Thursday, August 20, 2015

Sourdough Moravian Sugar Cake - Sourdough Surprises

Last month the Sourdough Surprises challenge was wontons. A great challenge really. I had made wontons before and wasn't too worried. I knew I would avoid frying them since frying rarely works out well for me. I quickly decided on a filling, modified the wonton wrapper recipe I usually use and I was good to go. Ha. Hardly! That dough gave me hell to roll out. I gave up after a few tries and never posted last month. 

I definitely did not want to miss out on August as well. Things are a bit hectic and more than a tad crazy but I am ignoring all of that while I talk about the Moravian sugar cake. The Moravians came to North America from the former Czechoslovakia. They brought with them (or maybe they developed it in North America?) this really delicious coffee cake. It's popular in central North Carolina and Bethlehem Pennsylvania and not very well known outside of those areas. The base is a sweet dough and the top is lots of butter, sugar and cinnamon. I did not use all the butter or sugar that most recipes called for but that did not stop this coffee cake from being amazing. I ate half of it the night I made it. No regrets. The added potato makes it extra fluffy and tender. I don't make coffee cakes very often but this one has earned a spot on the - make a million times list. 

Stop by Sourdough Surprises to see all the other delicious coffee cakes!

Sourdough Moravian Sugar Cake

1 small Russet potato (you will need 100 grams for the recipe)
65 grams sugar
56 grams softened butter
1 large egg, beaten
120 grams 100% starter
110 grams potato water
260 grams flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons cold butter, cut into pieces
2/3 cup sugar (brown or granulated)
1 tablespoon cinnamon
pinch or two grated nutmeg


Cook the potato until soft. Cool and reserve the cooking liquid. You may use milk if you do not have enough potato water.

Mash 100 grams of potato with sugar and butter until smooth. Stir in the egg, starter and reserved potato water. Next mix in the flour and salt. The dough is very sticky.

Cover and let rise until doubled. The potato and potato water will make things go a little bit more quickly.

Grease a 13" x 9" baking pan. Preheat oven to 375 F.

Scrape the dough out into the prepared pan. Cover and let rise until doubled.

Use your fingers to make indentations across the surface of the dough. Sprinkle with the cold butter pieces. Mix the sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg together and sprinkle over the butter.

Bake 25-30 minutes or until dough registers at least 190 F.

The original recipe called for 1 1/2 cups of brown sugar. You can certainly use that much if you like but I found it plenty sweet with what I used.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Black Pepper Pineapple Galette - Sourdough Surprises

Pie crust. My nemesis the pie crust. Once again, Sourdough Surprises has me facing my kitchen fears. This month we were asked to make galettes/costratas. Rustic pies. I think I make a decent pie crust approximately 50% of the time. And that's being overly generous. I know my limitations so I don't try it too often though. I usually end up with a dough that's just much too sticky. Then a few weeks ago, I had something that was ridiculously dry. I don't even know what happened there. I think I added all the butter. But it just didn't look right. I gave up on that quickly.

I happy to say that this was definitely a good crust day! A great crust day, actually. I read a tip in the May/June 2015 Cook's Illustrated magazine about people running their pies under water before baking. I know! It sounded pretty daring to me too. My pie crust is already barely hanging on and you want me to place it under a stream of water? Anyway, the safer option, is to simply brush the crust with lots of water. The water allows more sugar to adhere to the crust. When it bakes, it turns into a candy-like layer. It's a really lovely crunch. It worked perfectly here.

I added a bit of black pepper because I love the sweet + spicy combination. You don't need a ton of it and it works so well here. I'm really proud of having a crust that didn't fall apart. The bottom wasn't even soggy! And I also had a really delicious filling. Such a perfect breakfast. Wins all around.  All it was missing was some ice cream. I just couldn't wait long enough to go get some. And yes, I said perfect breakfast. Is there something wrong with that? Oh right, it needs some protein. *smile*

Be sure to visit Sourdough Surprises to see all the other galettes we made this month!

