• Uncle Marty Week – 2024

    Every year for as long as anyone can recall, Uncle Marty (left), Sue’s (right) brother, arrives from California. Beginning before Christmas and lasting through the New Year he prepares gourmet meals. I make breads to try to keep up.

    Homemade duck breast pastrami.

    Served on Menhir au Ble Noir, a rustic French sourdough bread made with buckwheat flour.

    One night Leah made Twisted Spinach Breads

    And another night, Marty made Burmese Coconut Curry stew with Striped Bass and Gun Gun noodles.

    As we always do we make homemade sourdough bagels to have with lox. This year: TWICE.

    I’ve mastered, and altered, Maurizio Leo’s Sourdough Scones with Khorason flour. A stick and a half of butter, how can I go wrong? Using freshly milled heirloom grains makes a world of difference, too.

    When I made them a second time, I was outshined by a delivery of fresh goodies driven in from Chicago bakeries and Arab food markets. Thank you Leah and Wisam.

    One evening Marty made a turkey dinner with all the fixings.

    So I made a Jewish Deli Rye — I’ve finally mastered that one — to have with turkey sandwiches and a Cranberry Walnut Bread.

    Which we ate with Vegan Cauliflower Soup.

    Near the end of his stay, I made Sourdough Calzones with Spinach and Mushroom fillings.

    And Marty’s visit is always closed out with Danish Rugbrod, a dense rye loaded with, in this version, whole oat groats, wheat grains grown here in Crawford County, whole Einkhorn grown in the southern tier of New York State, pumpkin seeds, flax seeds, and sunflower seeds.

    Until next year, Uncle Marty.

  • A Delicious Jewish Caraway Rye

    This recipe comes from Kristen Lopez a member of the Bread Bakers Guild of America. The bread was featured in the BBGA’s 2020 calendar accompanied by words of encouragement that we could survive the pandemic.

    Unlike many Jewish rye recipes this one has no yeast, but does its thing using only a sourdough starter.

    Ingredients

    727 g Bread flour

    73 g Dark Rye flour

    436 g Water

    18 g Salt

    109 – 250 g Rye starter (Her recipe calls for 109 g. I used 230 g)

    9 g. Caraway seeds

    In a spiral mixer, mix bread flour, rye flour, and water on 1st speed for 2 – 4 minutes.

    Autolyze for 10 – 15 minutes.

    Add Rye starter and salt. Mix on 1st speed for 1 – 2 minutes and then 2nd speed for 3 – 5 minutes.

    Add caraway seeds and mix on 1st speed until incorporated.

    Ferment in a covered container for about three hours and then refrigerate overnight.

    Next day, remove from fridge, shape and place in banneton for approximately two hours. The time until baking will depend on activity of your starter, temperature of your house, and amount of time out of the refrigerator both yesterday and today.

    Bake in a heated combo cooker or Dutch oven at 475 for 20 minutes covered. Remove cover and turn heat down to 400 and cook another 30 minutes or until internal temperature is 200 – 209.

    The internal crumb is moist, the crust crisp, but not too hard, and the proportion of caraway and rye flavor are perfect.

  • An Early Taste of Thanksgiving-Sourdough recipe included

    Recently, one of the breadheads I follow on Instagram, Parksandbread, posted a recipe for a bread made with butternut squash soup. I did not have soup, but I did have cooked squash, and modified her recipe to suit what was in my pantry.

    The squash generated a moist loaf with a thin, crisp crust. Pepitas were a super addition and the sage and rosemary, a touch strong for my taste, yelled out to be made into stuffing. The bread is an excellent sandwich bread, and even with just fresh cold butter on it, it is savory and satisfying. The crust is thin and crisp and the crumb holds its integrity even when very thinly sliced.

    The following is not so much a recipe as a starting formula. You will need to judge for yourself whether you need more or less flour or more or less liquid because not all cooked squashes are equal. When the dough is ready to bake the final time and temperature will be a function of the size and shape of your loaf.

    Formula

    330 g mature starter, I selected a whole wheat starter

    150 g water

    400 g cooked squash

    75 g whole wheat flour

    425 g bread flour

    100 g pepitas

    15 g salt

    2 tsp rosemary

    1 tsp sage

    I baked at 475 degrees in an oven with steam for 20 minutes, turned the temperature down to 375 and baked another 18 minutes.

