Thursday, November 20, 2014

Dinner Rolls - Sourdough Surprises

Little flecks of basil

Soft dinner rolls were one of the first recipes that I tried when I first started baking with a starter 3.5 years ago. I was still very averse to kneading and when I saw Weekend Bakery’s No Knead Dinner Rolls, I thought they would be perfect. They were not. The dough was a goopy mess. Back then, the post made no mention of hydration/thickness of the starter used. I used a high hydration starter and probably even added more than called for. Oops. I left a comment on that post asking about the starter and found out that it was a thick (stiff?) one. Ah well.

I never tried dinner rolls again after that. There were too many other things to bake and I was not sure that I could achieve soft rolls. Thankfully, this month’s Sourdough Surprises has forced me to try dinner rolls again. Armed with a little more knowledge and a tiny bit more confidence, I was ready to take on the dinner rolls challenge. This time, I based my recipe on Txfarmer’s Pani Popos. (Side note: I baked and blogged about some amazing pumpkin pani popos over here. Stop by some time.) This time things were much better. The house smelled amazing as the garlic basil rolls baked. 

I had intended on brushing them with garlic-basil butter when they came out of the oven but I had to leave immediately after pulling them out. I only had time to grab a hot roll from the pan to eat on the go. Soft. Tasty. The sourdough flavour was shining too. Loved them. It’s a pity that I only made a small batch. 
Brushed with butter
I then made a second batch of rolls but this time, I left them plain. I needed some crumbs for a sweet recipe so didn’t want to add herbs and garlic to them. I loved how buttery they were. Less than ten minutes out of the oven, I had already devoured two. I was hungry and they were good. This second recipe was really me just playing it by ear. I’m glad it worked out. I have a future plan for dinner rolls and hope to use this as a base. I'm only listing the garlic basil recipe below. I have had a hectic week. It's 5:30 am and I have not slept yet. I think I am supposed to leave home in 2.5 hours. Ha! So yeah, I'll have to update this tonight. Sorry!

Less than 5 minutes out of oven

Garlic Basil Rolls
50 grams 166% sourdough starter
18 grams milk
41 grams flour
Remaining dough
205 grams flour
12 grams sugar
20 grams oil
3 grams salt
50 grams sour cream
20 grams milk
1 egg.
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon basil

Combine all the levain ingredients and leave at room temperature for 8-12 hours. Add the remaining ingredients and knead well. Dough should be tacky but not sticky. If it's sticky, add more flour. Cover and let bulk ferment for 2 hours then refrigerate overnight. 
Let dough come to room temperature and divide into 9 pieces. Roll each piece into a ball and place in a greased baking pan. Let rise at room temperature until doubled. 
Bake at 350 F or until rolls are 200 F.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Sourdough Croissants - Sourdough Surprises

My phone died 11 days ago and while I knew that I was wholly dependent upon the device, I certainly did not realise how much until I woke up that morning to an eerie error message. I feel almost cut off from the world. And I don't mean from phone calls and texts. I rarely did either. Facebook, Feedly and Twitter were daily rituals.

Sure, I can access all three from the web. But the experience is just not the same. I vaguely saw that Sourdough Surprises asked a question about their Pinterest board. I tried to shout - "YES! YES! I love the inspiration board!" But my browser froze or something and I don't think I hit send on that post. There are several other things that are not social media related that I'm missing. Evernote is one. I used to use Springpad but the company went out of business and I turned to Evernote. It's just not the same trying to quickly scroll through my recipes from the browser and I keep forgetting to download the desktop app. Runkeeper. MyFitnessPal. The list goes on and on. I'll be out of the dark ages soon enough. I hope.

 The day of the phone mishap, I started working on these croissants. I have a love - not-really-love relationship with laminating dough. I love the effect. I love eating flaky layers. I love smelling the buttery dough baking. But I just can't stop my butter from leaking. I sprinkle some extra flour and roll with it but I wish it wouldn't leak. Geez. Laminating really isn't that hard. You just need to make sure everything is cold. If you live in a hot climate, like I do, freeze everything. Ice down surfaces. Lower the a/c. Put the dough in the fridge or freezer very often. You can do it! And even if it's not perfect, mine certainly weren't, rest assured that buttery dough will always taste good.

 One thing I thought about after I placed these in the oven was that I should have taken the vol-au-vent (puff pastry) approach and chilled the croissants right before baking. That would have hardened the butter a bit then it would melt and give off steam in the oven and would have given that extra lift that they so desperately needed. I'll try that next time. I will also sprinkle some cinnamon sugar over them right before baking. I am really kicking myself for forgetting that. Buttery, flaky, cinnamon-y dough? I missed out.

