The Hoppy Okapi

Occasional posts about hiking and other stuff

Adventures In Sourdough IX: Onion Sprout Focaccia October 18, 2010

Filed under: baking,bread,CSA,San Diego,sourdough — Amanda @ 21:19
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Onion Sprout Focaccia Stack

After six months of bi-weekly CSA boxes from Suzie’s Farm, one of my favorite ingredients is onion sprouts. These delicate little sprouts pack big onion flavor, and while I love to eat them sprinkled over salads, I’ve also discovered that they add great onion flavor when baked into bread!

Onion Sprouts

This recipe is based on a no-knead focaccia recipe from The Bread Bible by Beth Hensperger. I use the standard yeast version as a deep-dish pizza dough, but I’ve also converted the recipe to use my 100% hydration (equal flour and water by weight) sourdough starter.

Recipe Conversion from Yeast to Sourdough

I used my home-grown San Diego Bay sourdough starter; after about four months of inactivity the refrigerator, it peaked in activity about 16-20 hours after its second feeding. It was a little bit past peak by the time I used it, but was still had enough power to leaven the focaccia in about 2 hours.

Bubbly sourdough starter

After setting aside 12 ounces of starter for the focaccia, I had about four ounces left to keep in the fridge. I fed this with flour and water (3 ounces each), and used masking tape to label the jar with the date and activation notes, so I know what to expect next time I use it – this is a very handy method if you sometimes neglect the starter for a few months, like me :)

SD Starter Labeled for Storage.

To make the focaccia, I combined 12 ounces sourdough starter with 16.5 ounces (about 3 1/3 cups) flour, 1/4 cup water plus 1 cup milk, warmed to about 105 degrees F, and a generous 1/4 cup olive oil.

A good kitchen scale makes weighing flour fun!

After mixing those ingredients in a stand mixer until well combined, I added about 3/4 of an ounce of onion sprouts (I just eyeballed the volume and weighed them afterward for the measurement, so feel free to use more or less depending on preference for oniony flavor!), and mixed for about 3 more minutes on medium speed, ensuring that the onion sprouts were evenly distributed.

onion sprout focaccia, before rising

I drizzled the bowl with olive oil (don’t be shy – the olive oil is what makes this focaccia spectacular), and turned the dough over to coat it with the oil, then let it rise until doubled in size, about two hours.

Focaccia Dough After Rising

I then turned the dough out onto a parchment lined half-sheet pan, spread and stretched it to cover the bottom of the pan, dimpled it with my fingers, and let it rest for about 20 minutes while heating the oven (with baking stone on the bottom rack) to 450F.

Focaccia before baking

After fifteen minutes in the oven, I lowered the heat to 350F and baked for an additional 20 minutes, until the top was golden. Chuck has declared this to be the best focaccia I’ve ever made, and he should know – while it was cooling, I walked out of the kitchen and folded some laundry, and by the time I came back a corner was missing! I guess the scent of freshly baked bread and roasted onions was too hard to resist!

Onion Sprout Focaccia

To make the focaccia with yeast instead of sourdough starter, use the following ingredients: 1 package (or 1 Tbs) Active Dry Yeast; 4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour; 1 1/4 tsp salt; 1 cup warm water; 1 cup warm milk (105F- 115F); 1/4 olive oil; 3/4 ounces onion sprouts.

Delicious oniony crumb

I’ll be submitting this to YeastSpotting, my favorite online source for bread baking inspiration!

 

 

Adventures In Sourdough VIII: San Diego Bay Sourdough Starter January 3, 2010

Filed under: baking,San Diego,sourdough — Amanda @ 19:37
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Number 20 on my semi-neglected 101 Things list: create a sourdough starter from scratch. Last month, with cool weather and nice breezes flowing in from the bay, I decided the timing was perfect. Eschewing the more complicated-sounding grape-containing starter in my Nancy Silverton book, I looked to The Bread Bible by Rose Levy Beranbaum for guidance.