  • Sourdough: Three variations

    One of the things I love most about sourdough, and breadmaking in general, is how many variations can come from such a small number of ingredients.

    This sourdough pizza crust was made with 100% spelt flour. Spelt is an ancient variety of wheat that has been cultivated for more than 5,000 years. It has a rich, nutty flavor.

    Following the recipe provided in Breadtopia the crust turned out super thin and crisp. The dough was extensible without being too elastic; it was easy to spread out, and yet the thin crust held a lot of toppings.

    I used apples picked from the ground beneath a friend’s overburdened tree, some sourdough, and Maurizio Leo’s recipe for a galette crust to make this seasonal offering.

    It did not last long.

    This sourdough pumpernickel with corn, rye, wheat, molasses, and raisins was so rich and delicious that even toasted and with all kinds of toppings from savory to sweet it lasted quite a while. The bread was so moist and dense that it could only be appreciated one slice at a time.

  • Sourdough Fig and Walnut Bread

    Every once in a while everything comes out just right, or almost just right. The scoring on this bread and the other loaf I’m not showing you did not meet my expectations. Disappointing, but also the motivation and the fun to keep trying.

    I did not have apricots so substituted figs in this recipe and something about the combination produced loaves that were not just tasty, bright, a little crunchy infused with toasted walnuts, but also the softest bread I may have ever made.

    We ate half of one loaf for dinner and have continued to eat it at every meal since.

  • Uncle Marty Week – 2022

    Every year, Sue’s brother Marty (uncle to our children) comes and cooks, cooks, and cooks some more. This year in a slight break with annual tradition and the generous loan of an Ooni Pizza oven, Marty and I made about 25 pizzas.

    As days are short at this time of year, much of our pizza making took place after dark.

    As the week progressed, we improved our shaping.

    And our cooking.

    Of course, Marty made other foods and I made other breads.

    Roast beef, red cabbage, apple sauce, latkes, and Brussel sprouts.

    Which left our kitchen looking like this.

    We made pumpkin breads from freshly roasted pumpkin.

    Using some leftover bread…

    Croutons with fresh herbs.

    And BAGELS!

    The circle of life.

    From which come Nature’s Most Perfect Food.

    Bottom to top: bagel, schmear, lox, red onion, tomato, chives.

    On the fry side of the holidays, Channukah, we made latkes.

    And some shockingly good sourdough onion rings.

    But ultimately, 2022 will be known as Pizza Week.

  • Sourdough Kamut Demi-Baguettes. Family Time.

    Six, beautifully shaped demi-baguettes with freshly milled kamut flour.

    One of the great joys of parenting two children who are great cooks is the magic we can make together in the kitchen when we get together. Leah was largely responsible for baking these amazingly tasty kamut (an ancient ancestor of wheat) baguettes.

    Check out this perfectly airy and very chewy crumb.

    And there is a reason Isaac is the King of Sandwich.

  • Aloo Paratha – Sourdough

    When I get together with other sourdough bakers I always try to get them to try something new and challenging that we can tackle together. My daughter Leah, an excellent sourdough baker, and I tried Aloo Paratha – sourdough, potato filled Indian flatbreads.

    I made a pretty ordinary whole wheat sourdough and Leah made Indian spiced mashed potatoes. Then the fun began.

    The potatoes are placed in the center of small disk of dough.

    The filling is encapsulated.

    With the potato now in the center, the dough is rolled into a large flat disk.

    Fried on a medium hot skillet, multiple times on each side. The dough puffs as the potato filling steams.

    Each time the paratha is turned over it is brushed with ghee.

  • Sourdough Potato Rye Garlic Scape Bread

    I’m never quite certain what I should make with garlic scapes, but this year a friend suggested adding them to bread.

    I roasted several in olive oil and then chopped them into tiny pieces about 1/4 to 1/2 inch in length. That’s strawberry jam and strawberry preserves in the background. It was a full-on cooking day.

    I boiled potatoes, mashed them, and made a sourdough rye bread with them.

    I also added some coarse cornmeal. The potato added moisture, the cornmeal gave it crunch, and the rye, sourdough, and scapes infused the loaf with flavor as solid as it sounds.