 Well, here's the recipe. I only used my starter instead of adding the commercial yeast insurance. I did not get the lift that I would have liked but I know that it can be done without the commercial yeast so I wanted to try. Also, I use a very wet starter so very little liquid was required after adding my starter. There's clearly lots room for improvement here but it's definitely a good (delicious) start.

 Sourdough Croissants

213 grams mature 166% starter
180 grams flour
12 grams water
15 grams oil
33 grams sugar
130 grams cold butter
egg for egg wash

Combine starter, flour, water, oil and sugar. Knead at low speed for 10 minutes. Flatten dough into a disk, wrap in plastic and refrigerate for 2 hours.

Roll out the cold butter between two sheets of wax paper into 5 inch square. Refrigerate for 2 hours.

Remove the dough from the fridge and roll into a 7 inch square. Place the chilled square of butter into the center of the dough with the corners of the butter facing a straight side of the dough. Fold over the four flaps to encase the butter.
Roll the dough out into a 6" x 14" rectangle. With the 14" edge facing you, fold a third from the left and the third from the right. That's the first book fold. Refrigerate for 1 hour.

Roll out to 6" x 14" and perform another book fold. Refrigerate for 1 hour. That's the second book fold.

Once again, roll out to 6" x 14" and do the third book fold. Chill for at least two hours.

Roll the dough out to 8" x 16". Rest the dough often in the fridge while doing this if necessary. If at any point it feels sticky, put it in the fridge.

Divide the dough into 4 4" x 8" rectangles. Slice each diagonally into triangles.

Stretch each triangle then roll up into the croissant shape.

Proof until puffy. This can take up to 3 hours.

Mix the egg with a tablespoon of water. Gently brush over each croissant and bake for 10 minutes at 425 F and 10 minutes at 375 F.


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Saturday, September 20, 2014

Mealie Muffins for Sourdough Surprises

There are very few foods that I will not eat. Typically, when I dislike something, I may still try it (e.g, tofu). But when it comes to cornmeal, I just cannot do it. I don't even like the smell. Corn tortillas - no. Festival (a jamaican fried dough - flour, cornmeal, baking powder and sugar) -only when I am extremely homesick. Cornmeal porridge - are you trying to kill me? But I LOVE corn. I could eat a pound of corn kernels in one sitting. Roasted. Boiled. Raw. Love it all. But once it has been turned into cornmeal, I run the other way. 

So I was a bit distressed when Sourdough Surprises announced cornbread for this month. I did not want to sit the month out. But how would I get around the cornmeal? Should I just make it and have others taste it? That could take a while.Should I try to figure out the ratio of cornmeal to flour that I would like? I recently added Jiffy cornbread mix to a few loaves of bread. And after the initial whiff of cornmeal when they were just out the oven, it was fine.  Then I remembered mealie bread. 

Mealie bread is a type of corn bread made in southern Africa. It's made with corn kernels (mealie) instead of cornmeal. I saw several versions - some with and without wheat flour. Some steam the mixture in much the same way that Jamaicans make cornmeal pudding. I opted to use flour and to bake it. I then crossed by fingers and hoped that I would like it. 

Fresh out the oven, these were delicious! I didn't blend all the corn and enjoyed biting into a few kernels here and there. They were light and wonderful with butter. I had to stop myself from eating the entire batch all at once. But then they cooled. And there was that unmistakable cornmeal smell. It's weird how my beloved corn transforms like that. Ah well, this just means that I will have to warm or toast these delicious muffins before I bite in. I can live with that. 

Sourdough Mealie Bread


1 cup of flour 
2 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons of baking powder
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)
1/2 teaspoon of salt
2 eggs
1 1/2 cups corn, divided 
2 tablespoons oil or melted butter 
1/2 cup 166% sourdough starter


Preheat oven to 350 F. Thoroughly grease 8 wells of a muffin pan. 

Whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, red pepper flakes (if using) and salt. Blend eggs,oil and 1 cup of corn until smooth. Add the remaining half cup of corn and the starter. Pulse for a few seconds. You want some larger pieces to remain. You could also leave the kernels whole or completely blend everything. 

Pour mixture into the dry ingredients and gently stir until just combined. 

Divide evenly among 8 muffin wells. 

Bake for 15 minutes. 


Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Granola Bars - Sourdough Surprises

Is there anything that a sourdough starter cannot be used for?  Don't answer that. If you say "no", I might be heartbroken. I must say that I was shocked when I heard about sourdough granola bars for Sourdough Surprises this month. But that shock turned into excitement. I love granola bars. Occasionally I make loose granola in my slow cooker but I have never made the mixture into bars.

These granola bars are extremely simple. I love that you can put pretty much anything into granola bars. I simply used ingredients that I had on hand and they were great. I made these relatively thin and tried to use as little honey as possible. Increase the honey if you prefer things to be sweet. It's a tricky balance with the honey - too little and the bars may be too crumbly. Too much and it may be sweeter than you would  like for a quick breakfast/snack bar.

