• 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.

  • Three Starters, Three Sourdoughs, and a Nephew

    My nephew, Dr. Ben Pallant, is an awesome sourdough baker and did me the favor of stopping for a day on his journey from medical school graduation in Rhode Island to his residency in Denver. We used the opportunity to make three breads we had never tried before to test our skill. Part of the fun was to see if we could manage three different bakes concurrently.

    Using Maurizio Leo’s Danish Sourdough Kanelstang recipe we set up our white flour Meadville starter and carefully enriched the dough with butter before allowing for various rises and rollings.

    The interior was coated in cinnamon sugar – how can you go wrong with dough, butter, and cinnamon sugar? – and then rolled.

    The baked loaf was coated with a glaze of confectioner’s sugar and slivered almonds. When the Kanelstang came out of the oven, it practically cried out for black coffee.

    Using our more sour Cripple Creek starter, we turned to Maurizio Leo’s Focaccia Pugliese (Focaccia with Potato). This dough is impregnated with grated baked potato and we chose two different toppings.

    Focaccia Pugliese with crushed tomatoes, oregano, olive oil, and sea salt.
    Focaccia Pugliese with rosemary, extra virgin olive oil, and sea salt.

    Last up was a recipe for Sesame Spelt bread with a recipe from Andrew Janjigian. We used our Russian Rye starter. Nothing fancy about the recipe, but the outcome was exceptional. So tasty.

    The take away? If you are ever in the neighborhood, please come bake with me.

  • Sourdough Sesame Ramp Pancakes

    This recipe is a remake of a remake. It was originally written as Extra-Flaky Scallion Pancakes by Kenji Lopez-Alt for Serious Eats.

    A sourdough component was added by Melissa Johnson at Breadtopia: Scallion Pancakes with Sourdough Discard.

    My alteration was to use wild ramps in place of scallions. The key to the flakiness is to laminate the dough with repeated schmears of toasted sesame oil, rolling and pressing the dough multiple times before adding the ramps.

    The result is exceptional.

    Flaky sourdough ramp pancakes with fiddleheads and morel mushrooms.
    Mother’s Day Feast. Clockwise from far left: Asian dipping sauce for the ramp pancakes, barbecued lamb, fiddlehead ferns and morels with lemon zest, sourdough ramp pancakes, flaky sea salt, and white wine-reduced mustard sauce for the fiddleheads and morels.

  • Bake for Ukraine

    The week that Russia invaded Ukraine I called my friends who baked and asked them to join me in #BakeforUkraine.

    We gave ourselves three days to bake, find a venue, and publicize. At that time we never imagined a war stretching on for weeks.

    Baked goods kept arriving.
    And arriving.
    Helpers (Anna, Sasha, Rachael, and Claudia) worked very hard.
    Patrons could take as much as they wanted and donated as much as they could.

    In 90 minutes we raised $1,200 to donate to three Ukrainian aid organizations: World Central Kitchen, Save the Children, and the International Rescue Committee.

    We knew we wouldn’t end the war, but as Russia’s atrocities continue to mount, we stand by our commitment to offer aid where and how we could.

  • Oven Spring

    When a baker times his or her bake correctly, the dough will have risen to what appears to be its maximum capacity. The general instruction is that a finger gently pushed into the dough will leave an indentation, but not too much of one. It is a vague description and it takes practice (and making several mistakes) to get an eye for.

    But if done correctly, something magical happens in the oven. The dough expands once more. Bakers call it oven spring because the dough goes in one size and exits much larger.

    A boule made with Einkhorn flour accompanied by arugula-pea pesto and black bean tapenade with pomegranate molasses.

    The secret of oven spring lies in the crumb. Look at the air bubbles above. Those were smaller pockets of carbon dioxide and water vapor when they went into the oven. The heat imparted by a 500-degree oven, and a heated baking stone, expand the gases and drive them upward. You can see the bubbles aiming toward the surface. The gluten network made when the bread was kneaded keep the bubbles from escaping. Steam in the oven allows the crust to remain soft so the loaf can expand.

    BOING. Oven spring.