The Fresh Loaf

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kjknits

My family has recently embarked on a "less-is more" natural style of living. We're trying to do more things ourselves instead of relying on commercial offerings. We're also trying to get rid of the plastic in our house, which is easier said than done! But baking things I usually buy ready-made at the store, I can do.

One of the things I have switched over to making at home is flour tortillas. We love tacos and quesadillas, and flour tortillas seemed easy enough to make. I remembered seeing women make them in San Antonio when I was there several years ago. All they did was roll out a ball of dough and plop it onto a cast iron skillet for a few seconds on each side. Simple!

I found my keeper recipe at epicurious, which is one of my fave food sites. I haven't tried the wheat version yet, but the white flour tortillas are amazing.

flour tortillas

I follow the recipe pretty much exactly, but I use my stand mixer to mix and knead the dough. And I divide the dough into 16 portions, then roll them out paper thin. This makes tortillas like the ones I'm used to buying at the store, about 8" in diameter and nice and flexible and thin. I would divide them into even smaller portions for tacos, though, because 8" is more like a burrito size. Then I just cook them one by one on a preheated cast iron skillet, no oil or anything necessary (my skillet is super-seasoned, thanks to our summer favorite, fried okra). I place the cooked tortillas in a big lidded Pyrex dish while they wait for the rest to get finished.

Next item on the commercial product hit-list: corn tortillas! Good thing we have a big Hispanic influence where we live...masa harina is on every grocery store shelf.

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kjknits

So, I haven't posted here in Quite A While, but I made some hamburger buns the other day and thought I would share my results. I have always wanted to make my own burger buns, but the last time I tried over a year ago, they were heavy and too bready for burgers. We couldn't even finish our burgers, the night I served them on those buns! So I sort of let that idea pass away. But then a few weeks ago, I found a recipe posted on King Arthur's baking blog. I was intrigued by the method of forming the buns cinnamon-roll style, and I loved the idea of the onion swirl! So I gave them a try.

KAF burger buns

Well, first of all, they turned out beautiful. How pretty are those? The egg wash and poppy seeds really dressed them up. And the onion flavor from the dried onion swirl was really nice. Subtle, but still tasty. I added a little too much flour to this batch, though, and so they were a little more dense and heavy than I wanted. I really want homemade taste, but supermarket fluff, in my hamburger buns. So I tried them again the next weekend, added less flour (PJ says the dough should be tacky like tape, not sticky like glue, and that description helped me a lot). They were much lighter with less flour. So, I think the key to these is to avoid adding too much flour. I might try adding some milk instead of water sometime, too. It makes super light and fluffy dinner rolls, so it might also work well in hamburger buns.

(No, we didn't have french fries with our burgers that night. Instead, we had fried okra, straight from the farmer's market! Yum.)

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kjknits

It's been a while since I've had the luxury of daily check-ins with TFL. Lots going on this summer, and actually I really don't have the time even now! But I made some sourdough sandwich bread today for the first time (so far I have only made rustic loaves with my starter), and I wanted to get the recipe written down and share it with anyone else who might like it.

I already have a favorite sandwich bread, but wanted to try using my homegrown 100% hydration starter in a sandwich loaf. Specifically, I wanted to use my starter in my favorite sandwich bread. I started with a google search and came up with a method for using starter in your favorite recipe. The website (which I can't find now, typical) stated that this was a method modified from one in Sourdough Jack's Cookery. Take 2/3 of the flour from your recipe and add it to all of the water, plus 1 cup of active starter. Stir, cover, and set on the counter overnight. Then add the rest of the ingredients and proceed as usual. This method as written, however, only allowed for a 10 minute rest after mixing, followed by final shaping. I wanted a bulk fermentation followed by shaping and a final proof. So, here's what I did, using amounts from my recipe:

Night before baking:

Combine 1 C starter (at feeding time, I feed mine every 12 hours at a 1:4:4 ratio) with 4 C KAF bread flour and 2 C Brita-filtered water at room temp (or it might have even been straight from the fridge). Stir, cover with plastic wrap and leave out overnight.

Day of baking:

Pour sponge mixture into mixer bowl and add 1/4 C melted butter, 2 TBSP sugar, 2 tsp kosher salt, and 1 C flour. Mix until combined, then add remaining cup of flour until dough is fairly stiff (my usual yeast-raised dough uses about 6 C flour and 2 C water, plus 1/4 C melted butter, for around a 35% hydration level). The dough will clear both the sides and bottom of the bowl. Knead at speed 2 for about 4 minutes or until dough passes the windowpane test. Transfer to oiled bowl and let rise in warm place until doubled, around 2 hours.

