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Hot English Muffins – the sourdough variety!

This is not my recipe. Not in the slightest. The full credit for this goes to Susan from Wild Yeast. Nevertheless, breakfast perfection has been achieved and it is my sworn duty to report such wins to you!

Sourdough hot English muffins with scrambled eggs. Just what the doctor ordered.

[ Makes: 8 | Time: 24 hours | Cost: $4 ]
[ Joes Rating: 4 / 5 | My Rating: 4.5 / 5 ]

Ingredients – Sponge

110 g starter
160 g plain flour
100 g wholemeal flour
275 ml soy milk

Final dough

75 g plain flour
1.5 teaspoon agave or ½ teaspoon stevia
1  teaspoon bicarbonate soda
¾ teaspoon salt

Polenta to sprinkle

Method

  1. Mix the sponge ingredients together. Cover the bowl with cling wrap and allow to rest overnight.

    Cover and rest

  2. Add the final dough ingredients and mix to incorporate. Turn out on a clean bench and mix by hand. The dough is very sticky, but resist the urge to add more flour. The mixture will thicken up after a lot of kneading – about 8 – 10 minutes.

    When you start to knead, the dough will be extremely sticky. Resist the urge to add flour!

  3. Use a bread scraper to get the dough off the bench and sprinkle with flour.

    The dough will still be sticky but it will be usable.

  4. Flatten the dough on the floured bench until it is about an inch thick. Use a cutter or a glass to cut out the muffins. Dust the outsides of the muffin with polenta.
  5. Cover and let proof for an hour or three.
  6. Heat a frying pan with a little oil over a low to medium heat. Cook for about 8 minutes on each side, turning regularly to maintain shape.
  7. Cool on a wire rack. To use, slit the muffins with a fork and toast until golden.

    before and after toasting.

Observations

  • I’ve made these several times now with mixed results. Take my advice; don’t allow the sponge to rest for more than overnight. It fails to rise when it’s rested for more. Make sure you allow it the second rest period after its been shaped.
  • Diabetic Note: There is nothing too evil here. Treat it like you do bread – one or two slices is allowable. More will wreak havoc with your blood glucose levels.
  • Ethical Note: Sourdough – enough said 🙂

I mentioned the bread scraper. It is a firm but flexible piece of plastic that is excellent for scraping bowls and manipulating dough. If you are getting aboard the sourdough train, make sure you get yourself one.

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Carrot Sourdough Muffins

I have made this so many times lately that I thought it deserved sharing. They have become a bit of a staple in the house for morning and afternoon tea treats. This is a delicious way of using up your sourdough starter and although it has a lot of elements, it is so easy. It is adapted from a Richard Packham recipe.

[  SERVES: 2  |  TIME: 40 MINUTES  |  COST: $3  ]
[  JOES’ RATING:  4.5  / 5  |  MY RATING:  5  / 5 ]

Ingredients

1½ cup plain flour
1 cup grated carrot
1 cup active sourdough starter
½ cup brown sugar
½ cup raisins
½ cup graduated sugar OR 1 teaspoon stevia
¼ cup butter
¼ cup milk OR soy milk
¼ cup chopped walnuts
1 free ranged egg
2 teaspoons baking soda
½ teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
¼ teaspoon all spice
¼ teaspoon salt

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C.
  2. Grate your carrot finely. If you can only use a coarse setting, boil it lightly for a few minutes until its par cooked. Allow it to cool before using it.
  3. In a bowl, cream the butter and the sugar together until it becomes pale. This will take several minutes.
  4. Add the egg and milk and mix well.
  5. Add the starter, flour, baking soda, spices and salt. Incorporate your dry ingredients into the egg mixture gently. Do not overwork the batter.
  6. Gently stir through the carrots, raisins and nuts.
  7. Half fill your muffin papers.
  8. Cook at 180ºC for 16 – 18 minutes.

