Thursday, March 26, 2015

Sourdough Scones

I knew that I needed to use my starter today. I'll be making three batches of sourdough brownies tomorrow for a friend's wedding this weekend, so I wanted my starter to be drained and fed and ready to go. I didn't want to make bread, since I'm having some weird issues with sourdough bread baking lately and I just didn't feel like trying it again today. So I checked out my Pinterest board and was reminded of these Sourdough Scones that I pinned a while back.

I made these for breakfast, and they turned out so good! I've come to expect a certain flavor when I make sweet baked goods with sourdough, but the baking soda in the recipe neutralized some of that usual sourdough flavor. What was left was just a really delicious scone.

The recipe I'm posting is just a basic sourdough scone that lends itself extraordinarily well to a variety of add-ins. I added spices and dried cranberries this morning, and I'm excited to try other things like chocolate chips, chopped apples, blueberries, etc.


Sourdough Scones
(adapted from allrecipes)
2 1/2 cups flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. cream of tartar
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 cup white sugar
1/3 cup shortening or cold butter
1 1/4 cups sourdough starter (this might vary depending on the hydration level of your starter)
Optional milk and sugar for garnish

Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.

Whisk together flour, salt, cream of tartar, baking soda, and sugar. Cut in shortening until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Add the sourdough starter and mix by hand to form a soft dough. I ended up needing a bit more than 1 1/4 cups.

Turn the dough out onto lightly floured surface. Knead gently a couple times. Divide into 4 pieces. Pat or roll one piece of dough into a 1/2-inch thick round. Cut it into 4 wedge-shaped pieces. Repeat with remaining pieces of dough.

Alternately, press the whole batch of dough into a rectangle and cut into 16 triangles. The shape might not turn out quite as traditional, but I thought it was simpler this way.

Place scones on baking sheet about 1 inch apart. Brush the tops of the scones with milk and sprinkle with sugar, if desired.

Bake until the scones just start to turn golden, 12 to 15 minutes.



Optional variations that I'm eager to try:

-Add 1-2 tsp. spices (cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, allspice, citrus zest, etc) with the dry ingredients.
-Stir in 1-2 cups additions (dried fruit, chopped fresh fruit, baking chips, nuts, etc) after cutting in the shortening.
-Drizzle with powdered sugar glaze after baking.
-Make a savory version by eliminating the sugar, adding savory spices (garlic/onion powder, cayenne, dry mustard, etc) with dry ingredients, and stirring in grated cheese after the shortening.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Sourdough Banana Bread

I recently discovered a fun website called Sourdough Surprises - "a monthly baking group who strive to use our sourdough starters for things besides bread (although we do a lot of that, too!)." Given my recent obsession with exploring uses for my sourdough starter, this got me pretty excited. Basically, each month an assignment is given, participating bakers must make a specific something using sourdough starter. Past months have included challenges like steamed buns, croissants, granola bars, kolaches, crepes, and so many more!

The challenge for March, because of celebrating three years of Sourdough Surprises, was to choose from any of the previous challenges. I had some bananas that needed to be used, so I chose the category of Quick Breads and Muffins, and made Sourdough Banana Bread.


I have found that there is a very distinct flavor in every sweet thing that I have made with sourdough. Sometimes it's strong, sometimes it's mild. It's a little bit of tang, a little bit of richness and depth of flavor that you don't really get when you don't sourdough. But add sourdough, and that flavor is always there, whether the recipe is cookies, brownies, cake, muffins, or pudding. This recipe is no exception. Sourdough Banana Bread tastes exactly like I would have imagined it - like banana bread, but with that distinct tang and richness that sourdough adds. It's quite good.



Sourdough Banana Bread
(recipe from Cook's Hideout)
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1/3 cup oil
3/4 cup sugar
1 egg
1 cup mashed ripe banana
1 cup sourdough starter
1 tsp. vanilla
3/4 cup chocolate chips or walnuts

Preheat oven to 350. Grease 9x5 loaf pan.

In medium mixing bowl, combine flours, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

In large bowl, mix oil and sugar until sugar is almost dissolved. Add egg and mix well. Next add mashed banana, sourdough starter, and vanilla. Mix well.

Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients and mix until combined. Stir in chocolate chips or chopped walnuts.

Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake 50-60 minutes or until toothpick inserted into center of bread comes out clean.

Cool in pan for 10 minutes before removing to wire rack to cool completely.



Notes: I doubled the recipe because I had lots of bananas to use up. I only have one 9x5 pan, so I put half of the batter into the loaf pan, and the other half went into an 8x8 baking dish. The bread in the 8x8 was finished baking after 50 minutes, the bread in the 9x5 loaf pan took the full 60 minutes.


I used peanut butter chips in one, and a combination of peanut butter chips and chocolate chips in the other, just for fun. Yummy!



   

   

This post is linked to:
The Little Thumbs Up (March 2015 - BANANA) event organised by Zoe (Bake for Happy Kids) and Mui Mui (My Little Favourite DIY) and hosted by Faeez of BitterSweetSpicy.
"Think Tank Thursday" at Joyful Homemaking

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Sourdough Pudding


I was recently browsing for new recipes to use my sourdough starter. It's a fun pastime, I highly recommend it. I searched for "sourdough pudding," thinking that sourdough starter might make for an interesting custard, if used in place of cornstarch or flour as a thickening agent.

I found recipe after recipe for sourdough bread pudding, and a few random recipes that had nothing to do with either sourdough or pudding. But no recipes for a custard pudding made with sourdough. I tried different wordings, different search engines, but nowhere could I find a recipe that made a simple custard pudding using sourdough starter.

I couldn't let it go. I had to try it, to see if it would work. I was nervous and excited. I was about to attempt to do something that, according to the internet, had NEVER BEEN DONE BEFORE. Because obviously, if it had ever been done before, it would be somewhere on the internet. Amiright?

Well, now it has been done, and now it is on the interwebs. I have successfully made a custard-style pudding, using sourdough starter in place of flour, cornstarch, and part of the milk. And it totally worked.


The flavor is what I would expect, having tried a number of dessert recipes that use sourdough starter. It's sweet and pudding-like, and it has that bit of tang and richness that sourdough usually gives. I will say that the distinct flavor that sourdough gives is very distinct in this recipe. There aren't any other flavors to compete with it, so it's quite strong. So if you don't like the flavor of sourdough starter, this probably isn't the pudding for you. But if you like sourdough in just about anything, you'll like it in this.

In the interest of being fully honest, at one point I thought I would have to scrap the whole thing, pour it out into cheesecloth, and claim that my intention all along had been to create a sweet sourdough cheese (details in the recipe below). Even now, I'm throwing around the idea of making cheese with sourdough, because I found out today that it would totally work. But I held out and it turned into pudding after all.


Sourdough Vanilla Pudding
2/3 cup sugar
Dash of salt
1/2 cup sourdough starter
2 2/3 cup milk
2 eggs, beaten
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla
1 tbsp. butter or margarine

Combine sugar and salt in large saucepan. Mix together sourdough starter and milk, and add gradually to the sugar, stirring to combine.

Cook over moderate heat, stirring constantly. At some point, the milk will curdle. Sourdough starter is acidic, which I halfway forgot when I was planning out this recipe. The mixture will look like you're making cheese, with chunky curds and watery whey. Just keep stirring. Don't use a whisk at this point, though, or you'll end up with a very large, gloppy, stretchy blob of curds stuck to the whisk. Just use a spoon.

Continue heating and stirring until the curds dissolve back into the whey. At this point you can use a whisk so the mixture gets smooth. Once it comes to a boil, boil for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat.

Slowly stir half of the mixture into the beaten eggs. Blend egg mixture into hot mixture in saucepan. Return to a boil, and boil for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Blend in vanilla and butter.

Pour pudding into serving dish(es). Cover with plastic wrap and chill thoroughly (about 2 hours) before serving.


