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In the Kitchen

Sourdough Bread; We’re Back in Business

If you cast your mind back a couple weeks to mid to late June you may remember we had a little bit of a heat wave.

And the combination of that little heat wave and the frenzy associated with the end of the school year made me forget to take care of my sourdough starter.

Sourdough Bread

You know that line in the song, goes something like, “Someone left the cake out in the rain…” yeah, I left the sourdough out in the heat.

As a result, my starter went terribly bad. Not bad as in boozy smelling but bad as in, “get that stinking thing out of the house” bad. Bad. Really bad.

Sourdough Bread

Fortunately I’m a generous person and I had given some starter to 3 friends. And when they saw me post on Facebook that my starter was now a non-starter (see what I did there!) they offered to give me a little scoop of my starter back to me. So I’m back in the sourdough business again.

Now that I have my sourdough starter bubbling away and being fed everyday again, I figured it was time to bake a loaf of bread. So I did.

I started this morning. Into my stainless steel mixing bowl I scooped up two cups of unbleached white flour, a half cup of sprouted spelt flour, and a half cup of dark rye flour.

I added a teaspoon and a half of pink Himalayan salt, a half teaspoon of quick rise yeast, and stirred it all together.

I then made a little well in the centre of the dry ingredients and added a cup and a half of water. Using a rubber scraper (a spatula to some) I carefully mixed the wet into the dry until I had a big sticky ball of dough.

And I let that big shaggy ball of dough sit in the bowl all day. When I got home late in the afternoon I added a tablespoon or more of sesame seeds and about the same amount of sunflower seeds.

I stirred/mixed those in and then left the dough for another hour.

After the dinner dishes had been cleared and washed, I cranked the oven up to 450° and put my cast-iron Dutch oven into the oven to pre-heat.

Sourdough Bread

I rolled the dough out of the bowl onto a piece of parchment paper. I gave it a generous sprinkling of sesame seeds and then lowered it into the smoking hot cast-iron Dutch oven.

Into the oven for 30 minutes with the lid on and then 25 minutes with the lid off at 400°.

Sourdough Bread

The results were spectacular.

I am so happy to be working with sourdough again!

Categories
In the Kitchen

A Beautiful Loaf of Bread

“Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one who gets burned.”

Buddha

Categories
In the Kitchen

Baking Bread at the Cabin

baking bread

This weekend, the first weekend of spring break was a perfect opportunity to get out of town with my kids and do a little cabin cooking. More specifically – I was baking bread.

The first loaf of bread in the video posted above is a full-on, quick rise, no muss yeast bread. In my mixing bowl I put a cup and a half of warm water, about a tablespoon of honey, and a teaspoon of salt, and a tablespoon of yeast.

I let that sit for about ten minutes before stirring in three cups of flour. Let that sit for 20 minutes and then into the 450 degree oven for 35 minutes.

baking bread

The other two loaves were both sourdough bread – no yeast. I should have let the final loaf in the video above proof longer, but I was pressed for time so I didn’t.

That loaf had two and half cups of unbleached flour and a half cup of dark rye flour. The rye flour gives it a superb texture when you bite into the bread.

I was doing a lot of “work” on my sourdough starter to get it more active after neglecting it for the last ten days. It had become almost too “sour” so I had been removing and composting portions of the starter this weekend. I would take about half of it out and then feed it with more flour so that it lost a bit of the “too sour” flavour. It is still definitely sour, just not unpleasantly so.

Anyway, it was fun playing in the kitchen and having the kids there with me to test the products. They said the bread I made (all three loaves) was perfect for grilled cheese sandwiches which they declared to be “the best in the world”.

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DIY

DIY Bread Making Table Update

 

Update to what I thought was my super clever DIY bread making table. Remember how I said I intentionally made it taller so that I could more comfortably work my bread?

DIY Bread Making Table

Yeah, it was too tall to work at comfortably. So I went back to the plumbing supply store and bought four 8″ sections, came home and removed the top 12″ sections (one at a time) and replaced each of them with the 8″ sections.

My DIY bread making table is now a perfect 35″ tall – about an inch taller than the typical kitchen countertop. Just the right height for working with my bread.

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In the Kitchen

Updated; No-Knead Rolled Oats Bread

I promise this isn’t turning into a bread-blog, but my goodness, did we ever make a beauty of a loaf of bread yesterday! This is our No-Knead Rolled Oats Bread.

