my bread babies

It has been two years that I started to bake bread. I have not bought store-sold breads since then.

First many trials were not so good (except the first oe below, which was amazing to me!), but it eventually came around.

Then I got into sourdough and boy, what a magnificent experience it has been: every weekend with great excitement I baked a loaf or two, shared it with my neighbors, and friends, and I even shared my starter with someone interested in. It sure makes me happy and joyful.

Happy baking! 🙂

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My first ever bread! (with commercial yeast and whole wheat flour – two years ago today:)))))

Spiderman sourdough :)

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Spiderman is here!!!! 🙂

Does it not look like the face of Spiderman – one of my favorite characters? 🙂

This loaf was the last and the best one I baked with multigrain bread flour.

FYI – I cannot recommend the multigrain bread flour – it does not rise much. If you are looking for better crumb, either have a warmer place to proof the dough (my kitchen is around 17C during winter and I am not patient enough to wait too long), or use the old, good plain bread flour.

This loaf contains:

  • 1 1/3 cup whole wheat starter/levain
  • 2.5 cups of water
  • 4 cups of multi-grain bread flour and 2 cups of all purpose flour (i had run out of bread and multi-grain flour)
  • 2.5 tbs sugar
  • 2 tbs salt

Everything is mixed and I stretched and folded it 4-5 times before I left it to rise overnight at room temperature; these happened yesterday evening

This morning I shaped it and placed in a mixing bowl upside down and left for proofing in the oven for 5.5 hours

Baked at 350F oven (non-prehetaed) for an hour

Delicious!

Sunday sourdough

I was trying to find the ways to reduce the proofing time lately: one thing I have tried in the last two weeks is proofing the dough in an oven (not turned or warmed up; no lights , either) to see whether this relatively temperature-wise stable environment would help reduce it. 

This dough was only proved for 3 hours (in contrast to my usual 4-6 hours proofing). It was almost flat when I placed it on the parchment paper and scored. But there was a great oven spring (just like last week), so it turned out to be just lovely.

I think the in-oven proofing helped. I also think that maybe in the past I was over-proofing my dough..

Of course, the hydration levels of the dough makes a difference in terms of the yeast activity – this was a slightly sticky dough. This may be another reason for the short proof time working with this loaf.

In any way, I am just happy to have this loaf 🙂

 

happy sourdough – III

 

IMG_3460Isn’t it beautiful 🙂

This was the first time that I tried 3 hours of proofing. When I took it out of the shaping bowl and scored, the dough was almost flat. But in the oven it showed a great oven spring and one of the largest air pockets I have ever seen. It even cracked itself on top even though I had slashed it, which tells me that yeast really worked hard this time.

Will continue like this – it has been a great experiment.

butternut squash dessert and weekly sourdough bread

Butternut squash dessert

I found a nice butternut squash the week before. My original aim was to make a hearty soup, but I decided in the last moment to make a dessert with it.

here is the recipe:

  • peel the coating and cut in pieces (mine were around 1-5 cm width and 7 cm length)
  • add 2 cups of sugar, mix
  • add 1.5 tsp salt and 6 cups of water
  • bring to a rolling boil and simmer at medium heat for 40 min
  • add 1.5 tbs lemon juice and boil for another 5 min
  • take the squash bits on an oven pot, add 2 cups of the liquid*, sprinkle with chopped nuts (I have used hazelnut) (optional)
  • bake at 350F pre-heated oven for 20 min**
  • enjoy! (top with a scoop of ice cream if you wish and tell me this was not a good idea 🙂 )

*I have had around 1 liters of the liquid, which is yummy. Drink it as it is, or use less water 

**You can bake longer to thicken the liquid

Sourdough

My sourdough today was kind of sticky dough and as a result did not keep it shape well. But there was oven spring and it looks great 🙂

Saturday morning musings

We are looking at a lovely Saturday again and I cannot help but take my time to enjoy my coffee and the hope that the day may bring 🙂

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I woke up early today which helps with my “taking time” routine. When there are enough hours in front of us, it is easier to relax, is it not?

I have a number of things to do today and I was thinking whether having lots of things to do is a good or a not-so-good idea. At one hand it helps me with boredom (what am I gonna do if there is nothing scheduled?) and on the hand hand it also makes me feel like rushing to start and complete things. Good kind o f stress? I will leave it to you to decide.

Our weather forecast says that we will have a snow storm or something like this today. Canada has been embracing an early winter the way I know and I am not surprised that our shoveling season will be open as of today. Nevertheless, I keep thinking that we would usually not get snow until after January, except last year we have had a couple of snow days in December. I got to remember that through a post of mine from last year – how wonderful that is? Our blogs are serving as a great memory books for us. At least for me. What a magnificent tool.

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I think I just completed 3 years with this blog. What a great evolution I have had; I wrote poems, short stories, ranted, shared great news, reflected a lot, started bread, pickle, and jam adventures all in front of your eyes. I have also got to know some of you through your posts and interactions at the comments area. I learnt, I got inspired to change/improve, and I laughed and sometimes I cried with you. Virtual communities exist and change us in many ways.

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Now it is time for me to start cleaning the home and hopefully start the pickling and jamming 🙂 I will be trying strawberry marmalade today from frozen fruits and I cannot wait to see how it will turn out 🙂

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What else to expect from this snow day?

Have a great Saturday everyone! 🙂

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sourdough loaf with oats and black olives

Here is a fantastic sourdough with a hint of trolled oats and black olives 🙂

This loaf was my first trial of a rectangular shape 🙂 I learnt a while ago that sticky dough do not keep its shape well if does not have enough support. So I used one of my oven pots to prove and bake this loaf.

I would do this loaf again; the crust was thin and soft (the way I love it) and it tasted amazing!

The recipe is similar to others:

  • 1 1/3 cup 100% whole wheat starter (fed Friday night and then on Saturday morning prior to saving half in the fridge; used to make the dough in the afternoon)
  • 2 cups water; mixed the starter and water well with the help of a fork until it became kind of frothy
  • 2.5 tbs sugar; mixed well into the starter/water mix
  • 4.5 cups of bread flour, 1.5 tbs salt, and 200 grms of pitted black olive-halved: (approximately 1.5 cups). Formed a shaggy dough, closed the lid, kneaded every 30 min or so three times until dough looked like forming. At the end of folding stage dough was too sticky (must be the olives’ juice), so I added 1/3 cup of rolled oats to help with the moisture
  • let rest at room temperature over might
  • since it was a kind of sticky dough, I decided to place it in a large rectangular oven pot lined with parchment paper
  • sprinkled top with more oats, placed in a nylon bag, tied the ends, and proved for 4.5 hours at room temperature
  • baked in non-pre-heated oven at 350 F for one hour

my love affair with self-sufficiency

Life is interesting.

I have never been interested in cooking or being self-sufficient.