Black Pepper Pineapple Galette

4 oz all purpose flour
12 grams sugar
1/2 teaspoon  salt
4 oz butter, cold
2 oz (by weight) 100% hydration sourdough starter, cold
10 oz pineapple, thinly sliced
sugar for tossing with the pineapple, to taste
freshly ground black pepper, to taste
sugar, for sprinkling over the crust

Whisk together flour, sugar and salt. Cut the butter into cubes and toss with the flour mixture. Place the flour-butter mixture in the freezer for 15 minutes.

Dump the mixture onto a work surface then use a rolling pin to roll the mixture and flatten all the cubes of butter into the flour. You could also use the heel of your hand to do this. You want thin sheets of butter-flour. Use a bench scraper to keep the pile together. After all the cubes have been flattened, return the mixture to a bowl and freeze for another 10 minutes. The point is to keep everything really cold at all times.
After chilling, add just enough sourdough starter that will moisten the flour and let it start clumping together. Dump onto a work surface and pat into a disk or rectangle. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill for at least one hour.
While the dough is chilling, toss the sliced pineapples with sugar. If your pineapple is pretty sweet, you can skip the sugar completely.
Preheat oven to 400 F and line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper or foil. .
Roll the dough out to a quarter inch thick circle or rectangle and place it onto the lined baking sheet. You do not want to try to move an already filled crust!  Place a layer of thinly sliced pineapples then sprinkle with a bit of freshly ground black pepper. Leave at least an one inch edge of the crust untouched. Repeat until you've used all the pineapple. Fold over the untouched edges

Brush the crust thoroughly with water and sprinkle with sugar. Bake for about 30 minutes or until the crust is golden and the pineapple is cooked through. Cool slightly before serving.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Chipotle Angel Biscuits - Sourdough Surprises

Angel biscuits are a combination of biscuits and yeasted rolls. They have both chemical leaveners and yeast. I was intrigued by this combination because I cannot make a good biscuit to save my life but I make pretty decent dinner rolls. I cobbled together a recipe from various sources and the results were pretty blah. I mean, they tasted good. I brushed them with garlic butter and my friends enjoyed them. But I was underwhelmed. I don't know what I was expecting or if I did them "right" but I was not impressed.

This month's Sourdough Surprises gave me the chance to try angel biscuits again but this time with sourdough starter. Since my first attempt, I had bookmarked two recipes. One from Cook's Illustrated and a second from Southern Living. The latter looked like what I wanted texture-wise so that is the recipe I adapted for these Chipotle Angel Biscuits.

Oh happy day! When I am trying out new recipes that I am unsure of, I tend to make small batches. I am definitely regretting that this time. The number of biscuits that you will get depends on how large you cut your biscuits of course. I opted for roughly 2" x 2" squares and only got 8 large biscuits  I then ate 4 of them in quick succession. I cannot wait to make these again soon. I need to whip up a batch and bring over to some friends this weekend. I am so excited about my biscuit success that I need to share them

Sourdough Chipotle Angel Biscuits


1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup cake flour
1 tablespoon sugar
2.5 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup butter, cold
2 chipotle peppers, chopped
1/2 cup sourdough starter
1/2 cup - 3/4 cup buttermilk, cold
2 tablespoons butter, melted


Whisk together flours, sugar, baking powder, salt, and baking soda. Cut the butter into cubes and then cut butter into the flour mixture until crumbly. Stir in the chopped peppers.

Slowly stir in the sourdough starter and then add enough milk to make a sticky dough. Mix just until moistened and be sure not to overmix.

Cover and refrigerate overnight.

Preheat oven to 400 F. Line a baking sheet with parchment.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Pat into a 3/4 inch thick rectangle. Cut the dough into three pieces and then stack the pieces on top of each other. Pat the dough out again. Cut and stack. Repeat once more. Finally, pat the dough out to a 3/4" thick rectangle or circle.

Cut 2 inch round or 2 inch square biscuits. Place with sides almost touching on the prepared baking sheet. Place in freezer to chill for 5 minutes.

Brush with half the melted butter. Bake 18-20 minutes or until golden brown. Brush with the remaining butter and serve warm.