Observations

  • It is really really important not to over work the batter. If you give it the bare minimum of work, your muffins will be lighter and fluffier. If you use a blender, your muffins will turn into stones. A gentle hand is needed for this one!
  • I use to cook the carrots but now I use finer grated raw carrots and it tastes so much better. Be guided by your grater size / thickness.
  • When baking, put a bowl of water in the oven so it is moist with steam. This will stop your muffins from drying out.
  • There is a fine line with this recipe between deliciously moist to overcooked and dry. Test it with a knife tip or a skewer from 15 minutes and adjust cooking time to suit your oven.
  • I have tried all manner of fruit and nuts in this mixture. I’ve used almonds and macadamia nuts as well as sultanas and cranberries. What I have mentioned in the ingredients list was my favourite combination.
  • Diabetic Note: I use Stevia where possible. It is a natural substance that is sweet without causing a blood glucose reaction. I use Stevia here to replace half a cup of sugar to my benefit without ruining the texture of the muffins. As a result, I can have one or two of these for morning or afternoon tea without feeling too guilty. Certainly it doesn’t seem to upset my BGL too much.
  • Ethical Note:  I found it to be almost impossible to buy Australian walnuts in the supermarket but the health food store had a few options. Where possible, I purchase locally, but sometimes national options are the only possible ethical option.

 

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Sourdough Chapatis (Flat Bread)

I recently stumbled upon this wonderful recipe on The Sourdough Companion that makes a wonderful flat bread with leftover starter. I decided to give it a go yesterday morning with some delicious results. I served it with some crispy free ranged bacon and a sliced up omelette for a delicious breakfast treat.

[  SERVES: 4  |  TIME: 60 MINUTES  |  COST: $1  ]
[  JOES’ RATING:  4  / 5  |  MY RATING:  5  / 5 ]

Ingredients for Chapatis

¾ cup flour
¾ cup sourdough starter
¼ cup tepid water
1 teaspoon olive oil

Method

  1. Mix all ingredients in a bowl until a good texture is achieved. Turn out and knead lightly on an oiled bench. Shape into a ball and coat in a little oil before resting in an oiled bowl covered with a wet cloth for 30 minutes.
  2. Preheat a frying pan with a tiny dash of oil.
  3. Quarter your dough mixture on your oiled bench and using your hands, shape into flat rounds. Take care to avoid tearing the dough.
  4. Cook the chapatis in the frying pan until it is golden brown and bubbling up from the heat. This will take a few minutes on each side. Prepare the next chapatis while one cooks.
  5. Serve it hot or cold.

Observations

  • These were really good. I was able to roll them up to make a wrap out of my breakfast and yet they were still fairly crispy at times.
  • Keep them thin to avoid a doughy texture to them but take care not to tear the dough when stretching it.
  • Don’t have sourdough? You could probably make this by adding an extra ¼ – ½ cup of each flour and water to the dough. It doesn’t have much rise (if any) but you could add some yeast (perhaps half a satchel) to the tepid water for five minutes before mixing in.
  • I loved these hot but they were still good cold.
  • Joe took the left overs to work and heated them up with some left over pasta sauce. He said they tasted like an awesome pizza and he gave that a 5 / 5.
  • Try to keep your dough in a circle large enough (or small enough) to be accommodated easily in your pan. I found that over laps up the side did not cook well and made it difficult to turn at half time.
  • Diabetic Note: *Insert heavenly music here* Despite the flour, fellow diabetics, this dish did not blow the carb budget! I was close to blowing my Blood Glucose Levels, but I was definitely under by a few points and my serving was generous. This is well worth the effort, in my not so humble opinion.
  • Ethical Note: YAY. Another wonderful method of utilising my sourdough starter leftovers and avoiding ecologically damaging mass production. The closer and closer I get to avoiding supermarket shopping entirely, the happier I am.
 

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Basic Sourdough Bread

Over the last few months, I’ve tries more sourdough bread recipes than I care to admit. A few I have loved but most were terrible. The recipe I am about to share with you though has proven to be a winner time and time again and is now my basic daily bread recipe. It is adapted from Mr Ciabatta‘s recipe from the sourdough forums.

This is a standard white loaf made to this recipe. It is garnished with sesame seeds for presentation (and taste).

This is a standard white loaf made to this recipe. It is garnished with sesame seeds for presentation (and taste). It is served here with home made sweet pickle brinjal.