In the last two years, however, this has change. I still do not like cooking but baking, pickling, and jamming have been awesome. I could not be more excited 🙂

Fermented food

Sourdough: I first became interested in baking bread and I now even have a sourdough starter that makes wonders every week 🙂 I have not purchased any store-made bread since May 2016. I also shared my sourdough and commercial yeast loaves with my fiends. What a joy 🙂

Kefir: I then was gifted by kefir grains within 2017 and i not only fell in love with kefir itself, but I made cheese/spread from it and even used it in baking bread 🙂 Drinking kefir makes me feel good and I know that it gives me the calcium that I need at my age in addition to many nutrients. I am very happy with it 🙂

Pickles: I did pickles before thanks to my mother, but I have never been this interested in it until recently – I love the beet and cabbage pickles I make! I think it is the benefit of living in a cold climate that the pickle lasts long without going bad and this way I always have a jar or two in my kitchen. I made three batches of beet pickles this fall enjoyed by myself and my friends 🙂

Sauerkraut: And tomorrow I will try my first ever sauerkraut! 

How about this? 

I think I am moving in the right direction 🙂

 

Jam/marmalade:

And just within the last 5-6 weeks, I started experimenting with making jam; dried fig jam first, then orange and tangerine, and today the raspberry jam/marmalade 🙂

I feel like I am doing such a great job refraining from additives and chemicals in store-bought jams/bread/pickles. I must be rightfully proud of myself and I am!

 

Sewing

Okay.. I have not been as productive as I wished, but since I purchased my lovely sewing machine last year, I have done small stuff, including lots of covers for jars and discloth/cloth for the counter and window sills. I am yet to undertake a serious project, like a blouse or a quilt, but I know when the time comes, that will happen too 🙂

 

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These are newfound interests for me and they have been enriching my life, providing me healthy and affordable food/items, and I feel increasingly “able”.

I really am excited about this change in me.

 

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corn flour bread

I literally craved for this since yesterday 🙂

I followed the recipe here with the exception of baking at 350F for 40 min, adding 2 jalapeno peppers (de-seeded and cut), and using corn flour (fine).

My verdict is that it is an easy and delicious bread that can be readied in an hour.

It was a little bit sweet for a bread, but it was not annoying. I would maybe add some more sugar next time to make it like a cake 🙂

Jalapenos could have been lightly cooked prior to adding to the mix, but overall that was one great bake today! 🙂

 

 

Happy sourdough bread!

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Here is today’s sourdough bread with a happy, happy, happy face! 🙂

It will be gifted to a colleague of mine, who gave me a ride this weekend – hope they will like it 🙂

today’s sourdough loaves

Because of my trips lately I had depleted my frozen bread stock. I feel a lot better when I have extra loaves at the freezer. Thus, I baked two sourdough today using the same recipe 🙂

They both turned out to be lovely! Thin crust and soft crumb, with a kick of salt and feeling very homey 🙂 The oven spring was way more powerful that I would imagine, as both loaves had sides cracked despite the fact that I had scored their surface 🙂 Something worked really well 🙂

The catch is that I had run out of bread flour, so I had to prepare the dough with all purpose flour. Now, I  never have had a good rise with all purpose flour, even though I am in Canada (people says that Canadian all purpose flour is as good as the bread flour with high protein content…). That is why I thought I would add some oat or rye flakes to dough – my previous experience with these additions is that they make the yeast somehow happier and dough better and airy.

Recipe:

  • I used 1 cup of rolled rye flakes soaked for 2 hours in 1 cup of water, which was then topped with 5 cups of all purpose flour, 2tbs of sugar, 1.5 tbs of salt, 1 1/3 cups of starter, and I believe 2.5 cups of water.
  • I used the stretch and fold technique to form the dough and left it at room temperature over night to rise.
  • In the morning, I was looking at a puffy and healthy dough 🙂 I cut it into two, one smaller than the other, shaped, rested for 10 min, and then placed them in proving containers. The small one was proven in an oven pot and the other one was formed into a long loaf and placed on a cookie sheet surrounded with items to keep it in shape. I left them at room temperature for 4.5 hours to prove.
  • I scored them and then baked at non-pre-heated oven at 350F for 55 min.

Voila 🙂

sometimes trying something hopeless pays off

Yesterday I have prepared two sourdough; one can be found here; it was prepared by a starter that was rigorous and with a long rise (around 16 hours at room temp) with 4 hours of proving, following my regular recipe. It turned out to be a lovely loaf with a great oven spring.

That loaf will be given to my friends that I have seen yesterday night. So upon returning home at around 11 pm, I decided I needed a loaf for myself so I prepared a small dough using the left overs from my starter that I resurrected this past week. These left overs are those that needed to be removed and replaced with fresh flour and water while feeding the starter. I did not want to put it in garbage, so I thought I could find a use for them (like tortilla), so had kept around 3/4 cups of them in my fridge. They were not necessarily the best starter, but I took my chances with my second loaf.

The second loaf had 9 hours of first rise with limited stretch and fold (1 only) at room temperature and 5 hours of proofing. Honestly it did not look good when I put it on parchment paper (it did not keep its shape). Anyways, in the oven there was some kind of spring. So I was still not very hopeful. But when I cut it, I was very surprised; it has the largest air pockets I have seen in my sourdough! It is soft and the sesame seeds give it an incredibly nutty flavor 🙂 Although its rise was short, I think dough being slightly sticky helped it to turn into this beautiful loaf.

I think sometimes keeping the faith and trying something that does not look much hopeful pays off 🙂

 

 

today’s sourdough was a failure

I thought I could make it, but I was wrong.

Using all purpose flour in this sourdough loaf was a disaster. They say the Canadian all purpose and bread flours have similar protein content and many bakers are successful in getting decent loaves with all purpose flour, but today I proved myself that was not the case for me. Bread flour it is!

Dough was fantastic, but as soon as I took it from the proofing basket, it spread and leveled. I was hoping maybe once it is in the oven things would get better. But the loaf did not rise, usual oven spring was not existing, and it took longer (1 hour 15 min at 350F) to get a browned crust (I suspect because it was such a shallow loaf that its crust was further away from the top of the oven, which made it longer to brown), and as a result is as dry and hard as brick.

I will eat it, but honestly use the bread flour if it works better for your loaves.

 

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Added after the post: On a second thought, this loaf may as well be just over-proved. The first rise was quite long (around 18 hours) and I wonder if this has something to do with this leveled loaf (aka less gluten structure)… if you have any opinion, please do comment.

Sunday is the day of sourdough

Here is my sourdough loaf for today 🙂

bread with sun flower seeds

While trying to revive my dried sourdough starter, here is the bread I have baked using the commercial yeast.

