so much so that despite the very long proof, I was still wondering if it wasn’t under-proofed. I was sure, given the lack of volume and all that acidity, I would get a dense loaf. Lo and behold, it had quite a good oven spring and the crumb was very aerated. And there’s a really nice sweetness in the crust and crumb.

I’m really enjoying the sweetness of these long-fermentation and/or high-hydration breads. I’ll leave the science to others but it’s nothing short of magical how the sweetness is coaxed from the flours and grains, a deep sweetness that’s got nothing to do with the artificial sugar-spiked, malt or whatever-induced sweetness in commercial bread. (Just now, I had to buy a sandwich from a ubiquitous chain for lunch. We all know how these industrial breads are pumped with additives and are barely fermented, but this one must have been put through the production process double time. It was so dense, it was like wheat bread trying to imitate rye bread! It made me want to weep. i looked around to see if anyone had noticed but everyone was just chomping away.) And there’s nothing short of magical in the journey of a grain from the time it harnesses the energy of the sun to the moment it appears on our table as bread.

milk kefir levain, water kefir levain, fruit yeast water… isn’t it amazing what one can use. It shouldn’t be surprising the fermentation takes a longer time. I like to think it’s the yeasts and bacteria and all those hundreds (or is it, thousands??) of organisms in the kefir and flour and water and air getting to know each other, breaking out of their shells, acclimatizing, coexisting. It’s us being impatient. Each time I pick up the jar to peer and sniff, I imagine them thinking, “It’s her again. Why can’t she let us be….”

After the last experiment, I think it’s safe to say the milk kefir levain is quite sensitive to temperature. The next time, I’ll try a warmer environment from the outset. Also I now know not to expect the same sort of reaction as a usual levain, at least in my case. And what about varying the milk, flour, or even the water. I’m never been precious about the water, i’ve always just used tap water.

Sourdough ciabatta

 

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Nothing like ciabatta to bring out the klutz in me, but ever so delicious.

 

First time I’ve made ciabatta without feeling like a total klutz and getting sticky dough on every possible surface. There was still an accident—in attempting to flip the first dough onto the board, the second (pictured above) flipped onto itself! So it was twice as thick! But taste was great, dough sweet and airy as they should be. I would like to get smaller, individual ciabattas but that will need much more practice. No crumb shot because we were too hungry!!

Sourdough ciabatta (recipe was clipped from a miller’s recipe book)
T65 flour               500g
Salt                         10g
Instant yeast             2g
Water                     350g
Leaven (100%)      125g
Olive oil                   30g

Autolyse of flour, water and leaven for almost 1.5hr. I accidentally left it longer than intended. In any case, with the mixer, I had no problem incorporating the water. Towards the end of the mix, I trickled in the olive oil.
Proof for 2-3 hours, with two folds.
Second proof was only 30–45 mins before it went into a hot oven with lots of steam.

Submitting this to Wildyeast.

Sourdough focaccia

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Rosemary & sun-dried tomato sourdough focaccia

I made this for Bob’s colleague’s daughter. When we had them over, I expected the little girls to make a beeline for the candies but she lingered around the focaccia instead! This is NOT typical focaccia – sourdough and half-whole wheat flour – which gives it a bit more chew. I don’t think ‘chew’ belongs in a focaccia, but it was delicious nonetheless. I did half rosemary, half sun-dried tomatoes in oil – but DON’T use sun-dried tomatoes! Or if you do, bury them well because with all their oil and sweetness, they burn and turn dark and bitter. After I pulled it out of the oven, I realized I’ve made this mistake a few times already. When will i learn…

I adapted an Amy’s Bread recipe to use my leaven, so here goes:

Sourdough focaccia (makes a big focaccia, approx. 40×20)
415g                 water
1/4-1/2 tsp       instant yeast
340g                 leaven, 100%-hydration
650g                 flour
42g                  milk
36g                  olive oil
12g                  salt
* your choice of toppings, more olive oil and salt flakes

Autolyse without the milk, olive oil and salt.
Add milk, olive oil and salt, mix till mostly silky.
Proof till nearly doubled, with two folds.
This is the part I like: line tin with parchment paper, pour olive oil and amply grease every corner (and incidentally your poor dried-out hands, if you’re like me). Then gently coax your puffy dough to spread out into tin. You’ll see it won’t protest too much – who would, swathed by all that dark green oil..

Preheat oven at 220 degrees celsius. Steam required or (see below)
When it’s doubled in height and ready to go into oven, dimple the dough with more olive oil (I always err on the side of conservative, but there’s no such thing, I think, as too much olive oil in a focaccia!), your choice of toppings and sea salt flakes, and watch the bubbles pop up here and there.
I mix some olive oil and water in a little bowl, and dimple and flicker this oil-water mixture over the dough. I find this provides plenty of steam. In fact, you’ll probably have to open the oven a few times during baking (watch out for hot steam!) to let out the steam, otherwise it won’t brown.

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Be gentle with the bubbly dough!

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Sourdough spelt & wheat bread

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I hardly ever use spelt flour – the only time i baked spelt bread, I didn’t find it particularly different from wheat – but this might change. I used this recipe from Hefe und Mehr blogger, whose blog I like to peruse, fantasizing that all these wonderful breads (especially the German ones) are sitting on my kitchen counter. I added very little honey, but more importantly, I used only white spelt flour, while I think the recipe includes a bit of whole spelt flour, or semi-whole?? I thought of reducing the water slightly but went ahead anyway. I don’t know if it’s because of the hydration, or is it a characteristic of spelt, but although the dough was nice and light, it was floppy and bread strength was very weak. I did more folds than usual to try to give it some strength, but that didn’t help . Nonetheless, there was oven spring, it was delicious and we devoured it.

Curiously, this spelt bread filled us up much faster! I thought it was just me, but Bob uncharacteristically turned down my offer of more bread and scratched his head, perplexed that he should not want more bread that morning. So we stared forlornly at the delicious bread, crackly crust and sweet soft insides that would have happily taken on more butter – and saved it for the next day!

Does this happen to others, and how differently does the gluten in spelt behave, I wonder.