Weekly Loaf

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Grams & Percentages

  • 500 g flour (500 g bread)
  • 398 g water (79.6% hydration)
  • 118 g levain (23.5% inoculation)
  • 8 g salt (1.6%)

 

Timeline

  • 9:00 am — fed starter
  • 4:30 pm — start autolyse
  • 5:45 pm — add levain (1:15h autolyse + 8:45h starter)
  • 6:15 pm — add salt
  • 6:45 pm — modified counter lamination
  • 7:45 pm — bowl fold #1
  • 8:15 pm — bowl fold #2
  • 8:45 pm — bowl fold #3
  • 9:40 pm — pre-shaping
  • 10:00 pm — shape loaf and place in banneton for 12h retard
  • preheat oven 500°
  • bake: lid on 25m, lid off 10m
  • remove loaf from cast iron, allow to rest for 4h

 

Notes

  • Didn’t intend to start the dough today, but the starter was incredibly active straight out of the fridge.
  • Really happy with the hydration level for a 100% bread flour loaf. 78-80% hydration has become a tried and true level.
  • Super airy, buoyant dough.
  • Corey got to try his hand at scoring which was surprisingly more fun (for me) than scoring myself. Clearly he did a great job because the lift of this dough was beautiful.

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Weekly Loaf

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Grams & Percentages

  • 500 g flour (260 g bread, 200 g WW, 50 g spelt)
  • 390 g water (78% hydration)
  • 110 g levain (22% inoculation)
  • 10 g salt (2%)

 

Timeline

  • 12:50 pm — fed starter
  • 4:00 pm — start autolyse
  • 5:45 pm — add levain (1:45h autolyse + 4:55h starter)
  • 6:15 pm — add salt
  • 7:30 pm — bowl fold #1
  • 8:40 pm — bowl fold #2
  • 9:40 pm — pre-shaping
  • 10:00 pm — shape loaf, roll in Trader Joe’s Everything But the Bagel Seasoning and place in banneton for 48h retard
  • preheat oven 450°
  • bake, lid on 45m
  • remove loaf from cast iron,allow to rest for 4h

 

Notes

  • Tried a new technique of rolling in seeds/seasoning. Used what we already had on hand and am pretty happy with how that turned out. In the future I’m thinking poppy seeds…
  • Was slightly over-proofed and could have been shaped about 30m earlier than it was.
  • Darkest loaf I’ve made so far which definitely helped the flavor development.
  • The overall structure of was strong and even with a complete compress bounced back to its original shape.
  • The loaf itself was tender, with a nice chew, and [with the addition of seasoning] was perfect for dipping in olive oil or making fancy grilled cheeses (two things we definitely did).

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Sourdough Cinnamon Rolls

Is there ever a wrong time for a cinnamon bun? I grew up having them almost every weekend when my dad would get a Saturday morning craving, drive to Safeway, and come home with two Pillsbury rolls for our family of seven to share. Nearly two decades since my first memories of Saturday morning cinnamon buns and I still think of that tradition every time I have one.

The more I bake the more I want to try making things that I always assumed I would buy. I think that’s the beauty of sourdough in general, it’s pushed me to rethink a lot of the baked things in my life. After working on this recipe for a couple of weeks I’m content with how it turned out. Tender cinnamon rolls that aren’t too difficult to make and that, despite requiring a little extra work when compared to store-bought, are worth every second spent in your kitchen (as if a moment there is ever wasted).

 

Sourdough Cinnamon Rolls

Gather [materials]:

  • 1 mixing bowl (4 QT)
  • 1 mixing bowl (small)
  • 9×13″ baking sheet or pan
  • parchment paper

For the dough, gather:

  • 1 c sourdough starter (ripe, fed)
  • 3/4 c whole milk (lukewarm)
  • 1/4 c butter (softened)
  • 1 egg
  • 2 1/2 c all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 c white, wheat flour
  • 1/4 c white sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • optional: orange zest

For the filling, gather:

  • 1/2 c brown sugar, packed
  • 1/4 c all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 tbsp cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp butter (melted)

For the frosting, gather:

  • 4 oz cream cheese (softened, room temperature)
  • 2 c confectioners’ sugar
  • 1/4 c milk

 

 

Instructions:

Autolyse: Mix starter, milk, butter, egg, flours, sugar, (and optional orange zest) until flour is fully hydrated and dough has formed a cohesive mass. Sprinkle the salt on top on the dough and allow it to rest for 25 minutes. Knead dough, mixing in the salt, until dough becomes smooth, tacky, and slightly elastic (approximately 3 minutes).