I'm pretty sure this could be used in place of vanilla pudding in any recipe. I want to try it in a pie crust. You could add bananas and make sourdough banana cream pie. Add coconut and make sourdough coconut cream pie. Stir in a cup of chocolate chips with the vanilla and butter and make sourdough chocolate pudding or sourdough chocolate cream pie. Layer this stuff with bananas and nilla wafers to make sourdough banana pudding. The possibilities are endless!

Linking:
Think Tank Thursday

Monday, March 2, 2015

Amazing Sourdough Brownies


These sourdough brownies are absolutely amazing. The chocolate flavor is intense, more so than any brownie I've ever tried. The texture of the brownies is dense, smooth, and fudgy. The sourdough adds a touch of tang, but its most noticeable contributions are richness and intensity. The overall combination of flavor and texture makes these brownies divine. I would go on and on, but basically no words can really describe how amazing these brownies are, so you should just make them. If you don't have sourdough starter, make some, then make these brownies.

Don't you want to dive in head first?

I made a batch a few weeks ago, and have been dreaming about them pretty much nonstop ever since. My mouth waters just thinking about these incredible bars of chocolate perfection.


This recipe gives ingredient amounts by weight instead of volume. I have a nice little digital kitchen scale that I use, I just zero it out after adding each ingredient. I prefer volume recipes, but I'm willing to make adjustments for a recipe this delicious.

Sourdough Brownies
(source Chef in Disguise)
300 grams chocolate, chopped (I used chocolate chips for one batch, and a *substitute made with cocoa powder, sugar, and oil the second time, both worked great)
226 grams (2 sticks) unsalted butter
200 grams sugar
6 grams (1 tsp.) salt
8.4 grams (2 tsp.) vanilla
3 eggs, room temperature
40 grams cocoa powder
220 grams sourdough starter

Preheat oven to 325 F.

Line a metal 9×13 pan with parchment paper and grease it ( it makes it easier  to lift the brownies out of the pan if you leave some extra parchment at the 13 inch sides).

In a double broiler, saucepan, or the microwave, melt the chocolate and butter. Stir it often so it does not burn.

Pour the melted chocolate/butter into a large bowl. Whisk in the sugar, salt and vanilla.

Add the eggs one at a time, whisking to combine each addition. Sift the cocoa powder over the chocolate and stir to combine. Add the starter and stir gently until it is completely incorporated.

Turn the batter into the prepared pan and bake for about 40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

Cool in the pan 20 minutes then lift the parchment paper out and allow to cool the rest of the way on a wire rack. When cool completely, cut into squares and enjoy!


*To make chocolate substitute: For one ounce of semisweet/bittersweet chocolate, whisk together 1 tbsp. cocoa powder, 3 1/2 tsp. sugar, and 2 tsp. oil or softened butter or margarine.

300 grams of chocolate converts to about 10.5 ounces. So for this recipe I used 10 1/2 tbsp. cocoa powder, 12 tbsp. plus 1 tsp. sugar, and 7 tbsp. oil. I then added this mixture to the melted unsalted butter and continued with the recipe from there.

Complicated enough? I know, I know. But I WANTED these brownies and I was out of chocolate. I did what I had to do.

Le Swoon!

Linking to:
Think Tank Thursday 
Link Party Palooza

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Homemade Mayonnaise

I am often thankful that I have a very do-it-myself kind of mindset. When I wanted my kitchen remodeled, I gathered as many details and tutorials as possible, the dug in and did it myself. I also have a I'll-finish-it-later mindset at times, which is why my kitchen still isn't finished, after a year and a half, but that's beside the point...

Sometimes this do-it-myself-ness applies to food, which is always fun. Making my own bread has become second-nature. I recently started making my own pasta. Occasionally I do homemade tortillas. There are lots of things that are typically purchased at the store that can actually be made pretty easily and inexpensively at home.

Today, I wanted to make sandwiches for lunch. I got out the (deliciously homemade) bread, lunchmeat, cheese, pickles, and lettuce. Then I looked for the mayo, only to find that there wasn't any! What to do?! We never run out of mayo! Well, I was too lazy to put away all the sandwich fixings and come up with something else for lunch. But not too lazy to look up a recipe and make my own mayonnaise.