Mmmm, sourdough

Mmmm, sourdough

The recipe recommends organic rye or whole wheat flour to start off with, as those apparently have the most wild yeast cells already and the least chance of contamination. My supply of rye flour (organic? not sure – got it from the bulk bin at Henry’s) was running low, so I supplemented with some pumpernickel flour (whole-grain rye, essentially) to get up to four ounces flour. To this I added four ounces cold water, then took my measuring cup outside and covered it with plastic wrap.

After two days, I brought the proto-starter inside to start the feeding schedule. The starter did not smell very good at this point – sour and fermented, yes, but not good; in the absence of any visible signs of spoilage I simply blamed the odor on the rye flour and continued with the feeding schedule, throwing away half of the starter and adding 2 ounces each of bread flour and water. The next morning, I was happy to see air bubbles – it might actually be working!

After three days: air bubbles!

I fed it again, with 2 ounces each water and flour, and the next morning I was rewarded with more signs of life – the starter had more than doubled in size overnight, so I was pretty confident that it would soon be viable for baking.

Day four - more rising power!

I fed the starter for three more days, discarding part of the original each time to keep the volume manageable, then poured about 1 cup into a quart-sized jar for refrigerator storage and gave it an extra feeding.

San Diego Bay Starter - ready for refrigeration

I had about 1.5 cups of starter left, so I started a simple bread recipe based on the San Francisco Sourdough recipe in Ed Wood’s Classic Sourdoughs. I added 1 cup flour and 1/2 cup water to the starter, then let it rise for about 4 hours at room temperature, at which point it had doubled in size:

Bread dough after initial rise

I then dissolved 1.5 teaspoons salt in 1 cup water, added this to the dough, and then mixed in 3 cups of flour one at a time. I then kneaded in one more cup of flour, and formed two round boules:

Sourdough Boules, after kneading & shaping

I let the loaves rise for about two hours before slashing and baking at 400°F, spritzing the oven three times in the first five minutes of baking to help the crust formation. After about 45 minutes, success! The first loaves from my new sourdough culture were complete!

Sourdough bread from new starter

 

Adventures In Sourdough VII: Sweet Potato Bread October 25, 2009

Filed under: baking,bread,sourdough — Amanda @ 15:48
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Sweet Potato Sourdough fresh from the oven!

Sweet Potato Sourdough fresh from the oven!

It had been a while since I used my sourdough starters, so I recently spent two consecutive weekends nursing them back to health and baking some bread. The first week, I made a no-frills slow-rise white bread, but last weekend I made something a little bit more exotic – sweet potato bread! The recipe I used is called “Pumpkin Bread” in the La Brea Bakery Bread cookbook, which admits to the intentional misnomer because “pumpkin bread” is more marketable than “yam bread”. (I remain utterly confused as to whether I’m technically using sweet potatoes or yams, but I’m going with my personal convention: dark orange = sweet potato, yellow = yam.)

IMG_3810This is actually the first time I’ve used the Breads from the La Brea Bakery book (I’ve probably had it for eight years or so!), partially because I have so many bread cookbooks (but I still really do need the ones on my Amazon wishlist!), and partially because I’ve finally become confident enough in my sourdough bread-baking to improvide freely where the sometime complex recipes don’t quite work for me (or even just to take a shortcut!).

"Pumpkin" Bread recipe from Breads from the La Brea Bakery

"Pumpkin" Bread from Breads from the La Brea Bakery

This recipe, for example, called for roasted pumpkin seeds and wheat germ – I didn’t have those on hand, so I just ignored them. Also, my starter reched peak activity a few hours before I was ready to bake, so I took the amount of starter called for in the recipe and borrowed some of the water and white flour called for in the recipe to feed the starter and keep it happy until I was ready to use it.

Very Active Sourdough Starter

Very Active Sourdough Starter

My variation of the “Pumpkin” Bread went thusly:

1) 8 ounces active starter; add 4 ounces cold water and 4 ounces bread flour; let stand several hours at room temperature

2) Oven roast 2 medium sweet potatoes at 400 degrees F for one hour; cool, peel and mash; measure 10 ounces for use in the bread, make sure they are room temperature or cooler before continuing.

