Category Archives: bread

It’s Baaaaaaack … Sourdough Starter

I had a recent conversation with a work colleague and the topic of sourdough came up. (See, it’s not MY fault.) Anyway, I offered him a sample of my dried starter so he could try to bake some. When I got home, I had a moment, or three, of insecurity, and decided to rehydrate a sample, to make sure that it was still viable after twenty-two months spent at room temperature in my pantry. The house is relatively cold (70 deg F) and it took three days to get a nice bubbly starter. And then, I had to figure out something to do with that starter.

As a consequence of the romaine lettuce recall, I’ve switched to raw vegetables and coleslaw as veggie sides. Coleslaw is relatively perishable so I planned on making my usual coleslaw staple … okonomiyaki. However, I decided to substitute the flour and water (and baking powder) in the recipe with sourdough starter. I did two, poorly planned trials, as I started by using active starter (plus half the baking powder from the original recipe). The resulting pancake was a bit loose to start with but did firm up. In the second trial, I used discard starter, cut back on the water (and NO baking powder) and was much happier with the results so that’s the recipe I’m including below, along with the accompaniments.

Sourdough Starter Okonomiyaki – savoury cabbage pancake served with smoked cheese sausage

Sourdough Starter Okonomiyaki – makes 1 pancake

Pancake base

60 gm sourdough starter, active or discard
1 whole egg
1/8 tsp salt

Fillings

3/4 cup cabbage, shredded (or bagged coleslaw mix)
2 tbsp sliced green onion tops

Optional Vegetable Add-ins – use a couple of your favourites

grated seasonal vegetables such as carrots, daikon radish, sweet potatoes and squash
grated firm fruits such as pears and apples

Optional Protein Stir-ins/Add-ins – pick one

2-3 slices cooked bacon
1/4 cup diced surimi (fake crab legs)
2-3 chopped poached large shrimp
1/4 cup diced Chinese bbq pork
a few slices of leftover pork roast, julienned

Okonomiyaki Toppings

1 tbsp Japanese mayonnaise (or western mayonnaise diluted with 1 tbsp milk to make it easier to pipe)
A few pinches of aonori (ground dried green seaweed) or a couple of tbsp of shredded nori
Dried bonito shavings or flakes (to taste)

Making the pancake

In a small bowl, stir together the starter, egg and the salt. Add the shredded cabbage and green onion and mix together thoroughly. If adding other vegetables, fruits and proteins, do so at this point.

Heat the griddle (or frying pan) over medium heat and with a paper towel, dipped in a bit of vegetable oil, season the pan. Spoon the okonomiyaki mixture onto the griddle and spread it into a round shape about 1/2-3/4 an inch (1.2 – 2 cm) thick.

When the edges of the pancake lose their shine (look dry, about 2-3 minutes), lay the cooked bacon pieces on top, turn the pancake over with a spatula and fry while pressing down on the pancake slightly until the middle is cooked through and set (a couple of minutes should be enough).

This pancake was topped with crispy bacon and diced avocado

Home-made Okonomiyaki Sauce – mix the following together

3 tbsp ketchup
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp soy sauce

NOTE: Tonkatsu Sauce may be used instead of the Okonomiyaki sauce

Transfer the pancake to a serving dish, bacon side up. Spread the okonomiyaki sauce over the top, drizzle the top with mayonnaise in an attractive pattern. Sprinkle the seaweed over the top and the dried bonito flakes.

Dig in.

Cross-section of the pancakes

Carole’s No Knead Sourdough Loaf – cottage cheese (1/3 cup), crispy fried onion (1 tbsp), dill seed (1/2 tbsp) and dill weed (1/2 tbsp)

The shaped sourdough loaf was allowed to proof in a towel lined, rice flour coated, colander. To turn out into the preheated dutch oven, a parchment paper lined baking sheet was placed over the dough, FLIPPED over, and the towel removed. The loaf was scored and transferred, using the parchment paper as a sling, into the dutch oven before being baked.