I like spicy food and didn't find two peppers (with seeds) to be particularly spicy. I loved biting into pieces and getting an extra kick. You may not like your food that spicy so use less pepper.

When the biscuits are placed close together, it forces them to rise vertically.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Chocolate and Cinnamon Biscotti - Sourdough Surprises

This month, Sourdough Surprises challenged us to make biscotti. I made sourdough biscotti before but never bothered to write down a recipe. I have no idea what I did there so I was happy to make a go at it again and write down my recipe this time. I actually wanted to make mandelbrot which is a similar double baked cookie. I made some over on Passion Kneaded and have been dying for a reason to make them again. Alas, I couldn't decide on the flavour filling I wanted so I had to stick with the Italian-style biscotti. That particular style of mandelbrot is actually more amenable to adding sourdough starter since it's a wetter dough. I'll figure out a filling soon enough.

I made these on Saturday afternoon and there are none left. Don't look at me like that! I deliberately made a small batch and then just had a very difficult time not eating them. I was eating them before I even snapped a picture. I LOVE baking biscotti. Cookie-baking is not my forte so the idea of a cookie that wants you to "over-bake" it a bit is perfect for me. I hope that you'll try these or one of the other amazing biscottis that my fellow bloggers have made. See below for links!

On another note, a reader contacted me about starter hydration. Let me just say that it was a shock. People read this? I neglect this space so much and only post once a month when it's Sourdough Surprises time. I really need to merge this with Passion Kneaded but my weird brain keeps finding reasons not to. Anyway, back to said reader. He or she used my wholly inadequate contact form and alas, I have no way to reply to him/ her. So dear reader, if you're reading this right now, please contact me again! Leave a comment below so that I can reply to you OR email me at passionkneaded at I can then send you lots of information and helpful links on starter hydration. Welcome to baking with sourdough! It's a frustrating and rewarding process.

Chocolate and Cinnamon Sourdough Biscotti
Yield: ~ 10 cookies

42 grams butter
64 grams sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
50 grams 100% sourdough starter
135 grams flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder.
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon cocoa powder

Cream butter and sugar then add egg, vanilla and sourdough starter.
Whisk together flour and baking powder then slowly add the mix to the butter mixture.
Divide the dough into two equal haves. To one half, add cinnamon and to the other stir in cocoa powder.
Chill both halves for 30 - 60 minutes.
Preheat oven to 350 F.
On a greased or parchment lined cookie sheet, pat out one half of the dough into a 7 inch x 2 1/2 inch rectangle. It's best to use wet hands or a dough scraper for this. Pat the second half on top.

Bake for 25 minutes. Allow to cool for 10 - 15 minutes. Meanwhile, lower oven to 300 F. Slice the slightly cooled cookies into 3/4 inch slices. Return to cookie sheet (cut side down) and bake for 30-40 minutes or until lightly golden.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Cupcakes and English Muffins - Sourdough Surprises

This month, Sourdough Surprises is celebrating its third anniversary! It just so happens that this month is also marks 4 years since I started my sourdough journey. This calls for a celebration. Our challenge this month was to choose any of the items from the past 36 months to remake. I had been waiting for this for the longest while. There are so many that I wanted to re-do either because I didn't love how they turned out or most likely because of horrible photographs. There were also 8 or 9 months that I missed and a couple items there that I definitely wanted to make.

It was really hard to choose. I eventually decided on English Muffins because they were one of the first sourdough items that I attempted. I failed miserably at making them and never tried again. And I also missed the month that they were chosen for Sourdough Surprises. I also needed some kinda bread item the week I made them so it was a good choice.

But you know what every celebration needs? Cake. It is a rule. So earlier this week, I also baked up a few simple sourdough chocolate-banana cupcakes to really celebrate Sourdough Surprises and my own starter!


Happy Anniversary, Sourdough Surprises! Thanks for starting this Shelley and Jenni! I hope to celebrate many more years with you, guys.