Mashed Sweet Potatoes

Mashed Sweet Potatoes

3) Combine 7 ounces whole wheat flour, 14 ounces bread flour, and one teaspoon ground cumin in a mixing bowl (you should also add one tablespoon salt to this mixture, but I forgot and had to knead it in later).

Weighing whole wheat and bread flours

Weighing whole wheat and bread flours

4) Combine starter mixture, 8 ounces cold water, and mashed sweet potatoes. Add flour mixture one cup at a time, mixing thoroughly.

Mixing in the flour

Mixing in the flour

5) When too thick to mix by hand, transfer to kneading surface and knead in the rest of the flour, adding more if necessary. If you forgot to add the salt earlier, sprinkle it over the kneading surface and work it in now (it’s non-ideal, but it works!).

the kneaded dough Dough after kneading

6) Put dough in lightly-greased bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate overnight (the book says 6-10 hours, but I think mine was refrigerated for about 14 hours and still turned out well).

Dough after proofing overnight

Dough after proofing overnight

7) Divide the dough into three pieces, deflate, and form into rounds; let rest 15 minutes.

unevenly separated dough, resting

unevenly separated dough, resting

8 ) Form rounds into ovals, then construct elaborate flour-covered proofing contraption to help loaves retain oval shape during final rise:

"Ovals" rising between loaf pans and towel-rolled kitchen accessories

"Ovals" rising between loaf pans and towel-rolled kitchen accessories

(Alternately, choose an easier shape if you don’t have small oval baskets). I set up my proofing area on my baking peel, covered with a sheet of parchment, for “easy” transfer to the oven. In reality, the loaves were a little too big for that and it wasn’t THAT easy, but I didn’t have to invert the loaves onto the peel before transferring to the oven. I did bake a corner of parchment into the bottom of the smallest loaf, but was easy to avoid parchment-ingestion, so no real harm done!)

9) Let loaves rise for 3-6 hours at room temperature, or 6-10 hours in the refrigerator if you have enough room.

Loaves after proofing

Loaves after proofing

10) Preheat the oven to 500 degrees F at least one hour before baking; I use a baking stone on the lowest rack of my oven. Slash the tops of the loaves, then transfer to the oven; lower the temperature to 450F and spritz the oven with water three times in the first five minutes of baking. After 20 more minutes, rotate the loaves if necessary, then bake an additional 10 minutes and remove from the oven. The loaves will be a lovely roasted orange color (Nancy Silverton, my Los Angeles baking hero, calls it “burnished brown”).

Sweet Potato Bread, finished loaves

Sweet Potato Bread, finished loaves

11) Wait patiently for the loaves to cool, then slice to reveal beautiful crumb, roasted cumin fragrance, and deliciously moist interior. For best results, lightly toast, then slather with butter and sprinkle with sea salt!

Sweet Potato Bread, the Crumb Shot

The Obligatory Crumb Shot

This is my third submission for YeastSpotting at Wild Yeast!

 

Adventures In Sourdough VI: Blueberry Waffles with Whole Wheat Flour April 5, 2009

Filed under: baking,home,sourdough — Amanda @ 20:54
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I used to buy Eggo waffles for breakfast sometimes, but then I actually looked at the ingredients for their “Nutri-Grain Whole Wheat” waffles, and was seriously unimpressed with their whole-wheat content. Since then, whenever I’m craving waffles I make my own, individually wrap them in plastic wrap and store them in the freezer. They’re round just like the Eggos I used to love and can be toasted straight out of the freezer for a quick breakfast or lunch. Last weekend, I decided to take my homemade waffles to a whole new level – it was time for sourdough waffles.