[ MAKES: 1 x 800g loaf or 6 rolls |  TIME: 24 hours  |  COST: $2-3  ]
[  JOES’ RATING: 4 / 5  |  MY RATING: 4 / 5 ]

Ingredients

400 grams white organic flour
200 grams water
150 grams sourdough starter
7 grams salt
5 grams bread improver (any brand from the supermarket)

Both of these breads were made using this basic recipe. The left one is a wholemeal version while the right one is a nut version. (See variation below for more info)

Method

  1. In a blender with a kneading tool, mix the starter, water, salt and bread improver for a minute until well mixed.
  2. Add in the flour and mix well. Knead for several minutes until warm and sticky.
  3. Place the dough in an oiled bowl and cover with cling wrap.
  4. Allow the dough to rest for 12 hours before folding. To fold the dough, pick up one side and bring it up over the top of itself. Turn the bowl a quarter turn and do the same. Keep repeating until all sides have been folded over the top. Allow the dough to rest for another few hours.
  5. Fold the dough again and shape into loaf shape. Place in an oiled bread tin and allow to rest for another 10 hours covered loosely with cling wrap or a wet tea towel.
  6.  Bake at 190°C for 30 minutes. Turning the bread out and baking upside down at 175°C for an additional 15 minutes.

If you want to have a perfect loaf of bread, you have to observe the rest periods. Shaping the loaf and then proofing in the baking tray is a vital step in the process and can not be rushed. I leave mine over night.

My sourdough starter is made with organic white and rye flour at a 50% hydration.

Variations and Additions

I have tried a great deal of variations to this basic recipe and most have been a sensational hit. Below are some of my proven variations.

  • 2 – 3 tablespoons of each sunflower, flax, poppy and pumpkin seeds
  • 2 – 3 tablespoons of each diced apricots, sultanas, cranberries, 2 tablespoons of maple syrup and 2 teaspoons of cinnamon
  • Combinations of the two above
  • 100 g wholemeal flour, 300 g white organic flour (instead of 400 g white organic)
  • 100 g organic rye flour, 300 g white organic flour (instead of 400 g white organic)
  • 75 g flax meal and 50 g flax seed (reduce the white flour by 75 g roughly)
  • ½ cup trail mix
These are some Id like to try:
  • 50 – 100 grams of oats and ¼ cup of honey
  • grated apple, brown sugar and cinnamon
  • Grated cheese and mixed herbs
  • Garlic and mixed herbs

Hot plain white loaf, straight from the oven. Note the fluffiness of the loaf by the holes.

Before I bake the loaf, I always like to sprinkle something on top. For presentation and taste, try:

This dough was made using this recipe with the addition of fruit, nuts, cinnamon and nutmeg. It is pictured here during its first rest. It will soon need to be shaped and rested in a loaf pan overnight. By this stage, it has doubled in size but requires more rising.

Observations

  • There is nothing so fantastic as making your own bread
  • I usually make the dough the first thing in the morning and bake it the following morning. (I shape the dough before I go to bed so when I wake up all I have to do is bake it). This timing has allowed us to have hot fresh bread every day for the last week or two!
  • If you don’t have a blender with a dough attachment, you can work this dough by hand. I suspect it would take a good 20 minutes of kneading til it is warm and sticky.
  • This dough has not failed me once. It is always fluffy, light and delicious.
  • Diabetic Note: Lets just not discuss this yet. I LOVE this bread so much but it seriously has issues with my blood glucose levels. I am still trying to work out how much I can have AND keep my bloods happy. Its a work in progress…
  • Ethical Note: I only use organic flours. You cant expect sensational results by using crappy, bleached and over processed flour. Organic flour is not only great for you, but is also sensational for the environment. If money allows, seek out stone-ground whole flours as they are better for your digestive system. Be warned though, heavy whole flours make heavy bread so need to be used in lesser amounts (one third whole grain flour to two thirds white).

Sourdough is a slow process. It is called natures leaven as it uses the natural yeast from the sourdough starter to rise. These bubbles are formed through the sourdough fermentation process. Don’t rush this process or your bread will flop.

Hot delicious bread for breakfast with toasted nuts. What could be better?