 

 

Bulk Fermentation: Place dough into a clean bowl, cover, and leave in a warm place. Allow dough to rest for approximately one hour before stretching and folding it. To stretch and fold, using one hand reach down the side and under the dough. Gather it gentle and pull, stretching the dough up and over itself, ending in the center of the bowl. Rotate the bowl 45° and repeat, until you are back where you started. Recover and set aside. Repeat this process every hour, for a total of four hours, until the dough is elastic and has good gluten development.

To make the filling: Toss brown sugar, flour, cinnamon, salt and butter with a fork to create a slightly dry mixture. Filling should not be wet as it will saturate the dough. If it seems too wet add 1/2 tbsp of flour to achieve a ‘wet sand’ consistency.

Assembly: Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and roll it into a 14×22″ rectangle, approximately 1/4″-thick and ensuring even thickness throughout. Leaving 1/4″ of the dough’s left border uncovered, spread the filling over the dough. Smooth the filling over the dough evenly and lightly press it into the dough. Starting with the right, filling-coated side roll the dough into a log. Trim the ends off the log, then cut the log in half. Cut each half log in half, creating four equal logs. Then cut each quarter log into thirds, resulting in 12 total rolls.

 

 

 

Proofing: Place the rolls, cut side up, onto a greased or parchment-lined 9×13″ pan, cover and place in a warm place. Allow the rolls to proof for approximately 1-2 hours, until they pass the poke test. For the poke test, gently press the pad of your finger into the side of the roll. The dough should spring back, but leave an indentation. If the dough springs back completely the dough is not proof enough. If the dough does not spring back the dough is over-proofed. Allow the dough to continue to proof as you preheat the oven to 400°.

 

 

Baking: Place the buns in the oven for 25-30 minutes, until golden brown and cooked throughout. While the rolls bake, make the frosting.

To make the frosting: Beat the cream cheese and sugar until well incorporated. Stream in the milk until you have your desired consistency. I prefer a thicker frosting and typically use about half the milk or (if a double batch) increase the confectioners’ sugar by 1/2-3/4 cup.

 

 

Serving: After removing the buns from the oven allow them to cool for 10 minutes before icing.

 

 

Sourdough Cinnamon Rolls

Dough

  • 1 c sourdough starter (ripe, fed)
  • 3/4 c whole milk (lukewarm)
  • 1/4 c butter (softened)
  • 1 egg
  • 2 1/2 c all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 c white, wheat flour
  • 1/4 c sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • orange zest ((optional))

Filling

  • 1/2 c brown sugar
  • 1/4 c all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 tbsp cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp butter (unsalted, melted)

Icing

  • 4 oz cream cheese (softened, room temperature)
  • 2 c confectioners’ sugar
  • 1/4 c milk

Autolyse

  1. Mix starter, milk, butter, egg, flours, sugar, and orange zest until flour is fully hydrated and dough has formed a cohesive mass. Sprinkle the salt on top on the dough and allow it to rest for 25 minutes.

  2. Knead dough, mixing in the salt, until dough becomes smooth, tacky, and slightly elastic (approximately 3 minutes).

Bulk Fermentation

  1. Place dough into a clean bowl, cover, and leave in a warm place. Allow dough to rest for approximately one hour before stretching and folding it. To stretch and fold, using one hand reach down the side and under the dough. Gather it gentle and pull, stretching the dough up and over itself, ending in the center of the bowl. Rotate the bowl 45° and repeat, until you are back where you started. Recover and set aside.

  2. Repeat this process every hour, for a total of four hours, until the dough is elastic and has good gluten development.

To make the filling

  1. Toss brown sugar, flour, cinnamon, salt and butter with a fork to create a slightly dry mixture. Filling should not be wet as it will saturate the dough. If it seems too wet add 1/2 tbsp of flour to achieve a ‘wet sand’ consistency.

Assembly

  1. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and roll it into a 14×22″ rectangle, approximately 1/4″-thick and ensuring even thickness throughout.

  2. Leaving 1/4″ of the dough’s left border uncovered, spread the filling over the dough. Smooth the filling over the dough evenly and lightly press it into the dough.

