Sourdough Epi Wreath

sourdough epi wreath with ribbon

Just popping in to share this simple, festive bread idea for your holiday baking inspiration! A bread wreath is perfect as a dinner table centerpiece (just put a bowl of good salted butter in the middle!) or edible gift. You can also use this technique with larger or smaller pieces of dough (the bake time might change slightly), though I like the crust-to-crumb ratio of this size plus the fact that it’s the size of an actual wreath! This would also work well with any lean bread dough that’s not too slack (hydrated).

Sourdough Epi Wreath

Makes 1 medium wreath

Ingredients:

Method:

  1. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Shape into a loose round. Cover and let rest for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, prepare a sheet pan with parchment paper and lightly dust with semolina / cornmeal. (Note: I like to double up on baking sheets for these wreaths to keep the bottom from scorching.)
  2. Degas and shape into a tight, smooth boule (round). Lightly flour your hands and use your thumbs to poke a hole in the center. Gently stretch the dough to widen the circle. The wreath should be about 10 inches across and the hole in the center at least 4 inches (it’ll shrink back a bit when you put it down).
  3. Place the wreath on a prepared sheet, seam side down. Lightly mist with oil and cover with plastic wrap. Allow to rise at room temperature until the wreath is puffy and has increased by about 50% (this takes me about 1.5-2 hours). About an hour before baking, preheat the oven to 500F with a baking stone on the center rack and sheet tray on the bottom of the oven.
  4. When the wreath is ready to bake, have ready a measuring glass with hot water and a pair of sharp kitchen scissors. Dust the top of the wreath with rice flour. Use the kitchen scissors to cut the dough at a sharp angle (30-45 degrees) almost all the way through the dough. After snipping, pull the point away from the center (towards you). Repeat all the way around the wreath.
  5. Transfer the wreath to the oven and carefully pour about 1 cup of hot water into the sheet tray on the bottom of the oven. Bake for 5 minutes, then turn the heat down to 450F and bake for another 20-25 minutes or until the wreath is golden brown and sounds hollow when tapped. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.
sourdough epi wreath

Sourdough Challah

sourdough challah six strand

Finding a solid sourdough challah recipe has been on my bread baking list for awhile. While I have a sourdough enriched sandwich bread recipe that I love, the appeal of challah to me is that it’s dairy free and the dough is easy to shape into beautiful braids — perfect for holiday celebrations! Leftover challah also makes excellent French toast, bread pudding, bostock…basically, I’m never sad to have a few extra slices!

After trying a few different recipes/methods, I’ve finally landed on one I like. The dough handles beautifully; and so long as you use fresh starter, there is barely, if any, a hint of sourdough tang. The formula is based on Maggie Glezer’s sourdough challah recipe, with a few adaptations to the flour mix and fermentation times. I’ve also been experimenting with add-ins and substitutions, so stay tuned for more challah-based recipes soon!

pumpkin challah
A few notes:
  • As with all bread recipes, proper fermentation is key to success. Although I’ve provided general timings which work in my kitchen, keep in mind they may vary greatly depending on the temperature of your kitchen and the strength of your starter. I’ve tried to provide visual cues to help you along — as they say, watch the dough and not the clock!
  • The original recipe called for all bread dough, but I prefer a mix of bread, all purpose, and whole grain for a balance of softness, chew, and flavor.
  • There are many ways to shape challah; I particularly like the 6-strand braid, 4-strand braid, and round challah. For best results, weigh out the dough into even portions for the most even-looking braid.
  • To make pumpkin challah, replace the 60g warm water in the final dough ingredients with 75g pumpkin puree. I like to use maple syrup as the sweetener in this variation. Pumpkin provides more color than flavor in this variation (see photo below), though for extra “pumpkin spice” you can spread the filling from this sourdough cinnamon raisin bread on the rolled out dough before shaping the dough into logs (replace the cinnamon with pumpkin spice). Make sure to firmly seal the seam and ends or liquefied sugar will leak out of the braid!
  • Like other enriched sourdough recipes, this recipe takes time — though most of it is hands-off. I like to break the work into the following 3-day schedule:
    • Day 1, right before bedtime: prepare stiff levain.
    • Day 2, morning: mix dough and ferment until doubled. Refrigerate dough once doubled.
    • Day 2, right before bedtime: shape challah and let proof at room temperature overnight.
    • Day 3, first thing in the morning: bake challah.
    • Note: If you want to mix and bake all in one day, you could shape and proof the dough right after the dough has doubled. Proof time will likely be a little shorter since the dough doesn’t have to warm back up to room temperature. I personally prefer the above schedule because I find cold dough easier to shape and I like having the bread freshly baked in the morning.
sourdough pumpkin challah cut

Sourdough Challah

Makes one large loaf (or two smaller loaves, or many buns) | Adapted from Maggie Glezer via The Fresh Loaf

Ingredients:

For the stiff levain:
  • 40g very active, fully fermented 100% hydration sourdough starter, refreshed 8 to 12 hours earlier
  • 52g warm water
  • 108g bread flour

Mix all ingredients together and allow to ferment at room temperature for 8-12 hours, or until ripe (it should triple in volume).

For final dough:
  • 60g warm water
  • 3 large eggs, plus 1 for glazing
  • 10g fine sea salt
  • 55g olive oil (or other neutral oil)
  • 65g honey or maple syrup
  • 250g bread flour
  • 100g AP flour
  • 50g whole grain flour
  • All of the levain
  • Sesame / poppy seeds or pearl sugar, for garnish (optional)

Method:

  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook, whisk together all ingredients from water through honey/maple syrup until combined.
  2. Add the flour and levain (torn into several pieces to make it easier to incorporate). Use a silicone spatula or your hands to mix until ingredients are roughly combined.
  3. Mix the dough on a low-medium speed (3 or 4 on a KitchenAid mixer) until smooth, about 5 minutes. You can also do this by hand, which should take 8-10 minutes. The dough should be on the firm side but still easy to knead.
  4. Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled container. Ferment at room temperature until doubled. This took me about 4 hours, but will depend on the temperature of your kitchen and strength of your starter.
  5. Fold the dough and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, or up to 12.
  6. When you are ready to shape, remove the dough from the refrigerator and divide equally into the number of pieces desired on a lightly floured surface. (I like to do 6 pieces for a 6-strand braid or 4 for a round challah.) Loosely round, then cover and let rest for 10-15 minutes. Meanwhile, line a large baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone mat. Also, whisk the remaining egg with a pinch of salt for the egg wash.
  7. Working one at a time, roll each piece into a thin sheet (about 1/8″ thick) — the shape isn’t important, but aim for an even thickness. Roll up tightly like a jelly roll, pinching the seams and ends to seal. Repeat with other pieces.
  8. Roll each piece into ropes of even lengths (I aim for 24-26″), tapering the ends. Braid as desired (see notes above).
  9. Transfer shaped loaf to the prepared baking sheet. Brush the entire surface with a coat of egg wash, then cover loosely with oiled plastic wrap. Cover and refrigerate the remaining egg wash; you will need it later.
  10. Allow the loaf to proof at room temperature until at least doubled and very puffy (but still defined). This takes me 8-10 hours at cool room temperature. About half an hour to 45 minutes before baking, preheat the oven to 350F with a rack in the middle. Right after preheating the oven, uncover the loaf and brush with another coat of egg wash.
  11. When the oven is ready, brush the loaf with a final coat of egg wash. Sprinkle with sesame/poppy seeds or pearl sugar, if desired.
  12. Bake for 35-45 minutes, rotating pan halfway through baking, or until the top is well browned and the loaf registers 200F. (Tent with foil if the loaf is browning too quickly). Cool on a wire rack before slicing.

Sourdough Italian Rolls

sourdough italian rolls with tomatoes

Every so often my kids and I will walk down to our neighborhood Italian bakery. I usually let them pick a treat for the road, and my son almost always walks past the cookies and pastries and chooses a plain, white Italian roll. (Once he did ask for a rum ball. Good thing I asked the cashier what it was before agreeing.) And he absolutely has no problem demolishing the whole thing (they’re probably 6-7 inches long!) in one sitting.

As an avid bread baker, I was determined to make something similar that would garner the same enthusiasm. And this is it! Simple rolls that are crusty-but-not-too-crusty and a soft but chewy crumb. They are naturally leavened, but are very mild and slightly sweet in flavor.

Also, these rolls are a lot of fun to make. The dough is easy to handle, and you can either make them in one day or retard the dough overnight (I’ve noted in the method when to refrigerate the dough if desired.) They are the perfect all-purpose roll: use them for sandwiches, as an accompaniment for soups and stews, or just eat them plain, like my kid. Personally, I like them slightly warm from the oven with some good salted butter.

(By the way, I asked my son why he liked this particular recipe so much, and he explained that it was because the rolls were oval. What can I say? That being said, you can shape this dough any way you want — baking time may need to be adjusted.)

sourdough italian rolls

Sourdough Italian Rolls

Makes 8 medium rolls | Adapted from Wild Yeast Blog

Ingredients:

For the stiff levain:
  • 64g mature 100%-hydration sourdough starter
  • 128g bread flour 
  • 128g AP flour
  • 192g water

Combine all ingredients and mix together until smooth. Cover and allow to ferment at room temperature until ripe, 8-12 hours (it should at least double).

For the final dough:
  • 224g bread flour
  • 64g AP flour
  • 32g semolina flour
  • 170 g water
  • 12g salt
  • 14g sugar
  • 28g olive oil
  • All of the levain

Method:

  1. Combine all ingredients in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook. Mix on low to combine, then raise the speed to low-medium (3 or 4 on a KitchenAid). Continue mixing until the gluten is moderately developed. The dough should be soft, but not sticky.
  2. Transfer the dough to an oiled container. Allow to rise at room temperature until doubled, folding every 30 minutes for the first hour. The time it will take to double will depend on how active your starter is and the temperature of your room; mine took about 2.5-3 hours. (Note: if you’d like, you can retard the dough overnight after it’s almost doubled. When you’re ready to bake, allow the dough to rest and come to room temperature for 30-45 minutes after dividing.)
  3. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Divide into 8 equal pieces, about 130g each, and shape into loose rounds. Cover and let rest for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, prepare a large sheet pan with parchment paper and lightly dust with semolina / cornmeal. (Note: I like to double up on baking sheets for these rolls to keep the bottoms from scorching.)
  4. Shape each round into a batard (oval) and transfer, seam side down, to the prepared baking sheet. For these rolls I like to degas fairly well and shape tightly for a nice, even crumb.
  5. Lightly mist the rolls with oil and cover. Allow to rise at room temperature until the rolls have increased by about 50% (this takes me about 1.5-2 hours). About an hour before baking, preheat the oven to 500F with a baking stone on the center rack and sheet tray on the bottom of the oven.
  6. When the rolls are ready to bake, have ready a measuring glass with hot water. Lightly dust the tops of the rolls with rice flour, if desired, and slash the top of each roll down the center with a sharp blade (I like a curved lame for this).
  7. Transfer the rolls to the oven and carefully pour about 1 cup of hot water into the sheet tray on the bottom of the oven. Bake for 5 minutes, then turn the heat down to 450F and bake for another 15-20 minutes or until the rolls are golden brown and sound hollow when tapped. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

Homemade ricotta and blistered tomato toasts

This post is sponsored by Paderno Kitchenware. As always, all opinions expressed are my own.

Have you ever tried making cheese? If not, ricotta is a great place to start — it’s one of the simplest cheeses you can make at home and honestly tastes so much better from what you find in the supermarket. And all you need is some milk and an acid!

Although you can make ricotta on the stovetop, this time I used the Paderno 6-quart Programmable Slow Cooker. Using a slow cooker offers a couple advantages. First, it allows for a more gentle heating of the milk (which you can stretch to a few hours if you are busy with other things). Second, it helps maintain a constant temperature once the acid is added.