 

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Flax Seed Sourdough Bread

This has become my favourite bread. The recipe originally Dr. Ed Wood’s second book, “Classic Sourdoughs : A Home Baker’s Handbook“, but is reprinted on the Sourdough Home.

[  MAKES: 8 – 12 rolls or 1 x 1kg loaf + 4 rolls  |  TIME: 36 hours  |  COST: $4  ]
[  JOES’ RATING: 3.5  / 5  |  MY RATING: 4  / 5 ]

Ingredients

4 – 5 cups white, unbleached flour 2 cups sourdough starter  2 tbsp sunflower seeds ¼ cup flax seeds 1 tbsp poppy seeds ½ cup flax meal 1¼ cups cold water ½ tbsp salt ¼ cup olive oil ¼ cup honey

Method

  1. In a dry warm skillet, toast the sunflower, flax, and poppy seeds until fragrant.
  2. Mix the starter, water, oil and honey together before stirring in the seeds. Add the flax meal and salt, mixing well.
  3. Add the flour one cup at a time until the dough is too thick to stir.
  4. Pour the dough onto a floured work surface and knead until the dough is resilient. The dough is a rather sticky dough, but it’s important not to over-flour the dough.
  5. Once the dough is well kneaded, rest it over night in an oiled bowl, covered with a moist tea towel.
  6. In the morning, deflate the dough, knead briefly, cut and shape into rough loaves or rolls.
  7. Let the dough rest, covered by a moist tea towel, for 30 minutes. Shape into final loaves or rolls.
  8. Let rise, covered, until doubled. This may take up to 18 hours.
  9. Preheat the oven to 190°C. Bake 30 to 45 minutes.

Observations

  • This dough takes time to proof and rest to get good rise. Dont rush the proofing process or you will end up with a heavy flat bread.
  • As we like the heaviness and texture of wholemeal, I use one cup of wholemeal flour in before adding the white flour.
  • Careful not to burn the seeds. If you do scorch them, discard them and start again. Don’t use them or they will taint your dish.
  • Diabetic Note: One or two slices of this doesn’t seem to upset my blood glucose levels too much. The danger for me is to dig in when its hot and super awesome!
  • Ethical Note: Choose quality organic flour for quality bread results. Good for you, and good for the earth.

 

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Lamb Calzone with Mint Yoghurt Sauce

O. M. G!

Perfection has been achieved. No, seriously… perfection. Flavourful, light, flaky, crunchy, smooth and possibly a gift from the gods type perfection. This was a lot of work but was an award winner. Let me share it with you (or Narf77 may kill me)!

[  Serves: 4  |  TIME: <10 HOURS  |  COST: $8  ]
[  JOES’ RATING: 5  / 5  |  MY RATING: 5  / 5  |  Brittanys Rating:  5  /  5  ]

Ingredients

Filling

500 g lamb mince
1 bunch spinach
1 red onion
1 punnet cherry tomatoes
2 cups cheese (feta, tasty, pecorino)
4 cloves garlic
1 tablespoon rosemary
Salt and pepper to taste

Dough: Adapted from A Bread a Day

1 ½ cups warm water
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 ½ teaspoons salt
2 cups wholemeal flour
2 cups white flour
1 cup sourdough starter

Sauce: Copied From Recipe Tips

1 cup plain yoghurt
½  cup fresh mint leaves
1 clove small garlic
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
salt and pepper to taste