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Bread in an Hour (Cinnamon Rolls Too)

Sometimes you just need a loaf of bread in a hurry. So, a recipe that uses double the normal amount of yeast and is only proofed once, for bread in an hour, can come in handy. Especially when you can make both a plain sandwich loaf, or a batch of decadent cinnamon rolls with a cream cheese frosting, with the same recipe. And the crumb of both is nice and fluffy.

Slice of Sandwich Bread

Inside a Cinnamon Roll

Fast and Easy White Bread – ~900 gm/2 lb, makes 1 loaf, baked in a loaf pan (8 x 4 or 9 x 5 or 13″ Pullman) or 2 free form loaves, or 15 buns in a 9×13 inch baking dish

5 tsp active dry yeast
3 tbsp/42 gm sugar
1 1/4 cup/296 gm warm water
1 – 1 1/2 tsp salt*
1/4 cup oil or cooled melted butter
3 – 3 1/2 cup (360 – 420 gm) all purpose unbleached flour

* Used 1 1/4 tsp

In a medium sized bowl, add the warm water and sugar. Stir to dissolve. Add the yeast, stir to moisten the yeast and let sit for about 3-5 min until foamy.

Add the oil (or melted butter), 1 cup of flour and the salt. Stir well until you have a smooth batter.

Add the rest of the flour, 1/2 cup at a time, stirring well. Continue adding the flour until you have a soft dough and you can’t stir in any more of the flour. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured working surface and knead, adding more flour as needed, for about 5 minutes until you have a smooth, supple (and NOT sticky) dough.

Form your dough into a ball, cover with the bowl that you stirred the dough in, and let rest for 5 minutes. This allows the gluten to relax so that you can stretch it out.

Preheat the oven to 375 deg F. Oil or grease your bread loaf pan.

Roll out your dough or gently pat it down with your hands until you’ve formed a rectangle about 10 inches x 14 inches. Roll up the dough, pinch the seam closed and place, seam down, into your prepared loaf pan. Cover with a towel and let rise in a warm place, for 20 minutes or until double in size.

Brush the top of the loaf with an egg glaze (1 egg beaten with 1 tbsp of water) or some milk or cream, cut a slit in the top of the bread.

The dough below was only proofed for 20 minutes before being baked

Bake for approximately 20 – 30 minutes until done. (If you have an instant read thermometer check for a reading of 195 degrees Fahrenheit.)

Cool before cutting.

Cinnamon Roll Adaptation

I decided to make a dozen cinnamon rolls so I used the dough above, patted/rolled it into a roughly 10 x 14 inch rectangle, spread it with the cinnamon roll filling below and then rolled it up with the seam pinched closed. Since I wanted big fat rolls, I cut the rolls one inch wide and crowded nine of the rolls into an 8×8 inch baking dish lined with parchment paper. The remaining three rolls were placed into a 6 muffin pan lined with large muffin papers. After proofing for 30 minutes, instead of 20, since I wasn’t in a hurry and wanted nice fluffy buns, I baked the risen rolls at 375 deg F in a preheated oven for 25 minutes until they were golden brown on top. When cooled the rolls were frosted with the cream cheese frosting below.

Cinnamon Roll Filling – enough filling for a 10×14 inch rectangle of dough

1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 cup brown sugar, unpacked

Cream together the softened butter and cinnamon. Spread evenly over the dough for the cinnamon rolls. Leave a 1/2-1 inch uncovered at the long end. Sprinkle the brown sugar evenly over the cinnamon butter. Roll up the dough, starting at the long end. Pinch the seam closed and turn the roll, seam side down. Cut about an inch wide and place into a buttered baking dish, or a muffin pan that has been buttered or lined with large muffin cups, and allow to proof until doubled.

