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Another Sourdough Win!

I’m now two months into this sourdough adventure, and life with Fester is going fairly smoothly. I haven’t forgotten to feed him (yet), although I do have him down to just one meal every week. Three cheers for low-maintenance “pets.” (And this why we don’t have a dog. Or houseplants.) 

So far, I haven’t had to actually “discard” any of the starter when it’s time to feed Fester. Most of it has wound up in cinnamon raisin bread and pizza dough. Last weekend, however, I didn’t have time to make anything with the discard. I couldn’t bring myself to toss out the half cup or so of starter though, so I put it in a container and stuffed it back in the refrigerator. I figured I’d find something to do with it after the weekend, even if that meant eating pizza again. (Not that anyone here complains about pizza.) 

I remembered that Karen had sent me a link for sourdough biscuits with cheese and chives in them, so I went looking for that recipe. While I didn’t find her original link, I stumbled on a recipe for caramelized onion sourdough biscuits from King Arthur Flour. I didn’t have chives on hand, but I figured a scallion would be an acceptable substitute.

The biscuits were pretty easy to put together. I started caramelizing the onions as soon as I got home from work, and while those were hanging out on the stove, I chopped the scallion and mixed up the rest of the ingredients. The recipe said to let the caramelized onions chill for three hours, but that meant we’d be eating biscuits at 9 p.m. So, I did what any short-on-time cook would do: I put them in the freezer for 15 minutes instead.

When I added the starter to the dry ingredients, it didn’t seem to have enough moisture to hold the dough together. So, I added a splash (probably less than a tablespoon) of half-and-half to the dough to bring everything together. If my sourdough starter was thinner, I probably wouldn’t have needed it, but my starter seems to be on the thicker side.

These smelled incredible while they were baking, and they were easily our favorite part of dinner. At the rate I’m going, I’ll have more uses for discarded starter than for “fed” starter!

SourdoughOnionBiscuits

Caramelized Onion Sourdough Biscuits

1 medium onion, peeled and thinly sliced
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 tablespoon brown sugar
4 1/4 ounces (1 cup) all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
4 ounces (1 stick) unsalted butter, cold
1 scallion, finely chopped
9 ounces (1 cup) unfed sourdough starter
half-and-half, optional

Heat a large skillet (I love my cast iron for this!) over medium-low heat. Place the onion, brown sugar and one tablespoon of butter in the skillet. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are soft and caramelized, which should take about 30 minutes. Remove the onions from the skillet and place them in a small bowl. Allow the bowl to cool in the refrigerator or freezer until the onions are thoroughly chilled. (This took about 15 minutes in my freezer.) 

Preheat the oven to 425° and line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a baking mat.

While the onions are cooking / chilling, whisk the flour, baking powder and salt together in a large bowl. Use a pastry cutter to cut the butter into the flour mixture until the mixture is crumbly. Stir the chopped scallions into the mixture, and then add the chilled onions.

Stir the sourdough starter into the bowl and use a rubber spatula to gently work the starter into the flour-butter-onion mixture. (If the mixture is too dry after the starter is fully incorporated, add a tiny splash of half-and-half to help things come together.) Turn the dough out onto a well-floured work surface and gently pat into a 1″ thick disc.

Use a 2-1/2″ or 3″ biscuit cutter to cut the dough into rounds. Pat any leftover scraps together to cut out additional biscuits. Place the rounds about 2″ apart on the prepared baking sheet.

Bake until golden brown, about 15-18 minutes. Remove from oven and serve warm.

Yield: I got nine 3″ biscuits out of the recipe; King Arthur Flour says eight. No one’s complaining about an extra biscuit here.

Note: I haven’t tried this, but I think these would freeze well before baking. I’d make the dough and cut out the biscuits, and then put them in the freezer on baking sheet lined with waxed paper. When they’re frozen solid, transfer them to a Ziploc bag. Then you should be able to just bake them straight from the freezer whenever you need biscuits.  

From King Arthur Flour

Click here for a printable version.

