Sourdough Baguettes

This recipe comes from Father Dominic Garramone, OSB and his book Breaking Bread with Father Dominic.

Remember, the longer the sponge sits, the stronger the sour flavor will be. As I was planning to use some of the bread for sandwiches and the rest in garlic bread, I only had it sit for 24 hours.

Sourdough Baguettes

Sponge:
1 cup sourdough starter
1 1/2 cups warm water
2 tablespoons sugar
3 cups bread flour

Dough
1 teaspoon active dry yeast
1/4 cup warm water
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3 to 3 1/2 cups bread flour

Combine all the ingredients for the sponge together in a large bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and set on the counter to stand at room temperature for at least 24 hours and as long as 48.

When ready to begin, put the yeast in the warm water and allow to proof for 5 minutes. Place the sponge, the salt and baking soda in a stand mixer with the paddle attachment and stir. Add in the yeast and continue stirring until well mixed. Add one cup of bread flour and mix until incorporated. Trade to the dough hook and add another cup of bread flour. Once incorporated, add another cup of bread flour. You want the dough to only be slightly sticky. Add the final half cup of dough, if necessary. Knead on medium for 8 to 10 minutes.

Let the dough rest for 15 minutes. Divide in half and shape into a rectangle. Roll up and set into lightly greased dough pans. Cover and let rise for an hour or until doubled in size. Use a sharp knife to make diagonal cuts in the top.

While the bread rises, preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Place a pan of warm water on the bottom rack. Bake the loaves from 35 to 45 minutes or until they sound hollow when tapped. Remove from pans and let cool on wire racks.

To make garlic bread, I roasted 8 cloves of garlic in a little olive oil. Once cool, I then mixed them with a softened stick of butter. I cut the baguette lengthwise and then smeared butter over both sides. Putting the loaf back together, I smeared the remaining garlic butter over the outside bottom and top before wrapping in aluminum foil and baking for 15 minutes at 350 degrees. I removed it from the oven, turned the broiler on high and opened the loaf, so the interior could toast about 4 minutes total.

Roasting Minced Garlic

I keep a jar of minced garlic somewhere in the refrigerator for when I don’t have fresh or, like today, I find out that my fresh had actually sprouted! I will probably plant those but I needed a way to get roasted garlic from minced without burning it.

When I have a whole head, I cut off the top of the garlic head, pour over some olive oil and roast, wrapped in aluminum foil for at least 30 minutes in a 350 degree F oven. When I have loose cloves, I put them (paper and all) in a skillet and almost cover with olive oil. Putting the skillet over medium heat until the oil shimmers, I turn down the heat and let it simmer until soft, about 30 minutes. Once cool, the paper comes off very easy. The benefit of this method is that you get a good quantity of garlic oil out of the deal that you can refrigerate and use in lots of ways.

To roast my minced garlic, however, I needed to do something else. So I preheated the oven to 325 degrees F and put the garlic in a shallow oven proof dish. I mixed the garlic with olive oil and spread it in a thin layer across the bottom of the dish and roasted in the oven for 10 minutes, stirring once. The garlic darkened and mellowed but didn’t turn bitter or burn.

Perfect for me to use in garlic bread!

Easy Rocky Road Candy

I was licking the knife I had used to spread peanut butter on my sandwich when my gaze fell on an opened bag of marshmallows. It took me back to an easy recipe one of my Girl Scout troops once made. I don’t remember if any badges were involved but combining melted chocolate, marshmallows and peanut butter is a sure fire way to make the world a better place.*

Rocky Road Candy

1 cup peanut butter (I prefer Skippy Super Crunch Peanut Butter)
2 cups chocolate morsels (I prefer Ghiradelli Bittersweet Chocolate Chips)
1 tablespoon butter
2 cups small marshmallows

In a large double boiler, melt peanut butter, chocolate and butter. Stir to combine. Remove from heat and stir in the little marshmallows.

Pour into a buttered 8×8 pan and refrigerate for two hours (if you’re desperate, place it in freezer for 45 minutes). Cut into squares and serve.

* Girl Scout Law

I will do my best to be
honest and fair,
friendly and helpful,
considerate and caring,
courageous and strong, and
responsible for what I say and do,
and to 
respect myself and others,
respect authority,
use resources wisely,
make the world a better place, and
be a sister to every Girl Scout.

Sourdough Chocolate Pecan Waffles

I had a cup of starter I needed to use and the idea of setting up a batter on Saturday night so I could have waffles for breakfast on Sunday seemed like a perfect idea. This recipe started from one in the Gray Lady – Sourdough pancake or waffle batter – before I livened it up a bit with some pecans and chocolate.

Sourdough Chocolate Pecan Waffles

Overnight sponge:
1 cup sourdough starter “unfed”
1 cup buttermilk
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon light brown sugar

Batter:
1 large egg
¼ cup melted unsalted butter
1 teaspoon Praline Pecan Liqueur (or 1 teaspoon vanilla extract)
½ teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup pecans, toasted and chopped
3 tablespoons Ghiradelli Sweet Ground Chocolate and Cocoa

Put the sourdough starter in a large bowl and add the buttermilk, flour and sugar, then stir to combine. Cover the bowl and allow it to rest overnight at room temperature.

When you are ready to cook, whisk the egg, melted butter or oil and the vanilla extract together in a small bowl, then add the rested sponge. Add the salt and the baking soda to the batter and mix to combine. Stir in the pecans and ground chocolate.