I based my recipe on the Blueberry Waffle recipe in Ed Wood’s World Sourdoughs From Antiquity, but increased the yield to eleven waffles by adding an additional feed and proof cycle. Here’s how I did it:

1) To two cups active culture (100% hydration), add two cups whole wheat flour and one cup water. Proof for 4 hours (or longer depending on culture).

sourdough culture with whole wheat added

sourdough culture with whole wheat added

2) Thaw 2 cups frozen blueberries; drain if desired (I’m ok with purple batter, so I kept the bluejuice). Melt four Tablespoons butter. Add blueberries, butter, and 1 teaspoon salt to proofed sourdough culture.

sourdough cluture with blueberries and butter

sourdough culture with blueberries, butter, and salt

3) Beat 4 eggs and 1/4 cup sugar on high speed until foamy and tripled in size. (The original recipe called for the more traditional separation of eggs – it added egg yolks and sugar directly to the flour mixture and beat the egg whites to soft peaks, but I had just made a genoise cake the day before and realized that I could be slightly lazy and skip the egg separation step. Seemed to work pretty well.) Gently fold the egg mixture into the flour mixture.

Eggs and Sugar, Foamy

eggs and sugar, foamy

4) Dissolve 1/2 teaspoon baking soda in 1 Tablespoon hot water; add to waffle batter and mix gently.

final waffle batter

final waffle batter

5) Add batter to preheated waffle iron and cook to desired level of crispiness. My waffle iron took slighty more than 1/2 cup batter per waffle, and I used a cook time of about 5 minutes per waffle on the highest heat setting. The waffle edges sometimes had an uncooked appearance when there wasn’t enough batter to fill the iron completely; since I was re-toasting my waffles after freezing this was no big deal, but it’s worth making sure the iron is full enough to come in contact with the edges of the waffles when you’re eating them fresh from the iron.

waffle in progress

waffle in progress, not enough batter

6) Eat and enjoy! I’ve had these waffles toasted to untra-crispness with butter, with peanute butter and jelly, and the traditional butter and maple syrup (Grade B, for richest flavor). They’re probably the best waffles I’ve made yet – the sourdough flavor works well with the sweet-tartness of the blueberries and adds a depth of flavor that waffles are usually missing.

Blueberry Whole Wheat Waffle

Blueberry Whole Wheat Waffle

This is my second submission to YeastSpotting, the weekly compendium of blogged breads that is a fantastic source of baking inspiration.

 

Adventures in Sourdough V: More English Muffins February 21, 2009

Filed under: baking,bread,sourdough — Amanda @ 15:50
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English Muffin with Raspeberry Jam

English Muffin with Raspeberry Jam

Before Mom visited last month, she mentioned that she had never made yeast bread from scratch, and also that she thought the idea of a sourdough starter was kind of gross. ‘This cannot be!’ I said, and promised to force teach her to make bread when she visited in January. I had frozen a few of my sourdough English Muffins for her and dad to try, and they were a big hit, so we decided to make another batch to keep us in breakfasts for the rest of the weekend.

Mom kneads the dough

Mom kneads the dough

This time I changed things up by using a different recipe, from the King Arthur Flour 200th Anniversary cookbook, and a different sourdough starter, the second that I activated from the set of Italian starters that Chuck gave me for my birthday. This sourdough starter is more slow-acting than the other, taking about three feedings and a day and a half out of the refrigerator before it becomes fully active. Since the other one is much faster, this one tends to make me nervous that it won’t properly activate, but it’s come through every time so far.

Still kneading - see Mom, this is fun!

Still kneading - see Mom, this is fun!

This recipe also used some baking powder for a little extra leavening power, and I was hoping that helped develop some better nooks and crannies than the first recipe.

Cutting out the muffins

Cutting out the muffins

Since this recipe used the baking powder, it didn’t require an additional rise time after cutting out the muffins, we got to cook them immediately. The instructions were to cook the muffins in a skillet on ten minutes per side, and I decided to use two skillets instead of just one to move the process along more quickly.