Thick Cream Cheese Frosting – enough to frost a 9×13 inch pan of 15 cinnamon rolls

4 oz/115 gm cream cheese, softened to room temperature
2 cups icing/confectioners’ sugar, sifted
1/2 tsp vanilla extract, optional
1/4 cup milk

In a medium sized bowl, beat the cream cheese with a hand mixer until smooth and softened. Beat in the icing sugar 1/4 or 1/3 of a cup at a time. Beat in the vanilla extract, if using and then the milk, a tablespoon at a time, until it’s of spreading consistency. Use to frost the cinnamon rolls.

NOTE: A half recipe will frost a dozen cinnamon rolls if you’re trying to cut back on the decadence.

Indian Menu for 4 … At Home

I came home last week with a tray of four skinless, bone-in chicken breasts and decided to include them in an Indian menu that I had planned for the weekend.

I was originally going to make a chicken curry/biryani but switched over to chicken tikka instead. Two chunks of spicy and tender chicken are often part of an appetizer combo, along with a couple of samosas and a couple of pakoras, but I threaded five onto soaked bamboo skewers and turned them into a main dish. The spiciness of the tikkas are toned down by serving them with a minty yogurt dip (raita).

Since this is a ‘dry’ dish, I made a couple of ‘wet’ dishes … matar paneer (pea and paneer cheese curry) …

… and a vegetarian chana masala (chickpea curry) … to go with it.

For a bread, I made aloo paratha, spiced mashed potato mixture stuffed into a whole wheat flatbread. Because I’m not fond of all whole wheat breads, I used (a bit more than) half all purpose flour and half whole wheat. And, I halved the recipe I found on line to only make four parathas. Because I didn’t have any fresh coriander leaves called for in the recipe, I defrosted some thinly sliced green onion tops and added them in their place.


And, of course, I made some basmati rice to sop up all that tasty sauce. Plain because I was tired and couldn’t be bothered coming up with anything more elaborate.

BONUS

To use up the rest of the chicken, rather than freezing it away, I took the largest of the chicken breasts, took it off the bone and spread the top with about a teaspoon of Hellman’s mayonnaise. Then, the mayonnaise coated breast was dipped into a few tablespoons of Italian seasoned breadcrumbs. I roasted the breast along with all four of the ribs. Since I left quite a bit of meat on the ribs, I let them cool and then put them in a freezer bag. Later in the week or the week after that, I’ll make a small (four cup) batch of chicken stock with the ribs and use them in a pot of chicken noodle soup. I even have egg noodles in the pantry to add to the soup.

Since the boneless breast was so large (~350 gm) I cut it in half and will have two meals.

The smaller breast and other trimmings were ground up (I had about 400 gms of meat) and turned into three chicken patties/burgers.

Pretty economical for an investment of $6.35 and some time.

Memories of Taco Bell

My first exposure to Mexican food was at a local Taco Bell restaurant.

I know, I know … but it’s the only Tex-Mexican restaurant locally. I had to cross the Canadian-US border before I was able to get anything more ‘authentic’. And, since my passport has been expired for some time, I haven’t been back in ages.

My last Taco Bell visit is more recent … 2 or 3 yrs, I think.

But, I DO still eat Tex-Mex food.

This weekend, I made a batch of flour tortillas and used them for beef and bean burritos and shrimp quesadillas.

Some of the changes/tips in  making the tortillas from the original recipe.

Trial 1 (10/20/2018): 1/4 cup lard, less water, made 10 8-9 inch diameter tortillas. I ended up with ~420 gm of dough so I made 10 40-42 gm balls of dough and rolled them out using as little flour as necessary to prevent sticking. My cast iron frying pan gets HOT so I preheated it over a setting of 3-4, wiped the pan with a folded paper towel dipped in vegetable oil. Each tortilla was fried for a total of 1 min 15 sec … about 45 sec on the first side and then another 30 sec on the second side. Since there were lots of bubbles during baking the first side, I used the bottom of a thin metal spatula to ‘pat down’ the bubbles.

The tortillas are nice and thin and the edge was a bit fragile. A change from the sourdough flour tortillas I usually make, which are more sturdy.