 
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Posted by on March 21, 2017 in Breads, Muffins & Rolls

 

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Perfect Bread

Like I mentioned earlier, one of my goals for this year is to bake more bread. And thanks to Karen’s generosity, I’m all set to scratch sourdough off my baking bucket list. I started feeding Fester last week, and he’s been a happy part of our family ever since. I even felt some guilt when I moved him from his warm spot next to my KitchenAid mixer to the fridge. (Side note: All credit for the name “Fester” goes to Karen’s husband, Arron.) 

My one hang-up with the sourdough process is the “discard” step. After four days of gradual feeding, the instructions said to reduce the starter down to just 1/2 a cup, feed that portion and then discard the rest. And I have to discard starter whenever I feed Fester from here on out! This goes against my thrifty nature! Not to mention the fact that I’m lovingly feeding him on a regular basis (which is more than I can say about the plant in my office…). Why would I want to throw some of it out?

So I’ve been searching the internet for things to do with “discarded” starter. Thankfully, King Arthur Flour has some great ideas and recipes. After reading several recipes, I decided to start with this cinnamon raisin swirl bread. I had everything on hand for them (unlike these delicious-sounding English muffins).

It took a few hours to make the bread, but most of that was hands-off time while the dough rose. And making the dough couldn’t have been any easier. I literally dumped it into the mixer and let the dough hook do the work. I was a little concerned when that the dough was going to be too soft and sticky to work with, but I rolled it out on a greased pastry mat and didn’t really have a problem.

I’m just a week into this sourdough / bread baking adventure, but if my first experience is any indication, this is going to be a tasty ride.

cinnamonraisinsourdough

Cinnamon Raisin Swirl Sourdough Bread

Note: I’ve been loving measuring by weight instead of volume (fewer dishes! improved accuracy!) lately, so I’m giving this recipe in weights. The good people at King Arthur Flour also provide standard volume measurements, so feel free to click over there if you need things in cups. 🙂

For the dough:
4 ounces of sourdough starter, fed or unfed
12 3/4 ounces all-purpose flour
2 1/2 teaspoons yeast (KA calls for instant; I used the active dry that I always have on hand.) 
1 tablespoon sugar
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
1 large egg
2 1/2 ounces softened butter
5 3/8 ounces lukewarm water

For the filling: 
1 3/4 ounces sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
2 teaspoons all-purpose flour
1 large egg, beaten with 1 tablespoon water
2 5/8 ounces raisins

extra butter for finishing, optional

To make the dough, combine all of the dough ingredients in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook. Turn the mixer on to medium-low speed and mix until the dough comes together, then increase the speed to medium and knead until a soft, smooth dough forms.

Place the dough in a lightly greased large bowl (I used my 8-cup Pyrex bowl.) and cover with plastic wrap. Let the dough sit until it has doubled in size, about 1-1/2  to 2 hours.

While the dough rises, stir the sugar, cinnamon and flour together in a small bowl. Set aside.

Lightly grease your counter (or a pastry mat), and then turn the dough out onto the prepared work surface. Gently deflate the dough, and then roll / pat it into a rectangle that’s about 6″ x 20″.

Brush the surface of the dough with the egg wash, then spread the cinnamon-sugar mixture over the dough. Sprinkle the raisins evenly over the surface of the dough.

Working from one of the short ends of the dough, roll the dough into a log. Pinch the ends closed to seal the log, and make sure the long seam is pinched closed.

Transfer the dough log into a greased 9″ x 5″ loaf pan. Cover with plastic wrap and let the dough rise until it is about 1″ above the edge of the loaf pan.

While the dough is rising, preheat the oven to 350°. When the dough is done rising, bake the bread for 40-45 minutes, or until the interior of the loaf measures 190° on a digital thermometer and the top is golden brown. Tent the bread with aluminum foil after the first 20 minutes to prevent the top from becoming too brown.

Remove the bread from the oven and run a knife along the edges of the pan to loosen the bread. Turn the bread out of the pan and brush the top with extra butter, if desired. (This gives the bread a soft, satiny crust.) Allow bread to cool before slicing.

From King Arthur Flour

Click here for a printable version.

 
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Posted by on February 3, 2017 in Breads, Muffins & Rolls

 

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