How an Unfortunate Event Led to Incredible Sourdough

If only you were in my kitchen when this bread emerged from my oven. If you could have just smelled the twangy aromas of this bread, you might just understand how delightful it really is. The strange thing about this dough is that it sat on my counter for 48 hours. I mixed and kneaded the dough Saturday afternoon, let it double in bulk once, and put in the fridge to bake the next morning. But the next morning I received a call that I should head over to my sister’s home to watch her 2 young girlies because she was having a difficult morning. My big sister is sadly battling a never ending fight against cancer. I threw a few things into an overnight bag and was on my way. Much to my dismay, my sister had to return to the hospital that afternoon for something like her 8th time in the past few months. Luckily, I had a nice time with the girls eating junk food, enjoying the bizarre Montreal summer weather, and relaxing in a dark theater with a 3-D movie. Once they were sent off to school, I headed to the hospital to rehash yesterday’s events to Debbie. Although she had just gotten out of surgery, seeing how strong she is, is always uplifting. Only after a chatty visit, did I return home to see my dough sitting on my counter top. I figured there’s no harm in trying to bake it, there was nothing that could have spoiled in my dough. I had very low expectations. But what wonderful results I had. Out of my oven came a ludicrous sourdough. It has risen, cracked and smelled suspiciously what I assume a San Fransico bakery would smell like. The crumb is open, chewy, and full of sour flavor without being overwhelming. This is by far the best tasting sourdough I have ever made. And most exciting of all, I can’t wait to bring some in for Debbie to try tomorrow.

Ingredients (Yields 1 loaf)
105 g White Starter (100% hydration)
480 g White Flour
320 g Water
15 g Sugar
10 g Salt

First off, you need a fairly active sourdough starter for this bread to be successful. My next post will give instructions on how to create your own starter. I fed my starter about 6 hours before I used it in my dough and it was just starting to bubble. The manual labor involved in this bread is very minimal. I combined all ingredients in my stand mixer, and kneaded on low for 3 minutes. You should now check that your dough is the right consistency. It should not be shaggy, if you touch it it should not feel dry at all. This is a very wet and sticky dough. Add as much water as the dough will possibly take while still maintaining shape (a ball in your mixer). I accidently added just a little too much, and my dough became way too sticky, and reminded me of glue. I had to add about a tablespoon of flour to return it to the right consistency. It should form a ball around your dough hook. Continue kneading on medium (speed 4) for about 5-7 minutes. The dough should be elastic, if you pull a piece away from the ball, it should not rip off immediately. The dough ball should be smooth but tacky when touched. Prepare a greased bowl. Flour your hands before transferring the dough. Let dough rise for 2-3 hours, it should come close to doubling in bulk. Knock back dough, by dumping it onto the counter, and folding it on to itself 3 times. Return the dough to the bowl and place it in fridge for 24 hours. After 24 hours move the bowl to the counter so it can return to room temperature. The next day preheat the oven to 450F. Very carefully mold the dough into a ball and place on a baking sheet. Once the oven is very hot, bake for 25 minutes. Turning after 15. The tease of waiting 48 hours must be killing you. Let cool, and share with some special to you.

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Fluffy and Soft Whole Wheat Whole Grain Sandwich Bread

I decided to be brave and to branch out into the world of 100% whole wheat bread and I do not regret it! This bread turned out SO soft and airy and makes a wonderful sandwich. The parsley garnish also adds a lovely touch of flavor when it sneaks into your mouth. It’s the perfect balance between sweet and salty. It has the obvious nutty characteristics of whole wheat flour but isn’t overwhelming “wheaty”. The magic ingredient in the recipe is the Vital Wheat Gluten, which helps the dough become more elastic and rise better, producing a soft, light crumb. You can find it at most health food stores, bulk barn, and some grocery stores who carry Bob Red Mill flours. The greek yogurt drastically enhances the flavor of the bread.

Ingredients (Yields 1 Loaf)
100 g 5 Grain Flour
250 g Whole Wheat Flour
30 g Vital Wheat Gluten
10 g Instant Dry Yeast
50 g Greek Yogurt (I used fat free)
8 g Salt
15 g Sugar
150 g Water
Parsley to garnish

This dough is easy to prepare. Combine all ingredients in your mixing bowl, and use the dough hook to knead for 10 minutes, until dough is elastic-y. This dough should be a little tacky, so add water if needed. Transfer dough to an greased bowl, cover and let rise for 1 1/2 hours or until doubles. Knock back dough and roll into a tight ball. Place on parchment paper on a baking sheet. Cover and let rise for 1 hour. Preheat oven to 450F. Right before baking place parsley on bread and cover with flour to prevent the parsley from burning. Bake for 20 minutes. Let cool before enjoying!