Beef and Bean Burritos

Beef and Bean Burritos – makes 8 burritos, serve 2 per person

1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 lb lean ground beef
2 tbsp sauteed onion
1 tbsp dry taco seasoning mix
1 cup refried beans
1/4 cup salsa, medium or hot

8 9 inch flour tortillas

Add-ins
avocado, diced
shredded cheese (cheddar or Monterey Jack)
salsa, medium or hot
sour cream
diced green onion

In a large saute pan, preheat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the ground beef and the sauteed onion and fry until the ground beef is cooked through and slighly browned. Break up the beef as much as possible. Drain off any excess oil. Add the dry taco seasoning mix and stir through. Add the refried beans and salsa and cook through until the mixture has tightened up a bit.

Warm up the flour tortillas so they’re more pliable. Add about 1/8th of the filling to each tortillas as well as any add-ins. Wrap up the bottom, and then both the sides. Enjoy

I also thawed the last of the corn tortillas from my freezer and enjoyed a few spicy shrimp tacos.

Spicy Shrimp Tacos

While firming/warming up the corn tortillas in the oven, I … lost track of time, and ended up with some very crisp (tostada type) tortillas. So, I decided to use some of them to make a copycat Taco Bell Crunchwrap Supreme. I used my beef and bean burrito filling in place of the meat but scaled down the Nacho Cheese recipe so it would make only four wraps.

I had to break the edges off the corn tortillas so I could wrap the flour tortilla around the package.

Taco Bell Crunchwrap Supreme – makes 4

4 9-10 inch flour tortillas
4 corn tortillas, crisped up, or tostadas

1 recipe Nacho Cheese (recipe below)
1 cup Beef and Bean burrito mixture from above
1/2 cup shredded lettuce
4 tbsp sour cream
2-4 tbsp diced tomatoes (or salsa)

Nacho Cheese – enough for 4 crunchwraps

2 tsp butter
2 tsp all purpose flour
1/3 cup milk
2 slices of American cheese, roughly torn
1/8 tsp salt

In a medium saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter and whisk in the flour. Pour in the milk, a bit at a time, while whisking until you’ve added all of the milk and the mixture starts to thicken. While whisking, add in the salt and cheese. Continue to stir until the cheese melts and the mixture is smooth.

Spicy Shrimp Quesadilla

Sourdough Bagels

My sourdough starter jar was getting a bit full (relatively speaking, as it was in a BIG jar, rather than my usual 2 cup one) so I had planned on refreshing the contents by making a batch of sourdough flour tortillas.

And then I was inspired by a themed post on a FB group I belong to to make sourdough bagels. After posting a request for a recommended recipe, I decided on the simplest of the bunch, which I actually found by net-surfing. And it only made eight bagels, which was perfect as my upstairs freezer is getting VERY full, again. I used up the last drop of starter in the jar (though I’ve got a couple of jars of dried starter in the pantry) so I won’t have to do weekly starter feedings for a while.

The results were very tasty, dense and chewy in texture. Breaking out the stand mixer to knead the dough was a smart idea as that’s a tough dough to knead by hand. And, although the bagels weren’t shaped as nicely as I’d hoped, none of them came undone during the boiling step even though I used the “sealed rope” method of shaping. The hydration of this dough meant that the two ends stuck together during the shaping, especially as I didn’t use additional flour when rolling out the dough into a rope.

Fried Egg, Bacon and Cheese Bagel Sandwich

Bagel Pizzas

Sourdough Bagel Pictorial

Dough was kneaded in a stand mixer for 10-15 min on medium speed, rested, shaped and proofed at room temperature for 3-4 hrs until puffy and then cold retarded for 4-8 hrs before being boiled and baked. The cold retarding develops flavour and lets the bagels harden enough to be easily picked up and transferred to their boiling water bath without deformation. (Especially if you don’t crowd your fridge and end up dropping a container on top of a couple of your bagels.)

Even though the bagels spread during refrigeration and I was sure I was going to end up with bagel pancakes, oven spring during the baking gave them a nice lift so they were plump and lovely.