Shape into loaves and place into greased pans. Let rise for about an hour, or until light and risen nicely, then bake at 375.

This bread is tangy but not terribly sour. It tastes a little like Panera's sodo, actually, but is less chewy and has a very thin and soft crust. Moist, tender and fine crumb. Can't wait to try it in a ham sandwich!

sodosandwich1

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kjknits

I tried another batch of bread with my new white starter. This time, the basic sourdough from BBA. I just replaced the barm in the book's formula with my own starter, since it seems to be about the same consistency. I made the firm starter yesterday and let it rise on the counter for 4 hours, at which point it had doubled. So into the fridge it went. This morning I took it out, cut it into pieces, and let it sit for an hour, then I used the KA mixer to mix the dough. I used KAF Bread flour and gray sea salt. The dough doubled in 4 hours, so then I gently divided it into two pieces and formed baguettes--taking LOTS of care not to degas it. Sat them on semolina-covered parchment strips in a towel-made-couche. They proofed for about an hour and a half, then I slashed 'em and baked 'em with steam.

bbasodo1

The crust is delicious and not too hard, but pleasantly chewy and crusty. The crumb is substantial, yet still soft, and quite moist, without becoming gummy. We ate one whole loaf this afternoon and evening. And I had the audacity to not go walking after dinner, tempting those extra pounds. Well, at least it's fat-free. =)

bbasodo2

Love the little tiny bubbles on the crust.

bbasodo4

Still need to work on the slashing, although this time I just used a single-edge razor blade and it did go better then usual.

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kjknits

So I have baked a lot of bread this weekend, if you count Friday.  Friday saw the BBA pugliese.

pug1

 

pug2

I liked it, but it didn't turn out the way I expected it to.  It wasn't as soft as it looked like it would be in the book photo.  The book photo bread is all squooshed down on top, as if it has a ciabatta-like, softer crust.  Also, my crumb wasn't near as open.  But, it was still nice, sort of like a generic Italian bread.

Yesterday I started to bake some sandwich bread (just my usual recipe), but then the day got short on me and I ended up putting the shaped loaves in the fridge for overnight.  I baked them this morning before church, and they seem different.  I haven't sliced them yet, but it does seem like the crust might be a little chewier.  There are lots of little blisters all over the crust, too, which they usually don't have.  It will be interesting to see what the crumb texture (and flavor) are like.

I also baked Bill's sourdough pagnotta today with my new starter.  Now this is a bread I can get behind!!!  With a big, wide open mouth! 

pagnotta1

 

pagnotta2

 It's gorgeous, albeit a bit flat.  It's such a wet dough that I just don't think it can do much.  But my starter performed wonderfully, doubling the dough in 4 hours and doubling the shaped boules in 3 hours.  Fantastic.  I did a few things differently than the recipe--I made up a sponge last night, using the starter, water, and just the AP flour.  Let it sit overnight on the counter.  It was super sour and foamy this morning, which worried me, bc I don't like really sour bread.  But I kept going.  I used KAF AP, KAF bread, and then for that last 100 g of flour, I substituted organic whole wheat graham flour from Hodgson Mill.  It made a beautiful dough.  I also used gray sea salt from France.  And, I mixed the dough in my mixer rather than doing all of the folds.  It took about 10 minutes at med-high speed to get a windowpane.

I proofed the shaped boules in improvised bannetons, namely wood salad bowls lined with smooth kitchen towels and dusted with flour.  Baked them at 500 for 20 minutes and did the steam thing (I baked the first loaf without the steam, and it got less oven spring than the other two).

The crust is thin, crisp but chewy, and nice and brown.  The crumb is open, holey, smooth and moist (almost tastes buttery).  And most importantly, it isn't too sour...it's just right.  And so, count me as another "Bill's Sourdough Pagnotta" convert!

 

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kjknits

I used some of my starter that would have been discarded last night during refreshment to make some english muffins.  I found this recipe about 3 years ago on the KAF Baking Circle.  It was submitted by a user going by the name chard.  It makes great english muffins!

engmuff2

 

The texture is similar to Wolfermans, not big "nooks and crannies", but a little meatier.  I know a wetter dough would create larger holes, but I like them this way.  I used semolina on the parchment while they rested, and the flavor it gives to the bottom of the muffin is fantastic.  Other than only using 2 cups of flour for the whole recipe, I followed the amounts and ingredients exactly.

Sourdough English Muffins

Makes about 12

1/2 C starter (mine is a 100% hydration white starter) 

1 C milk

2-3/4 C AP flour

1 TBSP sugar

3/4 tsp salt

1 tsp baking soda

Semolina or cornmeal, for dusting

Combine starter, 2 C of flour and milk in a large bowl.  Stir to combine, cover with plastic wrap, and leave out for 8 hours or overnight.