  3. Starting with the right, filling-coated side roll the dough into a log. Trim the ends off the log, then cut the log in half. Cut each half log in half, creating four equal logs. Then cut each quarter log into thirds, resulting in 12 total rolls.

Proofing

  1. Place the rolls, cut side up, onto a greased or parchment-lined 9×13″ pan, cover and place in a warm place. Allow the rolls to proof for approximately 1-2 hours, until they pass the poke test.

  2. For the poke test, gently press the pad of your finger into the side of the roll. The dough should spring back, but leave an indentation. If the dough springs back completely the dough is not proof enough. If the dough does not spring back the dough is over-proofed.

  3. Allow the dough to continue to proof as you preheat the oven to 400°.

Baking

  1. Place the buns in the over for 25-30 minutes, until golden brown and cooked throughout. Check that the center of the dough is fully cooked. While the rolls bake, make the frosting.

To make the frosting

  1. Beat the cream cheese and sugar until well incorporated.

  2. Stream in the milk until you have your desired consistency.

  3. I prefer a thicker frosting and typically use about half the milk or (if a double batch) increase the confectioners' sugar by 1/2-3/4 cup.

Serving

  1. After removing the buns from the oven allow them to cool for 10 minutes before icing.

Weekly Loaf

Grams & Percentages

  • 500 g bread flour
  • 400 g water (80% hydration)
  • 118 g levain (23.6% inoculation)
  • 8 g salt (1.6%)

 

Timeline

  • 7:00 am — fed starter
  • 11:50 am — start autolyse
  • 1:00 pm — add levain with pinch over method (1:10h autolyse + 6:00h starter)
  • 1:30 pm — add salt
  • 2:00 pm — counter lamination
  • 3:15 pm — coil fold #1
  • 4:00 pm — coil fold #2
  • 5:00 pm — coil fold #3
  • 5:30 pm — coil fold #4
  • 6:00 pm — shape loaf and place in banneton for 12h retard
  • 6:00 am — preheat oven 450°
  • 7:00 am — bake, lid on 25m, lid off 45m
  • 7:25 am — remove loaf from cast iron, turn oven off, leave loaf in spoon-cracked [off] oven to dry out for 30m

 

Notes

  • This dough was for a takeover filmed for Mejuri (video at the bottom).
  • The dough was incredibly soft and light, even just at the adding stage salt.
  • I didn’t fret about any trapped air and the load ended up light with an even crumb throughout. I think in the past I’ve been over-attentive to potentially trapped air and popped fermentation bubbles.
  • I continue to be impressed with 80% hydration. Incredibly manageable and reliable.
  • Next loaf I want to try and get cleaner with the lid on/off times (aiming for 2/3 of total time with the lid on).

 

A Perfectly Simple Country White Loaf

As a sourdough enthusiast and avid bread baker, I have absolutely adored seeing the bread boom of the past month. King Arthur Flour (my go-to) reported sending more flour in three weeks of March than in their entire holiday baking season (October-December) of 2019. That’s massive. With the baking boom does come a bit of a selfish downside for me… It’s been impossible to get bread flour. I’ve been hoarding the last 500g I have and recently found some on Etsy (I believe the last bags on the internet) and paid nearly $60 for 10 lbs of flour. I don’t pretend that my baking habits fall within the realm of “normal”.

With everyone buying up bread flour and stores mostly restocking with AP flour I decided to try my hand at a country white loaf using 100% AP flour. The goal was simply “edible”. AP flour has a lower protein content than BF or whole wheat flour which can make it tricky to work with (according to online forums) and with absolutely no personal experience I was just hoping for something that could be eaten. I dialed the hydration way back as AP flour isn’t nearly as thirsty as BF or WW flour and used a much longer and modified autolyse.

What I ended up with was a soft loaf with a perfectly crusty exterior. It was perfect for sandwiches and passed my “squish” test (when I pinch a little of the bread between my fingers to judge its spring-back). This loaf was incredibly practical. It was a very different process than my typical sourdough, but ultimately less work. The bread itself was more of a typical loaf you’d reach for, opposed to my WW loaves that feel more artisan.

So if you’ve got a pantry of AP flour and are looking for something to do with it, here’s your answer!