Crumb – Sliced into while still warm, because who can resist a bagel fresh out of the oven? I know I can’t.

Sour Cream Biscuits (Hungarian Tejfölös Pogácsa)

Pogacsa are Hungarian biscuits. They’re usually made with yeast but this version, shared by a FB friend, uses baking powder and baking soda as the leavening agents. I’ve re-written the ingredients list, with notes, and all the baking instructions.

Cassie B’s Sour Cream Pogacsa (Tejfölös pogácsa) – makes a dozen 2-2 1/4 inch biscuits, plus some ‘scrap’ biscuits

3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp salt*
1 cup cold lard or shortening (don’t use butter, it’s just not the same taste)
1 cup sour cream
1-4 tbsp cold milk to moisten if necessary
1 large egg yolk, beaten, for the egg wash
shredded cheddar cheese, optional

* Cut back on the salt, next time … maybe 1 1/4 or even 1 tsp salt

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit.

Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.

Using a pastry blender, cut in the lard until you have pea sized pieces throughout the flour.

Add the sour cream and, with a fork, mix through the flour/lard mixture. Gather a clump in your hand and, if it holds together, gather all the dough into a ball, wrap it in a sheet of plastic food wrap and refrigerate for 15 minutes to let the dough rest. (If your dough mixture is still dry and won’t hold together, add a tablespoon of milk and fork through again. Repeat until a handful of the mixture holds together.)

Lightly flour your work surface and place the unwrapped ball of dough on it. With a rolling pin, gently roll out into a rectangle. Visually divide your rectangle into thirds from left to right and ‘envelope fold’ the left side of the dough onto the middle portion. Fold the right side of the dough onto the middle.

Wrap the rectangle with your piece of plastic food wrap and refrigerate for 15 minutes to let the dough rest.

Repeat the above (roll out, envelope fold, and refrigerate for 15 minutes) one more time.

Roll out the dough into a rectangle about 8 by 10 inches in size. (This lets you cut out 12 x 2-2 1/4 inch biscuits.)

Using a sharp knife, draw crosshatches, about 1/8th of an inch apart, on the dough.

Cut out the biscuits, using a 2 to 2 1/4-inch biscuit cutter or juice glass, and place them on the parchment paper lined baking sheet. Dip the cutter or glass into flour after each cut so the dough doesn’t stick to the cutter.

Gather the scraps of dough and gently form a few ‘scrap’ biscuits by wrapping strips around each other to keep the layering intact.

Brush the top of each biscuit with the beaten egg yolk. (NOTE: You can sprinkle some grated cheddar cheese on top of the biscuits if you wish, especially your ‘scrap’ biscuits.)

Bake at 450 F for 10 to 12 minutes or until golden brown on top and bottom.

Let cool before serving.

I played at laminating the dough with room temperature bacon fat before the ‘envelope folds’ which led to slumping. Next time, I’d do some more rest/folds after the 2nd lamination as I created two areas of instability. I only made a half batch so I got nine biscuits out of the dough.

Sourdough Bread Bowls and a Shooter’s Sandwich

Warning: Another Picture Heavy Post

ETA (09/09/2018): Recipe for the Shooter’s Sandwich added

I rarely expend as much effort on a dish/recipe as I did for this glorified steak sandwich.

And, at the end, I didn’t USE the bun I had spent all that effort on.

The shooter’s sandwich is a relic of the shooting parties of the nobles and elite in Edwardian Great Britain, who would arrange to have the kitchen produce this sandwich to be tossed into their hunting bags, before they went out for a day of grouse shooting. The sandwich was wrapped in butcher’s paper and pressed so that the juices given off by the mushrooms and steak would permeate the hearty bun. Eaten at room temperature, it was an expensive dish if prepared with filet mignon. My steak choice was more modest. A blade steak cooked as quickly as possible in the hopes of not ending up with shoe leather.

