Buttery Sourdough Cornbread

I had already pulled out the discard from my sourdough when I realized what I was really craving was cornbread. Back to the drawing board to figure out to combine my two loves.

My go-to cornbread recipe is my mom’s (it can be found here). With the addition of a cup of sourdough starter, I first jumped to the next size up skillet – 10 inches of cast iron.

I usually like to use buttermilk in my cornbread but, with the tang from the starter, I decided to use whole milk instead. The batter was super tight so I upped the butter to ½ cup and added 2 eggs instead of my usual one. That seemed to do the trick of loosening things up.

The cornbread turned out really well – it isn’t quite as fluffy as Mama’s but it is pretty light for having a cup of sourdough starter and it is very tasty.

Sourdough Cornbread

1 cup sourdough starter discard
1 cup milk
1 cup cornmeal
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 eggs, whisked together
½ teaspoon salt
½ cup unsalted butter
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda

Mix the sourdough starter, milk, cornmeal and flour together in a mixing bowl. Cover the bowl with a clean dish towel and set the mixture aside at room temperature while you preheat the oven.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F with a 10 inch cast iron skillet inside and the stick of butter in the skillet. When the butter is melted remove from the oven and swirl the skillet to get the butter to cover the bottom and a bit of the sides. Carefully, pour over the dough. Stir to combine.

Add the eggs, salt, baking powder and baking soda to the mixture and stir well. Pour the batter into the heated and buttered pan.

Bake for 20-25 minutes or until the top is golden-brown. A toothpick inserted into the center should come out clean.

Remove from the oven, and allow to cool for 10 minutes before slicing and serving hot, slathered with additional butter.

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.

 

Beer Pretzels

I made my brother-in-law jealous with all the pretzels I’ve been making and not sharing, so I decided to make a batch for him to enjoy (and the rest of us as well, as this recipe makes 12-16 pretzels).

The good thing about this batch is that you can press pause after shaping them and place them in the freezer for later boiling and baking. It means delicious, warm pretzels later without repeating the process. You boil them from frozen, so it is a nice thing to keep around for a craving.

These make soft pretzels with a nice yeasty taste. Pop leftover cooked ones in the toaster oven for a quick rewarming. I gave my sister a bag of unbaked, frozen ones to take home and cook, whenever they want more.

Beer Pretzels

1 cup warm water
½ cup sourdough starter
1 tablespoon rapid-rise yeast (about a package and a half)
½ cup packed dark-brown sugar
½ cup beer
6 ½ cups unbleached bread flour
4 tablespoons coarse salt
½ cup (1 stick) frozen unsalted butter, plus more for serving
Nonstick cooking spray
½ cup baking soda

1 egg, beaten in 1 tablespoon water
Coarse salt

In a medium bowl, mix together warm water, yeast, and 1/2 cup brown sugar; let stand until foamy, 5 to 10 minutes.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, whisk together flour and coarse salt. Grate frozen butter into bowl and mix with your hands until mixture is crumbly. Stir beer into yeast mixture and mix into flour until a shaggy dough is formed and liquid is absorbed.

Using the dough hook attachment, mix dough on medium speed until dough is tight, elastic, and smooth, 6 to 8 minutes. Transfer to a large, lightly oiled bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and place in refrigerator; let chill at least 8 hours and up to overnight.

Remove dough from refrigerator and let come to room temperature.

Roll dough out into a 14-by-12-inch rectangle. Cut dough into about a dozen 12-inch-long strips, each about 1-inch wide.

Working with one piece of dough at a time, roll out each piece into a 24 to 30-inch-long rope (about 3/4-inch thick), starting from the center and working toward the ends. Make a “U” shape with the rope and cross the ends over twice, pinching at the bottom of the “U” to form a pretzel. Return to baking sheet and repeat process with remaining dough.

If you don’t want to bake all your pretzels at once you can freeze them overnight or for several days at this point. Just place the shaped pretzels on a baking sheet and place into the freezer. If you’re not going to eat them right away, place in a zip top bag once hard frozen.

When ready to continue, preheat oven to 450 degrees.

Coat a large baking sheet with nonstick cooking spray and sprinkle lightly with salt. In a large saucepan, bring 8 cups water to a boil. Add in baking soda. Simmer pretzels, one at a time, about 30 seconds, holding them under the surface of the water, if necessary, using a spider or slotted spatula. For pretzels straight out of the freezer, boil for 1 minute. Place on wire rack to drain, then transfer to prepared baking sheet and repeat process with remaining pretzels.

Coat pretzels with egg wash. Sprinkle pretzels with coarse salt. Place in oven and bake for 5 minutes. Rotate baking sheet, and bake until deep brown, 6 – 8 minutes more. Remove from baking sheet and transfer to a wire rack to cool slightly.

Serve warm with butter or mustard.

 

Sourdough Blueberry Pecan Coffee Cake

When I first moved to California in the mid-1990’s, I stayed with some folks in Palo Alto who were real fans of Hobee’s Restaurant and their blueberry coffee cake. We went there several times and, when I finally got my own place, they gave me a well worn brochure that included the recipe and it has been one of my go-to brunch recipes ever since (with the addition of pecans in the topping). Here is a link to the original recipe.

I needed to use some starter and I’ve found that in cake and other recipes that call for sour cream, you can substitute sourdough starter and you get a nice tang with a little added lift. I gave it a try with this one and it worked amazingly.

I used cake flour for a nice tender crumb but, if you only have all-purpose, drop the flour to 1 ½ cups.

To warm it up the next day, place it in the microwave for 15 to 20 seconds (depending on how big a slice you have).

Sourdough Blueberry Pecan Coffee Cake

1 3/4 cups cake flour, sifted
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
½ cup sourdough starter
2 tablespoons sour cream
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
½ cup fresh blueberries, tossed in 2 tablespoons corn starch

Topping

5 tablespoon granulated sugar
2 tablespoons butter, softened
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
½ cup chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter an 8×8 baking pan.

In a large mixing bowl, resift flour with baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt

In another mixing bowl, beat sugar and eggs. Stir together sour cream and sourdough starter to loosen it up and then add to the sugar/eggs mixture. Mix to combine. Add in vanilla.

Add in the flour mixture and beat until smooth.

Pour half the batter in the buttered pan and scatter the berries over. Pour in the rest of the batter and smooth the top.

In a small bowl, mix topping sugar with the butter and cinnamon with a sturdy fork, until they are blended. Add in pecans and stir to combine. Sprinkle topping over batter.

Bake for 25-30 minutes, until a clean toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out dry.

Cool slightly; serve warm or at room temperature.

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.

 

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.