Lemon Cream Cheese Sourdough Kolaches

Czech immigrants to Louisiana brought to our shores recipes for filled buns called kolaches. These can be filled with sweet or savory fillings – I’ve had sausage and cheese kolaches in Lafayette and creole cream cheese ones in Metairie. As there are people stoping by on the way to parades on Fat Tuesday, I made mine with a lemon cream cheese filling.

Because I am using my sourdough starter, I started by making the sponge the morning before on Lundi Gras and then let the dough proof overnight before the shaping of the buns and baking in the morning of Mardi Gras.

I divided my cream cheese into two batches, colored them with yellow and blue food coloring and put them in the bun wells in a stripe, symbolizing the Ukrainian national flag. We may be a world apart but I liked the idea of honoring their fight against the Russian invaders. Slava Ukraini! Heroiam slava! (“Glory to Ukraine! Glory to the heroes!”)

Tasty with a deliciously tangy bite from the lemon juice. These take a bit of time but were a cool way to use my sourdough starter.

Lemon Cream Cheese Sourdough Kolaches

Take 1 cup from your sourdough starter and feed it with 1 cup of flour and ½ cup of warm water. Mix well and set aside on the counter for eight hours.

3 tablespoons granulated sugar
4 cups all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon Kosher salt
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1 cup milk
2 egg yolks (reserve the whites)
½ cup of the sourdough sponge
1 ½ cups of filling

Whisk together the dry ingredients (sugar, 3 cups of flour and salt) in a large bowl. Mash the softened butter into the dry ingredients with a fork.

Warm the milk in the microwave for 10 to 15 seconds. It should be warm, not hot. Whisk the egg yolks into the warm milk along with the sourdough starter. Stir until well combined.

Mix the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients until no dry pockets remain. Allow the mixture to rest for an hour.

Use the final cup of flour to dust the work surface and your hands. Turn out the dough and form into a ball and knead until smooth, about 10 minutes. Butter a bowl and place the dough inside to proof for eight hours.

Divide the dough into quarters and divide each quarter into three pieces. Roll gently between your hands to form balls. Place on a baking sheets and don’t crowd the pan as they will be doubling in size. Cover with plastic wrap. Let rise for 2 hours.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

To fill the kolaches, take your fingers and press an indentation in the center of each risen ball of dough. You are looking to create a deep hollow surrounded by puffy sides of dough. Place about a tablespoon of filling into each depression.

Beat the egg whites and brush them over the exposed dough. Bake for 20 minutes, until the dough is a light golden brown.

Eat them warm from the oven, or let them cool and store them in an airtight container.

Here is the filling recipe that I used. You can also use jam, if you don’t want to make your own.

Lemon Cream Cheese Filling

8 ounces cream cheese left at room temperature for at least 30 minutes
1 large egg separated (reserve egg white to use as egg wash)
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
Dash salt

Place the cream cheese, egg yolk, sugar, vanilla, lemon juice and zest and salt in a medium bowl and beat together with an electric mixer until smooth. Cover and place in the fridge. Pull out to soften slightly ahead of the end of the final proof.

Chocolate Chunk Banana Bread

Michelle hasn’t been using as many bananas in making smoothies lately so she had a surfeit of ripe bananas in her freezer. I suggested a banana bread recipe I’d seen where the chef chopped a chocolate bar instead of using chocolate chips so there are small bits of shavings and larger, gooey chunks. She agreed and this is the converted recipe she made.

Recipe without nuts

She made one double batch without pecans and one with as some of her holiday visitors have nut allergies. I’m taking one with nuts to my sister and keeping one for myself.

Slice with nuts

This is definitely a recipe you’ll want to double as there is chocolate banana goodness in every bite and it will disappear very fast.

Chocolate Chunk Banana Bread

1 ½ cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
1 stick (½ cup) unsalted butter, softened
1 ¼ cup granulated sugar
4 bananas (ripe and mashed)
2 eggs (lightly beaten)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped into chunks
1 cup pecans, toasted and chopped (optional)

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Sift the flour and baking powder into a large bowl. Mix the butter, sugar, banana, eggs, vanilla extract, chocolate chunks and chopped pecans in a separate bowl. Add to the dry ingredients and stir to combine, being careful not to over mix.