My double-burner skillet solution

My double-burner skillet solution

There were two things about these English Muffins that I didn’t like as much as the previous version: we floured the counter a little too much while rolling them out and didn’t let them sit to rise for very long afterward, so the cornmeal didn’t stick to the bottom very well, and I really liked the cornmeal crunch on the first version. The other thing I didn’t like was that the baking powder caused the muffins to dome a little bit during the first part of cooking, and so some of the muffins were a bit pointy-headed, where the previous batch had been more evenly shaped.

the finished muffins

the finished muffins

Other than those minor quibbles, these muffins also turned out really well. They were more sour than the previous batch, which is a characteristic of the slower sourdough starter, and the baking powder method did seem to improve the nooks-and-crannies factor. The other key to getting good nooks and crannies seems to be fork-splitting the muffins (poke a fork into the side of the muffin, then rotate slightly and poke again, continuing around the muffin until the top and bottom halves have separated).

toasted muffin, fork-split for good nooks and crannies

toasted muffin, fork-split for good nooks and crannies

 

Adventures in Sourdough IV: English Muffins January 24, 2009

Filed under: baking,bread,sourdough — Amanda @ 17:32
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Sourdough English Muffins

Sourdough English Muffins

Chuck and I are big fans of homemade “Egg McMuffins” and I recently bought some English Muffin Rings from King Arthur,  so these were high on the sourdough to-do list. It was the first time I’ve made homemade english muffins of any sort, and also the first time I’d refrigerated my starter for more than a week between uses, so I was ready for adventure when I tried these out.

I took the starter (it’s approx. 100% hydration) out the fridge in the evening and fed it, and was happy to see that it had become active overnight.

sourdoigh starter just after feeding

sourdough starter just after feeding

starter after overnight activation

starter after overnight activation

I’m really fond of the two quart measuring cup that I got recently – between the graduations on the cup and a piece of masking tape to mark the initial level of starter/dough, it’s really easy to see exactly how the dough has changed in volume.

I was using the recipe from Ed Wood’s Classic Sourdoughs as a guide, and with the help of his “Consistency Template” in an appendix I was able to convert the recipe, which called for 1/2 cup of sponge (stiffer) starter into a recipe for my liquid starter – it’s quite a handy feature of the book! For the initial rise, I took 3/4 c of my activated starter and mixed it with 7oz of flour and 6 oz of water, then let it sit for about five hours:

starter, flour, water

starter, flour, water

five hours later, ready for the final ingredients

five hours later, ready for the final ingredients

At this point, I added a cup of warm milk with 3Tbs melted butter, some salt, and four more cups of flour; then I kneaded the dough and cut it into circles using one of my English Muffin rings.

proto-muffins, at start of final rise

proto-muffins, at start of final rise

I put them onto cornmeal-covered parchment and let them rise for about an hour (they probably could have gone longer, but I was a bit time-crunched, and they ended up with some skillet-spring, so it all worked out in the end).

slightly puffy, one hour later

slightly puffy, one hour later

Cooking the muffins actually took quite a while – I don’t have the recommended electric skillet, and I didn’t want to bake them (feeling that a skillet would be more authentic), so I could only cook four or five at a time in our largest skillet. The instructions were to brown the bottoms for two minutes at 400 degrees, then turn the muffins over to cook the tops at 325 for 8 minutes, and then flip again to cook the bottoms for 6 minutes over the lower temperature. Without the tempurature control an electric skillet offers, I pretty much guessed at the temperature ranges and adjusted my gas burner flame frequently, so my muffins are rather unevenly browned.

first batch of muffins, bottoms lightly browned

first batch of muffins, bottoms lightly browned

muffin tops, lightly browned

muffin tops, lightly browned

After flipping the first batch of muffins for the final time, I was excited – they actually look like English Muffins! As soon as the last muffins finished (it took a little over an hour of muffin-flipping to get through them all), I sliced one of the cooler muffins and served it lightly toasted with butter and salt as an afternoon snack – yum! They don’t quite have the same nooks and crannies as the ones we get at the store (probably baking soda acheives that better than sourdough for these guys, but that’s another experiment altogether!), but they were fabulously tasty and the cornmeal crunch helps make them seem english muffin-y. The best part is, the recipe makes enough to enjoy for a few days AND freeze for later, so we still have some left to enjoy.

