Thursday, February 25, 2016

Two seedy sourdoughs

Last week I made a couple of sourdoughs, one with pumpkin seeds added during shaping, and one with sunflower seeds added at the beginning. Both were, as usual, based on Josey Baker's sourdough recipe.

Sunflower seed sourdough

The first loaf had an amazing crust, which I attribute either to cooking it in a dutch oven or cooking it almost too much. Perhaps both. The second loaf had a good crust, but it wasn't as crunchy-chewy as the first.

With the first sourdough, I had enough time to let the dough rise slowly, although (sadly) I didn't keep the details. I think the first rise was about 24 hours, mostly in the fridge.

After the first rise, I shaped the bread and added pumpkin seeds. (They might have been roasted, but they weren't salted, and I didn't soak them.) I pushed the dough into a flat rectangle, then spread a layer of pumpkin seeds on top, and then sort of folded it a few times.

This way of adding the seeds had worked before, with the walnuts, but it didn't work as well for the pumpkin seeds. They ended up clumped. It'd probably be better to mix the seeds into the dough at the beginning.

After shaping

I don't recall how long the shaped dough was in the fridge, but I did take it out for a final rise at room temperature. I forgot to set an alarm, so the dough rose a little too long. Oops.

After rising perhaps a bit too much

I put the bottom of a dutch oven in the oven, on top of a baking stone, and heated the oven to 500 degrees for 30+ minutes. Then I flipped the dough onto some parchment, and gently laid the parchment in the dutch oven, added a lid, and turned the oven down to 475. As usual, I removed the lid after 20 minutes and cooked the bread for another 15+ minutes.

For some reason, this time the parchment paper folded in such a way that the bread had little protuberances around the bottom.

Parchment paper induced bulbs at the top and bottom right

I cooked the heck out of this bread. It looked almost burnt, but it was really really tasty.

Well done

If you look closely at the interior, you can see clumps of pumpkin seeds.

The sunflower seed dough was a different beast entirely. I started the night before, toasting and then soaking the sunflower seeds (~ 1 cup), but I didn't have time to put the dough in the fridge. I just made the dough, and then kept it out until it was ready to shape.

Shaped dough

Ready to go into the oven

I baked this loaf directly on the stone (with a pot on top for the first 20 minutes), but I think the dutch oven produced a better crust.


I like how this bread had sunflower seeds everywhere.

It looks like the crust separated a little bit, but I only noticed that in one spot.

Monday, February 15, 2016

Oat-applesauce muffins and a walnut sourdough

This weekend I made muffins and, for the first time in a while, sourdough.


These "healthy oats and applesauce muffins" feature applesauce, whole wheat flour, and lots of oats. They're similar to a bunch of recipes, but they use whole eggs instead of egg white, and butter or coconut oil instead of a boring oil or margarine. The recipe also doesn't come with a topping.

I used butter and substituted brown sugar for the white sugar. I also added about 1/2 cup cinnamon chips, just because I could, and a pinch of salt.

I thought about adding a topping, but decided against it. I also considered adding raisins, but abandoned them in favor of the cinnamon chips.

Before going into the oven

I cooked the muffins (11, not the claimed dozen) on 375 on the convection setting for 12-15 minutes. (Someone ignored the alarm!) Although the toothpick came out clean, the muffins didn't look done. Still, the timing (whatever it was) was perfect. The texture was nice and moist, but definitely cooked through. The muffins didn't rise much, if at all; I'm not sure if that's because of my faux baking soda & powder, or just how the recipe works.

The muffins tasted pretty good, but not amazing—they were much what you'd expect from a cinnamony, completely whole grain muffin recipe. If I make it again, and I might, I'll try whole wheat pastry flour instead of regular whole wheat flour. I'll probably use raisins or cranberries instead of cinnamon chips.

About the cinnamon chips: I haven't yet found anything I love them in. If they were bigger, I might like them better, but they just kind of get lost in everything I've tried, so far. I wonder if they'd be good added on top of an iced muffin—say, a carrot cake muffin.

Walnut sourdough

I hadn't made bread outside the bread machine in a while, so this loaf was way overdue. Unfortunately, I forgot to put the dough in the fridge before I went out for the evening, so the dough rose way too high!

It should be half this high!

When I got home and saw my mistake, I decided to go ahead and shape the bread. The bread was so gloopy it was rather hard to work. I ended up flattening it out, adding a bunch of walnuts on top, and then folding/rolling it a bunch of times to try to add a little surface tension.

Plopped into a banetton

The next morning, I took it out of the fridge and let it rise at room temperature (around 68 degrees, just like the night before) for a couple of hours . Then I put the dough back in the fridge while I went out for a couple of hours.