While most ricotta recipes instruct you to let the acidified milk sit for 5-10 minutes before straining, I learned from a Serious Eats article that the yield and taste of homemade ricotta is vastly improved if you keep the mixture at a higher temperature for 20 minutes. On the stovetop, this means constant heat adjustments and pan babysitting. But thanks to the heat retention of the enamel crock and the precise temperature settings of the slow cooker, this part of the ricotta-making process is simple. Just hit a button and let the slow cooker do the work for you!

My favorite way to enjoy fresh ricotta is on fresh bread; and for these toasts, I baked a loaf of sourdough bread in the Paderno Dutch Oven. Baking bread in a dutch oven is a simple way to mimic the steam ovens commercial bakeries use. The thick walls and tight cover of the dutch oven seal in moisture and heat, allowing the loaf rise to its potential and develop a shiny, crackly crust!

Sometimes I top ricotta toasts with a drizzle of honey or swirl of jam. But during the summer (aka tomato season) you can’t beat blistered cherry tomatoes and fresh basil. I could honestly eat this any meal of the day — simple perfection!

A few notes:

  • This ricotta recipe is easily doubled; just note that it may take a bit more time initially for the milk to reach temperature.
  • To bake a loaf of bread in a dutch oven, put the dutch oven (with the cover) in the oven while the oven is preheating. Turn your unbaked bread dough onto a piece of parchment and score as desired. Carefully remove the preheated dutch oven and take off the lid. Transfer the dough, still on the parchment, to the dutch oven and replace the lid. Return the dutch oven to the oven and bake for about 20 minutes (or roughly half the baking time); then remove the lid and continue baking the bread until finished.

Homemade ricotta and blistered cherry tomato toasts

Ingredients:

For the homemade ricotta:
  • 4 c whole milk (substitute up to 1/2 c heavy cream if desired)
  • 1 Tbsp + 1 tsp (20 ml) distilled white vinegar
  • Pinch of fine sea salt (to taste)
For the blistered cherry tomatoes:
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
To finish:
  • 4 thick slices sourdough or country-style bread, homemade or store-bought
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Fresh basil
  • Flaky salt and freshly ground pepper

Method:

  1. For the homemade ricotta: Pour the milk into the slow cooker. Heat, partially covered, until a digital thermometer reaches 185F. This can be done over a few hours on the low or medium setting, or in 30-60 minutes on the high setting. Stir occasionally to keep the milk from scorching on the sides.
  2. Once the milk reaches 185F, turn off the slow cooker. Add the vinegar and gently stir for about 10 seconds to distribute. Turn the slow cooker back on to the low setting and maintain a temperature of 175-190F for twenty minutes without stirring. Meanwhile, line a strainer with cheesecloth and suspend over a large measuring glass or bowl.
  3. After twenty minutes, use a slotted spoon to transfer the curds to the lined strainer. Allow to stand until the excess liquid has liquid has drained off, or until you reach desired texture (less time for a softer ricotta and more for drier). Add salt to the curds and gently stir to distribute. Use immediately or store refrigerated in an airtight container for up to three days.
  4. For the blistered cherry tomatoes: In a medium skillet, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add the tomatoes and saute until blistered, about two minutes. Transfer to a bowl and season to taste.
  5. Assemble the toasts: toast bread if desired. Spread on ricotta and top with blistered tomatoes. Finish with a drizzle of olive oil, flaky salt and a few turns of freshly ground pepper, and fresh basil leaves.


Toast and Jam Ice Cream

toast and jam ice cream in a bucket


One of the questions I hear often is, “What do you do with all the bread you bake?” Truthfully, we normally don’t have a ton of leftovers; and if I know a loaf won’t be finished within a couple days I’ll usually freeze pre-cut slices. But every so often I wind up with a hunk of bread that’s just a little too stale for the freezer.

Sure, that bread could make some pretty fine croutons or breadcrumbs. Or it could be tossed in brown butter and sugar, baked until deliciously golden and nutty, and spun into a quart of homemade ice cream. Add a swirl of jam, and you’ve got breakfast for dessert? Dessert for breakfast? Either way — delicious.

This toast and jam ice cream starts with a creamy and slightly tangy buttermilk custard base. Once done churning, simply alternate layers of ice cream, brown butter crumbs and jam and freeze until firm. If you like toasty bits in every bite you can add the brown butter crumbs during the last minute of churning for more even distribution. You may not use all the crumbs, but save extras for sprinkling on top…if you can resist snacking on them beforehand!


toast and jam ice cream

Toast and Jam Ice Cream

Makes about 1 quart / Inspired by Salt & Straw and Tartine

Ingredients:

For the buttermilk ice cream base:
  • 1/2 c + 2 Tbsp / 125g granulated sugar
  • 2 Tbsp dry milk powder
  • 1/4 tsp xanthan gum
  • 4 large egg yolks
  • 2 Tbsp / 40g light corn syrup
  • 1 1/2 c heavy cream
  • 1 1/2 c buttermilk
  • 1/4 tsp kosher salt
For the caramelized bread crumbs:
  • 168g (~2 slices) day-old bread (I used sourdough)
  • 30g (2 Tbsp) butter
  • 67g (1/3 c) granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • Generous pinch of kosher salt
To finish:
  • ~1/2 storebought or homemade jam

Method:

  1. Make the buttermilk custard base: Combine the cream and buttermilk in a large measuring cup.
  2. Combine 100g (1/2 c) of sugar, dry milk powder, and xanthan gum in a small bowl and whisk well. In a large bowl, combine the egg yolks and remaining 25g (2 T) sugar and whisk until the yolks are lighter in color, about 1 minute.
  3. In a medium pot, combine the corn syrup and half (1 1/2 c) of the buttermilk/cream mixture. Add the sugar mixture and immediately whisk vigorously until smooth. Set the pot over medium heat and cook stirring often and adjusting the heat if necessary to prevent a simmer, until the sugar has fully dissolved (about 3 minutes). Remove the pot from the heat. Start whisking the yolk mixture and continue to whisk constantly while slowly drizzling the hot liquid into the yolks.
  4. Scrape the entire mixture back into the pot and cook over medium-low heat, whisking constantly, until the custard is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon (it should register ~170F on a digital thermometer). Strain into a heatproof and airtight container and whisk in the remaining buttermilk/cream mixture. Cover and refrigerate until well-chilled, at least 6 hours and up to 1 week.
  5. Make the caramelized bread crumbs: Preheat the oven to 350ºF and line a sheet pan with parchment paper or silicone mat.
  6. Crumble the bread into small, corn kernel-sized bits.
  7. In a skillet, heat the butter until it melts, then continue to cook until it starts to brown. Remove from heat and stir in the bread crumbs, sugar, cinnamon, and salt.
  8. Spread on the baking sheet and bake for 20 to 30 minutes, stirring a few times during baking, until the bread bits are well-toasted and a deep, dark brown.
  9. Cool completely then store in an air-tight container until ready to use. (They can be made a few days in advance and stored at room temperature.)
  10. Churn the ice cream: Whisk 1/4 tsp kosher salt into the chilled buttermilk base. Churn according to the instructions for your machine, until the mixture has the texture of soft serve. Transfer to a freezer-friendly container, alternating with dollops of jam and generous sprinklings of bread crumbs. (If you prefer, you can add the desired amount of bread crumbs during the last minute of churning.) Cover with parchment paper, pressing it to the surface of the ice cream so it adheres, then cover with a lid. Freeze until firm, at least 6 hours. It will keep for up to 3 months.
toast and jam ice cream scoop

Sourdough Focaccia

carapelli focaccia
This post is sponsored by Carapelli Olive Oil. As always, all opinions expressed are my own.

While I love a hearty whole-grain sourdough loaf, nothing hits the spot like a fresh piece of focaccia fresh out of the oven. With a salted top, chewy interior, and crisp bottom, it’s the perfect accompaniment to a bowl of soup or stew. But it’s also a pretty tasty snack on its own, dipped in some good olive oil.

Focaccia is also one of the simplest breads to make, so it’s great for beginners or for days when you don’t have the time to babysit your dough. You don’t have to do much shaping or kneading for this bread — just mix, let it double, fold and let double again (this gives an extra airy, even texture); then gently turn into an oiled pan and let it rise some more before topping and baking. I’ve found that the key to really good focaccia is patience — really give it time to double twice for the best texture and flavor, and don’t be in a hurry to push it out to the edges of your pan.

For this sourdough focaccia, I used Carapelli Extra Virgin Olive Oil to create a flavorful bread with a crisp bottom and luscious, chewy interior. It’s especially delicious served with Carapelli Founders Edition Extra Virgin Olive Oil, a fresh and well-balanced blend with notes of wildflower and citrus. While you can top your focaccia with anything you want, I like to keep it simple with flaky salt, pepper, and a light sprinkling of herbs and parmesan to let the flavor of the bread and olive oil really shine.

A few notes:
  • I typically mix and bake focaccia in the same day, but you can retard the dough overnight too. You can refrigerate the dough either after the first doubling (fold, then put in the fridge to double again, then proceed as written); or you can refrigerate the dough after it’s been turned out into the oiled pan.
  • If you’re baking for a crowd, you can double this recipe and bake it in two 8-inch pans or in one 9×13 pan.
crumb shot focaccia
focaccia olive oil pour

Sourdough Focaccia

Makes one 8×8 pan

Ingredients:

  • 95g ripe sourdough starter (100% hydration)
  • 156g water
  • 1/2 tbsp olive oil (plus more for coating the pan and drizzling)
  • 213g bread flour
  • 10g rye flour
  • 5g sea salt
  • Flaky salt, pepper, thyme leaves, and grated parmesan

Method:

  1. Mix together all ingredients from starter through sea salt until smooth. Transfer to a well oiled container and cover with plastic wrap or a tea towel.
  2. Let dough rise until doubled (this can take 3-6 hours, depending on the temperature and the strength of your starter). Fold, then let double again.
  3. Pour a couple Tbsp of olive oil into 8×8 pan and tilt to cover the entire bottom.
  4. Carefully turn dough into the oiled pan, doing your best not to let it deflate. Let rest, covered, for 30 minutes, then gently press from the center out to fill the corners. (If the dough resists at all, let it rest for another 10 minutes and try again.) Let rise, covered, until very puffy and airy (in my 2-inch high pan, the dough comes up halfway). This usually takes me 2-3 hours (longer if the dough has been refrigerated overnight — see notes above). About 30-60 minutes before baking, preheat the oven to 500F with a rack and baking stone (if you have one) in the middle.
  5. When you’re ready to bake, drizzle the focaccia with olive oil and dimple the top with your fingers. Sprinkle with flaky salt, black pepper, and thyme leaves, if desired.
  6. Bake at 500F for 10 minutes, then turn the oven down to 450F and bake for another 15-20 minutes or until nicely browned and risen. Sprinkle on some parmesan during the last 10 minutes of baking, if you’d like.
  7. Let the focaccia cool in the pan for a couple of minutes before removing and cooling on a wire rack. It’s best served fresh out of the oven, but leftovers can be wrapped in foil and re-warmed in a low oven the next couple of days.


hannah poking focaccia


Sourdough Enriched Morning Buns

sourdough enriched morning bun

Happy New Year! I’m kicking off 2019 and year 4(!) of this blog with my current favorite breakfast pastry: sourdough enriched morning buns!

Morning buns are sort of a mash-up between a cinnamon roll and a kouign amman/croissant. They’re rolled and shaped like cinnamon rolls, but made with laminated dough and dusted with sugar so you get a gorgeously flaky exterior and a softer, caramelized center. I love the variety of textures in this pastry! Morning buns are also a great place to start if you’re new (like me) to laminated doughs! The final dough doesn’t have to be rolled quite as thinly as if you were making croissants, and you don’t have to individually shape each pastry — just slice, proof, and bake!

This morning bun recipe uses a yeasted laminated dough, which involves making a regular yeasted enriched dough (spiked with sourdough starter for flavor and strength) and folding it around a block of butter. You then give the dough-butter package several rolls and turns to create hundreds of thin alternating layers of dough and butter. When the proofed morning buns hit the hot oven, the yeast combined with the steam from the butter help give these pastries their beautifully golden flaky layers.

