Sourdough Bread

sourdough bread

Now that you have your starter, let me give you my favorite sourdough bread recipe.  This makes a really tasty, fragrant loaf of bread,  It has a nice crust and a good chew to the bread so it’s not like eating that “cotton” they pass off as white bread in the stores.  This makes great sandwiches, when there is any left after it comes out of the oven.  Most of the time, it is sliced and buttered and eaten before it even has time to cool off.

1 cup of starter

1 1/2 cup of lukewarm water

2 tsp. yeast

1 tablespoon sugar

2 1/2 tsp. salt

5 cups of all purpose flour (I use the unbleached bread flour)

Combine all of the ingredients and knead until a smooth dough forms.  I use my Kitchenaid and the dough hook.  You do not want to over knead it. Knead until the dough is smooth.  Lightly grease a large bowl and place dough in and cover it and let it rise for about 90 minutes in a warm area.  When it has doubled in size, divide the dough in half.  Shape the dough into 2 oval loaves.  Place on a parchment paper covered baking sheet and cover and let rise about an hour.  Preheat oven to 425 degrees and lightly spray the loaves with warm water. Place a cake pan with 1 cup of water on the bottom shelf of the oven.  Make two to three slashes across the loaves and bake for about 25-30 minutes.  Crust will be a golden brown.  Remove from the oven and cool on a rack.  Enjoy.

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Sour Dough

sourdough starter

One of the breads I like the most is Sourdough.  True you have to make a starter and keep up with it, but nothing compares to the crusty loaf of bread, or other baked goods you can make with the starter.  It has so much flavor.  On the whole, I am not a fan of white breads.  I think they have little to offer, but sourdough is a whole other animal.  It is definitely worth the effort.  The starter is really easy to make.  I use pretty much the same starter recipe that you will find on any website.  Once I have it going, I keep mine in the fridge and that cuts down on feeding it.  There is so much you can make with the starter and if you are like me and hate waste, you will find so much to use your daily discard for – crackers, waffles, biscuits and so much more.

Starter

1 cup whole wheat flour – you must have the benefits of the whole wheat – do not try to use white flour for the beginner

1/2 cup room temperature water – this should not be tap water.  Many city/country water systems use chlorine and other chemicals in their water.  These chemicals can retard the natural growth of the beneficial bacteria you will need to start your sourdough starter.

This starter takes several days.  On the first day combine the flour and the water.  I suggest that you use a container that will not react to chemical reactions.  I usually use a small crock with loose lid or a quart size mason jar with plastic wrap over it. Stir everything together and make sure that all the flour is incorporated. Loosely cover and let the mixture sit at room temperature.  If the room is chilly, find a place that is warm to sit the container in. Let the starter sit for at least 24 hours.  After the first 24 hours discard half of the starter – this will be about 1/2 cup.  You may see some bubbling or may not see any change at all.  It’s okay, some starters are faster than others.  After you discard half of the starter, add 1 cup of all-purpose flour and 1/2 cup of room temperature water.  Again do not use tap water.  Stir well and make sure all of the flour is incorporated.  Lightly cover and let sit for another 24 hours.  On the third day you should see some bubbling and the starter should look like it has grown.  Stir the starter and remove about 1/2 cup.  This is where I differ from many people who use sour dough – I do not throw away the rest of the starter.  I put it to one side and use it for baking.  I will be adding recipes for that.  Take the 1/2 cup that you saved and add to it, 1 cup flour, 1/2 cup room temperature water.  Stir it down and make sure all the flour is incorporated.  Let sit for 12 hours.  I usually do this in the morning and do the second feeding in the evening.  That night (12 hours later) add 1 cup flour and 1/2 cup room temperature water.  On the fourth day do the same thing – add 1 cup flour and 1/2 cup room temperature water.  Let sit for 12 hours and do the same again.  On the fifth day do the same.  Add 1 cup flour and 1/2 cup room temperature water and let sit for 12 hours, then do it again.  At the end of the fifth day your starter should have doubled and should have lots of bubbles and you will start to smell that wonderful sour dough smell.  You will need to give it one last feeding.  Let it sit for about 8 hours.  Then when you are ready to make your bread, remove about a cup of the starter for the bread and put the rest into whatever container you want to keep it in and store it in the refrigerator.  You will need to feed it weekly by adding 1 cup flour and 1/2 cup room temperature water.