 

 

Recipe:

1/2 tbs yeast, 1 cup 2% milk, 1 cup water (warm milk and water together first), 2 tbs sugar; mix well and activate the yeast for 10 min (cover the bowl)

add 3 tbs salt, 9 cups of bread flour, mix and form a dough

cover and stretch and fold 3-4 times (around 20-30 min rest in between)

rest at fridge over night

in the morning. take the dough out and bring to room temp ~3 hours

shape the dough and rest 5 min

work on the shape of the dough, and place it in a bowl with clean cloth and sprinkled with generous amount of sun flower seeds

put in a large plastic bag and prove at room temp for 4 hours (in the last 30 min I put it in an oven warmed to 100F)

score and bake at a non-pre-heated oven at 375F for 45 min (oven on) and an additional 15 min (oven off)

take out, sprinkle some water over the loaf, and let cool down

Bon appetite!

 

PS: since  this loaf is going to a friend of mine, I did not cut it out and hence I have no idea how the crumb is. But the oven spring was amazing and the fact that the loaf kept its round shape, I am hopeful that the crumb too is good 🙂

sourdough loaf with black olive, parsley, and kefir

I wanted to bake a sourdough that was not tried before and I think I managed to do so.

I present you the sourdough loaf with kefir, parsley, and black olive 🙂

Smells like sea! Enjoy!

 

 

The Queen of all bread; sourdough with kefir

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but…but… but… can you see what I see? Is that not GORGEOUS!? 🙂 🙂

I am hooked to this combination and I suspect that I will always bake sourdough with kefir from now on.

I have not tasted anything quite like this, nor eaten a softer sourdough that I have baked. The slight salty taste, the crumb (the best so far), and the smell of this sourdough will fill my dreams – I can tell you that with confidence.

The recipe is quite basic like any other sourdough I have baked;

1. I added to 1 cup of whole wheat starter fed twice (Friday night and Saturday morning), 2tbs of sugar and 1 cup of kefir – mixed well with a spoon until it become somehow frothy (it does become frothy quite easily). Then added 2 cups of bread flour and 1.5 tbs of salt. Mixed and formed a shaggy dough.

This dough formed quite fast without needing to mix too much – I give it to kefir.       Somehow it helped bond the dough and voila! I had that healthy looking and soft             dough. As it was my practice the last few weeks, I made sure the dough was slightly           sticky while adding the flour.

2. I then left it at room temperature covered with a clean towel and stretched and folded 4-5 times time to time. The next day, I shaped it, and left for proving in a bowl covered with a clean cloth and sprinkled with generous amount of sesame and poppy seeds. It proved for 6.5 hours at room temperature in a plastic bag.

3. I baked it in non-preheated oven; 375 F for 15 min first, then 25 min at 350 F (the seeds burn pretty quick if the temperature is high), and then left in a turned off oven for an additional 5 min.

Give it a try and let me know whether you also agree that this is the best sourdough ever! 🙂

 

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mother of sourdough – the happy and active starter
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kefir – I am hesitant to add it but I read that others tried baking bread with kefir, so here comes a fresh batch of kefir
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the initial shaggy dough – do not worry – it will form just fine
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at the end of stretch and folds; ready to rest overnight
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and the next morning it has risen all nice and fluffy 🙂
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shaped and left for proving
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6.5 hours later, it seems to have proven quite a bit – exciting 🙂
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the seeds look great! sadly I also deflated it a little bit while taking it from the bowl onto the parchment paper.. feeling nervous….
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i deflated the dough a little bit more while scoring…. not my best day – next time I will have to handle this dough with a little bit more care
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but…but… but… can you see what I see? Is that not GORGEOUS!? 🙂 🙂
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and the crumb is my finest so far – kefir and sourdough have formed a great collaboration. This bread will be a classic at my house from now on

sourdough bread with beet

Here we go – the most interesting sourdough loaf I have ever baked!

What do you think?

I had seen a recipe here at wordpress once upon a time using beet (thanks whoever had posted it at that time). It always intrigued me and finally this weekend it was the time to give it a try.

My verdict; this is a very easy loaf to work with because wild yeast loves the beet (or anything else like carrots that provide some kind of nutrients and moisture to the dough/bread) and the colour is just amazing! It was a fluffy dough that rose pretty well. The proving step was also short (~5 hours at room temperature in my cool Canadian kitchen) – partly because of the hydration by the beet and partly because I tried to make it kind of sticky with less flour than usual. The crumb is open (one of the best, if not the best crumb I have seen lately) and it is soft and palatable. The only thing was that the smell of raw/baked beet somehow threw me away at the beginning. But the remedy is easy and available – butter, as usual, makes it perfect! 🙂

This being said, I think next time I will try it with raspberry and some more sugar!

 

Recipe

Friday night: took the starter off the fridge and fed with whole wheat flour and water, wrapped in a towel and left at room temperature overnight

Saturday morning: fed the starter again and one hour later divided it into two portion: one portion went to fridge (starter) and the second portion left at room temp for 3 hours to flourish (to be used in the dough)

Saturday afternoon: added to 1 cup of starter, 2 tbs of sugar, and 1 cup of water. Grated 1 medium sized beet and added to the mixture. Then, added 2.5 cups of bread flour and 1.5 tbs of salt and mixed with a spoon. It formed a shaggy dough. After that I left for shopping, so only 5 hours later or so, I stretched and folded it once or twice before leaving it to rise at room temperature overnight (closed lid and covered with a towel)

Sunday morning: shaped on a generously floured work surface, let rest for 10 min and shaped again. I decided it was better if I proved it in an oven dish and directly baked it after proving. Hence, I placed the dough in the dish covered with parchment paper and put it in a nylon bag – that, I found a while ago, creates a green house effect and help dough prove faster

Sunday afternoon: After 5 hours of proving, turned the oven on (375F) and placed the dough in it. Baked for 45 min with oven on and then an additional 15 min with oven turned off.

Do not forget to cool down, admire, and enjoy it with butter and loved ones!  

Bon appetite 🙂

 

 

 

sourdough with rolled rye

Here is another Sunday sourdough with a touch of rolled rye – a slice of it and butter  – yummy!

The recipe is very similar to an earlier loaf with slight changes: I did not wait 30 min after adding water to rolled rye (rather mixed it with the rest of the ingredients right away – I have got lazy here 🙂 ), used one cup starter, 1 cup water, 2 tbs of sugar, 1.5 tbs of salt and 3.5 cup of bread flour. Since the bread flour is a little bit less than the previous recipe, this was a slightly sticky dough, which I prefer the last few weeks. I also did not pre-heat the oven; just put it inside and let it oven spring 🙂

In my experience rolled oat, rolled rye, or semolina flour in small amounts (like 1 cup in addition to 3-4 cups bread flour) help with proofing and oven rise – these kind of loaves never disappointed me in terms crumb.

Here is a pictorial recipe for this hearty and tasty loaf:

 

 

 

 

 

wet sourdough loaf

This sourdough was wet; way stickier than my previous ones.

As expected, it turned out to be just great in terms of the air packets. It is not the best looking loaf, but it is expected from such a wet dough (which is hard to shape). 

