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)

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

Dough
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
Directions

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.

Notes
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.



Saturday, December 20, 2014

Sourdough Stollen - Sourdough Surprises

I am somewhat of a Grinch. All around me people are talking about Christmas cookies and cakes and I am just not feeling it. In December, my main focus is usually on what kind of birthday cake I want to make for myself and Christmas baking is tossed to the wayside. If I am home with my mother, I will bake the traditional Jamaican Christmas cakes - rum, wine and fruit laden cakes. I love booze in my cakes but I do not like the fruit. But I "suffer" through it for the sake of tradition. Plus, if I am making them, I get to blend the fruits to oblivion and use as little of the brightly coloured peel as possible. Look, let me totally honest here, you won't tell anyone, right? For years, I barely ate a bite of those cakes. But now? If you gave me a slice, I would gobble it up - fruits and all. I really don't think I dislike the fruits that much anymore. Plus, it's hard to resist a slice of home. I just stick to the story and use it as a reason not to bake. Don't tell anyone. 

Mmmm. Melted butter.

I had no intention of doing any sort of holiday themed baking though. However, Sourdough Surprises insisted otherwise. I do love this group - my Grinchdom (not a word,  I know) is not tolerated! This month we are baking stollen - a German Christmas bread that is stuffed with lots of liquor soaked fruits. Fret not, if you are a dried fruit hater, you can simply choose ones you don't dislike. Cranberries? Mango? Homemade candied orange peel? That's what I used. And if you really don't like any at all - go for chocolate chips. If I weren't already riding a chocolate high, I would have gone chocolate. If you don't like chocolate, I have nothing to say to you. We can't be friends. That much I know. Wait...actually, we can be friends. You would give me any chocolate that you got and I would never have to share my chocolate with you ever. This could work. 

Do you think that's enough powdered sugar?

Now, I have never seen or tasted stollen before (another reason I love this group - introducing me once again to new things). This means that if you're a stollen expert reading this, you may be clutching your heart. I didn't use marzipan. I used non-traditional fruits. I didn't shape it correctly.  I'm sorry that I messed up your wonderful bread. If it's any consolation, what I made was delicious so your lovely stollen will not get a bad name from me.  

I really wanted to make a beautiful wreath but my dough just felt a little too soft. I didn't think it would show the cuts in the dough well so I shaped it in an oval instead. 

Be sure to scroll down to see all the beautiful stollen that the other Sourdough Surprise bakers made!




Sourdough Stollen
Ingredients
Fruit
1 cup dried fruit (I used 1/2 cup of dried cranberries then a mix of candied citrus peel and dried mango)
1/2 cup rum, orange juice or brandy
Dough
250 grams 166% sourdough starter
35 grams oil
1 egg
12 grams sugar
1 teaspoon orange zest
280 grams flour
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon salt
melted butter for brushing dough
powdered sugar

Directions
At least a day before baking, soak the dried fruit in rum. On baking day, drain the fruit. 

Combine all the dough ingredients except cinnamon, cloves and salt. Mix until just combined - about two minutes then let rest for 20 minutes. 

After resting, add the spices and salt and knead for an additional 5 minutes. Cover dough and let rest at room temperature for 6 hours. Every two hours, perform three or four stretch and folds on the dough.

On the third stretch and fold, pat the dough out into a rectangle and add the drained fruits. Fold the dough several times to incorporate the fruit. If dough is extremely sticky, use a little flour to help this process. 

Place dough in an oiled container, cover and refrigerate overnight. Dough may only rise slightly.

Let dough come to room temperature and then shape into a log or oval. Place the dough on a parchment (or non-stick foilor baking mat) lined baking sheet and let sit at room temperature until puffy. This dough is slow to rise because of all the fruit and spices. Your dough may feel puffy but not double. I let mine sit about 4 hours before baking. 

Preheat oven to 350 F. Bake loaf for 30 minutes or until it reaches an internal temperature of 190 F. 

Immediately brush dough with melted butter. Wait until it seeps in and brush with more melted butter. Dust a generous coat of powdered sugar over dough. Allow to cool completely. You can dust with another coating of powdered sugar, if desired. 

Apparently, this bread tastes better if left to sit for a few days. Uh yeah...I wasn't that patient. 






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
Ingredients
Levain
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

Directions
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

 Ingredients
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

 Directions
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.




   

    An InLinkz Link-up
   

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

Ingredients 

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

Directions 

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
Ingredients

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

Directions 

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.



   

    An InLinkz Link-up
   

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.




Gozleme

Filling

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.

Dough 

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.