Toffee Chocolate Chip Muffins

Toffee Chocolate chip muffins

One of our favorite bakeries makes a Toffee muffin that we really like.  It don’t get over there on a regular basis, so I had to come up with a recipe to make them myself.  Since they did not have enough chocolate in them to suit me, I “tweaked” it just a bit to add a little more chocolate flavor.  Hope you like them.

3 cups flour

2/3 cup brown sugar

2 tsp. baking powder

1 tsp. baking soda

1 tsp. salt

2 eggs, beaten

1 cup milk

1 cup sour cream

6 tablespoons melted butter

2 tsp. vanilla

1 bag of Toffee bits

1 1/2 cup chocolate chips (you can use the mini chips or regular)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Fill muffin pans with liners.  Sift flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt.  Beat eggs with milk, sour cream, vanilla and butter.  Combine the wet and dry ingredients until just moistened.  Do not overmix, this will cause your muffins to be tough. Mix in toffee bits and chocolate chips.  At this point you can add chopped pecans if you want.  Sometimes I do, sometimes I don’t.  Spoon into muffin cups.  I use an ice cream scoop, it puts just the right amount into each cup.  Bake for 15-20 minutes.  They will be a golden brown.  Do not overcook, this will produce a dry muffin.  If in doubt, insert a toothpick into one of the muffins and if it comes out clean, they are done.  Cool on rack.  Makes about 16 good-sized muffins.

Ham Cheddar and Green Onion Muffins

hamgreenonionand cheddar

I wanted a savory muffin for breakfast and since I love my bacon, chives and cheddar scones, I thought that ham could replace the bacon, and green onion replace the chives.  This is the outcome.  I think they turned out pretty good.  They passed the taste test with my family.

 

2 cups flour

1 tablespoon baking powder

1 tsp. salt

pepper (I just sprinkled a good amount on the batter)

3/4 cup milk

1/4 cup sour cream

2 eggs

1/4 cup oil

1 cup ham, diced

1 cup shredded cheddar cheese (I used  white sharp cheddar)

3/4 cup sliced green onion, white and green parts

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place 12 muffin cups into the muffin pan.  Mix flour, baking powder, salt and pepper.  Sift to make sure all the lumps are out.  In a bowl whisk egg, milk, sour cream and oil.  Mix well.  Pour over the dry ingredients and mix until just combined.  Fold in the ham, cheese and green onion. Spoon into muffin cups and bake for 30 minutes.  Allow to cool on rack.

 

Chocolate Chocolate Chip Muffins

chocolate chocolate chip muffins2

I love muffins. They are the ready to go breakfast that you can just grab and head out in the morning.  I like them to be moist and full of flavor but not overly sweet.  I had tried a lot of chocolate chocolate chip muffins and they tasted more like cupcakes to me.  I wanted to find a recipe that was not too sweet and just couldn’t seem to find the right one, so I started playing with the recipes I found till I came up with the right combination.  So if you like chocolate and moist muffins that are not too sweet, I think you will like the final combination I came up with.  I warn you, these are not “skinny” muffins.  I just won’t sacrifice flavor, I think you should enjoy your food.  If you are worried about calories, just practice moderation.  So here they are……

1 1/2 cup flour

3 tablespoon cocoa

3/4 cup brown sugar

1/2 tsp. salt

1 1/2 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. baking soda

1/3 cup cooking oil

1 large egg

1/2 cup milk

1 tsp. vanilla

1/2 cup sour cream

1 cup chocolate chips

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.  Put muffin pan with 9 muffin papers (I like the tulip papers)  Combine the flour, cocoa, sugar, salt, baking powder and soda and sift gently to break up all the lumps.  In a mixing bowl whisk oil, egg, milk, vanilla, and sour cream until well combined.  Pour the egg mixture into the dry mixture and mix – be careful not to over mix, this makes the muffins tough.  Fold in the chocolate chips.  Spoon into the muffin papers.  Bake for 15-20 minutes.  Tops will no longer be wet and a toothpick inserted will come out clean.  These are easy to over bake since they are chocolate so do not leave them in longer than 20 minutes.   Transfer to a baking rack and allow to cool.  Enjoy

Brioche

Brioche

I love the richness of Brioche.  It is my bread of choice to eat warm from the oven with some butter, or toasted with black currant jam.  There is just no substitute.  It is also the bread I use when making my bread pudding.  It just makes the pudding come out over the top.  Makes it so decadent and rich.  So many people are afraid of attempting to make their own bread, but with all the mixers coming with dough hooks, it is easier than you think.  One suggestion I will make, when baking bread or really when baking anything, you will be more successful if you treat your recipes like science formulas.  The exact measurements can be very important when baking.  When I make bread, I tend to weigh my flour instead of measure it.  Weight is more precise and you have a better chance of  success if you weigh the flour.  Try this recipe, I think it will become a family favorite like it is at my house.