 

SIMPLE COUNTRY WHITE LOAF

Grams & Percentages

  • 500 g all-purpose flour
  • 290 g water (58% hydration)
  • 177 g levain (35% inoculation)
  • 8 g salt (1.6%)

 

Timeline

  • 2:00 pm — fed starter (115 g levain + 118 g water + 120 g flour)
  • 8:00 pm — start modified autolyse (117 g FED levain + 300 g flour + water)
  • 8:30 pm — start bulk fermentation (refrigerated overnight)
  • 8:30 am — add remaining flour (200 g) to autolyse, rest
  • 9:00 am — add salt
  • 10:00 am — counter lamination
  • 11:00 am — coil fold #1
  • 12:00 pm — shape loaf and place in banneton for 2h room-temp rise
  • 1:00 pm — preheat oven 450°
  • 1:40 pm — bake, lid on, 25m
  • 2:05 pm — remove loaf from cast iron
  • 2:50 pm — turn oven off, leave loaf in spoon-cracked [off] oven to dry out for 60m

 

Simple Country White Loaf

  • 500 g all-purpose flour
  • 177 g levain (sourdough starter) (fed, ripe)
  • 290 g water (lukewarm)
  • 8 g salt (non-iodine)

Starter

  1. Fed starter approximately 4-6 hours prior to beginning your autolyse. The starter should be doubled in size before using and pass the 'float test'.

  2. For the float test take a dollop of starter and lightly place it into a cup of water. The starter should easily float on top and be buoyant. This is your indication that the starter is ready to be used. With practice, you'll be able to time this 'readiness' with the ending of your autolyse.

Modified Autolyse

  1. Once your starter is ready to be used mix a portion of flour (300 g) with 117 g FED levain and water in a large bowl. The water should be lukewarm to the touch. If you dip your fingers in the water and cannot detect it being hot or cold it is the right temperature (the same temperature as you). This is a process that will cut down on ‘knead’ time later and allow your dough to fully hydrate and gluten structures to begin forming.

  2. Cover dough and set in refridgerator overnight (approximately 12 hours).

Mix the dough

  1. Add remaining flour (200 g) to autolyse and allow to rest for 30 minutes.

  2. Add salt and allow to rest for 30 minutes.

Bulk Fermentation

  1. Perform a counter lamination. Gently stretch the dough over the counter (being careful to stretch from the center of the dough and not the edge to avoid tearing). The result should be a large rectangle. Fold the left side in two-third across the dough. Fold the right side over it to make one skinny rectangle, with the dough tripled over itself. Beginning at the top fold down approximately halfway and repeat until the dough had become bundled. Cover and allow to rest for 1 hour.

  2. Perform 1-3 coil folds (seperated by 45-60m) until the passes the poke test and windowpane test. 

  3. The poke test indicates that the dough is proofed and ready. Using an oiled finger gentle press into the dough. The dough should spring back, but leave an indentation. If the dough springs back completely the dough is not proof enough. If the dough does not spring back the dough is overproofed.

  4. For the windowpane test take a small piece of dough and stretch it between your thumb and first finger. The dough should hold its form and create a sheer 'windowpane'. If the dough tears the gluten structure is not strong enough and it will need more stretching.

Shaping the dough

  1. Shape loaf and place in banneton for 2h room-temp rise.

  2. Option 1, flour directly in front of the dough and flip the dough away from you (onto the flour). Tug out the top of the dough and fold it onto itself. Repeat with the side and bottom. Cup dough and gently pull it toward you, creating a neat loaf with tension across the top. Allow the dough to rest, seam-side down, for 10 minutes. Place the dough into a floured and prepared banneton, seam-side up. Flour the exposed dough, cover with a clean towel.

  3. Option 2, using the outer edge of lightly flour hands circle the dough, gently tucking it under itself with the rotation, to form a tight, round boule. Allow the dough to rest, seam-side down, for 10 minutes. Place the dough into a floured and prepared banneton, seam-side up. Flour the exposed dough, cover with a clean towel.

Prepping your dough for baking

  1. Preheat your oven as high is it will go (500°) and place your dutch oven into the bottom of the oven. Leave for one hour. Cut a parchment round the approximate size of your dough, adding a small radius to give you a 'handle' for moving the dough later.

  2. Once the oven is up to temperature (after an hour) turn the dough out onto the parchment paper. Flour liberally and rub the flour into the dough. This will give a smooth contrast to your scores after the bread is baked.

  3. Using the corner of a lame or a sharp razor blade score deeply into the loaf (1/4 to 1/2 inch), cutting through the surface tension.