Pour the batter into a lightly greased and floured, 8×5 loaf pan and bake for 1 hour 15 minutes. The bread is cooked when tested with a toothpick and it comes out clean.

Leave to cool in the pan for 5 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack to cool.

Makes 8 to 10 slices.

Saint Lucy’s Saffron Buns

I watched Paul Hollywood make St Lucia Buns on the Great British Baking Show and I immediately thought about making them with Creole Cream Cheese in place of the Quark cheese in the recipe. Of course, in craziness of the months since the episode aired, I nearly forgot about doing this recipe.

If you want these for breakfast on December 13th, consider making the dough the night before. When you get the stage of putting it in a buttered bowl to proof, instead place the covered bowl in the fridge overnight. Pull it out and set on the counter to let it warm to room temperature for 90 minutes before continuing the recipe by punching down and dividing the dough into about 12 equal sized pieces.

My raisins were a little old and hard, so I put them in a steamer basket over a small amount of boiling water for a few minutes and to soften and plump them up.

The end result are buns that are as beautiful as they are tasty.

Saint Lucy's Saffron Buns

1 teaspoon saffron threads
1 cup warm milk
½ stick unsalted butter
5 cups (500g) bread flour
1 ½ teaspoons instant yeast
1 teaspoon salt
¼ cup sugar
1 cup Creole Cream cheese
butter for greasing
1 egg yolk
24 to 30 raisins

Scald the milk by pouring it into a small pan and warm over a low heat until almost to a boil and it is gently steaming. Remove from the heat, add the saffron threads and butter and leave to stand for 10 minutes or until lukewarm.

Place flour into the bowl of a stand mixer with a dough hook attachment. Add the salt to one side of the bowl and the yeast to the other and begin to stir. Add in the sugar and continue to stir. Add the saffron-milk-butter mixture and creole cheese and mix until all the flour from the sides of the bowl has been incorporated.

Knead for about 5 or 6 minutes either in the mixer or by hand on the counter. The finished dough will form a soft, smooth skin.

When the dough feels smooth and silky, put it into a lightly buttered bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and leave in a warm place for 1½-2 hours until doubled in size. Grease 2 baking sheets with butter.

Punch down the dough and divide into about 12 equal pieces. Roll the pieces into a long strand about a foot long. Starting at each end, roll in opposite directions into an S-shape, as tight as possible.

Starting the roll

Place on the prepared baking sheets and cover loosely with a plastic. Leave for 30-45 minutes until doubled in size.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Brush the rolls with the egg yolk, then place one raisin in the center of each spiral (two raisins per roll). Bake the rolls for 15 minutes, or until golden. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool on a wire rack.

Mushroom Pistachio Sourdough Focaccia

I oven roasted more than enough mushrooms for pizza and had almost a cup left over. Michelle had given me a bag of pistachios and I had a hankering for focaccia, so this recipe was born.

To roast the mushrooms, slice and place in a large bowl with a generous amount of olive oil. Stir well to coat before placing mushrooms on a parchment covered baking sheet and spreading out in a single layer. Roast in a 400 degree oven for 10-15 minutes until done, stirring once during the baking.

This is a bread that eats like a meal. While it takes a several long rises totaling about 6 hours as it only uses the wild yeast in the sourdough starter, the final result is almost meaty and nutty and deliciously crunchy.

Mushroom Pistachio Sourdough Focaccia

2-3 cups bread flour
1 cup sourdough starter
1 cup water
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
4 tablespoons plus extra for drizzle olive oil
½ cup sliced and roasted mushrooms, chopped
¼ cup dry roasted pistachios, chopped
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
flake salt

Mix 2 cups flour, water and sourdough starter together in a large bowl until it comes together in a sticky dough. Let this dough rest for 30 minutes to hydrate the flour.

Add another 1/2 cup of flour, salt and 2 tablespoons olive oil to the dough and move to a bread machine or a stand mixer. Set the bread machine on dough cycle and let the cycle run. With a stand mixer, use a dough hook to knead the dough for 10 minutes. The dough should pull away from the sides of the bowl – if it is too sticky to do so, add another ½ cup of bread flour.

Cover and let rise for two hours or until doubled in size.