 

1/2 cup of lukewarm milk

2 tablespoons yeast

1 pound 2 ounces (4 cups) all purpose flour

1/3 cup sugar

2 tsp. salt

5 large eggs at room temperature

2 sticks butter

In a stand mixer mix the flour, sugar, yeast and salt on low speed until well combined.  Add the eggs and the milk and continue to mix on low speed until combined.  As soon as the dough begins to clump together, change to the dough hook.  Mix on medium speed for about 2 minutes.  Scrape the sides of the bowl and hook and continue to knead until the dough is firm and elastic, about 2-3 minutes more.  Scrape the hook and bowl again.  With the mixer on medium-low speed add one stick of butter, a few pieces at a time.  Scrape down the hook and bowl.  Knead again for about 2 minutes till butter looks incorporated.  Add the second stick of butter, a few pieces at a time.  Once all the butter is added, increase the speed to medium and knead for about 4 minutes.  Scrape the bowl, hook and bottom of the bowl.  Mix again for another 4 minutes more.  The dough will start to form a ball and slap the sides of the bowl when it is ready.  It may appear a little loose if your kitchen is on the warmer side but this is okay.  Do not add more flour, if you do the brioche may turn out tough.

Turn the dough out onto a clean, lightly floured work surface.  The dough will be very moist.  Knead it by hand a few time and then form it into a ball.  Flip it over and tuck it under itself to form a loose ball with a smooth top.  Transfer the ball into a large bowl that has been lightly buttered.  Cover tightly with plastic wrap.  You want to develop the flavor, so put the bowl into the refrigerator overnight.  The next day, remove the bowl from the refrigerator and allow it to stand at room temperature for about 2 hours.  Turn the dough out onto a clean work surface and roll it into a log.  Split the log down the center and then braid the two logs and then tuck under the ends.  Place into two buttered loaf pans.  Cover loosely with plastic wrap and allow to rise for about 1 hour.  It should spring back when gently poked.  Heat oven to 375 degrees.    In a small bowl beat one egg with 1 tablespoon water.  Brush the egg mixture over the top of each loaf.  Bake until golden brown, about 25 minutes.  Allow to cool in pans for about 10 minutes on a rack before turning out of the pan.  Allow loaves to cool on rack until barely warm.  Makes 2 loaves.

 

Lime Scones

lime scones

As I said earlier, in the summer, I love to make everything I can with limes.  I have been making a lot of different types of scones lately.  I love the not to sweet, tender, melt in your mouth quality of scones.  If they are done right, they are the perfect light breakfast.  I’m not a big breakfast type of girl.  I like things that are simple.  Something warms and tasty to have with my morning coffee.  These scones are just the thing, though I like them much better with a cup of tea.  Easy to make and so light and tender.  I know they will become a favorite.

 

3/4 cup milk

1 large egg, room temperature

1/4 cup sugar

2 tsp vanilla

2 tablespoons lime juice, fresh

1 tablespoon grated lime zest, fresh

2 cups flour

1 tablespoon baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

3 tablespoons butter, very cold, cut into small cubes

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  In a medium bowl, mix together the milk, egg, sugar, vanilla, lime juice and lime zest.  In your food processor mix flour, baking powder and salt, turn on and add butter.  Process until butter is the size of small peas.  Take processor bowl off and gently mix in wet ingredients.  Do not over mix.  Pour out onto a lightly floured surface and lightly pull it into a round, do not over knead it or it will become tough.  Dough will be slightly sticky so you can sprinkle a little flour as needed. Place on a parchment covered baking sheet and  form into a round disk about 8 to 9 inch round, about 3/4 inch thick.  Use a knife to cut in half and then cut each half into 5 wedges. Slightly separate them and then sprinkle with sanding sugar.  Bake for about 18-20 minutes.  You want them lightly golden brown, no darker.  Remove scones and place on a rack over a baking sheet.  Make glaze – 1 cup powdered sugar, 2 tablespoon lime juice, 1 tsp. lime zest.  If not thin enough, add a little water.  Drizzle over warm scones.  Allow to cool slightly.  Serve warm.