I checked out Steve’s Kitchen on YouTube and followed his super simple instructions and wow, what a beautiful loaf! It rose up almost to the lid of my cast iron Dutch oven!

I’ll add the recipe and instructions a bit later today so check back later today.

Update – the “recipe”.

  • 3 1/2 cups flour (I typically use unbleached white flour)
  • 1 tablespoon of yeast
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons of salt
  • 1 1/2 cups of warm water
  • 1 tablespoon of honey
  • 1 cup of rolled oats

Put the water in a big mixing bowl, add the dry ingredients (except the oats). Mix until you have a big old ball of sticky dough. Sprinkle a pinch at a time of flour on top of the ball of dough so that you can mix and knead a little with your hands.

  • Add the rolled oats and work them into the ball of dough.
  • Let it rise for a few hours. Whatever is convenient for you. This last loaf I made I mixed it in the morning and then the kids and I baked it in the evening.
  • Before baking the bread, the kids and I kneaded the dough out into a flat shape and then folded it over on itself a number of times (10 or 15). The kids were having fun so we continued.
  • Then we put it in a pan to let it rise (we call this “proofing” the dough) again for about half an hour.
  • While the dough was on its final rise we put our cast iron dutch oven in the oven and cranked it up to 450 degrees.
  • Out of the pan, into the smoking hot dutch oven, lid on, into the oven for 30 minutes.
  • Lid off for about 5 minutes to let the top get roasty-toasty brown, and the bread is done.

That’s it. Want to see how it is done? Watch Steve make a No-Knead Rolled Oats Bread – he makes it look super easy.

Categories
In the Kitchen

Cast Iron Cooking; Making Bread

Those who follow me on Instagram or my Facebook page know that I’ve been working on my baking skills. I’m still working on my biscuit making technique and I’ve returned to bread making.

Typically I do my bread making while at the cabin. However, this spring break I decided to do some bread baking at home. And I had a significant breakthrough!

I made a beautiful loaf of bread with firm, and yet chewy crust. The interior of the loaf had a perfect texture. Dense enough to please me and yet lots of bubbles indicating that the yeast had done its gassy job.

This was my first loaf that I would call a 100% success. So the question is, what did I do differently this time?

Normally, I cook my bread in a cast iron skillet. About 20 minutes before I’m ready to bake, I put the cast iron pan in the oven as the oven is pre-heating to 450°. Once the oven is up to temperature, the pan is also sizzling hot. I take the pan out of the oven, plop the dough into the hot pan and then back into the oven for 30 minutes.

This time, under the advice of my Full Nomad friend Steff, I used a cast iron Dutch oven – with a lid! I did the same routine – pre-heated the oven, pre-heated the Dutch oven, plopped the dough into the Dutch oven – but then – I put a lid on the cast iron pot of dough before putting it back in the oven! Game changer!

After 30 minutes I took the lid off the Dutch oven and let the bread cook, uncovered for another 10 minutes.

The result – my first perfect (to me) loaf of bread.

However, I do need to back up a bit – how do I get to the point where I can plop the dough into the Dutch oven? Let’s look at that.

I actually start the day before I’m ready to bake. I thoroughly mix the dry ingredients together and then add the water. I stir in the water using a stiff rubber spatula (or as some call it, a rubber scraper) until the dough is a perfect ball of dough that isn’t sticky on the outside. If it is sticky, I add a dusting more flour and mix that into it.

And then I leave the ball of dough, in the stainless steel mixing bowl sitting on top of the fridge overnight. Or until I have time to bake it!

Every few hours I take the rubber spatula and stir the dough. I push it down and “knead” it to make the gluten in the dough work and stretch. In the morning, after sitting all night the dough is often puffed right up the top of the mixing bowl. My kids love that part of the process. I usually leave the dough to “work” for 24 hours.

About half an hour, or 20 minutes before baking time, I stir the dough one last time, fold it over on itself, and then roll it onto a piece of parchment paper.

When the oven is up temperature and the cast iron pan or Dutch oven is up to temperature, I lower the dough, on the parchment paper, into the Dutch oven.

As I said above, I let it cook with the lid on for 30 minutes. Then I took the lid off and let it cook for another 10 minutes. I had an absolutely lovely loaf of bread.

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups of flour (I use 2 cups unbleached white, and one cup whole wheat flour)
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 1 teaspoon of sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon of yeast.
  • 1 3/4 cups of water.

