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.

Rosemary Sourdough Bread

I received from my friend Gillian a packet of Goldrush San Francisco Sourdough Starter a few months ago. As the necessities for the care and feeding of starter can become burdensome if you don’t bake bread every few days (or are willing to toss out a cup every few days), I decided to wait until cooler weather to begin the process.

It took a few days but now that we’re finally beginning to bake from it, I decided to make herbed bread that I first read about in Breaking Bread with Father Dominic, which was incidentally my first bread making cookbook. The original had caraway seeds, sage, nutmeg and whole wheat flour, none of which I cared to use. I just loved how the smell of baking bread and rosemary filled the house as these loaves cooked and the finished product tastes pretty darn good, too.

bread

Rosemary Sourdough Bread

1 cup sourdough starter
3 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 cups water
3 tablespoons honey

Make the sponge and let it sit on the counter, covered in plastic wrap overnight or up to 72 hours. The longer you let it develop, the more distinctive the sourdough flavor will be in your final bread.

2 1/4 teaspoon active dry yeast (1 package)
1/4 cup warm water
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, chopped
3 cups all purpose flour

Proof the yeast in the warm water for several minutes. Add all the ingredients to the sponge and mix together in the bowl of a stand mixer. Knead the dough for about 10 minutes. Coat in oil and let rise for 2 hours in a warm place.

Once the dough has doubled in size, dived into two loaves and put into well oiled loaf pans. Let rise for 2 hours more.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Bake loaves for 45 minutes to 1 hour or until they turn a dark, golden brown. Breads with honey can darken too quickly, so you might need to cover the top with aluminum foil for the last 10 to 15 minutes of baking. Remove from the pans and cool on racks.

Buttermilk Biscuits and Sausage Gravy

I woke up early and decided to make a quintessential southern breakfast for my still sleeping girlfriend. Sausage gravy is one of my comfort foods and it is super simple to make. The biscuits aren’t too hard either – this time I prepared them using shortening, instead of butter so they can be handled a bit more without becoming tough. Although, if you want to use biscuits out of can with the sausage gravy, I won’t tell anyone.

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Buttermilk Biscuits

4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon salt
1 tablespoon baking powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 cup vegetable shortening, cold, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 1/2 to 2 cups buttermilk, plus additional for brushing

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Sift together the flour, salt, baking powder and baking soda. Cut in the shortening using a pastry blender, fork or a stand mixer fixed with a dough hook until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Make a well in the center and add 1 1/2 cup buttermilk. Using your hands, quickly fold the dry ingredients into the buttermilk until a sticky dough forms. You may need to add more buttermilk.

Turn the dough out onto a floured surface. Gently fold the dough over itself 3 or 4 times to create layers. Press the dough out to 1 1/2-inches thick and cut with a floured 3-inch biscuit cutter. Lay the biscuits on an ungreased cookie sheet and brush the tops with buttermilk. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes until risen and golden brown.

Sausage Gravy

½ pound bulk breakfast sausage
¼ cup flour
2 cups milk
Salt and ground black pepper

Crumble the sausage into a large cast iron skillet and cook until no longer pink in the middle and nice and browned. Break the sausage into small chunks as you cook it. Remove the sausage to a paper towel lined plate with a slotted spoon.

Pour the drippings into a heatproof bowl. Return 2 tablespoons of drippings back to the pan. Sprinkle over the flour and cook over medium low heat, stirring and scraping, for 2 to 5 minutes or until the flour is lightly browned. Slowly whisk in the milk, continuing to scrape the bottom of the pan. Cook, whisking frequently, until the gravy is thick. Stir the sausage back in and heat through, seasoning with salt and black pepper to taste.

Serve over hot, split biscuits.