Thursday, October 24, 2019

Whole Grain Sourdough Cranberry Ginger Muffins #unfedstarter

Ginger is a fantastic spice, warming, equally appealing in sweet or savory applications, and versatile for seasonal applications.  Unlike the popular use of pumpkin spice during fall, (which I honestly don't mind), ginger can evoke a brilliant autumn feel without being limited to it.  That's how these muffins taste to me.  Warm and spicy, very fall friendly fare, but not "pumpkin spice" and perfectly welcome in other seasons.  Not too sweet, and yet still like eating an oatmeal raisin cookie in muffin form.  Plus, it's another fantastic way to use up sourdough discard and/or feed up the sourdough starter without having to waste it.

They were appreciated by the kids too; after school snack approved.  One great thing about using sprouted grains is that I can make these whole grain muffins that don't really taste like whole grain.  They taste a treat!  Speaking of a treat, have you ever had a grilled muffin?  Normally I will heat or toast a muffin and add some butter, but every so often, and this works amazingly well with pound and angel cake slices too, I will grill the muffin in a frying pan.  Golden, crispy edges and soft middles, it really is a treat.

So if you have a love of ginger, an aversion to the stereotypical and ubiquitous fall pumpkin spice flavor, or just want to try a delicious muffin and use up some sourdough starter, do give these delicious muffins a try.  The sugar topping is optional, but gives a delightful little sweet crunch to the muffin.

Sourdough Cranberry Ginger Muffins
Makes about 10 standard muffins

½ cup (133g for my stiffer starter) unfed sourdough starter or starter of moderate ripeness
1 cup (115g) whole-wheat flour (I used freshly milled sprouted white wheat, lightly sifted)
½ cup (50g) rolled oats(I use sprouted rolled oats)
¾ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
1⁄3 cup (60g) packed muscovado sugar
¼ cup (60ml) oil
½-1 tbsp fresh grated ginger
¼ cup (60ml) milk
1 egg
¾ cup (90g) dried cranberries

coarse sugar to top (optional)

Preheat oven to 350º F.

Combine flour, sugar, oats, salt, baking soda, and cranberries in a medium bowl.  Measure oil and milk in a 1 cup glass measure.  Add egg, ginger, and sourdough to oil and milk and mix until starter is completely liquefied.  Add oil mixture to dry ingredients and mix with a wooden spoon, being careful not to overmix.  Depending on the thickness of your starter, you may need to add 1-2 tbsp more milk to the batter - go slowly, batter should still be quite thick.

Let the batter rest for 5-10 minutes while you line a muffin tin with papers, or grease the wells.  The oats and cranberries will absorb some of the liquid in the batter. Scoop batter into prepared muffin tin, sprinkle tops with a light layer of coarse sugar if desired, and bake for 20 to 25 minutes.

Approximate nutrition for one muffin:

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Apple bread with Cider and Calvados #BBB

It's apple season!  All around us, farms are having festivals and cider pressing and u-pick days.  We just spent yesterday at a little festival having fun pressing some of the 1800+ pounds of apples brought back from a nearby mission farm.  Next year I will have to go on that trip!

(We also got to thresh wheat by hand that had been grown in our very own community church garden.  How cool is that!  I got to take some home to mill and use for baking!)

So in honor of apple season, I have chosen a fantastically flavored apple bread as host kitchen for this month.  I am posting a single loaf batch for you but the recipe is usually doubled and I will be doubling it when I make this again.  It's not a sweet bread, but the flavor is a wonderfully complex blend of wheat and apple, with a tiny hint of rye.  When I tried my first piece, I understood why my youngest has been eating slice after slice of toast and requesting it for snacks and breakfast and taking to functions!  It tastes great.  Find some fresh local apples, nice and tart and/or firm, so they won't fall apart.  I used simple fresh Fuji apples.  If you do not wish to use hard cider or calvados, I would suggest a tart apple cider or juicing some tart apples like granny smith for the cider.  Using fresh cider will yield a sweeter loaf as the sugars are largely consumed by the yeast in the fermentation of dry hard cider.  So a 50% blend of cider and water may be a closer approximation.  (I haven't tried it!)  Regular brandy or plain apple cider may be used instead of the Calvados in the apple saute filling.  Flavored brandies and liqueurs may have a more artificial apple flavor.  I found local dry hard cider and a local apple brandy fermented in the Normandy tradition of French Calvados, to use in my loaf.