Baking

  1. Lift the dough (by the parchment paper handles) into the dutch over. Cover and bake for 25 minutes with the lid on. This will create steam that keeps that outer edge of the bread from setting too quickly. If the outer edge sets too quickly it will inhibit the oven spring, resulting in a dense crumb. Oven spring final burst of yeast activity and gas expansion (rising) just before the crust hardens.

  2. Uncover and bake until the top is deep golden and the bottom knocks hollow.

  3. Turn off oven and leave loaf in spoon-cracked [off] oven to dry out for 60m.

Bread Baking: Terms & Techniques

Getting into bread baking more and more involved learning a lot of gargon and (unsurprisingly) a lot of French. I found the more that I write about baking, bread, sourdough, etc I end up repeating myself or that I need to pause a train of thought to ‘decode’ paragraphs for readers.

Below is a list of the most common term and techniques I find myself explaining on IG and through articles here on the blog. If you find something is missing or you’d like more information on a term please let me know in the comments. Happy baking! -M

 

  • AP — the abbreviation for all-purpose flour
  • Autolyse — the process of mixing all the flour and water (before adding levain) that allows for more complete hydration of the starches, gluten structures to begin forming, and dough becomes more extensible
  • Banneton — bread basket used for shaping
  • Bulk Fermentation (BF) — the dough’s first proof where it ferments as one mass before you divide and shape it into loaves
  • Boule — the French word for “ball”, round loaf of bread
  • Cold Fermentation (CF) — the process of refrigeration dough to slow fermentation which creates more flavor through alpha-amylase action which converts starches to sugars (another term for “Retard”)
  • Coil Fold — a method of strengthening and developing gluten in the dough during BF
    • Lift the dough from the middle with both hands. The four fingers have to be below the dough and only the thumbs above the dough. Lift the dough until the top of the dough releases from the BF container and curls underneath. Turn the BF container 180° and repeat with the bottom (now top) of the dough, lifting from the middle with both hands until the dough releases from the BF container and curls underneath. Turn 90° and repeat with the left side. Turn 180° and repeat with the right side.
  • Elasticity — measure of how well the dough recovers its original form after being stretched (see “Poke Test”)
  • Extensibility — measure of how well the dough will stretch and achieved through a process when a naturally-occurring enzyme, called protease breaks some of the long gluten bonds (see “Windowpane Test”)
  • Float Test — test to determine if levain is ready to be baked with
    • Take a dollop of starter and lightly place it into a cup of water. The levain should easily float on top and be buoyant.
  • Gluten — the molecular structure that is responsible for trapping and holding air in your bread
    • Made up of gliadin (which gives bread the ability to rise during baking) and glutenin (which is responsible for dough’s elasticity)
  • Lamination — a gentle method used to rapidly build gluten structure after mixing and before BF
    • Gently stretch the dough over the counter (being careful to stretch from the center of the dough and not the edge to avoid tearing). The result should be a large rectangle. Fold the left side in two-third across the dough. Fold the right side over it to make one skinny rectangle, with the dough tripled over itself. Beginning at the top fold down approximately halfway and repeat until the dough had become bundled.
  • Levain — the French word for “starter”, they can be used interchangeably
  • Oven Spring — the final burst of yeast activity and gas expansion (rising) just before the crust hardens
  • Poke Test — test to determine elasticity of the dough and if it proofed and ready to be baked
    • Using an oiled finger gentle press into the dough. The dough should spring back, but leave an indentation. If the dough springs back completely the dough is not proof enough. If the dough does not spring back the dough is over-proofed.
  • Retard — the French term for “delay” and used to describe the process of refrigerating dough to slow fermentation (see “Cold Fermentation”)
  • Score / Scoring — a method of cutting 1/4-inch deep slashing into the dough to control where the steam will release and dough will expand during oven spring
  • Slap and Fold — a method of rapidly build gluten structure by lifting and throwing down the dough after mixing
    • Turn the dough out onto an unfloured surface. It will have an ununiform ‘blob’ shapelessness. Lift the dough up and throw it down repeatedly, allowing it to fold over onto itself. Repeat this for 5-7 minutes, until the dough has a more cohesive shape and holds itself together more firmly.
  • Windowpane Test — test to determine extensibility of the dough and check that gluten structure is well developed
    • Take a small piece of dough and stretch it between your thumb and first finger. The dough should hold its form and create a sheer ‘windowpane’. If the dough tears the gluten structure is not strong enough and it will need more stretching.
  • WW — the abbreviation for whole wheat flour

 

Sourdough (Discard) Flakey Biscuits

You’ll notice in the photos that there are five biscuits, while this recipe makes six. That is because I am someone who lacks the self-control to wait until after photos to snack and, frankly, I hope that never changes.