And now the story behind the sandwich:

First, I had to research a recipe for an individual bun in which I could build the sandwich, since I knew that I was unlikely to find something suitable locally. And, once I decided on a sourdough bread bowl recipe, I had to make sourdough starter. Luckily, I had some dried sourdough starter in the pantry so I didn’t have to start from scratch. It took me two days but the result was a lovely bubbly and fragrant mixture. It took a third day to bake the buns.

Rehydrated Sourdough Starter

Sourdough Bread Bowl filled with chili

Sourdough Bread Bowls – top and bottom scooped out

I ended up with extra starter (something sourdough bakers have to deal with) so I experimented with part of it. I repeated the KAF Italian bread recipe but substituted ~200 gm of my bubbly new starter in place of the ‘overnight starter’. I was torn between reducing the amount of commercial yeast used but decided to stick with the original recipe. A bad choice as it turned out. I over proofed the dough during the bulk proof stage. And during the final proofing stage. And my kneading/shaping probably needed work.

Hybrid (Sourdough Starter and Yeast) Buns

I SHOULD have increased the baking temperature although the buns looked fine when I pulled them out of the oven. And then, the next day, after making the sourdough buns, they looked  pale and anemic in comparison.

When I cut into the buns, I was pleased with the crumb.

I froze the other two hybrid buns I made, and used the one I had cut into for my steak sandwich … after I hollowed it out.

Bun, onion/mushroom mixture, French’s mustard (use Dijon or a coarse brown mustard) and blade steak. Unfortunately, I didn’t take a picture of the steak after it had been seared off

Wrap in plastic food wrap, press, cut and eat.

Hybrid Bun Shooter’s Sandwich – cut it in fourths for an appetizer

Shooter’s Sandwich – makes 3 sandwiches

Three  12 cm/ 4 1/2 inch sourdough bread bowls, top removed and contents removed leaving 10 cm/1/2 inch rim around the edge and on the base

500 gm/ 1 lb blade steak, seared or grilled to rare/medium-rare

Mushroom Mixture

1 tbsp butter
1 medium onion, finely diced
227 gm/ 1/2 lb mushrooms, finely diced
1/4 tsp Worchestershire sauce
salt and pepper, to taste

mustard, Dijon, coarse grained
horseradish (optional)

Making the mushroom mixture

In a large saute pan, melt the butter over medium high heat. Add the onions and saute until the onion has softened and starts to get golden brown. Remove the onions to a small bowl and reserve. Add the mushrooms to the pan and saute in the remaining butter until softened, slightly browned and fairly dry. Return the onions to the pan and sprinkle the Worchestershire sauce over the top, stirring into the onion/mushroom mixture. Taste and add salt and pepper to taste.

Spread some mustard over the base of the bread bowl. Divide the steak into thirds and fit tightly into the base. Spread some horseradish over the steak. Top with about 1/3 of the mushroom mixture and fit the lid of the bread bowl on top. Wrap the sandwich in a large sheet of plastic food wrap. Place the sandwich into a bowl. Place a flat plate on top and then a heavy weight on top. Refrigerate overnight. Cut into fourths and serve.

Repeat with the rest of the bread bowls and other ingredients.

KA Italian Bread 101 – Take 2

This post is being made as a visual record for some minor hydration adjustments of the earlier Italian bread post. The dough is shaped into the traditional loaf rather than the braid.

Trial 2: 8/27/18 … 680 gm dough. I used the liquid measuring cup for water on Trial 1 and, in retrospect, based on the ‘stickiness’ of the dough, even after incorporating ALL of the flour, wondered if my fast ‘eyeballing’ the water level, especially for the 2nd amount, may have resulted in using too much water. So, on this 2nd try, I used my dry measuring cups for the water. I held back about 2 tbsp of the flour at the end and still felt that my dough was too dry. I did a wet hand knead several times but the dough was still very firm. Bulk proofing 45 min, deflated and let rest for about 30 minutes. Shaped and let final proof for 40 minutes.

