The EcoWongs

Thoughts, Aspirations, and Projects of the Wong Clan

Sourdough in San Francisco May 14, 2009

We’re on vacation!  While up here, we’ve been utilizing some of the sourdough starter that we have given away to our family members over the course of the past few months to make some sourdough breads and pancakes.

From the Poppyside Sourdough:

Sourdough Cinnamon Buns:

City Bread:

No-Knead Sourdough (I used my mom’s CorningWare casserole and convection oven to make this one, that’s why it looks so crazy):

Mom’s sourdough is alive and kicking.  We reduced it down to a scant 1/4 cup (or less) and it was still able to reproduce and expand to fill a mason jar in one day!

This week, we’re up in the City, and we’re using Hannah’s starter, which she had split into a whole wheat starter and an AP flour starter. We made some pizza dough which turned out amazing (no pictures), and we’ve just completed a Sourdough Sweet Potato Bread with Pumpkin Seeds ala the Wild Yeast Blog.  I had to convert all of the weights into rough volume measurements, so the values may not be exact, and I used AP flour instead of the high-extraction flour that is called for:

4 cups flour
1.3 cups water
2.3 cups starter
1 Tbsp salt
1 cup cooked, peeled, mashed, and cooled sweet potato
1 cup toasted pumpkin seeds

combine flour, water, starter and salt.  Mix until combined.  Add sweet potato, knead until dough passes windowpane test.  Knead pumpkin seeds into the dough.  Let rise 12-18 hours.  Split loaf into halves and put each into it’s own proofing container.  Rise for another 6-8 hours.

Preheat to 475º.  Flip and slash. Bake for 45 minutes or until internal temperature reaches 195-205º.

I was able to follow this recipe for the most part.  Our first loaf ended up a little flat, because we didn’t have a proper proofing basket.  For the second loaf, we left the dough in the bowl that it rose in.  Pictures:

First loaf out of the oven:

Second loaf (out of the bowl):

The loaves look a little crazy, but they taste and smell amazing.  We’re a little concerned that the second loaf has no crust and is all crumb.  We’ll have to either (a) eat it quickly, (b) pack it up, or (c) all of the above.

Happy baking everyone!

 

Baking update April 2, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — gnowetan @ 8:31 am
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I’ve been remiss in my bread blogging, but here’s what I’ve been working on:

Jeffrey Hamelmans Seeded Sourdough Loaf.  Its got sesame seeds, flaxseed, and pumpkin seeds.  Soooo good.

Jeffrey Hamelman's Seeded Sourdough Loaf. It's got sesame seeds, flaxseed, and pumpkin seeds. Soooo good.

Reinharts Rye Sandwich Siegle.  Very tasty.  Theres actually a whole diced onion in there.

Reinhart's Rye Sandwich Siegle. Very tasty. There's actually a whole diced onion in there.

Reinharts Whole Wheat Raisin Bread.  I added walnuts and cranberries.  Mmmmm.

Reinhart's Whole Wheat Raisin Bread. I added walnuts and cranberries. Mmmmm.

These loaves, mixed in with a few no-knead breads (those are quick and easy, so it gives me time between difficult recipes).

All this wouldn’t be possible without the help of my little baker friend:

More pictures here.

 

Reinhart’s Recipes, one at a time. March 18, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — gnowetan @ 8:26 pm
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We just got this book:

I’ve just had a chance to glance through it, and man… it’s packed with recipes and techniques.  This Reinhart guy really knows how to teach.

I didn’t really know where to start because there are so many options.  Christina suggested that I start at the beginning and work my way through, one recipe at a time.  First up is the Master Recipe.  He gives a basic Whole Wheat Sandwich bread recipe and talks us through it down to the finest detail.  That way, he can be a little more vague in later recipes and refer back to the Master Recipe when he needs to.

Here’s what I came up with:

It’s tasty, but the addition of a sweetener (honey, in this case) masks the sourness of the starter.  It’s very light and tasty, though.  Stay tuned for #2.

 

No-Knead Sourdough with Steel Cut Oats March 13, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — gnowetan @ 8:21 am
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Having been sufficiently excited by the prospect of creating bread without the laborious kneading, I decided to try a variation.  No Knead Sourdough with Steel Cut Oats.

3 oz. Steel Cut Oats
13-15 oz. AP Flour
1/4 c. ripe sourdough starter
1 1/2 c. water

Mix them all together (it will be rather sticky, add just enough extra flour to form it into a ball rather than an amorphous mass), let it rest for 18 hours.  Fold it over (bottom up, top down, left right, right left), let it rest for 15 minutes.  Transfer to proofing basket or cover with floured towel, let it rise for 1.5 hours.  Turn the dough over into a preheated (500º) cast iron dutch oven (we’ve also used a deep pyrex baking dish, anything that’s ceramic and oven safe should do the trick), cover, and bake at 500 for 30 minutes.  Remove cover and bake at 450º for another 15 minutes.