This recipe was born of necessity. Cultivating and maintaining sourdough starter is an absolute joy. Throwing out half of it during every feed? Less so. I started saving my discard starter and using it in recipes for flavor, more than for its ‘spring’. This recipe is a melding of a few biscuit recipes I truly enjoy, but substitutes discard sourdough starter for the acidity you would typically get from buttermilk.

Having discard starter sitting in the refrigerator means that I’m always 30 minutes away from these beauties. Which also means that, if patterns hold true, my waking up about an hour before the rest of my home gives me a quiet moment of baking and solitude before he stumbles in, sees what I’ve made and excitedly whispers, “biscuits”.

 

Sourdough (Discard) Flakey Biscuits

Gather [materials]:

  • 1 mixing bowl
  • baking sheet

Gather [ingredients]:

  • 1 c all-purpose flour (+ bench flour)
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt (for savory biscuits, increase to 1 1/2 teaspoons)
  • 2 tsp sugar (for savory biscuits, substitute 1/2 teaspoon black pepper)
  • 1/2 c butter (cold, unsalted)
  • 1 c sourdough starter (unfed, discard)
  • buttermilk or whole milk

 

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 425° and prepare a baking sheet (either lined with parchment or greased).

Sift flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar (or black pepper) until well incorporated. Breaking the butter with a fork, gently incorporate it until mixture is crumbly and not quite ‘dough-like’.

Tossing mixture with a fork, drizzle in starter and continue to mix. Add a drizzle of buttermilk or whole milk if dough is too dry.

Lightly knead dough in the bowl, careful not to over-work, until a shaggy dough forms.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and gently pat it into a 1″-thick square. Using a chef’s knife or bench scraper, cut the dough in half lengthwise and crosswise so you have four evenly sized squares. Stack the squares, placing scraps of dough in between layers, to form a tower, and then compress, laminating the dough. Pat into a 1″-thick rectangle and cut into six pieces using a 2×3 grid.

Place biscuits on prepared baking sheet, approximately 2 inches apart.

Freeze biscuits for 10-15 minutes if the dough has come to room temperature. If your discard was stored in the refrigerator, keeping the dough cold, skip this step.

Brush tops of biscuits with melted butter and place in oven.

Bake for 20-25 minutes, until biscuit tops are golden brown and crispy to the touch. Optional: When biscuits are done, turn off oven and, with the door held ajar by a wooden spoon, leave the biscuits in oven for an additional 10 minutes to fully dry out.

Sourdough (Discard) Flakey Biscuits

  • 1 c all-purpose flour (+ bench flour)
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 1/2 c butter (cold, unsalted)
  • 1 c sourdough starter (unfed, discard)
  • buttermilk or whole milk
  1. Preheat oven to 425° and prepare a baking sheet (either lined with parchment or greased).

  2. Sift flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar (or black pepper) until well incorporated. Breaking the butter with a fork, gently incorporate it until mixture is crumbly and not quite 'dough-like'.

  3. Tossing mixture with a fork, drizzle in starter and continue to mix. Add a drizzle of buttermilk or whole milk if dough is too dry.

  4. Lightly knead dough in the bowl, careful not to over-work, until a shaggy dough forms.

  5. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and gently pat it into a 1"-thick square. Using a chef's knife or bench scraper, cut the dough in half lengthwise and crosswise so you have four evenly sized squares. Stack the squares, placing scraps of dough in between layers, to form a tower, and then compress, laminating the dough. Pat into a 1"-thick rectangle and cut into six pieces using a 2×3 grid.

  6. Place biscuits on prepared baking sheet, approximately 2 inches apart.

  7. Freeze biscuits for 10-15 minutes if the dough has come to room temperature. If your discard was stored in the refrigerator, keeping the dough cold, skip this step.

  8. Brush tops of biscuits with melted butter and place in oven.

  9. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until biscuit tops are golden brown and crispy to the touch. Optional: When biscuits are done, turn off oven and, with the door held ajar by a wooden spoon, leave the biscuits in oven for an additional 10 minutes to fully dry out.