I could not help and enjoy a big slice with butter when it was still warm  🙂

I am very happy with this starter; it does not yield big air packets, but it is consistent and crumb is always well structured. See the little air packets all around? 🙂

today’s sourdough and the creamy wild rice soup

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Here is my baby today 🙂

This loaf is similar to others in making, only with an additional 2 tbs water to make it slightly sticky. During stretching and folding, the dough formed well and the stickiness has almost disappeared. I also did not add sugar to dough for the first time.

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proofing 🙂
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after the proofing step
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this scoring worked well 🙂
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and the end product 🙂 what a beauty! I am very pleased with the oven spring.

 

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And, finally I am consuming the wild rice that I have had for some years!!!

I totally improvised this soup:

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  • Add in a pot 1 cup wild rice, 1 cup red lentil, 1 small potato, 100 grms of butter, and 3 cups water
  • Boil and then simmer for 1 hour, or until rice softens

This is a very creamy and hearty soup because of the lentil and potato, and has a mixture of both soft and somewhat crunchy texture (the wild rice has a tough outer membrane)

Bon appetite! 🙂

 

 

 

The 1st anniversary of my bread-making adventure :)

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Today is the 1st anniversary of my bread-making adventure!

And what an adventure it has been 🙂

I first got enticed by commercial yeast by chance, and tried my first loaf without knowing what I was doing 🙂 It was a very tasty, very hearty bread though – I enjoyed it 🙂 

With the confidence coming out of that experience, the week after that I tried baguettes and this time I was very badly defeated 🙂 I have had very serious concerns about whether I would ever be able to bake a decent loaf. This lasted some time, while I read, read, and read about how to best bake a bread. 

It was my mom who encouraged me to get hopeful and try again. And again I tried. It was not an easy period I would say; I often failed and only every once a while I could get a decent loaf. I experimented a lot with autolysing, kneading, stretching and folding, over-night dough risen at room temperature or in the fridge, using a roaster as a substitute for a dutch oven, using milk or water in dough, using pre-heated and non-preheated oven, misting the oven versus not doing it while baking, adding rolled oats or seeds like flax seed to dough, and different types of flour (all purpose flour and bread flour).

I got intrigued by wild yeast and sourdough, hence I also experimented with it 🙂 I attempted four times to get a decent starter and eventually got one with a whole wheat flour. It is my Monster starter that has been working just great since last August-September. I almost every single weekend bake a loaf or two using this starter, and I must say every week I notice a subtle progress and development in it. It is a living organism alright 🙂

So I found that while I am still far away from the “perfect loaf”, stretching and folding really works and develops the dough, over night dough is the best, there is no need for pre-heating or misting the oven, or using a dutch oven/roaster to bake a good loaf. All you need is love, patience, and paying attention to dough. If you do this, you will get a great loaf each time after a while. Guaranteed.

Today, on this very special anniversary, I tried sourdough with rolled oat with a recipe similar to this (and without the flax seed). What a beauty 🙂

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my sourdough loaf is “crowned” with rolled oat today to celebrate this important anniversary 🙂

Here are select loaves I have baked within the last year, starting with the first ever loaf I baked. Looking at them literally makes me happy.

If you are intrigued or interested at all, I would say go for it and try a loaf or two. Baking your own bread is very healthy, satisfying, and most importantly, an exciting hobby 🙂

Happy baking!  🙂

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The first loaf  🙂

on being self-sustaining

Since I started baking my own bread last year, I have been feeling more “able“. 

Bread has always been my favorite food. Strange enough after I started baking my own loaves, the amount of bread I consumed has reduced. How strange… I wonder whether it being a natural product with no additives or chemicals has anything to do with this? Anyways, I am proud of the fact that within the last one year I did not buy any store-made bread; I only consumed my own, mostly the precious sourdough loaves. Talking about the joy of baking and the happiness coming out of it 🙂

Anyways, when I bought my sewing machine last November, I thought it was an additional step towards being resourceful and a self-sustaining life-style. I was planning to sew my own blouses, which I have failed so far, but one day I will do this. This and others, like sewing quilt, doing repairs (which I have), and sewing cloths/placemats to be used around the house (which I have, too) will keep me feel independent and able. It feels good indeed.

We may not realize but there are so many ways that even someone like me, who does not like  house chores, demonstrates the ability to self-sustain. Consider cooking at home and feeding ourselves, cleaning our own houses, taking care of the yard (boy, thinking about cutting the grass… argh… one thing that I really dislike, but keep doing anyhow), dyeing our own hair to name a few. I feel so again when I walk to or from the office, or to the shopping malls, instead of taking the bus or the cab.  By walking I freely transport myself and relax at the same time. Do you not think that we in fact all are, to some degree, independent of others/stores/services and rather are self-sustaining?

I have spent sometime reading posts about homesteading this evening. I have no practical interest in homesteading myself as a single and middle aged city girl, but I sure enjoy reading about the daily lives of the homesteaders, their farming adventures, issues, and relationships with nature. My current life and level of sustainability is no-where near the homesteaders’ life, but I am doing way better than many people living in a mid-size city. I guess even though I do not realize it well, I happen to have a kind of simple, affordable, and sustainable life that I must be excited about 🙂

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today’s sourdough

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the end products! look at these beauties! The scoring on boule makes an impression of a face, do you not think? 🙂

I baked two sourdough today; one boule and the other baton-shaped.

The recipe is quite similar to previous ones with:

  • 4/3 cup of whole wheat flour starter fed Friday evening and Saturday morning,        1 1/4 cup water, 3-4 cups bread flour, 2 tbs of sugar, and 2 tbs of salt. It should be slightly sticky
  • mix, rest at room temperature, and stretch and fold 4-5 times with 20-60 min in between (it is quite forgiving; you do not need to time everything. what is important is to fold and strech so that the dough and gluten form)
  • rise at room temperature over night in a mixing bowl with lid and wrap with a towel
  • the next morning (aka today), shape and rest for 10 min. Re-shape if required, cover the loaf with a towel, and place in a plastic bag for a green house effect (I think that works really well) for 4 hours or longer (this week at the end of 4 hours, the loaves had almost doubled)
  • bake at 375 min for 50-55 min (until it becomes golden crisp. I no longer pre-heat the oven or use a roaster/dutch oven to bake. Eventually if the dough is good, the bread comes out wonderful)
  • cool down and make sure to take your time to enjoy 🙂

 

The day of sourdough – Sunday

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You know I bake sourdough bread every Sunday. Since each dough, each loaf is different, Sundays are usually very exciting times for me 🙂

This baby is part semolina sourdough – my second take on semolina.

My experience with semolina flour has been consistently good really, but it is true that it does not rise, so I used only a cup in this loaf. There is something nice about it that helps yield a great dough, even though I cannot put my finger on it. Let me know if you have any idea 🙂

Recipe:

Like other times, I fed the starter on Friday, and then again on Saturday morning.