We would love for you to try out this flavorful and seasonal recipe and join in as a buddy baker this month!  You don't have to have a blog to participate, a picture will do. Just send a picture or your post of your finished loaf to me at eleyana (AT) aol (DOT) com by the 31st of this month. Be sure to put BBBuddy in the subject line. You will receive a Bread Baking Buddy graphic to keep or add to your post, and be included in our Buddy round up at the end of the month.  New recipes are posted every month on the 16th. Check out our Facebook group to see the participants' baking results during that time.

Apple Bread with Cider and Calvados
makes 1 loaf 

150 g strong white flour (bread flour), preferably stoneground (I used all purpose)
0.7 g (¼ tsp) instant yeast
150 g dry cider

Add the flour and yeast to a bowl and mix thoroughly.  Whisk the cider into the flour/yeast mixture.  Cover with plastic wrap and leave at cool room temperature overnight, 12-16 hours.  Poolish will be bubbly and should have risen and fallen slightly in the center when ready.

Final dough:
300 g strong white flour (bread flour), preferably stoneground (I used 150g bread flour and 155g fresh ground sifted sprouted white wheat)
50 g whole meal (dark) rye flour, preferably stoneground (I used 55g fresh ground sifted rye)
0.9 g (¼+ tsp) instant yeast
150 g water (I added an additional 20g water to make up for the extra bit of flour)
9 g (1½ tsp) sea salt

Mix the yeast and flours thoroughly in the bowl of a stand-mixer fitted with a dough hook.  Heat the water to lukewarm (approximately 35°C/95°F).  Add the water and poolish to the flour/yeast mixture and knead on low for 13 minutes.  Add the sea salt and knead for 7 more minutes at med/low speed.

Cover with plastic wrap or a shower cap and leave in a warm place (ideally at 24ºC, 75ºF) for about 90 minutes, until doubled in size. Meanwhile, prepare the apple mixture to give the apples time to cool before you need to use them.

Filling and baking:

Apple Mixture:
5 g (1 tsp) unsalted butter
150 g cored, peeled and diced eating apple*
5 g (1 tsp) soft dark brown sugar
25 g calvados

*Choose a more tart, firm variety, such as a Cox (I used 2 Fuji apples, delivered that morning in my CSA box)

Heat up the butter in a pan, add the diced apple and then sprinkle over the sugar.  Saute until golden brown, stirring occasionally.  Pour over the calvados and continue cooking until the pan is dry.  Set aside to cool.

Tip the dough on to a lightly floured surface, and knead lightly. Add the cooled diced apple and fold it into the dough.  Do this in stages to ensure that the apple is mixed in as evenly as possible.  Shape the dough into an oblong loaf round and place it in a lightly floured lined proving basket or floured cloth.  Cover with a cloth and leave in a warm place for 75-90 minutes until doubled in size.

Add a baking stone to an oven and preheat to 250ºC (475ºF) for at least 30 minutes.  Cut up a thin apple slice for the top of the bread.  Gently turn the loaf onto a parchment lined baking sheet or peel and gently press the apple slice in the middle.  Slide the loaf onto the baking stone.  Heavily spritz your oven with a water spray or cover the loaf with an inverted roasting pan sprayed with water.  Bake for 15 minutes, turning down the temperature to 200ºC (400ºF) after 5 minutes.  Remove roasting pan and continue to bake for another 25-30 minutes until the bread is golden and hollow sounding when thumped on the bottom and has reached an internal temperature of about 205ºF.  Remove to a wire rack to cool completely before slicing.

The rest of the Bread Baking Babes

Approximate nutrition for 1slice of this bread:

Tuesday, October 8, 2019

Cardamom Bread (Traditional Finnish Pulla) #BreadBakers

J'adore cardamom bread.  Every year in December when I was growing up, one of our family friends would bring over a gorgeous braided loaf, topped with fine white sugar.  We would slice that baby up and savor it plain, and buttered, and toasted and buttered, it was fantastic.  I'm sure she made dozens every year as gifts.  Having gifts like that, along with getting a bread machine when I was in junior high or high school was probably one of the bigger reasons I got into bread baking.  And fortunately bread always seemed to come fairly easy to me.  The feel of dough made sense.  It's funny, because my brother, a fantastic chef, had an unfortunate propensity to turn out bricks when he tried to make bread.  His talent with yeast bent more toward brewing.  And though I am not a huge beer fan, the taste of some of his IPA's and other brews that I have been able to try have been very nice.  It would be fun to try baking with one...