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Itty-Bitty Donuts


It all started with the construction outside my apartment. There was a mishap of sorts (men pretending they know how to use really big tools) and a pipe broke, water was everywhere… except inside my faucets. Due to their errors, they had to turn off the water supply to our building. With no water to clean up the mess, there seemed like no better time then now to bake! I’ve been making googly eyes with my mini-donut maker that I received for Christmas, and it’s a water-free recipe so I decided it was kismet. My roommate and I had a party in the kitchen fine tuning our donut pressing skills, with the dandy little machine. The donuts were wonderful warm, the texture is similar to cake (since they’re not fried, and essentially baked) but closer to a waffle in taste. We decorated them in 4 ways; cinnamon sugar, dark chocolate, milk chocolate, and lemon. My favorite was the cinnamon, but the chocolate was the biggest hit. We got a little carried away with our creations, and ended up with over 60 donuts! We found a huge shoe box, lined it, packed the donuts up and brought them to climbing gym, hoping to pawn them off! We did not run into any issues there, gone within minutes, and with great reviews. I’d say these are a big hit and I’ll definitely be making them again.

Ingredients: (yields 60+ donuts)
4 cups Flour
1 1/2 cup Sugar
4 tsp Baking Powder
2 tsp Salt
1 1/2 cup Buttermilk (or 1 1/2 milk with 1 Tbs lemon juice)
4 Eggs
2 tsp Vanilla Extract
4 Tbs Melted Butter
Cooking Oil Spray

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl, and beat with an electric mixer until all ingredients have been incorporated. Spray the donut press with cooking oil. Spoon about 1 tablespoon of batter into each mold, close and let cook for about 4 minutes until golden brown. Although I’m sure this recipe could be adapted to use any donut mold!

Options for decorating:

Dark Chocolate Icing
Melt dark chocolate and butter in the microwave, 20 seconds at a time.

Milk Chocolate Icing
2 tablespoons cocoa, 2 tablespoons milk, and icing sugar until frosting become thick.

Cinnamon Topping
A mixture of brown sugar, white sugar and cinnamon. I dunked the warm donuts in melted butter, and then coated them in the cinnamon sugar mixture.

Lemon Icing
Lemon juice and icing sugar until frosting becomes thick enough to form a glaze.

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Candied Orange Peels

These wonderful little gems are joyously flavorful. The peel is chewy and the chocolate melts in your mouth as you savor these little treats. They are truly lovely, and I can not wait to give them to my mom tomorrow! Growing up my mom and I would make nearly any excuse to go into the gold trimmed Godiva boutique and I swear we’d spend at least an hour loitering and marveling at all the beautiful and more importantly tasty chocolates we could choose from. Holidays were the best, you knew chocolate would be patiently waiting for you. Channakah? Godiva. Valentines Day? Godiva. Birthdays? Godiva. Their anniversary? Godiva. Feeling devilish? Godiva. I think it’s the perfect answer to all problems, right? Granted their prices have gotten even more ridiculous over the years. Around Valentines day I noticed that they were selling SIX chocolate covered strawberries for $50!!! Yes, that’s right over 8$ a strawberry!!! Besides the pricing, it seems most of the boutiques around where I live have closed, so it’s getting harder for us to get our Godiva fix. But we manage. It’s a tough life. One of my mom’s favorites are the chocolate covered orange peels, which are only sold in the non-existent Godiva Boutiques. So here’s my attempt at homemade.

Ingredients
3 Oranges
2 cups Sugar
Semi Sweet Chocolate for dipping

Peel the oranges with a small knife, remove some of the rind. Slice into ~1/4 inch pieces. Bring a small pot of water to boil. Boil orange peels for 10 minutes. Drain and boil again for another 10 minutes. Now bring 3 cups of water and 2 cups of sugar to boil, add peels and reduce heat so that water continues to simmer. Cook oranges until peels become translucent and soft, about 40 minutes. Be cautious that your heat isn’t too high or sugar may start to caramelize and ruin your peels! Drain peels and lay out on parchment paper to dry overnight. The next day, heat chocolate over a double boiler and dip peels one a time and lay out to dry again. Then enjoy your homemade delicacy!

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War Bread


Bernard Clayton’s New Complete Book of Breads, Soups and Stews was gifted to me this Christmas, and I’ve been studying it ever since. Bernard Clayton has a great reputation for discovering mouth watering recipes around the globe and I’ve been itching to try most of them. I came across this one, and it seemed to fit the description of what my taste buds were screaming for. And it did come close. I wouldn’t say this is the best bread I’ve ever made, but it is hearty, filling and makes a great snack with some creamy peanut butter. Creamy being the only acceptable kind! The texture is chewy, but not dense. The taste is what you would expect from whole grain bread “but not gross” as my roommate cleverly explained. I’d say there are definitely nutty undertones as well. And the roasted sesame seeds add a nice crunch to the crust.