For savory biscuits, substitute 1/2 teaspoon black pepper for sugar and increase salt to 1 1/2 teaspoons.

 

Weekly Loaf

 

Grams & Percentages

  • 500 g flour (275 g bread, 175 g WW, 50 g spelt)
  • 400 g water (80% hydration)
  • 100 g levain (20% inoculation)
  • 10 g salt (2%)

 

Timeline

  • 7:30 am — fed starter
  • 12:30 pm — start autolyse
  • 2:00 pm — add levain (1:30h autolyse + 6:30h starter)
  • 2:30 pm — add salt
  • 3:00 pm — counter lamination
  • 4:00 pm — coil fold #1
  • 4:45 pm — coil fold #2
  • 5:30 pm — coil fold #3
  • 6:00 pm — shape loaf and place in banneton for 2h retard
  • 7:00 pm — preheat oven 450°
  • 8:00 pm — bake, lid on, 25m
  • 9:00 pm — remove loaf from cast iron, turn oven off, leave loaf in spoon-cracked [off] oven to dry out for 30m

 

Notes

  • The goal for this week’s loaf was a very open crumb, which I’m overall happy with. I would like to see more evenness, but I’m happy that all the airiness isn’t on the top/side of the loaf.
  • 80% hydration makes an incredibly manageable and reliable dough. It’s a perfect hydration to begin learning to bake by feel, letting the dough be your guide.
  • Very happy with the little ear action. Increasing the steam time (from 15m to 25m) aided this.
  • The loaf itself was tender, with a nice chew and relatively blonde crust (easily could have done another 10-20 in the oven).
  • Flavor was pretty profound, considering the retard was so much shorter than I typically do.
  • Thank you to Dan Larn for the scoring tutelage.  And thank you to Kristen for the lamination technique.

 

On Why: Sourdough Starter Issues & FAQs

 

Several weeks ago I posted this article, to better familiarize you all with starters and *hopefully* show that creating and owning a starter is fun, rewarding, and not nearly as difficult as it may seem at face value. Since posting I’ve been getting a lot of troubleshooting questions on Instagram and I wanted to put all the answers in one place to make life a little easier for you all. If you have a question that isn’t answered below drop it in the comments or shoot me a note on IG and I’ll get it added for you!

A few things to note:

  • A mature sourdough starter is a workhorse. It will be difficult to kill and easier to revive. I have forgotten my starter for over a month and brought it back to peak activity in a handful of feedings.
  • If you see any orange or pink streaks or tinges to your starter throw it out.
  • If you see mold, throw it out.

 

‘Nothing is happening.’

Your starter is like a toddler. It’s developing and hitting milestones at its own rate. There is no ‘one size fits all’ approach, but there are common factors: time, temperature, flour type, flour to water ratio, frequency.

Unless you have subjected your starter to very high (think oven) temperatures, something is happening. If you have an immature starter or have recently increased feeds it may seem like your starter isn’t doing anything,  but this is simply because your starter needs to catch up to the amount of food available. Keep your starter in a warm place (cold will slow down the yeast) and skip feeding for a few days. Wait until there is a little water separated on top (a sign your starter is hungry) and give it a small feeding: 50 g starter, 50 g flour, 50 g water. Wait until it shows signs of activity before feeding again.

 

‘Do I need to add sugar to reactive my starter?’

Adding sugar to a starter is a big ‘no-no’ within the sourdough community. Because a starter is a SCOBY, or a Symbiotic Community of Bacteria and Yeast, you want to be sure you don’t add in an additional factor that could upset that balance. Sugar will alter the acidity of your starter and could result in a microbial imbalance. The beauty of a starter is this unadulterated, natural leavening agent. Adding sugar to rush the process is counterproductive in the long-term. (This goes for adding commercial yeast or honey as well).

 

‘My starter smells weird…’

Your starter is fermenting, it will smell a little different than most of what’s in your kitchen. There are very few ‘red flag’ smells when it comes to starters. If it smells acidic, vinegary, like acetone, or sweaty, your starter needs to be fed. This happens to my fridge starters if I forget to feed them for 2-3 weeks. I put it on a regular feeding schedule (once a day) for 3-4 days until it starts smelling like its normal self: fresh, fruity, yeasty.

 

‘What should I store my starter in?’