Originally I tried making these pastries with “quick” danish doughs (Nigella Lawson has a famous one); and while they tasted good, I really wanted to see how much different they’d be with the real deal. In the end, I vastly preferred the fully laminated dough and think it’s worth the extra time and effort.

I won’t beat around the bush: laminated dough is a bit fussy to work with and requires attention and precision. If you’re anything like me, it’ll take you several tries to get a product you’re reasonably happy with. But if that doesn’t scare you off, I’d say go for gold and give fully laminated a shot! Even if your pastries aren’t perfect, they’ll still probably taste better than most things you can buy in the store…and they are incredibly satisfying to make! Just choose a couple days when you can relax and focus and have some fun in the kitchen. Plus, once you’ve gotten the hang of laminated dough, it will open up a whole new world of homemade danishes, croissants, and other delicious pastries you can produce in your very own kitchen.

morning buns top down

A few notes:

  • Dough and butter temperature is really important for successful lamination. You basically want the dough and butter to be similar consistencies so they will roll out easily. The butter should feel cool and pliable — not melty or brittle. If the butter is too cold, it will crack into pieces and if it’s too warm, it will melt into the dough. I’ve had best success with a butter temperature around 55-60F at the start of lamination. I recommend reading through this post for lots of great lamination tips and information.
  • Along the same lines, you will want to rest the dough in the fridge between turns just long enough so the dough can relax and the butter can firm up enough to roll out without melting. In my cool Canadian kitchen in the winter, this takes about 30-40 minutes. If you’re in a warmer climate, you may need longer. At any rate, if it’s feeling at all soft and squishy, refrigerate it an extra 5-10 minutes. And if you feel the butter breaking up at all, let it sit for a few minutes at room temperature before rolling out.
  • The dough will get increasingly more difficult to roll out as you do more turns (all that rolling is essentially developing the strength of the dough). Use firm, even strokes and don’t be afraid to flip the dough back and forth to make sure you’re rolling evenly. You may need to rest the dough in the fridge halfway through the final roll.
  • Before you start lamination, make sure you have a large and clear work surface. You’ll also want to have a long rolling pin, measuring tape / ruler, and pastry brush handy along with a bowl of extra flour for dusting your surface and pin.
  • Do your best to maintain sharp corners and edges throughout the lamination process as this will give you the best results. Don’t be afraid to use your hands to tug the dough a bit to get it into the right shape.
  • Use good quality European style butter, at least 82% butterfat. Not only will this make your pastries taste better, but the lamination process will be easier. In my experience, European style butter is noticeably more pliable and less prone to breaking.
  • My family really enjoys raisins in these morning buns, but they do have a tendency to fall out when you’re dusting the finished pastries with sugar. No big deal, just push them back in. Or leave them out entirely if you’re not into raisins. Feel free to play around with the filling spices as well — some lemon or orange zest would be lovely, or add some ginger and nutmeg for warmth.
  • These pastries proof best in a warmish (~80F), humid environment. The oven with the light turned on and a bowl of hot water next to the sheet of pastries is my go-to spot. You don’t want it too hot, however, or the butter will leak out.
  • I usually make these pastries over two days. On day 1, I build the levain in the morning. I mix the dough in the afternoon and do the turns before going to bed. Then in the morning, I do the final roll out, shaping, proofing, and baking. You can also do the final roll and refrigerate the dough on a large sheet pan overnight, but don’t fill and shape the morning buns until you’re ready to proof and bake as the sugar will liquefy.

morning bun with coffee

Sourdough Enriched Morning Buns

Makes 12-14 buns | Dough recipe via The Fresh Loaf; morning bun portion inspired by various sources (see here, here, and here)

Ingredients:

For the levain:

  • 44g ripe sourdough starter (100% hydration)
  • 75g water
  • 134g bread flour
  • Mix and ferment at room temperature until ripe (6-12 hours). The levain should roughly triple in size, and the domed top should be slightly flattened.

For the final dough:

  • 361g bread flour
  • 135g milk
  • 77g egg (about 1 1/2 large eggs, or 1 egg + 2 egg yolks)
  • 60g sugar
  • 10g salt
  • 7g instant yeast
  • 41g unsalted butter, softened*
  • All of the levain
  • 310g unsalted butter, cold (roll-in)*

For the filling and coating:

  • 75g granulated sugar
  • 75g light brown sugar
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground cardamom
  • 100g raisins, optional
  • Pinch of salt
  • 3 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted
  • Additional granulated sugar for dusting the tins and rolling the finished pastries

*For best results, use a European style butter with at least 82% butterfat

Method:

  1. Mix together the final dough ingredients (except the roll-in butter) until combined, about 5 minutes on low speed using a stand mixer or 8-10 minutes by hand. The dough shouldn’t be at full gluten development (it will gain strength through fermentation and rolling), but it shouldn’t be sticky. Flatten into a rough rectangle, place on a baking sheet (I really like quarter sheet pans for this), wrap with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 2 hours (or up to overnight).
  2. About 30 minutes before you want to begin lamination, take the roll-in butter out of the fridge. Slice into pieces and pound into an even 7.5″ square using a rolling pin. An easy way to do this for me is to draw a 7.5″ square on a piece of parchment, flip it over (so you don’t get marker or pencil into your butter), put the butter inside the square, and place another piece of parchment over it. Pound and roll the butter until it is an even square of butter, using a bench knife to clean up and sharpen the edges/corners as you go. Place back into the fridge to firm up for about 10-15 minutes before beginning lamination (see notes above).
  3. Remove the dough from the fridge. On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough into an 11″ square. Remove the butter from the fridge and place it in the middle of the dough like a diamond. Fold the four flaps of dough over the butter to seal it in, pinching the edges to seal.
  4. Roll the dough into an 8″ x 24″ rectangle, flouring the dough and pin as necessary. You shouldn’t need too much flour, but use as much as you need so nothing sticks. (Just brush off any excess flour with a pastry brush before folding.) Do a single book fold by folding the top third of the dough down and the bottom third up over the middle, using a bit of water to “glue” down the layers. Before folding the top edge down, trim the edge to expose the butter (you can save the scraps and bake them off in a mini loaf pan at the end!). Give the dough a 90-degree turn so the opening is on the right, cover with plastic, and rest in the fridge for about 30-40 minutes to relax and chill.
  5. Do two more book folds following the step above, chilling the dough 30 minutes after the second fold and at least 90 minutes (or overnight) after the third and final fold.
  6. When you are ready to proof and bake, prepare a muffin tin by brushing each cavity with some of the melted butter and dusting with granulated sugar. Mix together the sugars, cinnamon, cardamom, and salt in a small bowl and set aside.
  7. Remove the dough from the fridge onto a lightly floured surface. Allow to sit for a few minutes. Roll the dough into a large rectangle about 13″ x 18″ (it should be about 1/4″ thick). Rotate the dough so a long edge is facing you. Brush the entire surface with the rest of the melted butter, then sprinkle it evenly with a generous layer of the sugar mixture (you probably won’t use all of it, but don’t be stingy) and raisins, if using. Use the rolling pin to gently press the sugar and raisins into the dough. Starting from the long end closest to you, roll up tightly like a jelly roll. (If the dough is starting to feel soft at this point, chill for about 10 minutes to make cutting easier.) Slice into 1 1/2″ pieces and place buns cut side up into the prepared tin.
  8. Cover the morning buns with lightly oiled plastic wrap and proof until very puffy and jiggly, about 2 hours at warm room temperature (see above). About 1/2 an hour before baking, preheat the oven to 425F.
  9. Bake for 10 minutes, then lower the temperature to 375F and continue baking for another 15-20 minutes or until the buns are deeply golden and the centers register at least 200F. (If they are browning too quickly, tent with a piece of foil halfway through baking.) Cool the buns in the pan for a couple of minutes, then carefully remove and roll each bun in the remaining sugar mixture (I add an additional ~75g granulated sugar). Morning buns are best consumed fresh out of the oven, but any extras can be stored in an airtight container and reheated for about 5 minutes at 350F the next day or two.

Sourdough Crackers: Lavash and Grissini

sourdough lavash

Crackers are a popular food in our house. My kids love them. They’d probably eat crackers for dinner if they could (or anything else labelled “snacks” for that matter). So while everyone else is whipping out their royal icing and cookie stamps, here I am over here making sourdough crackers.

Don’t get me wrong — there will be plenty of cookies happening in our house too. But right now, I’m just having a little too much fun with crackers! They are actually quite fun to make with kids, too. The dough is easy to handle and roll, and my son never gets tired of adding “sprinkles” to things (even if they’re sesame seeds instead of sugar).

sourdough grissini

This sourdough cracker formula can be used to make either lavash crackers (a crisp flatbread) or grissini (thin, crunchy breadsticks). Leave them plain with just a sprinkling of flaky salt, or add seeds / spices to add texture and additional flavor! (Just be careful with dried herbs and spices as a tiny bit goes a long way.) You can even sprinkle on some grated cheese or knead some into the dough. My favorite cracker flavor combo is smoked paprika, garlic flakes, sesame seeds, poppy seeds, black pepper, and a little flaky salt. Yum!

These sourdough crackers are tasty on their own, but also make a great addition to a nosh or charcuterie plate. They keep well, so make a few batches now to have on hand for your holiday entertaining needs!

sourdough crackers plate

sourdough crackers plate 2

A couple of notes:

  • This is a flexible formula for sourdough crackers that you can easily scale depending on the amount of discard you have. I usually save discard in the fridge for a few days, then bake off a large batch. The easiest way to scale this recipe is as follows:
    • Weigh the amount of starter you have
    • Add half that weight in flour (so if you have 200 grams of starter, add 100 grams flour)
    • Figure out how much flour you have total, including the flour in your starter (100 grams from the starter + 100 grams added = 200 grams total flour)
    • Add 2% of the total flour weight in salt (2% of 200 = 4 g)
    • Add 10% of the total flour weight in olive oil (10% of 200 = 20g)
    • Add 10% of the total flour weight in honey (10% of 200 = 20g)

    (I tried writing this out in baker’s percentages; but since there’s a bit of disparity over how to express starter in a formula, it ended up being more confusing than helpful. So there you go. Mathing for the day over.)

  • The baking temperatures and timing on these crackers are just a guideline and may vary considerably depending on your oven and how thinly you roll or cut your dough. If you like your lavash more like a flatbread (softer), pull it out sooner. If the edges are crisp but the middle needs more time, take out the sheet and carefully trim off the edges, then return the sheet to the oven finish crisping the rest. For grissini, you want more of a “low and slow” approach — you’re basically trying to dry the dough out without the breadsticks burning, so you need a lower temperature + longer bake. Experiment and find out what works best for your oven!
  • For more baking with sourdough discard ideas, see this post.
  • For a DIY Raincoast Crisp recipe, see this post (you can sub in 1 cup of starter for 1/2 cup flour and 1/2 cup buttermilk if you want!).

Sourdough Crackers: Lavash and Grissini

Makes about one baking sheet’s worth of crackers

Ingredients:

  • 100g ripe sourdough starter (100% hydration)
  • 50g flour (I like a mix of bread and wholegrain)
  • 10g olive oil
  • 10g honey
  • 2g salt
  • Assorted seeds (poppy, sesame), spices, and/or flaky salt for topping, if desired

Method:

    1. Stir together the starter, oil, and honey until combined. Add the flour and salt and mix with a spatula until a rough dough forms. Knead for 3-5 minutes, or until the ingredients are well combined and the dough is smooth. It should be a medium-firm consistency and not sticky. (If it is sticky, add flour a tsp at a time until smooth, If it is dry, add water a tsp at a time until hydrated.) Transfer to an oiled container.
    2. Ferment the dough at room temperature until it is doubled in size, about 3-4 hours. (Note: you can also refrigerate the dough for a few hours at this point if you aren’t ready to bake yet. Not sure how long it will hold, but I’ve held mine for about 8 hours and it probably could last longer. No need to bring to room temp before proceeding.)