Ingredients (yields 3 loaves)
1 cup Rolled Oats
1 cup White Cornmeal
1 cup 5 Grain Flour (original recipe calls for whole wheat)
1 Tbs Shortening
2 Tbs Sugar (original recipe called for 1/3 cup molasses, but I’ve discovered I don’t like it!)
1 Tbs Salt
3 cups Boiling Water
8 g Fresh Active Yeast
4 cups Bread Flour
1 cup 5 Grain Flour
Roasted Sesame Seeds

In your large mixing bowl combine oats, cornmeal, 5 grain flour, shortening, sugar, salt and the boiling water. Mix until it forms a thick smooth paste. Let mixture cool until warm. (120-130F) Add the yeast and the remaining flours 1/2 cup at a time. Knead with the dough hook as you add in the flour. If dough becomes too thick, you may need to add some water, a teaspoon at a time. Knead until smooth and elastic. Let rise covered for one hour. Divide and shape dough and place on baking sheets. Let bread rest and rise one more time for another hour. Preheat the oven to 350F. Score bread and sprinkle with sesame seeds. Bake breads for 30-40 minutes. Checking after 25 minutes. Cool on a baking rack and then enjoy!

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Lemon Poppyseed Muffins


These muffins are light, moist and not too sweet. I find that it’s a very delicate flavor, lemony but with a nutty twang. And the glaze on top is to die for, the muffins just wouldn’t be the same without it. I found the recipe on joyofcooking.com and changed a few things to adapt my individual taste.

Ingredients (yields 12 muffins)
2 cups Pastry Flour
1 1/2 tbs poppy seeds
1/4 tsp Salt
1/2 tsp Baking Soda
1/2 cup Unsalted Butter
1 cup Sugar
2 Large Eggs
2 Lemons
1 cup Plain Yogurt
1 tsp Vanilla Extract
1 cup Icing Sugar

Preheat oven to 400F. In a small bowl measure out the yogurt. Zest both lemons, being careful not to grate the white part that lies just under the yellow skin because it can make your muffins bitter. And lemon zest to yogurt. Then squeeze/juice 1 1/2 lemons and add it to the yogurt. Stir it around. In a large bowl, whisk the flour with the poppy seeds, salt, and baking soda. With an electric mixer, beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add in eggs one at a time and continue beating. Add in lemon yogurt mixture and vanilla extract. Mix well. Add poppy seeds. Then sift in pastry flour, baking soda, and salt. Mix JUST until flour is incorporated. Divide evenly into muffin tray and bake for 18-20 minutes! Now, make your glaze, mix the remaining 1/2 lemons juice and about a cup of icing sugar. TA DA- Delicious icing! Drizzle on while muffins are still warm! Then enjoy the goodness of this heavenly muffin!

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Oat Barley Gluten Enriched Bread

Delicious Delicious Delicious sort-of healthy bread! This bread is SO incredible airy, with light nutty undertones and seriously the best soft-bread style texture. The crust is dark and flavorful but very thin and not very crisp. I was stocking up my pantry with goodies of all sorts from Bulk Barn recently when I came across wheat gluten flour. I had no choice but to buy it and to experiment with its seemingly magical powers! Oh and it definitely possesses those magical powers I speak of. One of the differences between cake flour, all purpose flour, and bread flour is the protein content. Bread flour having the highest content of protein; protein (and water) is what makes the bread elastic-y and able hold the wonderful air bubbles that bakers and bread-enjoyers alike love so much. Bread flour is usually around 12%-14% protein and wheat gluten flour is about 75% protein. So quite the difference. 10% of the flour used in this bread was gluten flour. I’m a fairly active person, after I work  out I like to pretend that I’m big and strong and need to fill my body with protein and complex carbs, so in my eyes this is an ideal bread! I gave a loaf to my gym-buddy and he and those who tried seemed to really enjoy its taste and texture. He also may have said he felt “tougher, stronger and  more beastly” after consuming 1/2 of a loaf of said bread. I’ll take it!