Punch down the dough and mix in the pistachios and mushrooms. Place in an oiled bowl to rise for two hours or until doubled in size.

Place 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a 9×13 pan and use your fingers to coat the bottom. With oiled fingers, turn the dough onto the pan and press gently to spread the dough out evenly to a one inch thickness. Cover and let rise for another hour.

Sink your finger tips into the dough to make deep dents. Drizzle a good coating of olive oil over the top. Sprinkle top with sea salt and Italian seasoning (I have a recipe for an Italian seasoning mix here).

After the dough has rested for at least 30 minutes, preheat oven to 450º F.

Place the focaccia into the oven. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until golden brown and it sounds hollow when you tap on it.

Remove from the oven and let cool before serving.

Crusty, Chewy Sourdough Rolls

We planned to have some leftover Crab Imperial for dinner and I decided to make dinner rolls. I used my sourdough starter to give the rolls a flavorful start and poured a pan of water in the oven to give them a perfectly crusty exterior.

This isn’t a fussy recipe although it does take some time. As my starter has the consistency of pancake batter, the first step only took about 30 minutes but waiting longer doesn’t hurt, just adds a depth of flavor.

If you don’t gobble them all down in a single sitting, the rolls can be frozen once they have cooled completely. Defrost in the microwave on the DEFROST setting for about a minute.

Final result is a nice chew and light tang to the rolls. Delicious accompaniment to dinner or lovely on their own with butter or a little olive oil.

Sourdough French Rolls

1 cup unfed sourdough starter
2 ½ cups to 3 cups bread flour
1 cup water
½ teaspoon sugar
1 ½ teaspoons salt
½ teaspoon yeast

Combine the sourdough starter, flour, water and sugar in a large bowl. Stir to combine. The mixture should be a shaggy, sticky dough. Cover and allow to rest for about 45 minutes to an hour to hydrate the flour.

Transfer dough to a bread machine and add the salt and yeast. Set it on dough cycle and hit start. After the bread machine has been running for about ten minutes, check the consistency of the dough. It will be a little sticky, but should clear the sides of the bowl. If it seems too wet, add more flour a few tablespoons at a time. Let the machine complete the cycle and leave it in the machine for 30 additional minutes.

Dust a baking sheet lightly with cornmeal. Set aside.

After the dough has doubled in size, place it onto the counter or a cutting board.  Divide the dough into 9 equal sized pieces.

Shape the pieces into rolls by pinching the bottoms and rolling on the counter to smooth out. Place on the cornmeal dusted baking sheet. Rub the tops with flour and then make a slash into the tops with sharp knife. Cover with plastic wrap and allow to rise again at room temperature for 45 minutes.

Bring the oven to 450 degrees F. Place an empty, rimmed baking sheet on the lowest rack to get hot while the oven preheats.

When the oven has come to temperature, pour 1 cup of water on the hot baking sheet to create steam (the pan may buckle – this is okay). Place the baking sheet with the rolls on center rack and bake for 20-24 minutes, until golden brown and they sound hollow when thumped.

Cool rolls on wire rack.

 

Sourdough Caraway Loaf

I’m beset with a surplus of sourdough sponge in my efforts to create a sourdough panettone. As a bonus, I get to play with lots of different baked goods. Today is a bread sourdough loaf with caraway seeds.

To fully hydrate the sourdough sponge, feed your starter with water and flour and let sit on the counter overnight. Stir and take out a cup of the sponge to begin the dough.

There is a lovely nutty flavor to the loaf with a nice crust and chew.

I have some pastrami so I’m thinking this will make a nice sandwich bread – I lightly toasted a couple of slices, placed hot pastrami on one slice topped with some provolone cheese and broiled it for a couple of minutes. Even without sauerkraut or 1000 Island dressing, it was very good!

Sourdough Caraway Loaf

1 cup fully hydrated sourdough sponge
½ cup warm water
3 cups bread flour, divided
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 ½ cups bread flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 ¼ teaspoons yeast
2 teaspoons caraway seeds, crushed

Mix together the sponge, ½ cup water and 1 ½ cups bread flour. Stir well and place in the bread machine. Let sit for 30 minutes.

Add to the sponge mixture the baking soda, remaining 1 ½ cups bread flour, salt, olive oil, yeast and caraway seeds, in that order. Set the machine for basic cycle, medium crust.

