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.

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.

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