Tag Archives: technique

Tartine Bakery Country Loaf … Sourdough (sigh)

You know me, and giving up.

I don’t.

I’ve  tried several ‘traditional’ sourdough recipes, since I decided to make my own sourdough starter in the summer of 2015, and met with nothing but failure. I blamed the starter, but then I had problems with the new one too … probably a case of using the starter before it was ready.

I’ve learned through the process, sacrificing a lot of flour (all purpose and bread) to the bakery gods. Until I finally got this baby. (SO so proud.)

I think this latest bake is pretty good. I used a recipe I found online, complete with step by step pictures of each stage. My pre-bake loaf was a bit slacker than the one in the picture. As you know, I don’t have a digital scale, just an old fashioned one that’s not very accurate so I’m sure my bread and flour amounts are off. Still, I was able to produce a decent loaf. Good colour, decent rise and I think the crumb is comparable to pictures I’ve seen online. So, I fed my starter (it’s over 2 weeks old now) and tossed it in the fridge to wait until I get inspired to bake with it again.

NOTE: Better pictures of the crumb have been posted from my second attempt. (12/11/2016)

I gots an ear on my loaf even with my crappy serrated knife to make the slashes

I MAY bake next weekend, I may not. I wish I could afford to buy a new scale. I should really invest in a lame or, the next best thing, a package of straight razor blades (10 for $16) but they’re luxuries at my current financial state. So, I’ll have to muddle along the best I can.

No bench scraper but my offset spatula works for shaping the bread into a boule.

Pineapple juice (canned NOT fresh) and whole wheat starter, after 2 weeks of feeding

Honey Whole Wheat Loaf – Yeast Version

WARNING: PICTURE HEAVY POST … I split the one I was going to post in 2 but there are still a lot of pictures as I’m a visual learner/teacher.

I have to admit that I don’t actually care for the taste of sourdough bread. I don’t DISlike it but it’s not something I prefer. However, making a tasty and attractive loaf of sourdough bread is on my cooking bucket list, even if it’s only the mental one. So, I’ve set out to figure out what I need to do to succeed starting with making a sourdough starter from scratch.

To date, I’ve made two sourdough starters. One with all purpose flour and water and, most recently, one with whole wheat flour and unsweetened canned pineapple juice. Time is important. It takes at least 2 weeks of feeding for the balance of yeast and bacteria to adjust and turn a neutral flour mixture into one with the proper pH balance to sustain the right kind of yeast. And there’s no substitute for time. Don’t let that early bubbling and rising fool you after day 4 or 5. It’s NOT ready yet to substitute for yeast in your bread baking.

It’s fall and the house temperature is set to 70 deg F so I’m doing all my proofing in a microwave with 2 cups of hot water to provide as optimal a rising environment as possible.

In this post and the one following, I’m going to try to replicate a honey whole wheat (33%) and all purpose flour bread made with yeast, and a touch of starter for flavour with an all sourdough starter. There’s more whole wheat flour in the all sourdough starter loaf than in the yeast version as my starter is mostly whole wheat and my secondary addition of flour (bread only) didn’t end up needing as much flour to get a nice, soft dough.

Yeast and a Touch of Sourdough Starter

Shaped, proofed for 1 hr and baked for ~40 minutes at 375 deg F.

Nice oven spring on the mini (400 gm of dough) loaf

Brushed with melted butter

This is the kind of crumb I want with my all sourdough starter bread

Mini Honey Whole Wheat – makes one 400 gm loaf

Version 1 – Yeast

1/2 cup whole wheat flour
~ 1 1/4 cups all purpose flour, divided
1/2 cup warm water
1 1/4 tsp yeast
1 1/2 tsp honey plus 1/4 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 tbsp sourdough starter

In a small bowl, mix together the warm water and honey until the sugar is dissolved. Add the yeast, stir and let rise for 10-15 minutes until the mixture is foamy.

In a large bowl, combine the 1/2 cup whole wheat flour, 1/2 cup of all purpose flour and salt. Stir in the yeast-honey mixture and the starter with a wooden spoon and beat until you get a nice smooth batter. Gradually stir in another 1/2 cup of all purpose flour until the dough gets too stiff to stir and forms a ball around the spoon. Transfer the dough to a lightly floured working surface.

Knead for 10 minutes using the reserved flour and as much more flour as need until you get a nice smooth and supple dough. Let rest for 5 minutes covered with a large bowl then knead for another 5 minutes.

Transfer to an oiled bowl, cover with a sheet of plastic wrap and a towel and let rise until doubled, 45 minutes to 1 hour.

Transfer the risen dough to a lightly floured work surface and shape into a loaf. Place on a prepared baking sheet or in a loaf pan and let rise until doubled.

Preheat the oven to 375 deg F.

Bake for 30 minutes, take out of pan, and bake for another 5-10 minutes or until the bottom is golden brown and when rapped, the loaf gives a hollow sound.

Spray top with water after placing in oven and a second time 5 minutes later.

Brush the top with melted butter after removing from the oven.

Technique: Prepping a Chicken Breast for Skewers/Kebabs

There’s nothing like the flavour of these slightly charred hunks of chicken breast from the barbecue. And making them ourselves is something we can all do, with a little effort.

I’ve often seen skewers of seasoned chicken breast threaded with peppers and onions in the display cases of delis, butcher shops and grocery store meat counters. Usually at some outrageous price. Anyone can make these at home for a LOT less money, especially when chicken breasts are on sale.

Whether you buy bone-in or boneless, skinless breasts, once you’ve removed the skin and bone and trimmed off the excess fat, you’re left with THIS lovely piece of meat. (Note that, the tenderloin has already been separated from the underside of the breast, the strip of tendon in the middle removed, and it’s been cut into 2 pieces.)

DON’T BE INTIMIDATED!!!

You can butterfly it, cut it into strips for chicken fingers, OR, as below, cut it into roughly 1 inch sized cubes.

I like to start with diagonal cuts from the outside of the breast spacing them evenly (about 1 inch apart) to get 4 strips. Each strip is cut into 3 pieces, except for the one on the far left which is cut into 2 pieces.

These 9 pieces, plus the 2 from the tenderloin, will give you 11 cubes per breast to marinate as desired and thread onto skewers.

For the last bbq, I marinated the chicken in tikka masala paste (2 tbsp paste plus 2 tbsp yogurt for 2 breasts) and threaded them onto metal skewers but you can use wooden/bamboo skewers that have been soaked in warm water for about 30 minutes.

Skewers ready for the barbecue – from 2 breasts, I was able to make 3 skewers. Enough for 3 generous servings as a main course. As an appetizer, you can get twice that many portions. With onions and peppers, souvlaki style, you’ll get 4 servings as a main course to wrap in a pita bread or serve over rice.

If you’ve got a hankering for a Middle Eastern flavour, try the Tawook (Chicken) Skewers with Sweet Potato Couscous recipe here or the Chicken Souvlaki here. I had run out of peppers in the latter so you’ll have to use your imagination and picture cubes of red, yellow, orange or green peppers on the skewers. I love the puffy pocketless pita breads used to wrap these which don’t dry out as much as the thin kind with the pocket. More carbs = more flavour. 🙂