It was super easy. Mayonnaise basically just needs egg, acid, flavor, and oil. For the oil, I used mostly extra-virgin olive oil (store brand, of course) combined with some vegetable oil. It made for a very strongly olive oil-flavored mayo. I thought that might be a problem, as I have been raised on store bought mayo with its mild flavor, but on the sandwiches the flavor was diluted enough to be quite pleasant. Still, if the flavor is too strong, light olive oil could be used, or just less olive and more vegetable or canola. All in all, my homemade mayo was a successful venture.

Super yummy with some ground black pepper

Homemade Mayonnaise
(from What's That Smell?)
1 egg
2 tbsp. vinegar
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. dry mustard (or whatever seasoning you'd like)
3/4 cup oil (I used 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil and 1/4 cup vegetable oil)

Place all the ingredients except the oil in the blender and blend on high for 10 seconds. Reduce speed then slowly pour olive oil in through the top and blend until thick. Store in refrigerator. Mayo will last 2-4 weeks.


Linking to:
Link Party Palooza

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Sourdough Chocolate Cake

I've been seriously enjoying my sourdough starter lately. You can just do so much with sourdough! I keep trying to find new recipes to try, because the starter needs to be drained and fed every few days. I simply refuse to throw away the starter that I drain off, so I just have to make fun and delicious foods with it instead. Oh so difficult. ;)

My latest sourdough adventure was this delicious chocolate cake. The batter was fun - it looked just like instant chocolate pudding, and tasted similar to pudding too. Yes, I tasted the batter. I licked the beaters, the spatula, the bowl. It was fantastic. I regret nothing.


I topped the cake with a basic cream cheese frosting, and it complimented the cake well. Both the cake and the frosting were sweet with a little bit of a tang, and it was a great combination.

Sourdough Chocolate Cake
(from allrecipes.com)
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa
3/4 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
2/3 cup shortening
1 2/3 cup white sugar
3 eggs
1 cup sourdough starter (recipe here)
3/4 cup cold water
1 tsp. vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease 9x13 baking pan.

Sift together flour, cocoa, soda, baking powder, and salt.

Cream shortening, sugar, and eggs. Blend in sourdough starter. Add sifted ingredients slowly to creamed mixture, beating until smooth. Stir in water and vanilla, and mix well.

 Pour batter into greased and floured 9 x 13 inch pan.

 Bake for 35 minutes, or until done.

Cool completely before frosting.


Cream Cheese Frosting
 8 oz. cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup butter or margarine, softened
1 tsp. vanilla extract
4 cups powdered sugar

In a stand mixer or with a hand mixer, cream together cream cheese, butter, and vanilla. Slowly add powdered sugar, mixing until smooth and creamy.

I left the cake in the pan and only frosted the top. That way I only used about two-thirds of the frosting, and could keep the leftover frosting in the fridge. Because, let's face it, there are certainly worse things than having a cup or two of cream cheese frosting sitting around waiting to be used. So convenient for delicious snacking...

Linking:
Think Tank Thursday

Friday, January 9, 2015

Sourdough Adventures

Several years ago, I kept a sourdough starter for a while. I wasn't very good at making bread with the recipe that I had (I kept trying to add too much flour, and ended up with rock-hard bread every time), and eventually the starter was neglected into oblivion.

But recently, I started myself a new starter. I'm much more experienced with bread baking now, and have been turning out some lovely loaves of delicious sourdough bread. My kids really like having a sourdough starter, I've told them it's like "pet yeast" because we have to feed it and take care of it just as if it were a pet. But mostly they just really like all the stuff I make with it.

Before, I used to keep my starter in a pitcher in the fridge, and only pull it out to use every once in a while. Nowadays, fridge space is a valuable commodity, and there's just not room in there for a container of sourdough starter. So I keep it in an open cabinet, up high enough that the kids won't bother it, but visible enough that I can check on it and remember that it's there and needs to be used frequently.


See, there it is on the top shelf in the old ice cream bucket. Lots of people store their starter in a jar, but I like a container with plenty of space to stir the starter when I feed it. And I promise that someday I will get around to making doors for my cabinets. Let's just ignore the fact that this cabinet has been waiting for doors for over a year...