On Saturday afternoon, I added 3/2 cup starter, 1 cup water, and 2 tbs sugar and mixed it well with a fork. Then I added 1 cup semolina flour, 3/2 cup bread flour, and 1.5 tbs salt and mixed everything well using my hand. 

The rest is very similar to other times (check this) except that I proved the loaf at room temperature for 8 hours today – only because I stepped out for a quick shopping trip, bumped into friends, and spent (lovely) time with them, so when I returned back home it was already 8 hours of proofing 🙂 

I was scared that it would be over-proved, but it was not – the loaf turned out to be great; I think if it was sticky, it would not shape this well and would possibly end up being over-proven. So I feel lucky this time 🙂 

Happy baking! 🙂

 

 

 

it is not that bad

While I have bragged about how boring my life is, this morning I came to the realization that in the last one years or so, I have changed my life in a much better way.

First of; I started baking my own bread – they may not be the best, but they are getting better each time. More importantly, baking gives excitement to my daily life. Every Sunday I am eager to see how my dough and the loaf will turn out like! It is also healthy (I believe – it must be way better than the store-made bread). What a wonderful, healthy, and easy way to have a recurrent type of excitement 🙂

Second of; I eat better – that is for sure. I eat more raw veggies, which agree with my body. I have also lost some weight (even though I gained some of it back lately I am positive that I can do it again).

Third of; I walk more. I walked in the morning not only during summer, but also in winter (for the first time this winter) from home to office! For someone like me who was chronically tired, stressed, and impatient, this is quite an achievement.

Fourth; I have more energy – thanks to my iron and vitamin D supplements. This makes me feel better about myself and it is incredibly satisfying.

Fifth of; I am saving more than the last few years, so I am in much better shape financially.

Funny thing is that I have come up with these out of blue while walking  this morning 🙂

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These being said, it is only normal to fix some issues and then move on with identifying and aiming to fix new issues. In this logic, it is almost impossible to be without any issue.

Fine.

So I must be okay with having  a number of things that bother me now; 

I need a more social life; I do not know what that is gonna be but whether I join a hobby class or start hosting more frequently at home, I have got to come up with something.

I need variety – doing the same things and seeing the same faces/places are dead boring. I have every single right to be bored, considering the circumstances. I believe a new social hobby would enrich my daily life a little bit. Also, traveling is an opportunity to break it, but how frequently one can go away?

I need to stop believing that I am old. I am not old – older, yes, but not old. I still have a life!

🙂

random thoughts

What a boring weekend.

Sorry – I did not mean to rant and depress, but that is what it has been.

I spent the most of yesterday at home because of a snow storm. Argh… Then a couple of friends called and they said they had no power. I invited them over. I was very happy to be able to help my friends and cook for them with the food at home 🙂 Generally speaking I like being resourceful and helpful. Yet, honest  to goodness, the negativity around these people is incredibly annoying. I feel a lot better around positive people – this is a fact. There is nothing more boring and annoying than people who rant all the time and never seem to appreciate anyone. That is a also a fact.

Annoyed GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

So while I felt good about myself, I felt negative about my friends. Do I sound like a hypocrite?

So be it! 🙂

And today was okay. I just felt suffocated at home and went out for a short time and got fresh air. It was very quiet and there was ice everywhere…. Walking was challenging, yet quite relaxing. I have even been to the book store close to my house. Interestingly I only spent maybe 5-10 min and left it without buying any book (when was the last time I left a book store without buying a book? hmmmm)….

On a funny side; I baked a 40% whole wheat flour and 60% rolled oat loaf and what others said was true – oat does not rise. I have a brick-like bread to consume, possibly as croutons. Yay! 🙂

I also sewed a little bit yesterday and today. I realized it is stressing me, not relaxing… This needs to be reversed. I am trying to sew a piece of clothe for my mom and I want it to be great, and also enjoy doing it. I have some mental work to do and I better allow room for mistakes and be okay with messing with fabric and projects… At least for some more time….

Considering how boring today and yesterday was and how annoying my friends were, I questioned once again what the hey I was doing here, rather than being with my family? This is a billion dollar question……It should worth for me to be staying here; emotionally, financially, personally, professionally, health-wise, somehow……. I came to this question time to time, though it has been a while that I have had it last time…. Boy, I must be really bored and mad! I hope not to see those people again for some time.

Anyways; Friday was good friends- I have got my taxes done! I have gone there scared and thinking that I had forgotten to take my cheque book and I hope they could accept VISA or debit for the tax I owe to the government, and came back home just happy. I have got a return! I wanted to celebrate this, but for some reason I did not feel like eating out that days. Maybe some other time 🙂

Mrw GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

What do I want to do with my tax return? A new mortgage pre-payment 🙂 🙂 🙂

That sure makes me feel blessed and happy 🙂

Charm Ladonna GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

 

gifs byhttp://giphy.com/gifs/annoyed-p5uUxRttCeRFK; http://giphy.com/gifs/Rh5Doqi7GQQmY;http://giphy.com/gifs/charmladonna-l3vR5UgInxQW8wK6k

oat and flax seed sourdough

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I surprised myself with this loaf; if you are looking for a change in the taste of your sourdough loaf, I would highly recommend you to give this one a try. This loaf tastes very realistically “nutty” because of the oat. I plan to bake a loaf only with oat and levain next time – let’s see how that will turn out.

I think it is true when they say that salt brings in the flavor. Salt level in the recipe may be too much for many, so feel free to use less, but for me it was great. 

 

Recipe:

Friday: feed the starter with 2/3 cup whole wheat flour and 1/3 cup water, wrap in a towel, and rest at room temp overnight.

Saturday: The next morning, feed  the starter again and divide into two; one part to go to fridge and the other one to rest at room temp, wrapped in a towel for a few hours, which will be used in bread.

Once the levain seems bubbly;

  • Add 1 cup rolled oat and 1/2 cup of flax seed to 1 cup of water, mix and let stand for 30 min or so
  • Add to the oat/flax seed mix, 1 cup levain, 1 cup water, 2 tbs sugar and mix well
  • Add to this mixture 1.5 tbs of salt and 3 cups+2 tbs of bread flour. Mix and form a shaggy and sticky dough, cover with a towel, and rest for 20 min. At this step the dough does not have to be perfect and there is no need to knead.
  • Stretch and fold ever 20-30 min 4 or 5 times. Honestly I put my hands on the dough whenever I had time 🙂
  • Cover with a towel and rest at room temp over-night

Sunday: In the morning:

  • Take the dough on a counter sprinkled with flour, stretch and form a rectangular dough, and then fold over to form a round dough. Cover and rest for 10 min
  • Check the shape, re-shape if needed, and try to form surface tension by pulling the dough towards yourself on the counter, repeat 10-15 times till it feels alright. I also “swirled” it around with the hope that it would keep its round shape
  • Wet your hands and touch on the surface to make it a little bit wet. Apply rolled oats and gently press on them to make sure they stick, turn the dough upside down, and place it in a proofing basket (in my case a mixing bowl) covered with a baking towel. Cover and proof at room temp for 3.5 hours 
  • Turn on the oven at 375 F, take the dough on a baking sheet/parchment paper seam side at the bottom, score, and place in the oven. I no longer pre-heat my oven.
  • Bake 50 min uncovered, then 10 min covered, and then another 10 min without cover.
  • Take out of the oven and cool down.

