Corn Muffins

I’ve been craving corn muffins ever since I saw a TV chef make some. Today, I made a batch and then proceeded to gobble half of them up, still steaming from the oven. I put in some corn that came from Michelle’s grandfather and which she had cut off the cob and put in the freezer.

This is a southern recipe, so there isn’t a lot of sugar in it but, the addition of fresh corn (you can use canned or frozen, too), means they’re plenty sweet anyway. 

Corn Muffins

1 cup cornmeal
1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup corn flour
2 tablespoons sugar
3 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoons salt
2 eggs
1 cup milk (buttermilk may also be used here)
1 cup corn kernels (fresh or frozen is best – if using canned, drain first)
1 stick melted butter

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.

Whisk together dry ingredients, making sure there are no white streaks. Scramble the eggs into the milk (or buttermilk). Use melted butter to grease either a 12 cup muffin tin or, if using cast iron corn stick pan, grease that plus a 6 cup muffin tin. Add remaining melted butter to milk and eggs. Stir in fresh corn and then add to the dry ingredients. Pour the batter into the prepared pans and bake for 15 to 20 minutes.

Makes about 12 muffins.

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Sourdough Sandwich Bread

I’ve been looking for a bread I can use to make sandwiches – not too heavy, a little sweet and with a soft texture. I found this recipe in James Beard’s book Beard on Bread (pg 37). It was the first book I ever owned on bread baking and I just had to adjust the recipe a little to use my sourdough starter. Because I only wanted a mild sour flavor, I only let the sponge sit overnight on the counter – a little under 12 hours.

Sourdough Sandwich Bread

Sponge:
1 cup unfed sourdough starter
2 cups bread flour
1 cup water

Mix together all the ingredients in the sponge and place it in a large bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and let sit on the counter or other warm, draft free place overnight.

Bread:
3 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon active dry yeast
2 1/2 to 3 cups all purpose flour
1 tablespoon coarse salt

Remove the sponge to the bowl of a stand mixer. Add the oil, buttermilk and yeast and use the paddle attachment to stir the dough on low speed until it is well mixed. Gradually add the flour a half cup at a time and the salt. Once 2 cups of flour are incorporated, switch to a dough hook and knead for 8 to 10 minutes. Add more flour as necessary, if it is very sticky. The finished dough should be smooth and elastic.

Butter a large mixing bowl and place in the dough, turning to coat. Cover with plastic wrap and set in a warm, draft free place for 2 hours or until doubled in size. Punch down and let sit for 5 to 10 minutes while you butter two loaf pans. Divide the dough in half and set a half in each pan. Let rise until doubled in bulk and over the edges of the pan, about 1 1/2 to 2 hours.

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Set a dish with boiling water on the lower rack of the oven to provide steam. Brush the top of the loaves with water and then slash it three times diagonally across the top with a very sharp knife.

Place in the oven and immediately drop the temperature to 375 degrees F and bake for 20 minutes. Brush the top with cold water and bake for another 20 minutes. Remove the loaves from their pans and put directly on the oven rack for a final 20 minutes. When done, the bread will be darkly brown and sound hollow when tapped. Cool completely before slicing.

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.

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.

Cinnamon Raisin Sourdough Bread

Yet more fun from the world of sourdough bread making. This is another one from King Arthur Flour and makes a delightful cinnamon, raisin sourdough bread.

I plumped the raisins by putting them in a bowl with 1 tablespoon Fireball whiskey plus 1/2 cup water and letting sit for about thirty minutes.

Cinnamon Raisin Sourdough Bread

DOUGH
1/2 cup sourdough starter, fed or unfed
3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
2 1/2 teaspoons instant yeast
1 tablespoon sugar
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
1 large egg
5 tablespoons soft butter
2/3 cup lukewarm water
FILLING
1/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons unbleached all-purpose flour
1 large egg beaten with 1 tablespoon water
1/2 cup raisins or craisins

Combine all of the dough ingredients, and mix and knead — using your hands, a stand mixer, or a bread machine set on the dough cycle — to make a soft, smooth dough.

Place the dough in a lightly greased container, and allow it to rise for 1 1/2 to 2 hours, until it’s just about doubled in bulk.

While the dough is rising, make the filling by stirring together the sugar, cinnamon, and flour. Plump the raisins. Drain well before using.

Gently deflate the dough, and transfer it to a lightly greased work surface. Roll and pat the dough into a rough rectangle approximately 6″ x 20″. Brush the dough with the egg/water mixture, and sprinkle it evenly with the filling and raisins. Starting with a short end, roll the dough into a log. Pinch the ends to seal, and pinch the long seam closed.