Sourdough Chocolate Banana Cupcakes

3/4 cup flour
1/3 cup cocoa
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 cup sourdough starter (I used 100% hydration)
1/2 cup mashed banana
1/3 cup oil
1/4 cup milk
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vinegar
1 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 F. Line a cupcake pan with 12 liners.
Whisk together flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg. In a separate container, mix together the remaining ingredients until thoroughly comibined.
Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients mixing until no dry streaks remain.
Even divide among cupcake wells, filling each about two-thirds full.
Bake for 15 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of a cupcake comes out dry.

Sourdough English Muffins
(adapted from Wild Yeast Blog)

110 grams 100% hydration sourdough starter
160 grams flour
50 grams rye flour
50 grams whole wheat flour
155 grams milk
120 grams water

Final Dough
All of preferment
75 grams flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon brown sugar
3/4 teaspoon salt

Mix together all the pre-ferment ingredients. Cover and let rest at room temperature for 8 - 10 hours.

Add the remaining ingredients and mix for about 7 minutes. The dough will be extremely sticky at first but should become a little less sticky as you mix. Do not add additional flour.

Turn the dough out onto a floured surface. Sprinkle the top with additional flour and pat the dough out to 1/2 inch thickness. Cut out 3-inch circles and place them on a cornmeal dusted sheet. Transferring may be a little tricky if your dough is very sticky. Use a floured spatula, if needed. The muffins can be reshaped while cooking.

Let proof for 45-60 minutes. They'll get puffy but not necessarily double.

Lightly oil a skillet and heat it over medium heat. Cook each muffin for 5-7 minutes on each side until browned.

Split with a fork to get the best nooks and crannies.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Sourdough Beignets - Sourdough Surprises

I keep giving up the wrong thing for Lent. Well, maybe I am choosing the right thing considering how much I struggle. Do you remember 2 years ago when I gave up cake? That March, Sourdough Surprises chose cake as the dish to make. I also had to make 4 dozen cupcakes for a friend's party. Oh, the struggle. I made do by making other sweet things. I survived. I didn't break down once. I just rolled a lot of things in sugar.

This year, I decided to give up refined sugar. Sigh. I noted that we needed to make beignets this month. No problem. All I had to do was make them before Lent. I could have made stuffed savoury ones but that's no fun. Do you want to know when I made these? Ash Wednesday. I clearly hate myself. But I made them and tasted them BEFORE I dusted them with powdered sugar. Sure, there's some sugar in the dough but I realised that I was going to have to give myself some leeway or I'd never be able to survive blog anything during Lent. The beignets without sugar just weren't that satisfying. I mean, it's fried dough so it's going to taste good. But when you know that this fried dough should be covered in sugar but you can't eat any of the sugary ones? It leaves you very unhappy. I made it through the cake-free Lent. I even gave up chocolate last year and survived. But sugar-free? I don't think I can do it. *bites into a cookie*

My friend who lived in New Orleans for a bit gave me two New Orleans cookbooks. I've read through every recipe several times but never made anything. This was the perfect time to finally use them. The beignet recipes in both books were almost identical. One used milk while the other used evaporated milk and water. Pretty much the same.

However, the methods differed. For one recipe, you mixed the dough, immediately chilled it (no time specified) then you rolled them out and fried them. For the other, you were to bulk ferment and proof them. I figured that I'd give my starter some time to do something so I wanted to bulk ferment then roll and fry immediately. My bulk ferment turned into a cold ferment as I ran out of time and had to stash it in the fridge. I also used some buttermilk and added some baking powder.

I added the baking powder because I've seen a few sourdough donut recipes that call for baking powder. Additionally, the beignet mix sold by Cafe du Monde has "baking soda, baking powder and/or yeast". I wanted to add baking soda too since I used buttermilk but I forgot.

So here's the breakdown:

Sourdough Beignets

1 cup 100% mature sourdough starter
1/2 cup buttermilk
2 tablespoons oil
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 egg
2 1/2 cups flour (divided)
2 teaspoons baking powder
oil, for frying


Mix together the starter, buttermilk, oil, sugar, 2 cups of flour, salt and egg. Dough will be very sticky. Cover and bulk ferment.