For lavash crackers:

  1. When the dough is nearly ready, preheat the oven to 400F (with a baking stone if you have one). Turn the dough onto a Silpat or piece of parchment paper cut to fit a baking sheet.
  2. Roll the dough into a rectangle as thinly and evenly as possible. It should be almost paper thin. (Alternatively, you can divide the dough into portions and use a pasta machine to roll them out. I like to get them down to the 2nd-thinnest setting.)
  3. Transfer the dough, still on the Silpat or parchment, to a baking sheet. Dock the surface all over with a fork to keep it from puffing in the oven. Mist with water and sprinkle seeds / spices / flaky salt if desired.
  4. Bake for 10-15 minutes, rotating the sheet halfway through baking, until browned and crisp. Cool on a wire rack, then break into shards and serve. Keeps well in an airtight container or ziplock bag.

For grissini:

  1. When the dough is nearly ready, preheat the oven to 325F and line a baking sheet with a Silpat or parchment paper. If you’d like to coat your grissini with seeds, place the seeds on a plate or small baking sheet.
  2. On a nonstick mat or lightly floured surface, roll the dough into a rectangle between 1/8″ – 1/4″ thick. Cut dough into even strips into desired thickness (I like 1/8″ – 1/4″ inch). Roll them one by one in the bed of seeds, if desired, then transfer to the prepared sheet. If you like, you can hold one end of dough while twisting the other to get a corkscrew effect.
  3. Bake until dry and crisp, about 30-40 minutes (but can vary wildly depending on the size of your grissini). Cool on a wire rack, then store in an airtight container or jar.

Malted Sourdough Cinnamon Rolls

malted cinnamon roll breakfast scene

This post was created in partnership with East Fork Pottery. As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own.

Happy Fall! Despite a bit of a heatwave this past week, I’m ready to fully embrace the change of seasons. Apple picking, pumpkin spice, chunky sweaters — bring it all on!

I’m so excited to share these malted sourdough cinnamon rolls with you today, in partnership with East Fork Pottery. Inspired by East Fork’s new malt glaze, I added the toasty notes of malt to these classic breakfast treats by subtly weaving it into the dough, filling, and frosting. I honestly don’t think I’ll make cinnamon rolls any other way now! Plus, these rolls just look extra inviting on that beautiful bread & butter plate, don’t you think?

hands on plate

malted cinnamon roll on east fork pottery plate

A few notes:

  • The base dough for these rolls is the sourdough Hokkaido milk bread that I’ve used several times on this site before. If you haven’t tried this style of bread before, I highly recommend reading through those posts for more tips and tricks.
  • To add the malt flavor I use both barley malt syrup malted milk powder (Ovaltine is easiest for me to find, but you can use Milo/Horlicks/Carnation/whatever is available in your local supermarket — just make sure it’s classic malted milk powder and not chocolate malt).
  • To have these rolls ready to bake in the morning, I recommend mixing the dough 24 hours before you plan to bake (build the levain the night before). Shape the dough right before going to sleep, proof at room temperature overnight, and bake first thing in the morning. It takes a little planning ahead, but the actual hands-on time is fairly minimal.
  • I highly recommend baking the rolls in an 8×8 or 9×9 square cake pan (square cake pan). They seem to bake most evenly in this kind of pan — ceramic dishes take too long to heat up and the tops dry out before the bottom is cooked.

Malted Sourdough Cinnamon Rolls

Makes 9 rolls

Ingredients

For the levain

  • 18g starter (100% hydration)
  • 31g milk
  • 57g bread flour
  • Mix and ferment at room temperature until ripe (mine is usually ready in 6-8 hours, but it depends on the ambient temperature and strength of your starter). When ready it should be more than doubled in volume, puffy, and domed. You should see large bubbles if you pull back the top.

For the final dough:

  • 284g bread/AP flour (I use half and half)
  • 35g barley malt syrup
  • 21g malted milk powder
  • 53g egg (about 1 large)
  • 100g milk
  • 80g cream
  • All of the levain
  • 6g salt
  • 52g unsalted butter, at cool room temperature

For the filling:

  • 100g brown sugar
  • 15g malted milk powder
  • 1 Tbsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 Tbsp arrowroot powder or cornstarch
  • Pinch of salt
  • One egg, whisked with a bit of water or milk

For the malted cream cheese frosting:

  • 90g cream cheese, softened
  • 60g butter, softened
  • 20g malted milk powder
  • 75g icing sugar
  • Pinch of salt

Method

  1. Mix together all final dough ingredients except the salt and butter until just combined. Cover and autolyse (rest) for 45-60 minutes.
  2. Add salt, and knead dough (with the dough hook attachment if using a stand mixer) until gluten is moderately developed (I use speed 3-4 on a KA mixer). The dough will start out sticky and rough but should gradually come together and feel quite smooth and stretchy. Turn the mixer to low and add butter about a tablespoon at a time, incorporating each batch before adding the next. Turn the speed back up and continue kneading until the gluten is very well developed and the dough passes the windowpane test as demonstrated here. The dough should be smooth and supple (and quite lovely to handle!). This will take quite some time, especially if done by hand. Consider it your arm workout for the day!
  3. Transfer dough to a clean and lightly oiled bowl, cover, and bulk rise at room temp for 2 hours. The dough will be noticeably expanded, but not doubled. Fold, cover tightly with plastic wrap, and refrigerate overnight (or at least 8 hours, and up to 24).
  4. When ready to shape, mix together the filling ingredients and prepare the egg wash. Lightly grease a 8×8 square baking pan. Take the dough out of the refrigerator and transfer to a lightly floured surface. Roll into a large rectangle about 10″ x 14″, doing your best to maintain an even thickness.
  5. Brush the rectangle with an even coat of egg wash and sprinkle on the malted cinnamon-sugar mixture. Go all the way to the edges and gently press to adhere.
  6. Starting with the long edge closest to you, roll the dough up like a jelly roll, pinching to seal. Cut into 9 even pieces (~1.5 in. thick) using a sharp knife or dental floss (my preferred method). Transfer the rolls to the prepared pan, leaving space between each.
  7. Gently brush the rolls with a coat of egg wash (this keeps it from drying out) and cover with a piece of lightly oiled plastic wrap. Proof at room temperature until the dough is very puffy and roughly doubled. This usually takes me ~8 hours, or overnight.
  8. About 45 minutes before you’re ready to bake, preheat your oven to 400F with a rack in the middle. Bake the rolls for about 20 minutes, rotating about halfway between. When finished, the rolls should be golden brown and register 195-200F in the center.
  9. While the rolls are baking, prepare the frosting. Beat the cream cheese, butter, and salt together on medium until smooth. Add the malted milk powder and about half the icing sugar and beat to combine. Add the remaining icing sugar and beat for 1-2 minutes until fluffy.
  10. Allow the rolls to cool for a few minutes on a wire rack before spreading with frosting. Serve warm.