But today, Pulla.  That's what traditional Finnish Cardamom bread is called.  I grew up in a town with heavy Scandinavian heritage.  It's so sad that some of the older bakeries have now closed recently due to the families dying out or having no one wanting to carry on the tradition.  So at least with this bread, I will pay homage to the flavors and scents I grew up with.  Baking with cardamom is like filling your kitchen with happiness.  I was thrilled when my kids definitely decided they loved it because it can be a rather strong flavor.  Floral, herbal, citrusy, spicy, and ever so lovely.  But it seems like the time of year I want to bake Pulla is so filled with other baking, that dealing with bread sometimes falls to the wayside.  So being able to quickly knead up a batch in the mixer, stick it in a bucket in the fridge, and deal with it next day or so at my leisure is a very good thing.  And making two loaves means we can indulge in one and save the other for company or gifts.  Some recipes make enough for three loaves, but that's still a lot of time, so we will stick with just two!  You don't even have to bake them the same day, the dough will hold.

To be honest, mine actually held at room temp for about 24 hours without even doubling because the house was cold.  There is so much sugar in this traditional recipe that it rises very slowly.  Probably double or more than in some other recent recipes I've seen.  It would be no problem at all to cut the sugar in half.  But despite all the sugar, the slices are not overly sweet, especially when toasted and spread with butter, or just spread with butter at all.  This definitely was like the bread I remember receiving, a fine, very tender and soft crumb that almost melts in your mouth, and that delicious hit of cardamom that lingers on for a while.  I usually go heavy on the cardamom.  One slice of this bread is very satisfying and rich.  I can understand how it would be appreciated and help bolster that "sisu" in the cold Finnish winter!

So after that talk of bucket bread I can specify that our #breadbakers theme for this month is make ahead bread: loaves, rolls, or flatbreads that can be shaped, refrigerated, and baked the next day.  Not only is it convenient for timing, it can also help develop flavor.  And thank you to Karen's Kitchen Stories for hosting! 

And now, a traditional recipe for Pulla - that heavenly Finnish Cardamom Bread that smells so divine.  A perfect and traditional accompaniment for morning or afternoon tea or coffee.  Recipe may be halved.  (This particular recipe was taken from one written partly in Finnish and partly in English by someone's Finnish mother!)

Pulla (Traditional Finnish Cardamom Bread)
Yield: 2 large loaves

1 cup (242g) half and half (I have made loaves with whole milk instead)
¾ cup (177g) water
¾ (148g) cups sugar (This is reduced by half from the original 1½ cups!)
¾ cup (169.5g) melted butter, let cool
3 eggs
4 tsp (12g) yeast (platinum yeast for sweet breads might be helpful if using the original amount of sugar)
1 tsp (5.4g) fine sea salt
8-9 cups (960-1080g) flour
1 tbsp crushed cardamom seeds (green) or 4 tsp ground cardamom

Egg wash: 1 whole egg, 1 tbsp water
Coarse sugar or pearl sugar for topping

Grind the cardamom in a spice grinder or with a mortar and pestle.  Heat the water to boiling and add the cold half and half.  Mixture should be less than 110ºF, a nice lukewarm.  Pour into a stand mixer bowl.  Stir in the yeast using the paddle attachment and activate for 5-7 minutes.  Stir to fully dissolve.  Mix in the sugar, eggs, cardamom, and salt. Stir in 4 cups (480g) of flour and beat until dough is glossy.  Add butter and stir well.  Add enough remaining flour to form a stiff dough, for me this was closer to 1050g.  Using the dough hook, or by hand on a floured surface, knead for 6-7 minutes and make a large ball.
Place in large bowl and cover and let rise in a warm area for 1½ hours, or until dough doubles in size.  Dough will not rise fast in a cool area so you can let rise overnight and shape in the morning, or shape and chill and then let rise in the morning before baking.  Loaves will take up to two hours to fully rise, especially if chilled.  Punch down and divide into six balls to make two braided loaves.
To make the braids, roll each ball into a long rope.  Braid two standard three strand braids for the loaves and tuck under the ends.*  Place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a lightly greased pan.  (You may wish to double the baking sheets to prevent overbrowning of the bottom crust.  I baked mine on airbake sheets and they still were fairly dark, though not burnt.  It's the sugar that browns so well and why this loaf is baked at a lower temp for breads.)
Cover loaves with plastic wrap and leave in the refrigerator overnight.  Remove at least two hours before wanting to bake.  Let rise in a warm place until well risen and puffy before baking.
Brush with egg wash or additional half and half.  Sprinkle coarse sugar over the top.  Place in a pre-heated 350ºF oven and bake for 40-50 minutes until done and nicely browned. Check at 30 minutes and cover with a sheet of foil to prevent over-browning of the top.  Bread is done when it is at least 195ºF in the center, or you can use the cake toothpick test as well.  (The loaf is done if the tester comes out clean.)  Cool on a wire rack before slicing.

