Gotta Love Sourdough

sourdough-loafI don’t understand how anyone could not love sourdough bread. In fact, I don’t think I’ve met someone who doesn’t. It is soooo good in soooo many ways! I like mine sour-as-can-be with a rich, chewy crust.

The flavor of sourdough bread is created by a wild yeast starter, used instead of regular baking yeast. You can purchase sourdough starter from some bakeries, or you can MAKE YOUR OWN! Making your own starter is quite a labor of love, but it makes for a very rewarding pet! It took about 5 weeks for my starter to fully develop and be ready to use for bread making, but during that time I really got to learn what the starter is all about. I even went as far as naming him Grover.  I got everything I ever wanted to know about sourdough starter (and more)  from: The best part about having your own starter is that once it is fully thriving, it can live forever as long as you feed it every once in a while. You can also give some to your friends so they can grow their own. I’ve had great success in using my extra starter in pancakes and pizza crust. Both very YUM!

This bread is great as a baguette or a sandwhich loaf- it makes two medium sized loaves. It is a good standard sourdough recipe that I got from the “Baker’s Apprentice” by Peter Reinhart. It actually isn’t as much work as it appears, but it does take some time for all that delicious wild yeast to ferment. So, make sure to read the recipe ahead of time and allow yourself a couple of days at least for the process. You can do it! (more…)

Chewy Fresh Bagels

don't even need cream cheeseI made my own bagels from scratch! I was so proud of myself for taking on this project, which for some reason always seemed too hard to even try. But, it actually wasn’t that difficult- it mostly required a lot of waiting for the dough to rise (I’m learning that this bread making business usually does). I had a great time making each bagel flavor unique. I topped them with: poppy seeds, sesame seeds, dried onions, cheese, pesto, fresh onions, salt, cinnamon-raisin, and Spike seasoning. I can’t say which flavor I ended up liking best, as they were all delicious! This recipe, from The Baker’s Apprentice, makes 12 bagels.  I ate some fresh from the oven and sliced and froze the leftovers for easy popping into the toaster! (more…)

Pretty Fluffy S Bread

& butterApparently this bread is more commonly known as Pane Siciliano, but I’ve never heard of that, so I decided to name it like it is. I found this recipe in my new favorite bread book, “The Baker’s Apprentice” by Peter Reinhart.

I split the recipe in half and just made one big loaf for my friend, Cynthia’s, birthday potluck. I whipped up a fancy sundried tomato and cheese spread to go with it, but I thought the bread was excellent on its own. I imagine it also would be tasty with any number of other spreads, especially sweet ones. It was one of the fluffiest breads I have made… maybe the semolina flour had something to do with this? It also was relatively sweet from the addition of honey. It reminded me a little bit of a pastry bread because of its consistency and flavor. And the sesame seeds made an excellent crunchy contrast!

Plan 3 days in advance to make this bread… it isn’t a lot of work, but it takes time to develop the awesome flavor! (more…)

Cheesey Mustard Scones

lovely any time of dayI made a delicious barley carmelized onion soup the other day (a Deborah Madison recipe) and I was looking for a good bread to go along with it. I came across this recipe in a book called the Cheese Bible. I liked the sound of a savory cheesy scone to go with my hearty vegetable soup. And I surely enjoyed the results! These scones are light and crispy on the outside and creamy and buttery in the middle. They have a good mustard kick to them too! This recipe makes 12 scones. (more…)


use me to make a killer breakfast sandwich!

I have tried a few different ciabatta recipes and they all have turned out dramatically different. This recipe produced the best holes, chewiness, crust, and texture. I would still like to work on perfecting the flavor… for some reason I feel like a little olive oil may be in order.

That being said, this bread is wonderful. It it is great dipped in olive oil and balsamic vinegar, with cheese, toasted, and as sandwich bread. I can’t really complain about that kind of versatility. And, compared to the other recipes, I’ve tried, this one is the simplest to prepare.

I got this recipe from Cooks Illustrated Magazine. It makes two loaves. Read through the recipe a couple of days before you plan to make the bread so you can account for the rising times! (more…)

Sweet Cinnamon Sticky Buns

Mmmmmm, cinnnnnnammmmonnnn rolllllssss. I have always loved cinnamon rolls… cinnamon, sugar, nuts and sweet dough rolled into pretty buns. I found this recipe in Deborah Madison’s “Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone.” This is the first time I have made cinnamon rolls from scratch. Even though I have thought about making them for a long time, I was hesistant to commit to the total preperation and baking time of 4 hours. Who wants to get up 4 hours before eating breakfast?

I was going to prepare them and then refrigerate the dough overnight, but I got antsy and just had to cook them up for dessert (with leftovers for breakfast the next day). I have included instructions in the recipe for refrigerating the prepared dough overnight so you can have them fresh in the morning without having to wake up at the crack of dawn.

Even though this recipe takes hours to be ready, most of that time is allowing the dough to rise. The actual work involved is pretty minimal. I made mine with the walnuts rolled up inside the dough, but I think it would be better with the nuts on top of the buns, so I have indicated that method in this recipe.

This recipe yeilds 14 sticky buns. (more…)

Rosemary Garlic Parmesan Bread

I have just recently taken an interest in bread making. It has always seemed like quite a mystery to me- yeast+flour+water+magic=bread. While I absolutely love fresh baked bread, making it can be pretty intimidating for a beginner.

I decided to take it slowly and follow a simple recipe very closely. I found a white bread recipe on the Food Network that called for using the stand mixer to knead the dough instead of by hand. I liked the idea of this since one of the parts of bread making that I find intimidating is all that kneading business… how much flour? how much pressure? how long? why do the recipes often say, ‘you’ll just know’ when it is ready? The test used in this recipe to tell when the dough is ready is to pinch off a small piece and stretch it with your hands and then hold it up to the light. If you can stretch it very thinly and see the light coming through without tearing it, then your dough is ready. This test worked well for me, so I hope it works for you too!

I added garlic, parmesan cheese, and rosemary to this basic bread to spice it up a bit. It is quite fragrant and delicious. The smells coming from the oven while it was baking were absolutely fabulous. And, I was so pleasantly surprised when it tasted good and had a great texture.

I recommend starting the dough the night before as the ’sponge’ needs to sit in the refrigerator for 8-12 hours.

This loaf stays fresh for about a week. After it got stale, I sliced it and made amazing grilled cheese sandwiches! (more…)