Monday, August 16, 2021

Naan Sangak (Persian Pebble Bread) #BBB


This month, we made a popular Iranian flat bread, naan sangak.  Lots to share for this challenge bread!  (Sometimes you learn a whole lot during recipes by going off the rails a little bit!)  Number one: it is pebble bread, not stone bread.  Somehow I got the notion that I needed larger stones, which I did find at the local garden center.  (They had smaller as well.)  Then I found out my stones had a weird coating on them and ended up wrapping them in foil thanks to Tanna's timely suggestion.  That worked fine.  I also tried using an upside down ebelskiver pan, still in mind of the large stone shape, but thinking of options for those who didn't have the time or inclination to get stones.  Then I actually watched a video of the breads being made in Iran.  Woah.  Those are little pebbles!  (Notice at the end, them picking off any little pebbles that are still stuck to the bread, wouldn't want to bite on that!)  Wait a minute, I can do that!  I'll just use my ceramic pie weights!
Description of Sangak from the above video.

The pie weights were the winner for texture in both crust and crumb.  A crispy outside and soft and chewy inside flatbread that with the ceramics is essentially like baking on a textured baking stone.  The more weights the better of course, I used all I had.  The thing about the larger stones and the cast aluminum ebelskiver pan is that the large rounded surfaces tend to stretch the dough and you end up with more uneven baking.  Still good, but smaller was better.  I did all mine in the BBQ because it is HOT again this week.  The recipe is meant to make one long traditional bread but I portioned my dough into three to try different techniques to bake them.  One with the river stones, one with the upside down cast aluminum ebelskiver pan, and one with the ceramic pie weights.  The dough was easy to make and work with, I really just eyeballed the yogurt and oil and it turned out lovely.  Slightly sticky and slack but would have been fine being even more so, considering the very slack dough in the video.
We would love for you to try these uniquely baked flat breads with us this month!  Check out Elizabeth's post to see excellent shaping pictures and instructions to participate.  New recipes are posted every month on the 16th. Check out our Facebook group to see the participants' baking results during that time.
Naan Sangak
makes one long bread
This version adapted from Elizabeth's recipe for Wild Naan, and the recipe for Persian Pebble Bread in "Taste of Persia" by Naomi Duguid
Equipment you will need:

    two rimmed cookie sheets
    enough clean small river stones to fill one of the cookie sheets (I would use the pie weights again.)
    oven or barbecue


    dessert spoonful culture (whole wheat 100% hydration starter) from the fridge (about 40 g)
    50 g (50ml) room temperature water
    50 g (100ml, or approx. 1/3 cup + 4 tsp) whole wheat flour

  The leaven may require an extra feed in hot weather, in which case:
    all of the above leaven
    15 g (15ml, or 1 Tbsp) room temperature water

    15 g (30ml, or 2 Tbsp) 'no-additives' 100% whole wheat flour

Final Dough

    320 g (2½ cups + 1 Tbsp) unbleached all-purpose flour
    5 g (2 tsp) wheat germ  (I save and keep my bran in the freezer when I sift my fresh ground flour and used that)
    180 g (180ml, or ¾ cup + ½ tsp) room temperature water
    1 dessert-spoon (about 25 g) plain yogurt (I used kefir)
    15 g (1 Tbsp) olive oil
    All of the leaven, when it is ripe (I added a pinch of yeast because I procrastinated!)
    8 g sea salt + 5 g water (1.33 tsp table salt + 1 tsp water)