*To get really nice braids, start in the middle and braid down using standard overhand technique, then turn around the sheet and braid the other side using an underhand braid.  Regular overhand braids go left over center, right over center, while underhand or Dutch braids go left under center, right under center, in this case because you are going the other way.

Check out our other make-ahead marvels this month:
#BreadBakers is a group of bread loving bakers who get together once a month to bake bread with a common ingredient or theme. You can see all of our lovely bread by following our Pinterest board right here. Links are also updated each month on this home page.
We take turns hosting each month and choosing the theme/ingredient.


Approximate nutrition for one slice of bread:

Tuesday, October 1, 2019

Unfed Sourdough Starter French Bread

In an effort not to throw away starter that is fed with not inexpensive flour, plus an extreme disappointment in a loaf of sliced "sourdough" bread from a local grocer that shall remain unnamed, I went back to one of my most popular recipes.  Even gave it a little change up for the occasion.  I wanted to see how it would work with a little fresh ground whole grains added in, and it did not fail me.  I also used my new favorite method of inverting a roasting pan sprayed with water over the baking stone for the first 15 minutes.  The result was beautiful oven spring, thin, crispy crust, and beautiful color in the final bake.

Yeah, that poor loaf of store bought bread that called itself sourdough...  Oy vey.  The ingredient list was extensive; it tasted of chemicals and citric acid, not sourdough, and yet still managed to be bland and was without any texture.  Even toasting could not save it.  The compost bin got the honor of finishing off most of the loaf.  What a waste.  The kids though, were still clamoring for sourdough bread.  So I grabbed my starter which had been used recently but not recently enough for a full sourdough loaf, nor did I have time for that.  So I decided on a french unfed sourdough.  And I used 30% fresh ground whole grains this time as well.  Now, the loaf will probably turn out chewier with all white flour using this method, but it is still a delicious loaf with just a hint of sourdough tang.  I also added a couple teaspoons of oil, but since this promotes a less chewy texture, I would not recommend it unless you are looking for more of a sandwich bread texture.

(Recipe originally published June 14, 2010, updated pictures and flour options this week.  My starter was definitely more fresh this time and probably contributed to a larger oven spring.  The fresh ground flours and sprouted grains make the dough more likely to spread a bit more than an all white flour loaf.)

Sourdough French Bread with Unfed Starter
Makes one loaf

½ cup (4 ¼ oz) (120.5g) sourdough starter, fed or unfed
¾ cup (6 oz) (170g) lukewarm water
1¼ tsp (7g) sea salt
1 tsp (5g) sugar
1 tsp (3.15g) Instant Yeast
2 ½ cups (300g) all purpose flour (This time I used 200g all purpose, 40g fresh ground spelt, 60g fresh ground sprouted kamut)

Combine all ingredients. Knead by hand or machine to form a smooth, soft dough. Add a bit more flour if needed, (older, "soupy" starter may require a couple extra tablespoons of flour).  Cover and let rise until until doubled, around 90 minutes. Shape into an oval or oblong loaf. Place on a lightly greased baking sheet or a parchment lined peel. Cover and let rise until quite puffy, around 60 minutes depending on the temperature of your kitchen. Preheat oven with a baking stone or heavy baking sheet to 425ºF.  Have the top of a roasting pan ready and spray the inside with water.  Slash the top of the loaf and place on a baking stone or sheet pan.  Immediately cover the loaf with the roast pan lid and bake for 15 minutes.  Remove the lid and bake for another 10-12 minutes until the loaf is golden brown.  Remove the loaf from the oven and cool on a rack as long as you can stand it.  Crust will be the crispiest the day it is baked.  Afterwards, store in a sealed bag or freeze, sliced or whole.

Always nice to have a great loaf of bread with minimal ingredients and never more fresh than when you make it yourself!

Approximate nutrition for one slice of bread: