Pandemic sourdough baking: my second loaf and some more pretzels

Click here to see the first post in this series on baking sourdough started from nothing but flour and water

After starting a new sourdough starter not long after sheltering-in-place at my parent's place about 12 days ago, I have baked my second loaf of bread!

I've been baking with sourdough for well over a decade. My aged OG sourdough starter is currently in hibernation, however, at my brother's house in Northern California while I am in Southern California. I wanted to bake, but did not have a starter. I decided to make one.

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10 seconds of steam coming out of a fresh loaf of #sourdough from my 12 day old #sourdoughstarter #boingboing

A post shared by Jason Weisberger (@jlw) on Mar 28, 2020 at 9:58am PDT

The first loaf I tried with the starter showed that it was almost but not quite mature enough for me really enjoy what I was baking. It reminded me of a prior experience baking with my OG starter when it had not been treated well. Care of a starter is pretty easy, just feed it every day.

I gave the starter another 5 days or so of daily feedings.

I made some more sourdough pretzels while I waited.

Last night I put up a smaller sized loaf of bread. I want to conserve flour as it has been the only thing I've had a hard time finding. Hell, I am using some aged whole wheat...

I combined 1 ¼ cup of bread flour and ¾ cup of 2015 expired Gold Medal whole wheat in the big blue bowl. Read the rest

Pandemic sourdough: the first loaf with my new starter

Click here to see the first post in this series on baking sourdough started from nothing but flour and water

Yesterday I fed my sourdough starter a bit later in the morning that I have been with the intent of putting up my first loaf of bread later in the afternoon.

The go-to loaf of bread that I like to bake is based very closely on the Breadtopia no-knead sourdough recipe. Yes, they based theirs on the NY Times.

When I sensed my starter was at the right stage in the yeast feeding cycle for me to most effectively kick off a loaf of bread, I did.

I measured ¼ cup of starter and mixed it into 1 cup of warm water and let it sit.

Deep in the back of my mother's refrigerator are 3 bags of whole wheat. About 2lbs of King Arthur that expired in 2017, about 2 lbs of 365 Organic that expired in 2019, and about 4lbs of Gold Medal that I bought last summer and is good for a year or so. I took the 2017 and measured out 2 cups into my favorite big blue bowl.

I had a bag of King Arthur Bread Flour at my new home, which is several miles away from my parents' home, where I grew up and am currently staying with them, as they are in their mid-70s. I ventured out to get this bag of flour, as I was freaking out with it less than a 5k road race away for some reason. Read the rest

Pandemic sourdough waffles

UPDATE: Jason baked some bread!

Do you like waffles?

I am waiting for the sourdough starter, that I mixed up from flour and water last Monday, to be ready for bread baking. At the same time I am loath to waste ½ a cup or so of perfectly good starter at each feeding. Today I used the discard to make waffles for my parents.

My very simple sourdough waffle or pancake batter recipe is as follows:

Simple Sourdough Waffle and Pancake Batter

Ingredients:

½ cup unfed starter ½ cup flour ½ cup milk 1 egg ¼ cup oil or butter 1 ½ tsp baking soda 1 Tbs brown sugar a splash of Grand Marnier

Mix the starter, flour, and milk in a large bowl. You can let them sit overnight if you want to be fancy. You may also use the sort of milk known as buttermilk for the milk addition and have buttermilk sourdough waffles.

Add the egg, oil, baking soda, and brown sugar. If you like, and I certainly do, I recommend adding a splash of Grand Marnier liquor to the batter.

The EtOH cooks out and you get a very nice, sweeter than savory flavor. This is important to note as I do not suggest adding the liquor if you are making the waffles to accompany fried chicken! When made with buttermilk and all the overnight rests these are the most awesome waffles for Fried Chicken and Waffles. Sometimes I top them with eggs benedict, hollandaise and a chili pepper-infused maple syrup.

Read the rest

Pandemic sourdough: Friday Fry Bread

UPDATE: Click here for Saturday's Sourdough Waffles!

A reader suggested I not discard any excess sourdough starter I didn't have plans to bake and make fry bread instead. So I did.

You are looking at ½ cup of sourdough starter fried in 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil.

I started this starter on Monday. I am pretty sure after today's feeding it'll be ready to bake a loaf of bread.

Previously:

Pandemic Starter Day 1

Pandemic Starter Day 2

Pandemic Starter Day 3

Pandemic Sourdough Waffles (Day 5) Read the rest

Baking through the pandemic: Sourdough soft pretzels

UPDATE: Click here for Day 4's fry bread

UPDATE: Click here for Day 5's waffles!

A few days ago I started a sourdough starter because baking chills me out and provides stuff to eat.

I took a look at the old French Press carafe I am using as a container a few hours after the 3rd time I fed said starter. The starter looked like it was READY TO GO but I figured I should probably feed it a few more times just to be sure. I did not, however, want to discard any of the starter, and as the off-gassing of the yeast was dangerously inflating towards the top of said carafe... I baked some pretzels.

I use the same recipe and technique I do for commercially yeasted pretzels, simply replacing the 'one packet of active dry yeast' with ½ cup of sourdough starter AND reducing the flour and water additions by about ¼ cup each. I figure my starter is about 50/50 but maybe a little wet.

I also used 1 cup of 'very old' whole wheat flour that my mother had in the back of the fridge. I replaced 1 cup of AP or bread flour with the WW and added a bit of water. Whole Wheat needs more h2o than white.

I mix the starter, water, and brown sugar in a measuring cup and let them sit for 10-15 minutes before I combine with the other dry ingredients.

Everything worked out just fine. I prefer the pretzels without the whole wheat but I was afraid I was wasting flour on a too young starter so all in all... Read the rest

Baking through the pandemic: Sourdough starter day 2

UPDATE: Click here for Day 3's status (I baked pretzels!)

UPDATE: Click here for Day 4's fry bread

UPDATE: Click here for Day 5's waffles!

Day 2 and my starter is looking really good!

After 24 hrs of sitting the ½ cup of water and ½ cup of Signature Select pre-sifted All-Purpose enriched and bleached flour looked like a blob of wet flour. I added another ½ cup of each, mixed it up and set it back on the counter.

24 hours later the blob had fluffed up quite a bit and doubled in size. I had not expected to see this much activity fast -- but I have baked a lot in this kitchen over the last 6 or 7 months or maybe the air here is packed with good yeasts.

I added another ½ cup of warm water and a ½ cup of flour. Tomorrow I will probably use 1 cup of the starter for something non-risky like pretzels and continue to feed the mother.

UPDATE:

About 2.5 hrs after I fed the starter it looks pretty great. I will make pretzels later:

Previously:

Day One Sourdough Starter Read the rest

Make a sourdough starter to bake bread during the pandemic

UPDATE: The first load of bread has been baked!

UPDATE: Click here Day 2's status

UPDATE: Click here for Day 3's status (I baked pretzels!)

UPDATE: Click here for Day 4's fry bread

UPDATE: Click here for Day 5's waffles!

Due to the pandemic bread was in short supply at my local market. I bought a bag of flour. Rather than using active yeast, however, I am starting a new sourdough starter. It is quite easy and takes some time, which I certainly have. Read the rest

Honey whole wheat sourdough pizza dough

Last night I made honey whole wheat sourdough pizza crust. It was quite good.

As a kid, there was a pizza place in my hometown that made a deep-dish pizza with a whole wheat crust. It was great, I tried and I couldn't replicate it. Then I substituted honey instead of sugar.

This simple crust is good.

Honey Whole Wheat Sourdough Pizza Dough

1 cup bread flour 1 cup whole wheat flour ½ cup sourdough starter 1 ½ tsp salt 3 tbs honey 1 ½ tbs olive oil ½ cup water

First: Mix ½ cup water, ½ cup starter, oil and the honey. Let sit while you measure out the dry goods and combine them all. Depending on your flour, and your starter, you may need to add a little flour to the mix to get a good consistency. Stop when it feels like the dough that you want to roll out.

Second: Leave it alone, probably covered, for 45-60 minutes. Refrigerate to store or use right away.

Bake at 475F or higher for 20 min, deep-dish. Probably the same for thin crust.

I have been using this dough for the crust of my deep-dish pizza, but you can easily roll it out for super-thin, Neapolitan stuff too.

Unless you do roll it super thin, I doubt this crust is going to get super cracker crisp, as it is sourdough and will retain more chew the longer you let it rise. Read the rest

My old Lodge chicken roasting pan bakes sourdough loaves, pizza and fries chicken

I gave my mother my treasured 5-quart Lodge deep skillet and lid when I found a lovely antique to restore. I've been using it while visiting with them.

It was no easy thing when I gave my Mom my Lodge chicken pan. I had been using it for ages as my primary skillet and perfected fried chicken in it, as many of my colleagues here at Boing Boing will attest.

I have been instructed that his style skillet be called a chicken ROASTING pan and the lid's stalactite-like points are what makes it a 'self-basting' lid. Evidently 1 roaster size chicken (3-5lbs iirc) will fit in it, and with the lid on the bird will roast up nice and juicy.

I have never done this. I bought it to fry chicken. I learned it was awesome for frying eggs, bacon, pancake and sauteeing things. It became the most used item in my kitchen. Then I started baking in it like a Dutch Oven.

The Lodge ended its daily use, however, when I found a larger Wagner pan at the Goodwill and restored it. I started baking in my dutch oven. It is a bit easier to maneuver. When cast iron sits and isn't used, it needs to be used and this pan was truly special. I tried alternating between it and my Wagner, but the extra space and smoother finish of the Wagner kept it on my stove. It was a little easier to fry bacon and sear steaks and fish in the #9 vs the #8 pan. Read the rest

A cheap bread lame that should work just fine

I bought a bread lame.

A friend of mine is doing all sorts of fancy scoring to his bread. Mine just tastes good.

I will try to make some fancy cuts in some bread soon, it will probably taste the same. This lame is as cheap as I could find, as I do not think they make much difference. I have seen some fancy stuff tho. I think I have had and lost other lames, so I am going cheap.

Premium Hand Crafted Bread Lame Included 5 Blades and Leather Protective Cover via Amazon Read the rest

I took my sourdough on the road and made a loaf of rye bread

Sourdough baking is only hard if you want it to be. I took my starter on the road and made a lovely loaf of rye bread with my first try.

I am heading out on an early summer of adventure with the dogs, in our VW Westy. As we were leaving the house, I grabbed the sourdough starter and put it in the bus' fridge. We're stopping at my brother's for a bit and I decided to bake some bread.

A small container formerly used to house take-out Chinese or Indian serves as the perfect size for my counter-top starter.

I started with 1 cup of h20, 1 cup of bread flour and 1 heaping tablespoon of starter. I add 1/2 cup of each four hours later and then feed as I deem necessary. Usually once a day, discarding 1/2 cup and adding 1/4 cup h2o and the same of flour.

Bob's Redmill Dark Rye was on sale. I combined 2 1/2 cups of bread flour with 1 cup of Rye and a heaping tsp of salt. In a measuring cup I combined 1/4 cup of the starter with 1 1/2 cups of warm water. Then I mixed them together to make this sticky doughball.

I gave the dough about 18 hours in its first rise. It more than doubled and was super sticky. That is a wonderful sign!

I then spread out the dough and folded it into a loaf. I let that loaf rest for 10-15 minutes while I improvised a banneton. Read the rest

Sourdough pizza crust doesn't take much work

Sourdough pizza crust is as stress-free as it is delicious.

If my sourdough starter is on the counter when I want pizza, I will make sourdough pizza dough. I simply take my regular Neapolitan crust recipe and substitute 1/4 cup of starter for the 2 tsp of active dry yeast. I will reduce the amount of water I mix the starter into by 2-3 Tbs and add it back as I work the dough if needed. Generally, I do not need to add much back.

I let the dough rise and work it exactly like any other pizza.

Pineapple and pepperoni is my daughter's go-to pizza. I like chevre and prosciutto, but I am happy to help her finish the pineapple and pepp. Read the rest

Culturing butter at home to enjoy with sourdough made with freshly milled wheat

Baking great tasting, and looking sourdough bread with freshly milled wheat is only complicated if you are used to market-bought wheat. Like we all are.

These two loaves are pretty identical, the only difference in their composition was perhaps 1 tablespoon of extra water in the loaf that got the dusted linen crust. I eyeball water in the measuring cups and do not weigh anything.

I used 2 cups of King Arthur bread flour and 1 1/2 cups of the Hard Red Winter Wheat supplied by Grist and Toll for each loaf, as well as 1 1/2 cups of water, 1/3 cup of well-fed starter and 1 1/2 tsp of Trader Joe's fine sea salt.

I find the Grist and Toll wheat slows fermentation down. Everything I read suggested fresh wheat would speed things up, by my experience showed that more patience and more time are needed. In addition to giving the first ferment more time, close to 18 hours rather than a normal 12-14, I also engaged the use of my Rancilio Ms Silvia espresso machine. I put the fermenting glass bowls of dough on top of Silvia, and her warming tray helps kick the yeast into high gear.

Fresh whole wheat absorbs water differently than market-sourced wheat. 'Hydration' or ratio of flour to water in the dough is something a baker can pay a lot of attention to if said baker wants. I don't bother, but you do need enough water in the dough to get everything to stick together. Read the rest

Baking with a small-batch, whole grain, locally sourced wheat

I was sent some small-batch, whole grain, locally sourced flour. I baked some bread.

One of my oldest friends recently went BreadCore on me. He is baking beautiful loaves, paying attention to hydration and scoring some cool designs with a fancy schmancy lame. To thank me for being his on-call baking consultant, he sent me 7.5 lbs of two different small-batch flours that he loves.

I am a no-stress it'll all work out in the bake, baker. I am over a decade into delicious bread, pizza, pretzels, waffles, and bagels and I don't like to stress over baking. Baking is a relaxing and fun food preparation method. I guess this is the opposite of everything a highly technical Breadcore baker wants to hear. I do not weigh my ingredients. So, my first thought about specialty flour was "Fuck, this'll complicate things!"

I was wrong.

I opened the bag of Hard Red Spring Wheat. I baked my first loaf at 70% Trader Joes AP flour and 30% HRS. I did reserve some flour from the initial mix, as I was afraid the HRS would drink more water than market flour. I ended up adding it all in and developed a very sticky ball of dough that rose very well. It baked up beautifully.

On this bake, I lowered my oven temperature 5 degrees. In my mind, I was holding back one Kadam for the imaginary Hebrew god to whom my parents dedicated the 12th year of my life. In reality, I'd noticed that my friend who baked at the same temps I did got a much less explosively crumbastic crust on his loaves. Read the rest

It is national sourdough day, fools

I was just informed that it is National Sourdough Day, no fooling.

I baked more sourdough this weekend. I wanted to see if my starter would come back to the reliable cycle I am used to if I treated it nice for a few days. This no-knead loaf rose very nicely for about 20 hrs.

I folded the dough and put it into a linen lined banneton. I wanted to see if this would make my bread any different. For years I have been using floured banneton and getting really rustic, crusty, artisnal looking loaves. Cutting into one sends out an explosion of crumbs. I thought the linen liner might 'smooth things out.' Ha. Ha.

The linen liner would, later in the weekend, nearly prove my undoing.

I floured the linen pretty heavily and the loaf came out quite easily. As I would later deliver this bread into the eager hands of my daughter, spending the weekend at her moms house, I scored it with an "A" for Anarchy.

The exterior looks beautiful, and the crumb was perfect for the sandwiches my child ate for dinner. The linen liner works wonders to develop a thin, even crispy and wonderful crust. You can cut this bread without leaving a small avalanche of crust behind.

Later in the weekend, baking bread for a soon to arrive dinner guest I under floured the linen and had a fairly sticky loaf of bread. The loaf stuck to the liner and tore a little as I transferred from banneton to parchement paper for scoring. Read the rest

Second try with my neglected sourdough starter

Sourdough is not the complicated, finicky bread baking technique some folks might like you to believe. Sourdough baking takes very little effort and is mostly an art of patience.

This loaf is an example of what you can achieve by barely paying attention to your starter. I left mine in the fridge for months, and then forgot it on the kitchen counter.

Here is the dough after its first rise, and before I spread it out for folding.

Here is the loaf in its proofing basket. It was VERY wet and took a lot of the flour out of the basket.

Here is the finished second loaf, baked from a starter that had been left on my kitchen counter, unfed, for over a week. Previous to ignoring the starter on my counter, I had left it in my fridge for well over 6 months.

Here are some details on preparation of a basic sourdough loaf. Read the rest

Baking with an ignored sourdough starter

Unlike all the breadcore pals I have baking loaves with hand-ground sorghum and Bolivian yeast strains kept at 75% hydration, I left my sourdough starter on the kitchen counter for a week and didn't bother feeding it.

After another midafternoon phone call from a friend who newly discovered baking as a relaxing and delicious artform asking for recommendations on baking something crisp-but-gooey, I looked at the live starter I keep on my counter. I transplanted it from the sleeping mass of junk a week or so back, baked a few great loaves of bread, and then kinda forgot about it. I had other stuff on my mind. The phone conversation led me to desire bread.

Intending to put up a loaf later in the afternoon, I fed the room temperature but dormant starter. First, I mixed all the hooch back into the starter. I then discarded a cup of starter and added 1/2 cup each of warm water and flour. Then I stirred, covered and gave it 4 hours.

I used the starter to prepare my go-to no-knead loaf of bread, flour and whole wheat. Said dough was permit to rise overnight. Pretty much everything looked like dough normally does on a first rise. I then folded the blob! The dough was pretty wet, I left it to proof in its basket.

I had a hard time deciding when it was ready for the oven. After 90 minutes I could see some large bubbles had formed in the dough, and a poke-with-index-finger test was getting what I thought were correct springing back results, but something looked off. Read the rest

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