Enjoy 🙂

improvised two loaves of sourdough today

 

Yesterday I visited a bulk-produce retailer and bought myself some flax seed, rolled oats, and some other dry food at very affordable prices!!!

This excitement had to be experienced – I love it when I can get great food at such low prices. I feel grateful 🙂

This being said, I have bought the rolled oats and the flax seed to experiment/improvise new bread recipes. So, today I baked two different sourdough loaves – one with oat+bread flour and the other 100% whole wheat flour+flax seed. 

Boy – they are beautiful, do you not think? So soft, so nicely risen, such great oven spring, and the air bubbles inside are making me fall in love with each one of them.

It is official; I have the greatest sourdough starter ever, which I hope to bake with forever and ever… 🙂

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Recipe

Levain: I have a 100% whole flour “Monster” starter that I feed with 2/3 cup whole wheat flour+1/3 cups+1 tbs water on Friday afternoon. I then let it rest at room temperature overnight wrapped in a thick towel. The next day I feed it again the same way; one hour later divide it into two: one part goes into the fridge till use next week, and the other continues to rise at room temperature for 5-6 hours. At that point it becomes very bubbly and that is always exciting to see this 🙂

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Prior to preparing dough, I mix the levain with water and sugar to make the liquid base for dough (my measurements were: 1+1/4 cups of levain, 1 cup of water, and 1.5 tbs of sugar)

Sourdough with rolled oat:

add 1/2 cup rolled oat and 1/2 cup water- mix and let stand for 20 min

add 1+1/5 cups of levain/water/sugar base, 1 cup of water, 2 cups of bread flour, and 1/2 tbs of salt. Mix well and form a shaggy dough – do not worry about kneading or forming the perfect dough. Just cover, rest, and *stretch and fold every 20 or 30 min or so for 4-5 times.

*I lately started to “slam” the dough to the mixing bowl 7-8 times during each stretch and fold, which I kind of feel like helps stretch and form the dough. It is a strange feeling to do this to my dough and yeast, but then it feels also right…Try if you wish.

Then, cover, wrap with towel, and let rise at room temperature over night (my kitchen is usually cold around 17C. If you are in a hot climate, you may rise the dough at the fridge).

 

100% whole wheat sourdough with flax seed:

Rinse 1/2 cup of flax seed and add 1/2 cup water, let stand for 30 min

add 1+1/5 cups of levain/water/sugar base, 1 cup + 3 tbs of water, 2.5 cups of whole wheat flour, and 1/2 tbs of salt. Follow the procedure above.

Since whole wheat flour requires a little bit more water, I wet my hand before each stretch and fold to humidify the dough a little bit – it did help with a relatively softer dough. Alternatively you can add an additional 1-2 tbs of water while preparing the dough.

 

The next day; gently place the dough on a surface sprinkled with flour, deflate, stretch and form a rectangular shape, and fold & shape. Cover and let rest for 10 min. Shape again and place in proofing containers (i used a small mixing bowl for the oat loaves and a baking dish for the flax seed loaf).

Proofing time: 2.5 hours for the oat loaf, and 3.5 hours for the flax seed loaf

Baking: I recently started not to use roaster to bake my loaves. It gives a thinner crust and the oven spring is equally successful. I used a non-pre-heated oven for the oat loaf (375F, 50 min, baked uncovered). Once I was done with it, then I placed the flax seed loaf (pre-heated oven, 30 min open lid, 15 min closed lid, and 5 min open lid at 375F.)

Results, observations, and verdict: both loafs are gorgeous and better than what I thought I would get.

I know it is difficult to get the whole wheat flour rise so I was pretty impressed with the oven spring and the overall crumb of this lovely bread. It also had a nutty flavor and was an absolute delight even though for some the 100% whole wheat bread may sound a little bit intimidating.

The oat loaf was a delight from the beginning on – so easy to handle and the first rise was amazing with big air bubbles that I only had experienced with commercial yeast in the past. The taste of oat was undetectable but that is perfectly fine with me.

In both cases (oat and flax seed) the resting them on water prior to adding with flour and water produces a little bit sticky and mucus-like liquid, which I kind of think that helps with “binding” the dough. But of course we need a scientific proof for that.

I would certainly try these two loaves in the future and perhaps with the oat loaf I would increase the amount, just to see how the dough would respond.

Happy baking everyone! 🙂

 

oat sourdough

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smooth dough at the end of the stretch and fold episode
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what a beautiful loaf, waiting to be enjoyed 🙂 )

 

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100% whole wheat and flax seed loaf

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at the end of the stretch and fold episodes – kind of tough dough. would be better if I had added an extra 1-2 tbs of water to dough. I made up for this by wetting my hands prior to handling it each time so that it could get some more hydration. it did work 🙂

Sunday Sourdough anyone?

Friends; have a look at this 25% whole wheat – 75% bread flour sourdough!

Is it not magnificent? 🙂

With no ego I can tell this is the finest loaf of mine yet.

Sticky dough absolutely pays off – in my experience sticky (that literally sticks lightly-but not overly to your hand when you stretch and fold, or otherwise handle it) yields the softest bread with the best crumb.

This one was baked on a cookie sheet at 375F for 50 min (for 20 min of which it was covered with a lid to prevent the surface from burning).

I no longer use the roaster to bake my loaves, which gives me loaves with much thinner crust (which I love)!

Happy baking everyone! 🙂

! 🙂

 

my beautiful sourdough

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I have been getting wonderful loaves lately – this makes me excited and happy 🙂

Maybe the starter got a little bit seasoned, maybe I now have better baking skills, maybe it is just the cold temperature (ironically!), but something is working. I am grateful.

This is a loaf that was very similar to what I baked last week with a slightly sticky sourdough.

Bon appetite!

Today’s sourdough

This baby is the product of a little bit sticky sourdough risen overnight at room temperature (around 17 C), pre-shaped, shaped, and proofed for 4 hours (also at room temperature), and baked at 375F for 45 min in an oven bakeware (20 min of which it was covered with a lid to prevent its surface from burning).

This is the softest and the best risen sourdough loaf I have baked in a while 🙂

I think; a) being sticky  helps rise the dough; b) using bakeware may help keep the shape of sticky dough – loaves (which I appreciate); and c) if the dough is sticky and healthy enough, I may not need roaster (I use roaster as an alternative to dutch oven) to bake my bread.

Bon appetite 🙂

PS: I prepared my sourdough starter and levain with whole wheat flour, which dominates the colour and the texture; each loaf is around 30% whole wheat and 70% bread flour. Very healthy and sturdy dough 🙂

the 8th day of the staycation

Wow!.. Days pass quickly. I cannot believe that I have 6 days left before I return back to office and start a work-marathon….This thought somehow depressed me, but I will let it go.