Pour 1/2 cup of the batter onto a preheated prepared waffle iron and cook until the waffle is brown and crisp, about 5 minutes. Repeat until all the batter is used. Serve immediately or leave in a 200 degree F oven until all are cooked and you are ready to eat.

Sourdough Rosemary Soda Bread

It is St. Patrick’s Day and the most Irish bread I know is soda bread. Basically a bread made from baking soda, buttermilk, salt and flour, it was long a staple of thrifty homemakers. Soda bread is a quick bread with little kneading or rise time, so by adding my sourdough starter, I basically quadrupled the time it took to make the bread. Which was okay, as I had to work today and the eight hour souring period took place while I was away from home. Once I came home and added the salt and soda, it was quick to get it mixed together and into the oven to bake.

I made mine with rosemary but you can make a plain loaf by omitting everything past the 2 teaspoons of baking soda.

Sourdough Soda Bread


1 cup sourdough starter
2 cups milk of choice (buttermilk is traditional in soda bread)
4 cups flour of choice – I used 2 cups all purpose and 2 cups bread flour (plus more as needed)
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 teaspoons kosher salt
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, finely chopped
1 tablespoon butter, melted
1/4 teaspoon coarse salt

Whisk together sourdough starter and milk in a large bowl. Stir in 3 cups of flour until combined. Let sit for a couple minutes to let flour absorb liquid. Add the  final cup of flour and stir until dough can be molded into a ball that holds together nicely and is only a little sticky. Add flour by 1/4 cups as necessary.

Pour the oil into the bowl and place the dough ball back in the bowl, rolling it to cover in oil. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and set aside in a warm place for 8 hours or overnight to let the flour sour and double in size.

Butter a loaf pan. Sprinkle baking soda, salt and rosemary on dough. Knead for 3-5 minutes, until dry ingredients are evenly incorporated into dough. Shape dough into a loaf and place it in bread pan. Brush top with melted butter.

Slice a cross in the dough to allow for expansion and to keep the pixies from jinxing your loaf. Place loaf onto center rack of a cold oven. Heat the oven to 375 degrees F and bake for about hour to an hour and fifteen minutes. Check at 40 minutes and tent with aluminum foil, if necessary to prevent over-browning.

Once baked, remove from oven and rub with a bit of butter over the top. Let bread rest for a few minutes, then remove from pan and transfer to a cooling rack.

Mint Lemonade

When life (or, more accurately, the grocery store) puts lemons on sale, it behoves you to make lemonade. Add to that Michelle needing to thin out her mint plants and we ended up making mint lemonade.

Mint Lemonade

2 cups sugar
6 cups water
1/2 cup mint leaves
2 cups fresh lemon juice

Make a simple syrup by placing 2 cups sugar and 2 cups of the water in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Stir until sugar is dissolved and then add in the mint leaves. Let steep, stirring occasionally for 5 to 10 minutes.

Place lemon juice in a large pitcher, pour in 1 cup mint simple syrup through a strainer. Add remaining 4 cups water. Taste and add additional simple syrup until the lemonade is at your preferred level of sweetness. Serve over ice.

Corn Starch Lemon Meringue Pie for Pi Day

I suffer from innumeracy (and numerophobia and arithmophobia) but I appreciate the work that mathematicians and scientists do/have done/are doing. I am especially grateful for those who teach math and science, even in the face of attacks from legislators and religious extremists. Here in Louisiana, we just had BESE (Board of Elementary and Secondary Education) vote to add a provision to the standards laid out in a poorly named state law (the Louisiana Science Education Act) to encourage teachers to challenge evolution and climate change in their science classrooms.

Is it a surprise that Louisiana ranks poorly in national comparisons of science testing results?

Anyhoo, I also celebrate March 14th because I like pie. This one is a recipe my mom took off the back of the cornstarch box many years ago.

Corn Starch Lemon Meringue Pie

1 cup sugar
1/4 cup corn starch
1 1/2 cups cold water
3 egg yolks, slightly beaten
Grated peel of 1 lemon, chopped fine
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 tablespoon butter
1 baked (9-inch) pie crust (I prefer graham cracker)
3 egg whites
1/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon corn starch

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Combine 1 cup sugar and corn starch in medium saucepan. Gradually stir in water until smooth. Stir in egg yolks. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly, and boil one minute. Remove from heat. Stir in lemon peel, lemon juice and butter.

Spoon hot filling into pie crust.

Beat egg whites in small bowl with mixer at high speed until foamy. Mix 1/3 cup sugar with 1 teaspoon corn starch and gradually beat into egg whites. Continue beating until stiff peaks form. Spread meringue evenly over hot filling, sealing to edge of crust.

Bake 15 to 20 minutes or until golden. Cool on wire rack at room temperature for 30 minutes; refrigerate for 3 hours before serving.

Oh, and before you make your own pie crust using a pie plate you inherited, make sure it is 9 inches. As you can see from the picture, mine is actually closer to 10 inches!

Graham Cracker Pie Crust

1 1/4 cup graham cracker crumbs
1/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup butter, melted

Mix together graham cracker crumbs and sugar in a medium mixing bowl. Pour in melted butter and stir to combine. Press into a pie plate, being sure to press down well on the bottom and sides. Bake for 8 minutes in a 375 degree F oven. Allow to cool before using.