After the overnight rest, add remaining flour (I didn't add any), sugar, salt and baking soda and mix well.  Turn onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 4-5 minutes.  Roll out to 3/4" and cut with a biscuit cutter into rounds.  You can reroll the scraps, but you may need to let the dough rest before cutting more muffins from them.  Place muffins on a piece of parchment dusted with semolina and let rest for 45 minutes.

Spray griddle or skillet lightly with spray oil.  Heat to medium and cook muffins for about 6-8 minutes on each side, or until browned on the top and bottom and cooked through.  These have great griddle spring and rise quite a bit during the "baking".

Split with a fork and enjoy with your favorite topping!  I don't even toast them if I want to eat them right off the griddle--they don't have that raw taste that storebought english muffins have.

Enjoy! 

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kjknits

Last night we had some mashed potatoes.  I had just read the BBA pugliese formula recently, and thought that I would make it with some of the leftovers.  Well, as it happens, I found the Potato Rosemary bread on my way to the pugliese, and it also contains mashed potatoes!  Then I saw that the general formula for the biga makes enough for both the pugliese and the potato rosemary breads.  And then I discovered that my leftover potatoes weighed EXACTLY as much as the amounts called for in the two recipes.  A sign from the universe, perhaps?  So I made the biga last night and started today with the potato rosemary bread.

potro1

 

potro2

 

potro3

 

This is wonderful bread.  I used fresh rosemary from a plant in my driveway (I have to container garden, bc our lot, although large, is too sloped and shady to grow much of anything in a garden sense).  I used plain, seasoned leftover mashed russet potatoes from dinner.  The only thing I did differently from the formula as written was to omit the garlic, because my husband had an opinion about that.  Also, my mashed potatoes must have been on the moist side, because I had to add a little more flour and knead a little longer to get the "tacky but not sticky" texture as described in the book.  I slashed it with a wet knife, rather than trying the lame again (I am so lame with the lame).  It worked well--the best slash was the one I went over twice.

It's soft yet chewy, light yet meaty.  It would make a fantastic ham or turkey sandwich, an idea I'm going to explore tomorrow at lunch.  The cracked pepper and rosemary give it a little bite, but aren't overpowering. I will definitely bake this bread again.

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kjknits

I want to post here how I started my sourdough starter, and what happened throughout the process, so I can come back and review if necessary later.

All amounts are weight measurements measured on my Salter scale. All water is Brita-filtered water at room temperature.  Starter is rotated between two Mason jars with each feeding so jar is always kept fairly clean and sludge-free.  Ring cap is placed loosely on jar after feeding.

 

Day 1:  Combined 4 oz KAF bread flour and 4 oz Brita-filtered water.  Put in Mason jar and loosely covered with ring cap.

Day 2:   Morning--Fed with 4 oz water, 4 oz flour.

            Evening--The starter had more than tripled during this day and was foamy, bubbly, runny and sour-smelling.  Causes a lot of                         excitement in the house.  Stirred down, dumped to 4 oz starter, and fed with 8 oz flour, 8 oz water (1:2:2 ratio).

Day 3: Dumped all but 4 oz of starter.  Fed with 8 oz water and 8 oz flour.  Some small bubbles, but nothing spectacular.  No rise.

Day 4:   Dumped to 3 oz, fed with 6 oz water and 6 oz flour.  There has been no rising since the big foamy mess of Tuesday.

Day 5:  Kept 6 oz starter, fed 6 oz water and 6 oz flour. (I don't know why I decreased to a 1:1:1 feeding, probably just a senior moment.)

Day 6:  Kept I don't know how much, but I have notes I fed at 1:1:1.

Day 7:  Same as Day 6, fed 1:1:1.

Day 8:  Fed in the AM 1:1:1 (on 3 oz of starter), then fed in the PM the same way.  The starter rose by double this day.

Day 9:  Fed 1:1:1 on 3 oz of starter, then had to stir down 3 hours later bc starter had tripled. Fed again at noon, 1:2:2 on 3 oz., tripled again             in 3 hours.  Kept stirring down all afternoon.  Fed again in the PM, 1:2:2.

After that, I followed bwraith's advice and started feeding 1:4:4 feedings on a small amount of starter, like 20 grams.  The starter is doubling on this diet after about 6 hours.  Ambient temp in the kitchen is high 70s.

Day 10:  Baked with starter!  Made good bread!  Experiment is a success!!! 

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kjknits

Just thought I would start a blog, so I can stop highjacking bluezebra's with all of my sourdough questions.  Hopefully I will soon be posting some photos of my own sourdough loaves!

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