Ingredients: (yields 2 loaves)
350 g All Purpose White Flour
200 g Oat Barley Flour (found at Bulk Barn)
60 g Wheat Gluten Four
400 g Water
20 g Olive Oil
13 g Active Dry Yeast
15 g Salt

Ferment (optional, but I recommend it)
100 g All Purpose Flour
10 g Olive Oil
70 g Water
3 g Active Dry Yeast
5 g Salt

The night before you plan on making this bread you need to prepare the ferment, essentially day old dough. Put all of the ingredients in your stand mixer and knead with the dough hook for 5 minutes. Transfer dough into a tupperware (the ferment will rise, so leave room) and place in the fridge overnight. Prepare dough by putting all ingredients in stand mixer bowl and knead for a few minutes, once dough has formed a ball around the dough hook add in the ferment. Continue to knead until dough is smooth and elastic. Transfer to an oiled bowl and let rise for 1 1/2 hours. Shape loaves into spheres and put onto a baking sheet, leave lots of room between the two loaves and they will rise a ton! Let rise for one hour. Preheat the oven 450F. Brush breads with water right before you put into the oven. Score the loaves if you’d like. Bake for 15-20 minutes. Rotating after 10 to ensure they brown evenly. Let cool before consuming!

 

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Almond Macaroons… Sort of

I really meant to follow a recipe. I promise I tried…I googled tons of them, but when it became time to actually make it- I ended up completely winging it. I was combining too many recipes and my batter wasnt right at all. But lucky for you I did keep track (mostly) of all my alterations. And these cookies turned out to die for. Crisp on the outside and so gooey and almondy on the inside and combined with the chocolate its a deadly combination!

Ingredients: (yields 16 large cookies)
2 cups Almond Flour
1/4 cup water
2 cups Powdered Sugar
3/4 cup All Purpose Flour
1 Egg
1/4 tsp Almond Extract
1/2 tsp Vanilla
1/2 tsp Lemon Juice

Chocolate for toppings

Preheat oven to 300F. The making of this cookie was very simple. I literally put all the ingredients in my kitchen aid bowl and used the wire beater to combine all of the ingredients. Scraping the bowl occasionally. It should be a very thick heavy batter, if you need to add a bit more flour. Then put in oven and bake for 20 minutes. Let cool on the baking sheet and then drizzle with chocolate as you please.

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Angel Food Cake Bites


As you can see, I just made Challah, and because of that I had a lot of extra egg whites to use up. And egg white omelets didn’t seem all that appetizing…too healthy…blech. Initially I considered Lady Fingers, but then remembered my favorite type of cake is essentially made up of all egg whites! Angel food cake! I have to be honest, until today I had only had it out a box but now that I’ve tried it homemade I will never be a victim of angel food box cake again! And it’s super simple!

Ingredients (Yields 18 cupcakes)
6 Egg Whites
3/4 cup White Sugar
1/2 cup Cake Flour
1/2 tsp Cream of Tartar
1/8 tsp Salt
1 tsp Lemon Juice
1/2 tsp Vanilla
1/4 tsp Almond Extract

Preheat oven to 325F. Start by putting all of your eggs in a large bowl, and start beating until frothy. Then add cream of tartar and salt. Beat until soft peaks form.Add in lemon, vanilla, and almond. Then slowly sift in sugar and beat until stiff peaks form. Then with a rubber spatula fold in sifted flour. Be careful to not deflate egg whites. Then evenly distribute to lined cupcakes tins. Bake for 20 minutes or until tops are slightly golden. Let cool and enjoy with a side of whip cream and strawberries. Simple low calorie delicious snack. I had at least 5 of them tonight! Hope you enjoy as much as I do!

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Eggtastic Challah Rolls


Sorry for the cheesy name, but I just couldn’t help myself. This challah has so many eggs (six) and then one more for the wash! And not whole eggs either, only the egg yolks. (everybody knows thats the tasty part anyways) Adding eggs to bread makes gives it a very soft fluffy texture, similar to cake. This challah’s crumb is extra soft and chewy. It’s really wonderful. I’ve been on a bit of an unhealthy baking binge, so I promise I will soon post about healthier options!

Ingredients: (16 challah rolls or 3 small loaves)
900 g All Purpose Flour
2 Tbs Sugar (3 if you prefer a sweeter challah)
1 Tbs Salt
21 g Active Dry Yeast
150 g Vegetable Oil
30 g Shortening
2 cups Warm Water
6 Egg Yolks (SAVE the eggs whites for my next recipe(angel food cake))

1 Egg for Egg Wash
Sesame Seeds

Put all dough ingredients in your electric mixing bowl and mix first by hand to incorporate all ingredients. Then using dough hook attachment knead your bread until is smooth and elastic. You may need to add a tablespoon of water. Transfer to oiled bowl and cover. Let rise for 1 hour. Dump dough onto counter and fold over itself a few times. Return to bowl and cover, let it rise until it has at least doubled in size, about an hour. Shape bread how ever you’d like. Either the round method as I used, or 3 string braid, or even just small spheres. Use a serrated knife to cut dough into pieces to braid with. Let bread rest for 30 minutes and Preheat oven to 350F. Right before baking baste your breads with egg walk and sprinkle with sesame seeds. For rolls bake for 18 minutes. For loaf bake for about 30 minutes. Cool before eating!

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