Sourdough Olive Breadsticks

These aren’t the soft, yeasty breadsticks you find at some steakhouses. Instead, they are more like the Italian grissini and are crispy and flavorful. They are wonderful to snack on while you wait for dinner to cook or while watching the sport of politics as the Democratic National Convention has been on this week (the Republican National Convention is on next week).

Many recipes would have you push the olives into the twists once you’ve placed them on a baking tray. I find mixing them in with the dough means you get a little olive in every bite and no burnt bits.

I sprinkle the tops with flake salt but you can also use a seasoning blend like an everything bagel seasoning, Italian seasoning, pizza seasoning, etc.

Very good and even better dipped in a little olive oil and freshly cracked black pepper. Bring on the speeches!

Sourdough Olive Breadsticks

1 cup warm water
1 cup
 sourdough starter
1 ½ cups bread flour
2 ½ cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, softened
½ cup Kalamata olives, chopped

egg wash for brushing
flake salt or other seasoning for topping

Mix all ingredients and knead until all flour is hydrated, at least 8-10 minutes. Place dough in a buttered bowl. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and put in a warm place. At 30 minutes and an hour into the proof, go into the bowl and pick up a bit of the outside of the dough and lift and press into the center. Continue while moving the bowl until you’ve gone all the way around. After the second press, let the dough rest for a further 2 hours.

Generously flour the counter with semolina flour if you have it or use all-purpose  and gently turn out the dough. The dough will be wet so sprinkle the top with flour to minimize sticking. Use your hands to flatten and shape the dough into a rectangle. With a knife or pizza cutter, divide the dough into 12-16 strips and shape into long, thin ropes by gently pulling the ends and twisting a few times.

Arrange the twists on greased baking sheets about an 1 inch apart. Do as many trays as necessary but only bake one at a time. Scramble the egg with a tablespoon of water and brush over the top of the twists. Sprinkle with salt or seasoning blend. Let sit on the counter while you preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.

Bake 16-20 minutes until crispy and turn out on a cooling rack. These crisp up further on the cooling rack, so don’t over bake them.

If you plan to freeze or serve later, bake without egg wash or topping. Once done, cool on wire rack and store in a zip top bag and store. Just before serving, brush tops with olive oil and sprinkle on preferred topping and pop into a 350 degree F oven for about ten minutes until they are heated through.

 

Sourdough Sandwich Bread

My niece’s husband has been furloughed with the stay-at-home orders. As she has three kids and the grocery stores are running out of bread, I decided this week’s bread making would be sandwich bread for them.

This recipe was started the night before by making the sponge. The next morning, after I finished adding more flour and some salt and olive oil, it had a long rise in the bowl. Then, I divided it and placed in loaf pans for another rise.

I made the little loaf for my sister to have for taking the bread to her daughter.

We ate half of the other loaf with the Boston Butt that my brother-in-law, Wayne, smoked this morning. The bread is so tender and soft and it has a nice, mild tang. Yummy!

Sourdough Sandwich Bread

1 1/2 cups sourdough starter (see recipe notes for link)
1 cup lukewarm water
1 cup bread flour
4-6 cups all purpose flour
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 teaspoon salt

Place the sourdough starter in a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer. Add to it the bread flour, 1 cup of all-purpose flour, and water. Mix well and set it aside, covered, in a warm place for overnight (about 8-12 hours).

Add 2 cups of all-purpose flour, olive oil and salt and mix. Begin to knead. Add more flour as you knead until the dough becomes quite firm but still feels a little sticky to your fingers. Knead for 4-5 minutes or until the dough feels smooth and springy to your fingers and it barely sticks to the sides of the bowl.

Shape into a ball and place in an oiled bowl, turning the ball of dough around once to coat the top with oil. Cover tightly and place in a warm spot (like an oven with the light turned on) for at least two hours or until the dough has doubled.

Punch down the dough and divide into two. Prep two standard loaf pans by spraying lightly with oil. Place each loaf into the prepared loaf pans. Cover with a kitchen towel and let them stand in a warm place for at least two more hours or until the dough rises above the top of the loaf pans.

About half an hour before baking, preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Make a shallow slice on the top of the dough lengthwise. Place the loaves in the oven and bake 40 minutes.