Before baking

When I got back, I preheated the oven to 500 degrees for 45 minutes, to get the baking stone nice and hot. I then turned the bread out onto a parchment-covered peel, which took some doing since the dough was sticky. I sliced the top, then slid the bread onto the stone in the oven, placed a big pot on top of it, and reduced the heat to 475.

The resulting bread was very flat—not surprising, given how overworked the yeast had been. Poor yeast.

However, the texture was fine, and it was deliciously sour! The crust, a couple of hours after baking, still had a great, chewy yet crunchy texture.

Flat, yet delicious

This bread tasted great by itself or with fresh mozzarella on top. It'd be great with olive oil or butter, as well.

I used the usual Josey Baker recipe, with added walnuts (maybe 3/4 cup, toasted).

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Oatmeal stout bread flops, plus pot pies, spelt bread, and beans

In this episode, I endure a frustrating series of failures, ended only by giving up. I also sing the praises of pastry flour, spelt flour, and heirloom beans.

Mini-mash oatmeal stout bread

My husband brewed oatmeal stout, using a kit from MoreBeer. They call this one a mini-mash, since it has so much grain. The recipe calls for 4 pounds of malted barley (half of it 2-row, and the remainder 4 different kinds of dark malts), 1 pound flaked oats, and 4 oz wheat—over 5 pounds of grains! Most recipes my husband has brewed use 1/2 to 1 pound.

The huge amount of grains (while not nearly as much as an all-grain recipe) meant my husband couldn't put all the grains in bags. (The first part of making beer is soaking the grains in hot water, as if you were making tea, but the soaking takes a lot longer.) As a result, he couldn't strain most of the grains, and (although I couldn't see this) they were apparently much wetter than usual.

That's a lot of spent grain

We saved about 6 cups of the spent grain for breads. The grain didn't look noticeably different from others I'd used, but they acted much different.

Flop #1

Sunken and inedibly gummy

The usual recipe, except that I used a full cup of water, not a scant cup.

Flop #2

Less sunken, and almost edible

I reduced the water to 3/4 cup, and I used the regular cycle instead of whole wheat. This one looked and tasted more like my normal spent grain bread, except that it was collapsed and gummy — both of which are exaggerations of tendencies that were evident but not problematic in my other spent grain breads.

Flop #3

Hensperger says the collapse due to too much yeast action, so I reduced the yeast to 3/4 teaspoon. I think I used the whole wheat cycle.

The result looked just like flop #2.

Try #4

Same as flop #3, except the honey changed (to something similar) and I added 30 g more of bread flour.

The result looked just like flops #2 & 3.

If I ever make bread from a mini-mash again, I'll be sure to squeeze the grains thoroughly before measuring them. Yeesh.

Turkey pot pie

During this time of failure, I took solace in my husband's delicious turkey pot pie. One double-crust recipe produced enough pot pies for me to eat one or two helpings every day. That's probably not good for my waistline, but they tasted so good!

Reheated for 20 minutes at 350 degrees

Nate's always made good pie crusts, but lately they're amazing—great flavor and texture. He credits a new flour he's been using: King Arthur's pastry flour blend. I'd bought that flour along with their excellent cocoa powders (both black and triple), cinnamon chips, and a bunch of bread flours that I have yet to try.

Better than all-purpose flour for pie crusts

Whole-wheat toasted sesame bread

After so many bread failures, I went back to an old favorite, Hensperger's whole-wheat toasted sesame bread. And I forgot to put the paddles in the bread machine. The result was, needless to say, inedible—a cracker topped by flour and yeast. Mmm, mmm, mmmmm.

The next day, having recovered enough to try again, I realized I was out of whole-wheat flour. So I made the bread again, using spelt flour I had in the freezer. The bag said you could substitute the flour one-for-one for whole-wheat flour, so I did.

And it worked. Yay!

Finally, a success!

Magical fruit

Finally, I recently when to the Rancho Gordo store in the Ferry Building (on my way back from watching adorable puppies play on a mock football field). My haul included some chile powder, oregano, and hot sauce, plus five kinds of beans:
  • Santa Maria Pinquitos
  • Royal Corona
  • Ayocote Amarillo
  • Vaquero
  • Alubia Blanca
I recently cooked the Alubia Blanca beans in the Instant Pot I got for Christmas.  Into the pot went1 pound of unsoaked beans, water to cover by 1.5+ inches, and a bay leaf. I put it on for 25 minutes on manual. The results were tasty, but unfortunately we aren't used to using beans in this household. I never got around to making a salad (perhaps Alubia Blanca salad with pineapple vinaigrette), but I did enjoy the beans as a quick snack/lunch when nothing else was available. I'd just stir up the beans with a few shakes of salt-free spice, and voila—a filling serving.

The next time I make a batch of beans, I'll plan better.