Sourdough Granola Bars

96 g (1/2 cup) rolled oats
59 g raisins
50 g shredded coconut
1 tsp cinnamon
96 g (6 tablespoons) crunchy peanut butter
2 tablespoons honey
100 g 166% sourdough starter


Preheat oven to 350 F
Combine oats, raisins, coconut, and cinnamon. Warm peanut butter (~30 seconds in a microwave) and stir in honey. Add along with starter to oat mixture.

Press mixture into an 8" x 8" pan. Bake 20 - 25 minutes.

Score while warm and then slice completely when cool. Keep in an airtight container.


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Sunday, July 20, 2014

Sourdough Surprises Gozleme

I love when I get to learn about new dishes and this month Sourdough Surprises is serving up something wholly new but somewhat familiar. Gozleme is a Turkish pastry that consists of a thin dough filled with meat, vegetables and/or eggs. The name refers to the little eyes ("goz") /brown circles  that form on the dough when it's cooked. I read somewhere that there were sweet fillings available too but I could not find any specific flavours. I love that almost every country/region has some form of filling wrapped dough. I guess in Jamaica we would have beef/chicken patties (flaky pastry filled with ground meat). Hello, instant craving. Let me get back to gozleme

I loved the gozleme but the dough just did not love me. I expected trouble. I have gotten a lot better at rolling out dough but it's still not perfect.I would never be like those ladies in the videos I watched of gozleme-making. I did have a dough recipe that has never given me trouble and thought it would be perfect for this. I added some yogurt because one vendor said that it stopped the gozleme from becoming brittle. But my dough was just too soft. And even with a cold bulk ferment, rolling it was a nightmare. I didn't understand. I weighed everything. Why was my "perfect" dough suddenly sticky and tearing each time I tried to roll it? Maybe it was because I was rushing to get them ready for lunch with a friend, I thought. I ate the batch myself and decided that I would try again when I was not in a hurry.

I ditched the yogurt for the next round.  But my nice firm dough still became way too soft dough when I was ready to roll it out. As I swore at my suddenly non-existent dough making skills, I peered outside at the heavy downpour. And then it hit me.

The weather.

The weather was messing with my dough. It has been humid and very wet for over a month. This meant that every dough that I made would get just a little bit wetter after sitting out for a while. On to round three - with a lot less water this time. I think that I had to almost cut the water in half for the last two loaves of bread that I made. This weather is no joke.

Round three worked out fine but I think by then I was becoming a little frustrated with gozleme. For the first batch, I had made a lovely ground turkey and vegetable filling. For the second, I used potatoes and made caramelized onions for the first time. One even used a leftover spicy cranberry sauce with the potatoes. For round three? Just potatoes. I had lost faith. Still delicious though. I  should note that the previous batches tasted great too. It's just that since I had a hard time rolling and folding because it was sticky,I didn't like how they looked.

 As I type this, I am even contemplating making some for breakfast or lunch in the morning. But you know, perhaps I will wait to see what delicious fillings everyone else came up with for this month. I need some inspiration. And of course, you do want to make gozleme so scroll down for some inspiration from those other bloggers too.



1/2 tablespoon oil
1/2 small onion, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 teaspoon curry powder
1 large potato, mashed
salt and pepper to taste

Saute the onion and garlic in the oil until softened. Add the curry powder, stir for a minute then add the potato. Season with salt and pepper. If it seems a bit dry, add a little water. Allow to cool.


3 oz 166% Sourdough Starter
3.5 oz water
9 oz flour
1 teaspoon salt

Combine all the ingredients and knead well until it forms a homogeneous dough. Cover and let rest overnight.

Heat a large non-stick skillet on medium heat. Divide the dough into 4 ballss and cover with a damp cloth.  Take each ball and roll out to a 5 inch circle then return to each circle and roll out to larger 9-10 inch circle. Make sure that the circle is not larger than your skillet. (Oh yes, that happened to me.)

Fill half of each circle with the potato filling and fold over and seal. Place in heated pan and cook on each side until you see brown circles - about 3 minutes per side.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Fried Cantaloupe - Sourdough Surprises

Yes. You read that right. I fried cantaloupe. Actually, we could end that sentence earlier. I fried. That is already an achievement. When Sourdough Surprises announced that we'd be channeling our inner fair food and using our starters to batter and fry, I immediately checked out.

I LOVE fried foods but I HATE frying. My oil is always too hot or too cold. And when by some miracle I get the temperature right, I always walk away from the stove for too long and things start burning. Frying is just not for me. I could use a thermometer to check the temperature of my oil (I did that last night) but what is going to stop me from wandering out of the kitchen? I'm a set it and forget it (for at least a little while), kinda cook. It's why I love baking and adore my slow cooker.