The results are tremendous:

The beauty of this recipe is that the 18 hour ferment accomplishes the same ends as soaking your steel cut oats overnight.  The bread is hearty and tasty.

Credit for this recipe goes to Breadtopia.

Also, credit goes to Breadtopia for my new baking toys!

 

No-Knead Sourdough Bread March 7, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — gnowetan @ 7:01 pm
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With all the baking, I’ve been getting some sore wrists. For those of you that are faithful devoteés of our bread making endeavors, you may recall that we tried a No-Knead bread when we lived back in Maine (I know… ALL of our old posts are there… good times).  The guy(s) over at Breadtopia have come up with a no-knead method using Sourdough Starter, so we decided to give it a go.  If you want to try it, they have a very complete instruction video over on the site (hit the link above) that takes you step by step through the process.  The idea is that when you knead bread, you are essentially accomplishing the same task as what the dough and levain would do by itself if left to its own devices.

From Baking Illustrated:

“When water and flour first mix, gluten forms in a random, disorganized matrix that is very weak.  As this matrix is kneaded, the disorganized bonds are pulled aprt and reattached into straight, strong, orderly sheets.”

This reordering of the matrix is done naturally when the flour, wather and leaven are allowed to rest in excess of 24 hours.  Therefore, instead of kneading the bread and having it ready to go after a 3 hour rise, a wet, soggy dough is allowed to ferment over at least 18 hours and then dumped into a hot dutch oven and quickly covered.  The covering of the dough traps the steam created by the baking dough and gives the loaf a nice crust on the top.

This is the dough as we left it to ferment.  We eventually added a little flour, as we thought that it was a little TOO soggy.

This is the dough as we left it to ferment. We eventually added a little flour, as we thought that it was a little TOO soggy.

The next morning, the dough had increased in size and was significantly more stable.  Still floppy and sticky though.

The next morning, the dough had increased in size and was significantly more "stable". Still floppy and sticky though.

We placed the dough in a heavily floured proofing basket after forming it into a ball.

We placed the dough in a heavily floured proofing basket after forming it into a ball.

The bread, as it came out of the oven.  As you can see, the oven spring was considerable.

The bread, as it came out of the oven. As you can see, the oven spring was considerable.

The large air pockets in the loaf are an indication of the relative wetness of the dough.  Apparently, if you make the dough stiffer, you will get a more consistent crumb and less air holes.  Purely preference, I suppose.

The large air pockets in the loaf are an indication of the relative wetness of the dough. Apparently, if you make the dough stiffer, you will get a more consistent crumb and less air holes. Purely preference, I suppose.

All in all, it was a good loaf.  We kind of messed up on the bake time, and we had a bit too much olive oil in our dutch oven (the bottom crust tastes very olive oil-y).  We’ll definitely try this one again.

 

Pizza Crust, take 2 March 2, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — gnowetan @ 2:55 pm
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Having divided the pizza dough into three chunks, we had two chunks left over and cooked one of them for lunch today:

The dough actually improved over time.  It was lighter, and the sourdough taste really came through on this batch.  Hopefully the third will be even better!

 

Bake-stravaganza Part II February 26, 2009

When we last left our four baking projects, we had completed and enjoyed sourdough waffles.

Project #2 – Sourdough Pizza Dough

Borrowing from the Overnight Sourdough Pizza Crust found on thefreshloaf.com, we made dinner for tonight:

The verdict: Tasty, but a little to “wheaty” and not poofy enough.  The recipe only called for 25 g of starter, which, relative to the rest of the dough, was not that much.  We still have two pies worth to bake up, so we’ll see how the others turn out.

Project #3 – Sourdough Challah

We followed this recipe, also on thefreshloaf.com. It was my first time working with an egg bread, so it proved to be quite interesting.

The verdict: very very tasty (probably due to the eggs and honey).  The dough was a bit sticky and therefore, fairly difficult to braid.  By the time we put it in the oven, the dough had risen/settled into itself, and many of the braids had melted together.  The finished product didn’t have the signature braids that you commonly see in a challah loaf.  Still, very tasty.

With some of the leftover dough, we made Emmett a small dough ball to play with.  When he got bored with it, I fashioned a mini challah braid:

Size Comparison:

Project the last (#3): Sourdough Raisin Bread

Recipe here.  I dropped the malt syrup from my mix.

The verdict: There are a lot of raisins in this recipe (which I’m sure Emmett will love).  So much so that the dough almost became unworkable.  The recipe didn’t really specify how and when to incorporate the raisins, so I just did it at the beginning.  Still, very tasty, and the raisins are a nice touch.

Whew.  All done.