Method

  1. To prepare the dough, mix ¾ of the flour and water together until to difficult to stir. Turn out and knead until the dough is sticky and elastic. Cover the bowl loosely with plastic wrap.  Let the dough rest for 15 to 20 minutes.
  2. Remove the plastic wrap, and add the oil, salt, remaining flour, and starter.  Mix. If the dough looks very wet, add more flour by tablespoons only as needed.  Once desired consistency has been reached, continue knead until dough has been kneaded for a total of 5 to 6 minutes. Place the dough out into a large lightly oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place for 1 – 4 hours.
  3. After resting, remove plastic wrap, slide a large spatula under one side of the dough, and gently fold it over the centre.  Do the same for the opposite side (imagine you’re folding a letter into thirds).  Then, turn the bowl 90º, and fold the dough in half over itself (as though you’re folding the letter in half).  Cover bowl with plastic wrap, and let rise until doubled, 1 – 4 hours or so.
  4. While your dough is proofing, prepare your fillings. Carefully cut the stems from the spinach leaves. The stems are too hard for this dish, so just use the green leafy parts. Lightly boil it until wilted – just a few minutes. Drain it and gently squeeze the water from the leaves.
  5. In a frying pan, sauté the onions, garlic and rosemary until fragrant. Add the lamb mince and cook until brown. Set aside and allow to cool.
  6. After the dough has had enough time to proof, divide dough into 4 sections, covering the pieces not being used.  Depending on the consistency of your dough, you may or may not be able to roll these crusts out.  If you can, form dough into balls, and roll each out on lightly floured surface to a 9 inch circle.  If your dough is too loose and sticky to roll, simply press and stretch each piece into a rough 9 inch circle.  Either way is fine.  Carefully transfer dough rounds onto prepared baking sheets.
  7. On one half of the dough circle, layer your ingredients leaving a 3cm border around the outside. Carefully spread the spinach first, then layer the lamb mixture on top. Finish by adding cherry tomatoes and some cheese. Fold the other half over, and use your hands to fold the sides to seal the ingredients like a pocket. Use a knife point to place a few slices into the calzone to allow the steam to escape.
  8. Bake calzones in a moderate oven for 15 minutes, or until well-browned.
  9. While the calzones are cooking, make y our yoghurt sauce. Finely shred the mint leaves and mix all ingredients.
  10. Let cool slightly before cutting and serving.

Observations

  • This was so good. It’s definitely the best thing I’ve made in a long time. When I said I was going to share it with you, I lied! There were actually fights about who got the last one! (For the record, Joe and I shared it.)
  • We all loved this mint sauce. It was soooo very good, and so simple to make. Don’t go to all this work and cut corners on this delightful sauce!
  • When you serve it, give it a good squeeze of lemon juice to freshen it up and enhance the lamb flavours.
  • We all had different cheeses which definitely put in different flavours. I had  Nimbin Valley Dairys Lillian Goats Feta. Joe had some Romano Pecorino from  Bangalow Cheese Co. Brittany had regular tasty cheese. The cheese was always generously applied.
  • Diabetic Note: I must admit I didn’t check my blood glucose levels after this meal, but I anticipate that they were slightly elevated or ok. Although its pastry, look how thin I roll it.
  • Ethical Note: Lamb is a much better option for the environment when compared to beef or fish.
 

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Sourdough Starter

I’ve written this starter recipe out a few times in the comments sections on various posts now so I’ve decided to do it in a post so that its more accessible for people. There is something very wholesome about making your own baked goods. Its fun, rewarding, challenging and profitable. I wont bother going into the health benefits or the science behind sourdough as there is so much available on the internet about such topics.

There are many versions of sourdough starters on the net; potato starter, wholemeal / whole wheat starter, white starter, plum and grape starters – the list is long and exhaustive. While researching starters, I spent the better part of the summer looking to various internet sites for the right starter for me until I got this one.

I’d love to be able to give someone credit for this recipe, cause I sure didn’t invent it. After three failed starter attempts, the starter I am about to describe has worked a treat for me and given me superb results. Unfortunately, I can’t remember where it actually came from though, but the actual recipe is probably as old as the hills.

This start container has ample room for the starter to grow and is protected from wild yeast by a shower cap / bowl cover. This photo was taken about 5 hours post feeding and has doubled (risen) in size - note all the bubbles indicating an active healthy starter?

Ingredients

50 g Rye Flour
50 g White Flour
100 g Water

Method

  • Mix the above ingredients well and place into a container covered by some cheese cloth or other breathable material. I use a loose-fitting shower cap style bowl cover (photo above)
  • Find a nice spot in your kitchen for your sourdough to sit. It will need to be in a warm spot free of drafts. Mine sits on my south-facing kitchen window.

A room with a view: My sourdough starter, sprouts and indoor herbs sit on a south-facing window sill. In the southern hemisphere, this position gets limited early morning direct sunlight, reducing the risk of over activation, drying out or scorching.