So why cantaloupe? I had some left from another cooking challenge that had also left me scratching my head this month. I was eating a cupful last night when I thought - why not fry it? What's the worst that could happen?

I'm here to tell you that the worst did not happen. This was surprisingly good. Very good. And it got even better when I just ran to the kitchen (I need to taste while I write!) and made a quick glaze with powdered sugar and some orange rum I had lying around. Oh my. That orange really adds an amazing flavour. Highly recommended. Use orange juice or liqueur in lieu of rum.

Though my starter isn't very sour, I did wonder if I would have needed a little sugar in the batter. I didn't. That vanilla alone was enough. I hope that I'll be brave enough to fry again because next time, I want to add some spices to the batter.
So what would your perfect fried fair food be? Be sure to check out what the other bloggers made. I'm sure there'll be at least one you'll want to try.

Fried Cantaloupe
Oil for frying
1/2 cup sourdough starter, 166%
1/4 cup flour
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
2 tablespoons water
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1-2 cups cantaloupe diced*
Powdered sugar, optional
Orange juice, liqueur, or rum, optional

Heat oil to 350 F.
In a small bowl, combine starter, flour, cornstarch, baking soda, water and vanilla. Lumps are OK.
When oil is ready, dip pieces of cantaloupe into batter. Scoop up a tablespoon of batter and cantaloupe pieces and place carefully into hot oil. Fry for 2-3 minutes per side.
Sprinkle with powdered sugar or dip into a glaze made with powdered sugar and orange juice, liqueur or rum. Serve warm.
I found that small quarter inch pieces worked best for fitting into the tablespoon with enough batter. You could also use larger chunks or slices. Simply dip and coat them in the  batter without the need for a tablespoon. I did that with a few pieces.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Sweet Potato Burger Buns: Sourdough Surprises May

I think this may be the third time that I am using sweet potatoes in a recipe for Sourdough Surprises. I do like sweet potatoes, but even I am surprised at how often I think of it when deciding on a recipe. I think it's the colour that draws me in. But let's not get too caught up on that. Let's talk about these sweet potato buns.

I did some extra research when I was planning these buns. Sure, I scoured the internet as usual. But this time I went to the supermarket and touched all the unbelievably soft hamburger and hot dog buns. Sorry, customers who came after me. I promise that I did not manhandle your buns. (That sounds kinda wrong.) I also read the ingredients. I wanted soft buns! Almost all the buns had vital wheat gluten and vinegar. Vinegar was a strange one. It seems vinegar strengthens gluten but inhibits yeast. Tricky. I added it here but honestly, I don't think it made a difference or was necessary. My buns had a long rise, gluten formation was not an issue. I think I will try vinegar again in something with high hydration. .

Potatoes are supposed to soften the dough. But it occurred to me that I did not know if sweet potatoes acted in the same way as white potatoes. And what proportion of potatoes to flour would be best? This simply means that I have rounds 2 et al. in the works.

Fair warning: This recipe makes a lot of dough - almost three pounds. For my next trial, I will use a stiff starter and less flour. That will give the potatoes a chance to show me just how much they really enhance the dough.

Now, all of this does NOT mean that I was disappointed with my buns. Not in the slightest. They were not grocery store soft but the crumb was still soft and very much delicious. In fact, the firmer crusts here, actually made these buns more sturdy and more perfect for fillings like sloppy joes. You can do an overnight bulk proof for a stronger sourdough flavour or if you simply run out of time to shape and bake your rolls (*ahem*).

Sweet Potato Sourdough Burger Buns


6.25 oz all purpose flour 
9 oz mature sourdough starter 166%
3 oz milk 

Final Dough
8.25 oz mashed sweet potato (~1 cup)
3 oz water
1 oz oil
2 egg yolks
1 tablespoon sugar
13 oz flour
0.6 oz vital wheat gluten (1 1/2 tablespoons)
0.3 oz salt
1 tsp vinegar (optional)
egg whites for brushing dough


Combine the sponge ingredients and leave overnight.

Combine the sponge, mashed potatoes, water, oil, egg yolks and sugar in a mixing bowl until thoroughly combined. And the flour and vital wheat gluten and knead for 3 minutes. Allow to rest for 20 minutes then add salt and vinegar (if using). Knead in a stand mixer for 5 - 7 mins. Leave to rise until doubled (~6 hours). Dough can be refrigerated before moving onto the next step. 

Divide the dough into 16 equal pieces ( ~ 3 oz each) and shape each piece into a tight ball. Allow to rest for an hour then flatten slightly. Let rise until doubled. 

Preheat oven to 425 F. 

Gently brush the tops of each bun with egg whites. Bake for 15 minutes.


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