Einkorn Rye Sourdough and Copper Chef Giveaway!

einkorn rye sourdough bloom
This post is sponsored by Copper Chef. As always, all ideas and opinions expressed here are my own.

Happy September! It seems like summer disappeared in the blink of an eye, but honestly I’m always happy to see fall arrive — the changing colors and warm spices signal my favorite time of the year. Plus, the cooler temperatures make me even more excited than normal to bake fresh loaves of sourdough bread. There’s something so comforting about the warmth of the oven and the aroma of fresh bread on a crisp fall day!

einkorn rye sourdough flatlay

This einkorn and rye sourdough loaf is a new favorite around these parts. If you’ve never tried einkorn flour, you’re in for a treat. It has a wonderful nutty/grassy aroma and gives dough a silky smooth feel. Einkorn is relatively low in gluten, which can make it challenging to incorporate in large percentages. Here I’ve kept it to 20% — enough to impart its unique flavor without making the dough too unruly.

einkorn rye sourdough crumb shot

Baking this loaf was easier than ever using my new Copper Chef Wonder Cooker. Many home bakers like to bake their hearth style loaves in preheated dutch ovens, which trap steam and retain heat similar to professional steam-injected ovens. Because I tend to shape my loaves as batards (ovals), I usually have to use a more complicated setup create steam in my home oven. The Wonder Cooker, though, can function as a dutch oven; and its oblong shape and 9-quart capacity easily fits my standard 1.5 – 2 pound batards — hooray!

Another of the Wonder Cooker’s winning features is the ability to configure it so that the shallow pan is on the bottom — I simply have to slide the prepared loaf onto the preheated pan rather than worry about dropping it into a deep (and blazing hot) pot. I definitely see myself baking a lot more loaves in the Wonder Cooker — it’s so easy, and the results are top notch.

einkorn rye sourdough on wonder cooker

I’m happy to announce that Copper Chef is graciously offering a free Wonder Cooker to one of my readers! I’ve enjoyed this versatile cookware not only for baking bread but also frying donuts; and I’m looking forward to testing out more of its 14 cooking functions in the very near future. Follow this link to enter the Wonder Cooker giveaway! Giveaway runs through September 18, 2018, and is open to residents of the lower 48 states.

Notes:

Einkorn Rye Sourdough

Makes one large loaf

Ingredients:

  • 150g AP flour (37.5%)
  • 130g bread flour (32.5%)
  • 80g whole einkorn flour (30%)
  • 40g whole rye flour (10%)
  • 70g 100% hydration ripe sourdough starter (17.5%)
  • 320g water, divided (80%)
  • 9g sea salt (2.25%)

Method:

  1. Mix together the flours and water (reserve 50g for mixing later) and autolyse (rest) for 2-4 hours, covered with a tea towel.
  2. Add the mature starter and about half the reserved water and mix until the starter is incorporated. Rest for 20 minutes.
  3. Add the salt and pinch in. If the dough feels like it can handle it, add in the remaining reserved water and mix to combine. If you did a long autolyse, the dough should be decently strong at this point and you shouldn’t need to mix too much (maybe 1-2 minutes). If it feels weak, do a couple minutes of stretch and fold or slap and fold so the dough is moderately developed. It will continue to strengthen through bulk so it doesn’t need to be smooth at this point. Transfer the dough to a clean and lightly oiled container and cover with a clean tea towel.
  4. Bulk ferment in a warm place, folding every half hour for the first 1-2 hours and hourly after that. Bulk fermentation is done when the dough has increased by 30-50%, you can see fermentation bubbles along the bottom and sides of the container, and the edges are domed where the dough meets the container. For me, with the dough kept around 74-76F, this took about 4.75 hours.
  5. Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface and gently preshape into a round. Let rest uncovered for 20-30 minutes.
    Prepare your basket (or other proofing vessel) by lining with a lint-free linen/cotton tea towel or lightly dusting with rice flour. Lightly flour your work surface and the rested round. Flip your preshaped round and shape as desired (boule or batard). Transfer to the prepared proofing container and cover with plastic. Proof at room temperature for 30 minutes, then refrigerate for 12-14 hours (or overnight).
  6. An hour before baking, preheat your oven to 500F (550 if it goes that high). You can bake this loaf in a Wonder Cooker (which you should preheat with the oven, covered with the shallow side down), or use your preferred method of steaming. While the oven is preheating, I also like to uncover my loaf (i.e. remove the plastic, but keep it refrigerated). This dries out the surface a little which I find makes scoring easier.
  7. When the oven is ready, invert your loaf onto a piece of parchment on a pizza peel. Score as desired, then transfer to the oven and immediately lower the temperature to 500F. If using a Wonder Cooker, carefully remove the preheated pan, remove the cover, and gently slide the scored loaf (still on the parchment) onto the shallow side of the pan. Place a few ice cubes around the edge of the pan (not touching the loaf — optional, but I think it provides an extra burst of steam) and immediately cover the loaf with the deep side of the pan and return to the oven.
  8. Bake with steam (or covered) at 500F for 20 minutes. After 20 minutes, lower the heat to 450F, remove the cover and bake for another 20 minutes at 450F or until your desired doneness, rotating a couple times for even baking. When finished, the crust should be nicely browned and the loaf should sound hollow when tapped on the bottom.
  9. Transfer to a wire rack and cool for at least an hour before cutting.

einkorn rye sourdough half crumb shot