Transfer the log, seam-side down, to a lightly buttered 9″ x 5″ loaf pan. Cover and allow the bread to rise until it’s crested about 1″ over the rim of the pan, about 1 hour.

While the dough is rising, preheat the oven to 350°F.

Bake the bread for 40 to 45 minutes, tenting it lightly with aluminum foil after the first 20 minutes. The bread’s crust will be golden brown, and the interior of the finished loaf should measure 190°F on a digital thermometer.

Remove the bread from the oven, and gently loosen the edges. Turn it out of the pan, and brush the top surface with butter, if desired; this will give it a soft, satiny crust. Allow the bread to cool completely before slicing.

Sourdough Focaccia

Focaccia is one of my favorite breads to make and eat. I love it best with black, Kalamata olives and rosemary and this recipe even lets me use some of my sourdough starter as a base. To speed things up, instead of making a sponge, take your fed starter and add a little bit of active dry yeast for an extra boost. The result is focaccia in less than 4 hours.

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Sourdough Focaccia

1 cup fed sourdough starter
1 teaspoon instant yeast
1 cup bread flour
2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup warm water
2 teaspoons kosher or sea salt
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 teaspoon flake salt like Maldon
1/2 cup pitted black olives, chopped
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, chopped

Combine the starter, yeast, water and flours in the bowl of a stand mixer. Mix on medium low for 10 minutes. Dough will be very sticky. Add the salt and beat another five minutes. Cover with plastic wrap and allow to rise until doubled in size, about two hours.

Move rack to lower third of the oven. If you have a pizza stone, place it on the rack. Preheat oven to 500 degrees F.

Pour half the oil into a large cast iron skillet, at least 12 inches. If you don’t have such a large one, use a baking sheet at least 9×12 (I use the rectangle pan when I’m making focaccia for sandwiches). Plop dough in center of pan and pour remaining oil on top. Using your fingers, spread the dough to the edges of the pan. Let the dough rise again for an hour.

Dimple the top with your finger tips. Sprinkle on the flake salt and other toppings and press them in with your fingertips, leaving the top dimpled.

Bake for 15 minutes. Drop oven temperature to 450 degrees F. Rotate the pan and bake for an additional 15 minutes or until the top is golden brown. Cool on a rack for 10 minutes before removing from pan. Try not to scarf it down before it cools completely.

It makes great sandwich bread!

focaccia

Pork Rib Sandwich 

Sourdough Starter Pretzels

With our sourdough starter going strong, I decided to try my hand at sourdough pretzels. I wanted something like you’d get from a street vender: chewy and great tasting but minus the concerns about sanitation.

pretzel

 

Sourdough Starter Pretzels

1 cup sourdough starter, straight out of the fridge
3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1/4 cup nonfat dry milk
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon butter, melted
2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons instant yeast
up to 3/4 cups water

10 cups water
2/3 cup baking soda

1 egg, beaten with 1 tablespoon water
coarse grain salt

2 tablespoons melted butter (optional)

Add all the ingredients together in a stand mix with the dough hook attachment. Knead on medium speed until the dough comes together and becomes cohesive but still slightly sticky. Cover the dough and let rest one hour.

Gently fold to deflate. Cut the dough into 12 pieces. Roll out each piece of dough into a 24-inch rope. Make a U-shape with the rope, holding the ends of the rope, cross them over each other and press onto the bottom of the U in order to form the shape of a pretzel. Set each pretzel on a parchment lined baking sheet. Cover and let rise in a warm place for 1 hour or until puffy.

Bring to a boil 10 cups of water. Sprinkle in 2/3 cup baking soda. Place the pretzels into the boiling water. Boil for 30 seconds. Remove from the water and return to the baking sheet.

Brush the top of each pretzel with the beaten egg yolk and water mixture. Sprinkle on the pretzel salt.

Bake at 400 degrees F for 20 minutes or until dark golden brown. Brush the tops with melted butter, if desired.

Michelle did a few variations on a sweet glaze.

Cinnamon Vanilla Glaze

2 tablespoons melted butter
2 1/2 tablespoons powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon honey
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/8 teaspoon vanilla (to taste)
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons vwater

Add all dry ingredients to the melted butter and water. warm in microwave until sugar and salt are dissolved. Stir in vanilla and honey. After 15 minutes of pretzels baking, brush on and finish cooking.

Pecan Glaze

1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 tablespoon melted butter
handful chopped pecans
1 teaspoon pecan praline liqueur
2 teaspoons water

Add ingredients together and warm in the microwave until sugar is dissolved. If needed, add 1-2 more teaspoons of water to thin the glaze. Brush on the glaze with five minutes of baking left. Bruch more glaze on after the pretzels come out of the oven.