I have had a fine day with shopping and nothing else in particular. I am making an effort to have free time so that I can reflect rather than keep myself busy with doing house chores or other activities.

The year 2016 has been quite an interesting year for my life. I felt happiness quite a bit; especially when I started yoga/stretching classes in January. It was going well, I was feeling connected to my body and appreciating it, but then one night I pulled a muscle on my back and I quit those classes. Alas..

I under-estimated how bad that lower back problem was and even though I was recommended to see a physiotherapist I did not and two weeks later I pulled it again. I had no chance but to take it serious. And I have. I attended physiotherapy, my work-place purchased me a standing desk, and I have been doing my back stretches/strengthening exercises  quite frequently. My back is feeling alright, but I am not naive to think that it has been healed completely. I will keep taking care of it.

Then late February my dad passed away and sadness engulfed me. if you follow my blog, you know I am grieving quite a bit… He was a gentle soul who deserved much better. I wish our lives were different.. May he rest in peace.

My relationship with my family strained a little bit after my dad passed away and we are trying to mend it. I never thought that I could have such a serious issues with my family members, but I did. Just recently I decided to go visit them this summer – I hope things will be back to normal. Love is stronger than anything else, even though time to time I too succumb into disliking things and people. Nothing changes the fact that my family is important to me.

In October, I went to a European convention and got strained there for two additional days because of a labor issue in the host country. The stress and anxiety I felt was palpable – would I be able to find a hotel room to stay? When could I return back safely? . Eventually it turned out to be okay, but this incident changed me a little bit. perhaps next time I can handle it better (not that I wish another adventure like this…). During those times I accidentally stepped on a song by Sia – Chandelier, which remains to be one of my favorites since then. I believe there has not been a day that I have not listened to it. The voice is captivating (though I am not sure what to think about the video).

 

In May I started to bake my own bread and in september I started my own sourdough starter 🙂 these two have been quite interesting adventures and  I am so happy that I have them in my life 🙂

And lately in November or so, I also became interested in sewing; I bought my sewing machine and have been collecting all the notions and supplies since then. I am not good at sewing yet, but I hope I will be over time 🙂

And, as per my budget; I have had the greatest budget at the beginning of 2016; it was the leanest budget I have had in the last 7-8 years and it did wonders for me. I was able to significantly reduce my spending, bring my chequing account to a positive balance, increase my RRSP contributions and my mortgage payments. During summer I succumbed back to spending unnecessarily, yet I hope the new year will give me a chance to keep my budget on track.

And finally; I lost around 15-20 pounds during the the past year. I suspect that baking my own bread and my lower back problem both contributed to it. I am feeling good about it and wish to keep losing some more fat in the coming year.

As per work; it continues to stress me out and I perform well, however, less than before. There are times that our interests change and I guess it has been the case for my work too. I still do a considerable amount of work, but there were times that I wished I could retire. Retirement is a distant dream, but it is such a freeing dream… I wonder what else I would discover and get interested in….

This year was also one of these that I made an attempt to be more social. I hosted a few times at my house, but it worked out well. I socialized with friends and colleagues and enjoyed them to some degree. Honestly I am not very interested in hosting or socializing again anytime soon, but I am glad at least I tried, made an effort to enjoy these occasions, and realized once more that solitude is the best life-style for me.

Quite a busy and influential year, is it not? 🙂

getting back to aims and plans

I love to have aims and plans to tackle them. There is something exciting and energizing about this.

I am not always successful in my aims or plans, but, hey, I will try as many times as it takes and as much as I can enjoy.

The majority of my aims are around similar themes; having a financial plan; having a simple yet non-routine life; and having a healthier life-style.

I will focus on details later but the particular areas of my life that I would love to work on real soon are:

  1. getting a much leaner budget and getting rid of the extra expenses for good
  2. making an extra payment to mortgage till new year and increasing my payment after that sometime. My very ambitious plan is to drop it to 100K in 3 years. Likely not gonna happen but whatever I can do is good
  3. eating healthier and losing 25 pounds and keeping it off
  4. having a vacation somewhere this year only for my own enjoyment
  5. having a less stressful work life and dealing with work and emotions better
  6. being more social
  7. baking the perfect loaf
  8. decluttering the house and the office again and possibly again
  9. buying a new set of plates
  10. being more aware and appreciative of my surroundings, life experiences, and everything else in life 🙂

bread with green olives and poppy seeds

 

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excuse the shape 🙂 I was in hurry

Another lazy chef edition 🙂

It does not take much time; so if you are in need of carbs 🙂 give this a try. Also, the poppy seed and olives can be replaced by anything you desire.

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Recipe:

2 cups all purpose flour

1 cup 1% milk

1 tbs of baking powder

1 tbs sugar

1/2 tbs baking soda

2 tbs poppy seeds

3/4 cups of green olives, cut, washed, and drained

 

  • Mix all ingredients and form a round ball
  • Score the surface
  • Bake at pre-heated oven (375 F) for 20 min with a cover and an additional 20 without it
  • Enjoy 🙂

mystical sourdough bread

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And the final product 🙂 (where is the score cuts?) Looks like the dough has risen (oven spring 🙂 ) and created “stretch marks” over the surface. I t is also almost doubled in size due to oven spring (use a roaster/dutch oven, my friends – it really does help)

This sourdough bread is mystical because I cannot remember how much water I added to the dough 🙂

Argh… Murphy’s law – this is a wonderful loaf and it would be awesome to replicate it in the future. Anyways, at least I remember how the initial dough felt; shaggy but not runny. Good…

This is my second sour dough bread trial using my Monster sourdough starter. The first one last week ended up being something beyond brick….. Something even stronger… Like steel or something….

This time, it is better. The crust was definitely chewy and inside was very soft. It could use more salt next time. By the way, with this loaf I started to believe in “oven spring”; this dough has doubled in size  while in the oven. I could not be more enchanted right now 🙂

Bon appetite! 🙂

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Recipe

Day 1.

Levain: Activate the starter by feeding a night before and resting at room temperature over-night.

For this purpose, I mixed 1/2 cup of starter with 2/3 cup whole wheat flour and 1/2 cup of water in a bowl. Then, I transferred it in a clean jar, secured the lid with a clean kitchen towel and elastic band, and forgot till next morning.

*well… that is not true – I checked it many times during the night. Seeing it rising was magical 🙂 After all, I just had transferred it to fridge last week and this was the first time I tried to revive it back at room temperature 🙂

**basically, the starter I used for this levain is the portion of the starter that I am supposed to throw away while feeding the starter every week. Making no waste feels good 🙂

***it makes a stiff, not runny, levain

It must have at least doubled in size and have bubbles around the jar, indicating an active, robust starter.

 

Day 2.