A glass jar (my personal favorite), food-safe plastic, or a crock are the most popular options. Personally, I love a glass jar because it makes seeing the activity much easier as you can see bubbles forming on the sides.

 

‘Does it need to be stored in an airtight jar?’

Airtight or not is a personal preference. Personally, because a starter is an active community of wild yeast and bacteria in the air, I like to leave the jar loosely covered when it’s on the counter. When I’m long-term storing my starter in the fridge I will screw the lid on completely.

 

‘My starter has dark brown liquid on top of it. Is it dead?’

Nope! It’s just hungry. Hooch, that dark brown liquid (sometimes grey or black), is an indicator that your starter needs to be fed. Pour the hooch off and feed the starter as you normally would.

 

‘What do I do if there’s mold in my starter?’

You throw it out and start over. We don’t mess around with mold. Mold can have microscopic threads that weave throughout your entire jar of starter, meaning that just because you scrape out what you can see doesn’t mean that the mold is gone.

 

‘Can I feed my starter gluten-free flour?’

No. Unless you have a GF starter you will need to feed it flour that contains gluten. A good rule of thumb is to feed your starter what it’s origin flour is. This is a rule you can definitely break, but most sourdough enthusiasts (myself included) suggest keeping the feeding flour the same.

 

‘My starter was super active, but now it seems like nothing is happening.’

With a new starter, there is an adjustment period around the time that you begin two-a-day feeds, in order to mature it. As long as you are discarding half the starter with each feeding you are developing the yeast in your starter (it may just take a few days to see activity). Don’t be discouraged! Patience in the name of the game.

 

 

Sourdough (Discard) Date & Walnut Bread

Today is Day 23 of self-quarantining amid Covid-19 and I am going stir crazy. I’ve found that the only thing that is keeping me a little on the ‘zen’ side of things is consistent time journaling and consistent time in my kitchen. While exploring a different style of bread baking and attempting to quell a friend’s unending date craving I came up with this recipe.

The result is a very tender, lightly sweetened loaf that goes perfect with a cup of coffee in the morning. Lightly toast your slice before slathering in butter and thank me later.

 

Sourdough (Discard) Date & Walnut Bread

Gather [materials]:

  • 1 mixing bowl (large)
  • 1 mixing bowl (medium)
  • 9×5″ loaf pan

Gather [ingredients]:

  • 1 1/2 c white wheat flour
  • 1 c all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 c sugar
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 c sourdough starter (unfed, discard)
  • 1/2 c buttermilk
  • 1/2 c butter (melted)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 c water
  • 1/2 c walnuts (chopped)
  • 1 c dates (chopped)

 

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350° and grease a 9×5″ loaf pan.

In a large bowl, sift the flours, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, nutmeg, and cinnamon.

In a medium bowl, mix starter, buttermilk, butter, and eggs.

Add the wet ingredients to the dry, stirring just until the mixture is evenly combined (mixture will be very dough-like) and add in the water to fully hydrate. Stir in the walnuts and dates.

Pour the dough into the prepared baking pan.

Bake for 65-70 minutes, until the top has slightly browned and a knife inserted into the center comes out clean. After 45 minutes, if the bread begins to brown too quickly, tent foil over top.

Allow bread to cool for 15 minutes on a wire rack before turning out of the pan. Wait for bread to cool completely before slicing.

Sourdough (Discard) Date & Walnut Loaf

  • 1 1/2 c white, wheat flour
  • 1 c all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 c sugar
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 c sourdough starter (unfed, discard)
  • 1/2 c buttermilk
  • 1/2 c butter (melted)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 c water
  • 1/2 c walnuts (chopped)
  • 1 c dates (chopped)
  1. Preheat oven to 350° and grease a 9×5″ loaf pan.

  2. In a large bowl, sift the flours, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, nutmeg, and cinnamon.

  3. In a medium bowl, mix starter, buttermilk, butter, and eggs.

  4. Add the wet ingredients to the dry, stirring just until the mixture is evenly combined (mixture will be very dough-like) and add in the water to fully hydrate. Stir in the walnuts and dates.

  5. Pour the dough into the prepared baking pan.

  6. Bake for 65-70 minutes, until the top has slightly browned and a knife inserted into the center comes out clean. After 45 minutes, if the bread begins to brown too quickly, tent foil over top.

  7. Allow bread to cool for 15 minutes on a wire rack before turning out of the pan. Wait for bread to cool completely before slicing.