Another batch, better-browned than the first

another batch, better-browned than the first

Check out Yeastspotting at Wild Yeast for other fabulous baking ideas! This is my first submission, but I’m looking forward to adding more as my Adventures In Sourdough continue!

 

Adventures in Sourdough III: Pizza December 19, 2008

Sourdough pizza was actually Chuck’s ulterior motive in buying sourdough startes for my birthday, and I, armed with newly purchased Italian-style flour from King Arthur, was happy to oblige. I made pizza on the same weekend as the sourdough pitas, so my starter was active and ready to bake. The recipe in the booklet that came with my Italian starter called for an entire kilo of flour to make six thin-crust pizzas; since we were only going to have pizza for dinner for two nights I meant to make only 2/3 of a recipe, but I forgot to scale my measurements and ended up making the whole thing (and we got to have pizza for an extra night!).

The Italian 00 flour (which I ended up using nearly all of with just this one recipe) was ultra-silky to the touch. The King Arthur version is also low protein (8.5%), but I did some research afterward and learned that the numeric rating for Italian flours actually refers to the grind. “00” is the finest grind, and it actually comes in diverse protein levels – I saw one online with 11.5%, similar to an all-purpose flour, and I have no idea what the protein level is of the brand that I found at a local Italian deli (hooray for living in Little Italy!).

Here, the giant blob of about-to-be-kneaded sits on my kneading mat. It was very soft, and although it got more elastic as I kneaded, I suspect that I should have kneaded it even more.

pizza dough, before kneading

pizza dough, before kneading

After one proofing once, the dough for the two pizzas we made on the first night was shaped and left out to proof again. (The dough for the other pizzas was put into the refrigerator imediately after kneading to keep it from over-proofing.)

after kneading and rising, the dough was formed into rounds (proto-pizzas!)

after kneading and rising, the dough was formed into rounds (proto-pizzas!)

After stretching the dough into shape and proofing again, we started topping the pizzas – since these were thin crust pizzas, a light hand with the toppings worked well. Here we used light layers of pepperoni and fresh mozzarella (dry thoroughly first if using water-packed cheese!), plus roasted garlic and drained canned tomatoes.

fresh mozzerella, pepperoni, roasted garlic

toppings: fresh mozzarella, pepperoni, roasted garlic, tomatoes

We then put on the final touches – parmesan cheese and herbs – and put the pizza in the oven – heated to 500 degrees F, with baking stone.

after sprinkling with parmesan - ready for the oven

after sprinkling with parmesan and herbs - ready for the oven

One of the key things we learned about this dough is that it’s very delicate after shaping and proofing. the first night, we didn’t think to shape the pizzas on parchment, and the second round ended up sticking too it’s rising surface too much to be transferred to the baking peel. It had to undergo an emergency re-shaping, and the texture of the baked pizza suffered as a result. The second evening (when we baked all four remaining pizzas), we let the pizzas rise on parchment, and then transferred the parchment to the stone along with the pizza. This worked well – with the caveat that it’s important to trim the parchment to just about the same size as the pizza; otherwise the corners of the parchment will start to singe and you’ll be on oven-fire-watch until the pizza has finished baking. (Or perhaps a Super Peel would solve my pizza transfer problems…hmmm, it would be sad if my current peel had an unfortunate accident…)

Here’s the pizza from the first night that turned out well – the crust was thin and wonderfully crispy, with a little chewiness at the edges.

Baked to crispy perfection!

Baked to crispy perfection!

We had a lot of fun making the pizzas, despite the frustrations with the fragile crusts. Chuck made a barbecue chicken pizza that turned out really well, and I made a delicious one with kalamata olives and sundried tomatoes. Chuck actually prefers a chewier crust for his pizzas, so next time we do sourdough pizza it will probably be from a different recipe, but I’m looking forward to getting another bag of 00 flour and giving this another try.

 

 
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