When dough is ready, stir in the baking powder and the remaining flour.

Heat a pot with at least an inch of oil to 360 F.

Place the dough on a well floured surface and roll out to a quarter inch thick. Cut into two inch squares.

Fry until golden brown on the underside, turn and fry the other side.

Dust with powdered sugar and serve immediately.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Sourdough Bao - Sourdough Surprises

I first heard about Chinese steamed buns (bao or baozi) when Julie over at Willow Bird Baking made some cheeseburger stuffed baozi. I didn't make them then because these buns require a steaming basket and I didn't want to buy one and wasn't sure how to rig one. But here we are, three years later, and it's the chosen dish for this month's Sourdough Surprises. Time to try the bao!

I still didn't buy a steamer but instead did some rigging. I placed a cake dish on top of a smaller pan in a large pot of water. It worked well enough. I was worried that condensation would drip on the buns and I read on The Fresh Loaf that this could lead to buns collapsing. I am sure some hit my buns without ill effect but I did use a wooden spoon to keep the lid slightly ajar.

So let's talk about shaping these steamed buns. I oohed and aahed at the lovely pictures online and not for one minute did I think that I may not have been able to do it. It's like I don't know myself. I was filling the buns with some leftover chicken breast that I shredded and added some barbecue sauce, cabbage, carrot and extra spices to. Nothing fancy. When that ran out, I mixed up some peanut butter, chocolate and powdered sugar. Again, nothing fancy. But let's get back to shaping and pleating. I gathered up my first ball of dough, flattened it, pleated, and did a little twist. It looked OK. Not perfect but OK. I moved on to the next and then I looked over at my "OK bun". It was now sad and slouching and losing all of the little pleats and the twist.

That's when I decided to watch a YouTube video on shaping. My shaping only got worse. I think part of the problem was that the outer edges of circles were a bit too thick. It's OK though. I am pretty sure that shaping does not affect the taste.  And if you want to see really beautiful bao, take a look at all the ones made by everyone else for Sourdough Surprises today! They are a talented bunch. Lots of thanks to Jenni and Shelley for choosing a great dish again this month!

Sourdough Baozi (adapted from A Bread A Day)

1.5 oz 100% sourdough starter
2.25 oz all purpose flour
2.25 oz water

11 oz all purpose flour
1 oz cornstarch
3 tablespoon sugar
5 oz milk 
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder. 
Vinegar for steaming 

Filling Suggestions
Pulled pork
Shredded chicken
You'll need ~3 tablespoons of filling per bun

Mix the starter ingredients and leave overnight or until mature and bubbly. 
Add the flour, cornstarch, sugar and milk and knead for 5 minutes or until the dough is smooth and elastic but still soft. Let the dough rise until doubled. 

After dough has doubled, gently flatten into a disk and sprinkle baking powder over the surface. Seal the baking powder in the middle and knead until baking powder is incorporated (about 5 minutes). Let the dough stand for 30 minutes. 

Cut 16 3" squares of parchment paper. 

Divide the dough into 16 equal balls. Flatten each ball out to a roughly 4" circle with the center thicker than the edges. Fill each with roughly 3 tablespoons of filling and shape according to this video. Place each filled bun on a square of parchment. 

Let each bao rest until slightly risen. 

Set a steamer rack inside a large pot.  Add enough water to come to within 1/2 inch of bottom of rack, and add about 1 tablespoon vinegar.  Bring to a boil.  Carefully place as many buns (still on parchment paper) as will fit on the steamer rack, being sure not to let them touch.  Cover loosely, reduce heat to keep water at a low boil, and steam until buns are puffed and set, about 20 minutes.  Add additional water and vinegar as needed.

I made a second mini batch in which I held back some of the flour. My dough was then relatively sticky. I then added the remaining flour to the baking powder and kneaded it in at the baking powder 
step. I think there was more even distribution of the baking powder that way. 
If you don't have a steamer rack or a steaming basket, you can do what I did. Place a cake pan on top of a much smaller pan or ramekin in a large pot. Place bao in the cake pan.