The dough was not glazed with beaten egg white nor did it have any sesame seeds sprinkled on top. (I had run out.) Instead, I sprayed the loaf with water, slashed and placed the loaf on an overturned baking sheet which had pre-heated in the oven. A metal pie tin with water was placed in the bottom of the oven onto a lower shelf. The loaf was rotated about half way through the baking and baked for 35 minutes.

Crumb compact but relatively soft

Delicious sandwich bread

I intend to make this again using the weights version of the recipe.

Sesame Semolina Bread and Soup (Two versions)

NOTE: The potato gnocchi soup below is a tomato based adaptation of the kale and sausage soup posted here.

After an indulgent last dim sum outing with my nephew, on Friday, I used the afternoon to make another bread that I had added to my ‘to do’ list, while I was flourless.

The recipe came from the King Arthur Flour web site and is called a “Sesame Semolina Lunetta”. I have NO idea where the term lunetta comes from … lunetta means ‘little moon’ in Italian but this S-shaped bread doesn’t fit. In French, lunette refers to ‘eyeglasses’ … I guess you can vaguely picture two circles of glass in the S-shape. Sometimes, names have no clear explanation.

The dough turned out very wet but I suspect that my measuring cup didn’t allow me to be precise enough. (Next time, I’d try using the weight option for ingredients. ) Since it was too wet to hand knead, and I didn’t want to dig out my stand mixer, I decided to use a ‘stretch and fold’ process (every 15 minutes for an hour, for a total of 5 S&F’s) letting it rest for a further 30 minutes. I shaped the dough into an 18 inch rope and then coiled it into the S-shape and let it proof until it got very puffy, about 50 minutes.

Since it was still such a wet dough, I increased the baking temp to 400 deg F, rather than the 350 deg F in the recipe and baked the loaf until it got golden brown, 35-40 min (NOTE: 37 1/2 min).

The crust was crispy and the crumb was relatively open. The taste was good and there was a faint scent of sesame from the toasted sesame seed oil used in place of olive oil.

To accompany the bread, I made a pot of kale, hot Italian sausage and potato gnocchi soup. For a change of pace, I divided half the soup and added whipping cream to one portion.

Creamy version served with sliced and toasted sesame semolina bread, spread with pesto and grilled long enough to melt the Parmesan cheese in the pesto.

KA Italian Bread 101 “Review” (Picture Heavy)

The national recipes for ‘French’ and ‘Italian’ breads are limited in terms of what CAN and CAN’T be used in them in order to be able to legally use those terms. I decided to make a loaf of “Italian” bread using the recipe posted on the King Arthur website.

ETA: The recipe uses four ingredients for the bread: flour, water, salt and yeast.

I followed the recipe and instructions exactly, only adjusting the timing of the steps based on the action of my yeast, as I didn’t want to over proof the dough while maximizing oven spring.

Pillowy crumb … the slice was taken from one end of the braid but the height wasn’t much greater further in from the end.

The ‘starter’ was mixed up, covered with plastic food wrap and a towel and allowed to ferment for 12 hrs at room temperature (77 deg F). The next morning, the rest of the ingredients were added, the dough was kneaded by hand (10 min, 5 min rest, additional 5 min) and let rise for 45 minutes, covered, in an oiled bowl. Then the dough was deflated, reshaped into a ball and allowed to rest/rise for an additional 25 minutes.

   
   

The risen dough was divided into three equal portions, shaped into 18″ long ropes, braided and allowed to rise, covered, on parchment paper until it was ‘very puffy’. Then it was brushed with a wash of egg white and water and sprinkled with about 2 tbsp of white sesame seeds.

   

My straight braid developed a distinctive ‘curve’ during proofing … perhaps due to uneven braiding or tension.

 

Baked for 30 minutes at 425 deg Fahrenheit.

Conclusion: Nice crunchy crust. Taste was very good even though I was afraid that it would be a bit too salty and was tempted to reduce the salt, from 1 1/2 tsp to 1 tsp. Watch your dough for the timing of the proofing times.