  • Every 12 hours, give your sourdough a vigorous stir. In a few days, you will notice bubbles forming that aren’t from the stirring. This is the tell-tale signs of your starter coming to life.
  • Once the bubbles have been observed, its time to feed your sourdough. You always want to feed it enough to double its weight. As we started with 100 g (total) flour and 100 g water, its time to add that same weight (200 g total between flour and water) to our starter. Mix 100 g of water into your starter followed by 50 g white flour and 50 g rye flour. Mix well and let it rest.

An active sourdough culture should be light, bubbly, and have a yeasty smell about it.

  • After this initial feed, you want to reduce your starter by a cup or so before each feed. Just ensure that you leave at least 1 cup of starter in your jar at all times to keep your starter going. Depleting it further than this point will weaken it and may cause the cultures to die. You can use the discarded cup or two of start in breads, pizza crusts, muffins, scrolls and pancakes. If you do not remove this starter each feed, you will soon have enough starter to fill a swimming pool. Also consider this; you must feed it enough weight to double which will soon become too costly to feed!

Sourdough pancakes are a sensational way of using up your discarded cup or two of starter culture.

Observations

  • A healthy active starter that is sitting at room temperature will require feeding every 12 – 24 hours. You will notice a pattern in your starter over time. Within an hour of feeding, my starter begins to grow. Within four or five hours, it will come close to doubling in size before deflating as all of the food is consumed by your starter culture. When this occurs, its time to feed it again, however, I find morning and night feeds is sufficient.
  • Quality flours produce quality products. If you are going to go to all this trouble, don’t cut corners. I use organic, unbleached flours that are stone ground where possible. They do cost a bit more, but the end results are worth it. (IGA Organic White Flour is about A$3 / kilo while Fundamental Foods Organic Stone Ground Rye is about A$5 / kilo. I use a kilo of each in the starter every two weeks. (Sidenote: Since switching to the rye flour, I’ve had no problems at all. I think it is worth its weight for this sort of thing.) (Pro Tip! to save time, mix 1 kg Rye with 1 kg organic white flour and store in a container. The 50% / 50% flour mixture can just be measured straight, saving time.

Quality flours create quality products.

  • If your sourdough doesn’t appear to be active after three or four days, discard it and try again. If your sourdough doesn’t appear to be active after two attempts, change flour brands.
  • I would not use the discarded sourdough starter until it has stabilised. This may take a week or two. When your sourdough is predictable, its good to use!
  • If you are going away, put your sourdough in the fridge. This will put it in a dormant state until you are home again. Slowly bring back to room temperature, stir, and resume normal feeding.
  • Remember, you want to double its weight each feeding – don’t cut corners or you will starve your culture to death. Learn to weigh your starter. To do this, get to know the weight of your container. Total container / starter weight of 400 g less container weight 100 g gives you 300 g starter. To feed this, add 150 g water, 75 g Rye and 75 g White Flour. This is sufficient to double the starters weight, giving it ample food for growth!

These delicious cinnamon scrolls were made with a sourdough starter. Note how much they grew in just 120 minutes? There is no yeast in that dough - just some precious sourdough starter.

  • After feeding, don’t forget to scrape down the sides of your container. This will stop mould growing in warmer, more moist conditions. Also, change your container every three or four days.
  • When choosing a container to house your starter, consider that you will be feeding it (doubling its weight and volume) and it can rise by as much as 150% in hot weather. Make sure you have enough room in your container for this to occur.

Look how light and airy this bread is! Who would have thought it was possible with wholemeal bread? Sourdough no knead bread magic!

  • Final note of importance: Try to not use cup measurements. Weight and volume are not the same. You want to have equal portions by weight, not volume. By volume, your starter will become too watery and will not be able to hold its weight or raise bread. Weight, dear friends, is the road to sourdough heaven.
  • I know it all seems daunting and probably a tad overwhelming at the start, but trust me – once you get started it’s an addictive process that you will just love. It’s a happy part of my morning chores. I wake up, and feed my living dependent things – the cat, the garden (water), my sprouts and sourdough. So satisfying! AHHH its good to be alive!
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