  Topping, optional

    sesame seeds  (I topped my three mini breads with sesame, nigella, and za'atar)
Leaven: Late in the evening on the day before you will be making the sangak, feed a spoonful of starter with the 50 g water and 50 g whole wheat flour. Cover with a plate and put into the cold oven (if the night temperatures are cool, turn the oven light on) to leave overnight.
In the morning of the day you will be baking, particularly if the weather is warm, take a small spoonful of the leaven and see if it floats in a bowl of cool water. If the starter is quite bubbly but that little amount sinks, stir 15 g water and 15 g whole wheat flour into the bowl from the previous night. Cover with a plate and leave until about noon. If the kitchen is cool, omit this step and proceed to the next one.
Final Dough: Make sure the leaven is ripe enough to pass the float test and then proceed with making the actual dough.
Using a bowl that is large enough for the dough to triple, mix together the flour and wheat germ. Add 180 grams water, yogurt, olive oil, and all of the leaven.  Stir together to form a soft dough. Cover and leave on counter for about 20 minutes.
Add the salt and water together and knead into the dough thoroughly. Cover and set aside to rise.  Don't worry if the dough is quite slack.  Slack is good for this bread.
Proofing: Check the dough from time to time as the afternoon progresses into evening. Wet your hands or use a dough scraper and gently fold it whenever it has doubled.
Preheating the Stones: A short time before dinner on the day you will be baking the bread, put the cookie tray of stones into the barbecue on a pizza stone over direct heat, close the lid, and turn it to high, or into the oven on the middle shelf of the oven set at 450ºF.
Shaping: While the stones are preheating, use the palms of you hands to slather water over the bottom of another cookie tray. Turn the risen dough onto the tray (the dough will still be pretty slack). Wet hands again and gently guide and flatten the dough into a rectangle, making sure that one end of the rectangle is very close to the narrow side of the tray. Gently lift the bread up and down again to make sure it is not stuck to the pan. Evenly sprinkle sesame or nigella seeds (if using) on top.
Using za'atar for this one

Baking: When the stones are scorching hot, carry the tray of dough and tip it at the back edge of the tray of hot stones. DO NOT TOUCH THE STONES WITH YOUR HANDS! The dough should begin to slide off the back of the wet tray. If it does not, gently nudge any part that is sticking with a thumb or finger. Gently pull the dough tray back towards the front of the barbecue to stretch the dough onto the hot stones. Once the dough is on the stones, it WILL stick for the first part of baking. Do not attempt to rearrange the dough, it won't work so embrace where it has fallen.
Close the lid of the barbecue if using. (Use direct and indirect heat on the barbecue.)
It takes 5-10 minutes to bake the bread. (Mine took 10-12) Turn the tray around from time to time to account for uneven heat in the barbecue and oven. USE OVEN MITTS! To check for doneness, use blunt-nosed tongs to gently lift the bread from the stones. Some of the stones may stick to the bread. Don't worry about that. Enough of the stones will fall off onto the tray to let you check.
Cooling (slightly): When the bread is done, bring it inside on its tray of hot stones. Some of the stones will remain attached to the bread. Once the bread cools for about 5 minutes, the stones can be dislodged relatively easily with oven mitts or a spoon. BE CAREFUL! THE STONES ARE STILL VERY HOT! If the stones are extremely reluctant to release themselves, simply bake it a little longer and try again.

Use a pizza wheel to cut the de-stoned bread and serve it immediately with Persian stews, Indian-style curries, chili con carne, soup.... It's good with grilled vegetables too. 
Upside down ebelskiver pan (handle removed for baking)

The cast aluminum really browned the dough!
Good old pie weights!
Got a good stretch on this round.

Definitely the best result for us.

Nice texture on the back!


The rest of the Bread Baking Babes


Tuesday, August 10, 2021

Rosemary, Sage, and Wild Rice Levain #BreadBakers


Our Breadbakers theme for this month is Spiced Savory Breads and our host is Renu of Cook with Renu.  Having already baked my bread, it's amusing to me as I write this post that I want to make it again with different spices.  Don't get me wrong, it was lovely with the fresh rosemary and sage picked right out of the garden!  I just think it would also be fantastic with Za'atar next time too.  In a week with cooler temperatures, I will also take the time to make this in the full 48 hours with an overnight rise in the refrigerator!  This helps develop the flavor and structure of the sourdough.  However, with company visiting and higher than comfortable temperatures on the only day I had to bake, I was left to condense my time line to a single day bake.  It's okay though, it still turned out a lovely bread.  I love that bread just wants to be bread.
This is a somewhat sticky dough with a higher hydration, but still easy enough to work with.  The wild rice may be cooked to desired doneness.  Feel free to add nuts like chopped pecans if desired!

Rosemary, Sage, and Wild Rice Levain
makes 1 large or two small boules
30g 100% hydration starter
30g water
30g bread flour (all purpose works)
Final dough:
90g leaven
320g water
320g bread flour (all purpose is fine, bread flour helps with structure)
85g whole wheat flour (I used Edison wheat flour)
20g rye flour
9g sea salt

85g cooked wild rice
~1 tbsp each, chopped fresh sage and rosemary

Optional: extra whole sage leaves for garnish

In a bowl, combine the leaven ingredients, cover and leave to ferment until bubbly and active.  (This only took a couple hours for my recently fed starter but could take up to eight.)