Dough:

1. Mix 1 cup of levain with 1/2 cup water in a bowl. Add 2 cups of bread flour and just enough water to make a shaggy and sticky dough. Cover and rest at room temperature for 4 hours

*the autolyse step is supposed to hydrate the flour and help develop gluten. At the end of this period, the dough should look a little bit swollen and possibly flattened out

2. Add 2 tps of salt and 2 tps of sugar to dough while still in the container and mix

3. Spread 1/3 cup of flour on a clean surface and place the dough on. Knead for 2-3 minutes lightly and add flour as needed.

*The dough should be fluffy, somewhat sticky but not too sticky

4. Place the dough in a clean container that has been brushed with vegetable oil. Turn the dough upside down to make sure it gets oil all over. Cover and let rest for 30 min

*vegetable oil helps with preventing the dehydration of the dough. i somehow feel like it also helps with the dough structure, but I have no convincing evidence for this yet (many people say that vegetable oil actually reduces the rising capacity)

5. Stretch and fold 4-5 times and let rest for 30 min covered

*this technique is supposed to be a good alternative to kneading. If you do not have a dough mixer or a bread machine and are using your hands to knead, you may want to give it a try

6. Stretch and fold for a total of 4 times and then rest the dough for a final 30 min

*I perform all these steps while the dough is still in the container with the help of a bench cutter

**by the way I use a large pot to mix the dough and for the fermentation/first rise. It is a very practical alternative. Just close the lid and cover with a blanket/thick towel or place in a warm place, like a warm oven, for the fermentation step

*** you will notice that the dough slightly rises/gets fluffier and develops some structure with each stretch and fold. 

7. Take the dough on a lightly floured surface, spread with the help of your hands, and then fold over and shape. I made a round loaf. Cover and let rest there for 10 min.

8. Proofing: I used a bowl covered with a clean white fabric that had around 1 tbs of flour sprinkled to prevent the dough from sicking to it. I covered the dough and let proof for an hour

*they say sourdough does not rise as much as the commercial yeast, which in my experience was the case as well

9. 20 min before the end of the proofing step, pre-heat the oven to 400 F and place your roaster/dutch oven in

*I recently became a fan of using roasters to bake the bread. It provides good heat conductance and shortens the baking time. They say dutch ovens are even better. I bought a turkey roaster which is quite big. The advantage of it is that I can bake loafs with any shape; e.g. baton or boule. Not sure whether I can do this with a dutch oven – they usually looks small and suitable for boule only

10. Transfer the dough upside down on a parchment paper, score with sharp knife (around half an inch), and immediately place into the heated roaster

*dough was leveled down as soon as I scored it, which discouraged me. yet, the spring oven surprised me; the end product had risen and formed a lovely bread

11. Bake 30 min covered, and then an additional 20 min uncovered at 400 F

12. 🙂

🙂

 

 

 

 

plain bread – a success story

My next door neighbours are great people. She brought me some hand-made clothes; she said she loves knitting them and they are very useful. I was touched and decided to take advantage of being home early and bake a loaf of bread or two for them.

I am still not confident about baking bread. But it is a lot of fun! So, I decided to experiment to bake a loaf that can taste and look good. I prepared one dough and prepared 2 small loafs; one round, one baton (aka “francala”) shaped. The baton bread went to my neighbour and I kept the round one.

The crust of the round loaf was amazing (and crunch), so was the taste! I did not have large holes in the round bread but I hope there were some in the baton  – it rose better than the round loaf:)

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“baton bread” that I gave to my neighbour. This little beast looked amazing and I hope it tasted so, too 🙂
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this loaf is mine – I loved it 🙂

Recipe (1 dessert spoon = 0.8 table spoon)

1. Warm up 200 ml of water and add 1 dessert spoon of sugar – mix well until all sugar dissolves. Add 1 dessert spoon of dry yeast. Do NOT mix yeast. Cover with a kitchen towel and let rest for 10 min.

2. Add the yeast mixture to 3 cups of all purpose flour. Add 2/3 cups (150 ml) of water and mix with spoon or with your hands until it forms a somewhat sticky but coherent dough.

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right before the autolyse step – smelling nice and yeasty 🙂

3. Cover the top of the container (I used a pot and its lid for this purpose), wrap with a kitchen towel and rest for 20 min to autolyse at room temperature.

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right after the 20 min autolyse step. The dough is a little bit sticky (just like I wanted it), looks plumpy and risen a little bit. Looks pretty rested to me 🙂

4. Add 1 table spoon of salt and lightly knead the dough while still in the container (no flour is needed at this step as I aim it to be a soft and not a hearty bread). I noticed that dough become “fragmented” as soon as salt is added – but do not worry; it fixes itself during the process. Work on the dough and give it a round shape.

5. Add 1 table spoon of vegetable oil to a clean pot, spread it around, and put the dough in; then flip the dough over to make sure it gets oil on both sides  (top and bottom). Close the lid and put in an oven warmed up to 100 F (I covered the pot with also a kitchen towel).

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ready to rest and rise 🙂 I noticed that as soon as salt is added, the dough lost its structure and get “fragmented”. I am hoping this will fix during the rise

6. Let rise for 30 min and then stretch and fold 4-5 times and then turn the dough upside down and repeat stretching and folding. Let it rise in the warm oven for another 30 min and stretch and fold again. Put the dough back in the oven and let rise for an additional 30 min.

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at the end of 1st 30 min of rise – the dough has risen and conserved its plumpy and sticky nature. I could see the bubbles when I took it out of the warm oven, which is pleasing. The oil seems to help dough keep its moisture – but I wonder whether I applied too much oil. Something to think about. As long as it does not affect the taste, I am okay with this – in my experience the dough with a little bit oil in or around it rises pretty quickly.
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after stretch and fold at the end of the 30 min rise. Dough has lost some of its plumpiness but I am certain it will continue to rise 🙂
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after the 2nd 30 min rise – dough looks good and moist (because of the vegetable oil I used to cover the container). Folding and stretching was not particularly easy as if pulled a lot, the dough breaks. Not sure whether this is a good or bad thing. the final product will tell 🙂
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right after the 2nd stretch and fold. let it rest and rise for one last time 🙂
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at the end of the 3rd 30 min rise – looking good 🙂

 

7. Cut the dough into two (only because I wanted to have two small loafs) on a flour-sprinkled surface. Try not to add more flour and gently shape. Gently press down the bubbles (I had some). Shape, cover with a bowl or kitchen towel and let rest for 10 min.

 

 

8. Gently shape again and put in floured dishes for proofing upside-down. Sprinkle some flour on top, wrap loosely with cling film, and cover with a thick blanket on stove (I slightly warmed up the stove to help provide some warmth to dough). Let proof for 45 min

 

9. Apply egg wash – that is, whisk one egg and brush over the loafs. On one of them I also added sesame seeds. Score carefully using a sharp knife. Place in oven dishes sprinkled with corn meal.