Remove the loaves from the oven, turn them out on a rack, and let them cool thoroughly before slicing, at least an hour.

 

Olive Sourdough Loaves

I pulled a half cup of sourdough out of the refrigerator and put it in a bowl with ½ cup of lukewarm water and a cup of all purpose flour. I stirred it well and put plastic wrap over the top of the mixing bowl and left it on the counter overnight so it was raring to go for a rustic loaf.

My starter and I then took a field trip across two states before I added flour and chopped black Kalamata olives for a delicious loaf even my Dad enjoyed. You don’t need to give it that long a rest or a drive in a warm car but, even if you do, the bread still turns out delicious!

This recipe makes two loaves. Give one away to someone who is self isolating but craves some good bread or you can freeze the extra loaf until ready to eat it yourself.

They make really good bread for sandwiches, too.

Olive Sourdough Loaves

1 cup sourdough starter, fed
1 1/4 cups lukewarm water
1/4 cup olive oil
2 teaspoons instant yeast
1 tablespoon sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons salt
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 ½  cups unbleached all-purpose flour
2 ½  cups bread flour
3/4 cup drained, pitted, and coarsely chopped Kalamata olives

Combine everything but the olives in a stand mixer and stir to form a smooth dough. Fold in the olives and Knead about 10 minutes, dough should come cleanly away from the sides.

Place the dough in a well oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Allow it to rise in a warm, draft free place until it’s doubled in size, about 90 minutes.

Using a sharp knife, gently divide the dough in half. Shape each piece of dough into either a round or oval loaf. Place each loaf on a lightly greased or parchment-lined baking sheet.

Cover the loaves and let them rise an 1 hour. They will be very puffy.

Preheat the oven to 425°F.

Spray the loaves with water and make two fairly deep diagonal slashes in each.

Bake the loaves for 25 to 30 minutes, until they’re a very deep golden brown. Remove them from the oven, and cool on a rack.

Garlic Sourdough Focaccia

I made a chicken, lemon and rice soup  the other day and knew I would want a good homemade bread to go with it. I decided on focaccia with some of my sourdough but, instead of the usual rosemary or olive, I decided to go for garlic. I crisped up some garlic in olive oil and it was deliciously garlicky.

This focaccia has a lovely chew and great flavor. And you won’t have to worry about vampires for a long time to come!

I used the extra yeast to shorten the time of the bread making – the last time I did this without, I needed an overnight rise. By placing it in a 9×13 pan, it gives it enough rise to make lovely sandwich bread.

Garlic Sourdough Focaccia

1 cup active sourdough starter
1 ¼ cups warm water
¼ cup olive oil
1 ½ teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup bread flour
3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon instant yeast

Garlic oil

½ head of garlic (about 8 large cloves)
¼ cup olive oil

Remove enough of  the sourdough starter from the mother for the recipe and place in a draft free place for four hours. Feed the remaining starter and return it to the fridge. The starter should be bubbling nicely after its rest.

Place the starter, water, oil, salt, flours and instant yeast into a bread machine. Let the machine run for 15 minutes on the dough cycle and then turn it off for 15 minutes to hydrate the flours. Clear the machine and start the dough cycle over again.

Once the dough cycle has ended, place the dough in a large, well oiled bowl covered with plastic wrap. Let stand in a warm, draft free place for two hours. I place mine in the cold oven with the oven light on. One hour into the rise, punch down the dough.

Heat the olive oil in a skillet. Add the garlic to the oil and cook over medium-low heat, stirring often, until golden brown. Be careful not to let it burn. Strain the garlic, reserving the garlic flavored oil and the garlic separately.

Lightly oil a 9×13 pan with half of the garlic olive oil. Place the dough onto the oiled pan (trying not to deflate it too much). Use your fingers to spread the dough to the edges. Cover the dough with plastic wrap. Allow the dough to rise for about 1 hour until well risen and puffy.

Preheat the oven to 400°F. Use your fingers to dimple the top of the dough all over. Brush with the remaining garlic flavored olive oil. Sprinkle the crispy garlic and coarse sea salt over the top.

Bake about 20-25 minutes until puffed and golden brown. Let cool completely before slicing and serving.