Add the water and flours for the final dough and knead until the dough is cohesive and all the flour has been hydrated.  Let rest for 20 minutes.  Mix in the salt.  Then fold in the rice and herbs until evenly distributed throughout the dough.  Let the dough rise for a few hours, turning and folding every half hour or so.  Turn out the dough and divide if desired for smaller loaves.  Preshape the loaf and let rest for 15 minutes, covered.  Prepare a banneton with either a liner, or misted and floured with non-glutinous flour.  Use the whole leaves to decorate the top of the loaf, or place them in the bottom of the banneton.  (I attached mine to the loaf using a bit of water to moisten the dough and allow them to stick.)  Place the loaf, bottom side up, into the banneton.  Cover and allow to rise overnight in the refrigerator if time permits, or on the counter for 2-3 hours.

If the loaf has been chilled, allow to come to room temp for at least an hour.  Preheat oven to 500ºF.  Place a Dutch oven on the lowest rack to preheat for 20 minutes.  Sprinkle some semolina on the bottom of the loaf that is upside down in the banneton.  Gently turn out onto a piece of parchment with the seam side now down.  Score as desired.  Carefully remove the preheated Dutch oven and gently place the loaf with its paper into the pot.  Cover with lid and place back in oven.  Reduce temperature to 470ºF and bake with the lid on for 20 minutes.  Remove the lid and bake for an additional 12-20 minutes until the crust is deeply browned.  (If the bottom crust is getting too dark in a cast iron oven, remove carefully and finish baking on a baking stone or directly on the rack.)
Allow to cool completely before slicing. 


#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 our lovely bread by following our Pinterest board right here. Links are also updated after each event on the #BreadBakers home page. We take turns hosting each month and choosing the theme/ingredient.



Be sure to check out the rest of the savory offerings by our other bakers:


 Recipe adapted from Sourdough Recipes for Rustic Fermented Breads, Sweets, Savories and more.

Sunday, August 1, 2021

Unfed Starter Sourdough Sour Cream Waffles

This is, hands down, my favorite way to wake up a sleepy starter.  It works with even long forgotten sludge that needs the hooch drained and the top grey portion scraped off.  Um, not that I ever let my precious and very forgiving starter get to that stage.  *cough*  The recipe is from Cultures for Health and though my starter was a local gift, I love this one possibly above all other sour dough recipes just for the unfed versatility and of course that it prevents wasting sourdough discard.  I usually make a half batch because I don't usually have larger quantities of starter.  This latest half batch used up all but a few tablespoons of my old, flat starter (no hooch), but after feeding it up, 24 hours later, the starter was fully risen up to the top of the crock.  I love this starter so much.  Here's a tip: if you don't use your sourdough regularly, don't feed it at 100% hydration.  Keep it much stiffer and it will slow the metabolism of the flour down and extend the healthy life of the wild yeast.  A liquid starter will suffer much more from neglect than a stiff one.  You can always feed up a portion to the proper hydration later.  I like to keep mine just thick enough that I can still stir it up and over in the crock with a wooden spoon, but not quite as dry as a dough, though that is a possibility for some recipes.  If I need to add a few more mLs or tbsp of liquid to my bread recipes to make up for my stiffer starter, that's just fine with me.  Bread is versatile and usually forgiving.
  As for these delightful waffles, they are light as air with an old starter, wonderfully crispy with a sourdough tang, and slightly chewier with a more recently fed starter.  They are absolutely delicious with just about any starter.  Highly recommended recipe for any time and especially for using discard and waking up a starter.  I usually get around 10 or so waffles from a half batch with old starter, using a two square standard waffle maker, not Belgian style.

Sourdough Sour Cream Waffles

2 eggs
2 cups discarded sourdough starter
1 Tbsp. vanilla extract
⅔ cup sour cream
2 Tbsp. melted butter
1 Tbsp. honey (or golden syrup or maple syrup)
1 tsp. baking powder
¼ tsp. sea salt
½ tsp. baking soda
  • Preheat waffle maker according to manufacturer instructions.
  • In a medium bowl, whisk together the starter, eggs, salt, vanilla, sour cream, melted butter, and honey.
  • Sprinkle the baking powder and baking soda over the top (it is advisable to put the soda through a mesh sieve to remove any lumps). Stir just until combined.
  • Oil, spray, or butter the waffle maker if necessary, and pour in batter.  Cook according to the manufacturer’s instructions to desired level of crispness.  (I like to cook my waffles just until the steam stops coming out the sides of the waffle maker.)
    Serve with your favorite toppings.