I'll share the same recipe I shared six years ago, just because. This particular starter uses flour, water, and yeast. I've seen starters that use only flour and water, taking advantage of the wild yeast that is found naturally in flour. But I didn't know about that type until I'd already had my starter for a while, and I'm not going to throw away a perfectly good starter just because I learned there's another kind. :)

Sourdough Starter
2 cups chlorine-free water (let tap water sit out on the counter for a while)
1 tbsp. yeast
2 cups all-purpose flour

Combine all ingredients. Use glass, plastic, or earthenware container. Metal is a no-no for sourdough starter. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and allow to sit at room temperature for at least 48 hours, until it foams and develops a pleasantly sour smell. At this point you can cover loosely and store in the fridge, like I used to do, or just leave it at room temperature, making sure every 2-4 days to either use or drain some of the starter (I always use it, I'm too tightwad to discard perfectly good sourdough starter), and then feed it.

For feeding the starter, I use equal amounts flour and water. I add back 3/4 of the amount I removed. For example, if I remove 1 cup of starter, I feed the rest of the starter with 3/4 cup water and 3/4 cup flour.

Sometimes the starter will separate, with a layer of liquid on top. That liquid is called the hooch. I just stir it in really well before using the starter.

Here's the recipe I've been using to make bread. It's simple, you don't have to make a sponge, it doesn't call for additional yeast. It turns out quite delicious.


Sourdough Bread
1 cup water
1 tbsp. salt
2 cups sourdough starter
4 to 5 1/2 cups flour

Dissolve the salt in the water in a mixing bowl. Add the starter, and then the flour (only as much as necessary to make a soft dough). Knead into a ball. Cover with a damp towel and let rise overnight at room temperature.

The next morning, punch down risen dough and divide in half. Shape each half into a round loaf, make an X-shaped slash on each top, and place the two loaves on a greased baking sheet. Cover with a damp towel and allow to rise at room temperature for about four more hours. Place a pan of water on the bottom rack of the oven and preheat to 400 degrees. Bake for 35 minutes. Cool on a wire rack.

I have also made this successfully in loaf pans (as shown above), and without the pan of water. Baking time and temp is still the same.

Sourdough bread is great and wonderful, but I don't need to make it every 2-4 days. So when I need to use/feed the starter, I have discovered several different things to make using sourdough starter. Isn't the internet awesome like that? Here are some of the things I've made since I started doing sourdough a few weeks ago:

Cookies


I changed the recipe to use cinnamon chips instead of chocolate chips. I can't wait to try it with chocolate sometime. These cookies were very unique, and enjoyable. The texture was more bread-like than most cookies, almost like a biscuit. The flavor was sweet and tangy. If I weren't watching my calorie intake, these little guys could become quite addictive.

Naan
(recipe here)


I guess my starter is quite a bit less wet than the starter in the recipe, because I had to almost double the starter in order to go from crumbs in the food processor to dough. But once the dough was made, it was extremely easy to work with, and the naan turned out yummy. I made miniature naan, forming the dough into 16 small balls instead of the 8 called for.

English Muffins


I've made these sourdough English muffins twice now, and they've been delicious each time. I start the sponge in the evening, then mix up the dough in the morning to cook up the muffins for breakfast. They're delicious with butter and scrambled eggs, or topped with jam. Any leftovers are good split down the middle and toasted. They don't form huge nooks and crannies like store-bought muffins, but the flavor is wonderful.

I've found that pretty much anything you to which you add sourdough starter develops a wonderful flavor. It's tangy and rich, and downright awesome! That said, I have pinned several more recipes which I am eager to try. Pancakes, waffles, brownies, cake, donuts, cookie bars, muffins - the possibilities are endless! Here's my sourdough Pinterest board for anyone interested.

I do apologize for the poor quality of the pictures in this post. I admit that this post might have been an afterthought... And I can't find my real camera so for most of the pictures, I had to use my husband's little tablet to take some last-minute pictures in poor lighting.

Linking:
tatertots&jello