That’s it!

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In the Kitchen

Quick and Easy Homemade Bread

Typically I like to make homemade bread and do “cast iron cooking” while away at the cabin. However, I was given a couple medium sized cast iron pans and they needed to be seriously cleaned and seasoned. And one of the best ways to season a cast iron pan is while making homemade bread.

Homemade Bread

So the kids and I decided to do some “cabin cooking” here in the city. As you may be able to tell, I like cooking simple things – one-pot wonders. Or my newest favourite thing – the Instant Pot. And I wanted to find a way to make homemade bread that wouldn’t take a long time or make a huge mess – following my theme of one-pot wonders and simple things in the kitchen.

And then I remembered a bread recipe my mother sent me some time ago. Something like a 3 hour rustic bread. The recipe is surprisingly easy to make:

  • 3 cups of flour (I used 2 white and one cup of whole wheat)
  • 1 tbsp of salt
  • 1 tbsp of honey (I didn’t have any so I used maple syrup)
  • 1 tsp of yeast
  • 1 3/4 cups of lukewarm water

I simply mixed the dry ingredients together with a fork, and then slowly added the water and stirred it. Of course as you can see in my video, I had the kids helping me through the mixing and stirring part. I felt it was a good way for them to learn to cooperate and to pay attention to details. Even though this bread is an easy one to make, baking in general is much more of a science than an art and attention to detail is important.

Homemade Bread

We covered the bowl of dough and left it sitting on the counter while we went to swim lessons. A couple of hours later after we got home and vigorously stirred the dough (sort of like kneading it to make the gluten stretch) and then let it sit for another half hour or 45 minutes while we ate our Instant Pot spaghetti.

At that time I started to warm the oven up to 450 degrees and put the two cast iron pans into the oven with a healthy coating of grape seed oil inside them.

Once the oven (and the two pans) were all up to temperature, I took the pans out, split the dough into two (I wouldn’t split it next time – make one bigger loaf) and then put them back in the oven. I also put a baking dish of water underneath the two pans so that the crust of the bread would get a little steamed.

I set a timer for 30 minutes and then sat back to watch.

Homemade Bread

Although the loaves of homemade bread were quite a bit smaller than I would have liked, the bread itself turned out beautifully. Nice dense texture with a firm, chewy crust. I loved it. And so did the kids!

Categories
In the Kitchen

Cabin Cooking; the Bread Making Edition 

Family Day is the newest stat holiday in BC so I did my usual routine and got out of the city. I headed up the Fraser Canyon to the cabin.

And as I usually do at the cabin, I got into experimenting in the kitchen. Seeing as I had one of my daughters with me and they are in a phase in which they love to use my iPhone as a video camera – we decided to make a video of me trying out a new bread recipe.

I do apologize in advance for the shaky video. As I said, the camera operator was my daughter.

The ingredients for my cabin bread:

  • 4 cups of whole wheat flour
  • 1 Teaspoon of yeast
  • 1 Tablespoon of sugar
  • 1 Teaspoon of salt
  • 1 Teaspoon of baking soda
  • 1 egg
  • 1 Tablespoon of butter
  • 1 3/4 Cups of water

I first mixed together the dry ingredients and then added the egg, beat that into the dry mix. I then cut the butter into the mixture before adding the water. I stirred it all together for a couple of minutes using a rubber spatula and then plopped the lump of dough into the already hot cast iron pan.

Into the oven for 35 minutes. Out of the oven onto the cooling rack to let it rest, and then sliced bread with butter.

That’s it. Try it.

 

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In the Kitchen

Bread Making Round 3

My interest in baking bread continues! Yesterday my daughters and I made another batch of dough. 

This time we used 3 cups of whole wheat flour, 1 1/2 cups of Twin Sails Pilsner beer, 1 1/2 teaspoons of salt and a half teaspoon of yeast. 

A few hours after mixing the dough in the bowl I added 4 tablespoons of psyllium husks (to add a significant dose of fibre) and a small handful of sunflower seeds. 

This evening, more than 24 hours after mixing the dough, it went in the oven. 


Rather than leave it on a traditional round peasant loaf shape, this time I shaped it into a long loaf before I put it in the oven for 25 minutes at 425°.


The end result was pretty good! A little strong on the beer taste and quite a dense loaf, but overall, a good loaf!