My First Sourdough Loaves

sourdough whole

As I’ve said before, my kitchen is cold. My yeast is fresh, I buy it from a local co-op, but I never get the sort of rises recipes call from. I decided to invest in a sourdough starter, since it’s supposed to be hardier than commercial yeast.

I bought a Breadtopia Sourdough Starter – Live and commenced to feed it. I was worried I was going to kill it, since unlike cats, sourdough does not remind me to feed it. However, after several days of living next the vent of my oven and regular feedings, it was bubbly and alive. On Saturday morning, I made Spent Sourdough pancakes using my discards and fed up the starter. On Sunday, I baked.

I used The Kitchn’s Beginner’s Sourdough, exactly as written, with one exception. My stand mixer, a 5 year old Kitchen Aid that was used when I bought it, only kneads on low, so I did ten minutes on my first knead and 10 minutes for the second kneed, instead of the 12 minutes on medium.

Not only did the bread taste fantastic, it lasted for days. We ate the last of it with dinner on Wednesday (my friends couldn’t wait for the rolls) and it was still soft and fresh.

shared with bakeyourownbread

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My Husband vs the Bread Machine

Let me start this story by telling you a little about us. First, I am incredibly detail-oriented. I can tell you minor details from books I read ten years ago and professionally I can identify data errors by sight rather than through analysis. My husband is the exact opposite, suffering from what gamers would call a low Spot Check. Although this means he cannot find an object when it is six inches away, he is a brilliant man, a trained analytical chemist, and a wonderful cook.

We have friends over on Wednesday night on a regular basis and this week, we had pulled pork. I wanted to make rolls and he promised to run the bread machine for me and when I got home, I would shape and bake the rolls.

Around 4 pm, he called me, very confused. He had added the flour to the water and it had dissolved. Confused, I asked him which flour he had used. I had visions of him using my cake flour, or that bag of pastry flour I’d scored for a quarter. He told me he had used the flour on the window sill.

Remember when I said I was very detail-oriented? Yeah, I don’t label anything in my kitchen, it’s just in clear bins of various shapes and sizes. This is because I can tell the difference between salt and sugar, between flour and wheat flour, by sight and smell. When he said he had used the flour on the window sill, I got a sinking feeling. I asked him to humor me and taste what was in the bin.

He had put three cups of powdered sugar into the bread machine. I identified the bread flour as being in a bright orange bag and the second try resulted in wonderful rolls.

Unfortunately, the ravening hordes ate all the rolls before I remembered to photograph them, but they were a wonderful addition to dinner.

Buttery Buns

This recipe adapted from Cookistry.com

2 t bread machine or instant yeast
3 C Bread Flour (approximately 14 oz)
2 T white sugar
1 t flakey salt
½ stick or 4 T butter
1 C water

1 egg for eggwash

Load all ingredients but the egg for the eggwash into the bread machine in the order recommended by the manufacturer. Use the dough cycle on your machine to mix, kneed and raise the dough. (The dough setting on my machine runs 1.5 hour.)

When the dough cycle is complete, turn your oven to 350 degrees to preheat while you shape the rolls.

Turn the dough out onto a floured surface. Divide into sixteen pieces for small dinner rolls or twelve pieces for something closer in size to a hamburger bun. Place the rolls onto a sheet pan lined with parchment paper and let it rest until the oven is hot.

Beat an egg with a tablespoon of water and brush each roll with eggwash. Bake the rolls for approximately 25 minutes or until golden brown.

Serve warm with butter (or with slow cooked bbq pork)

Japanese Milk Bread

I’ve seen a few posts on Bake Your Own Bread about bread made in the Tangzhong Method. The concept of making what is essentially library paste (okay, a water roux, but it looks like library paste) then adding it to bread dough sort of fascinated me.

Japanese Milk Bread

Japanese Milk Bread (featuring a cameo from our tabby in the background)

The concept apparently comes from a cookbook from Yvonne Chen.  Her book, “65 degrees C Tangzhong,” taught the internet how to make very soft bread at home.

My kitchen is cold unless the oven is on. For reasons I will never understand, the heating vent in the kitchen is jammed into a narrow space between the kitchen cupboards and the wall. It actually faces a window, meaning the warmest place in my kitchen faces one of the coldest, a leaky window. The rest of the apartment isn’t much better. I’ve tried proofing bread in my oven and next to my space heater. Nothing happens. It just sort of lays there. It’s not my yeast, since bread turns out fine in my bread machine.

I decided to just give in and searched the internet for a bread machine Tangzhong recipe. I found one on a blog called “The 350 Degree Oven.” The bread rose beautifully in the bread machine and even after shaping, since I set the pan on top of my pre-heating oven. I did not get quite the oven spring Mika got, but I didn’t do the shaping quite right so I’m pretty pleased.

After it cooled and I cut into it, I was surprised. Yes, it was soft and sweet as promised, but it bore a remarkable resemblance to my Yaya’s Tsoureki. Tsoureki is a Greek bread that my Yaya always made at Easter time. Hers tasted of mastic gum and cinnamon and it’s a bit denser than the milk bread, but the flavor and texture of the bread is similar. We’ve never gotten it quite like hers. Orthodox Easter isn’t until May this year, I’ve got plenty of time to experiment.

submitted to Bake Your Own Bread