• 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.

  • Sourdough Ryes

    Sourdough Rye Pumpernickel

    Rye flour, as I’ve noted before, can be tricky to work with. Rye dough is sticky. It doesn’t rise like wheat flour, but it’s flavor is distinctly sweet and rich. And like all things kitchen, practice (and a willingness to analyze flops and failures) can result in improvements.

    Pumpernickel is simply rye bread that is darkened with some kind of caramel coloring. In this loaf I used molasses and a teaspoon of instant coffee. The soaked raisins are sparsely distributed, but such a nice surprise when each one lands.

    This rye baguette was covered in cumin (not caraway) seeds and flaky sea salt.

    Definitely on the curious end of the spectrum, Susan really wanted to try this rye bread from Vilnius (below.) It had 5 teaspoons of cumin and plum jelly in the dough. The result: spicy, sweet, but otherwise pretty normal rye bead.

    My new 7-Quart Kitchen Aide is a dream. Click here to see my Kitchen Aide and grain mill work together at 6:30 AM.

  • Sammies

    My son Isaac is the King of Sandwich (he calls Sandwiches “Sammies,” as only an aficionado can). Isaac can pre-taste a combination of breads, proteins, veggies, and condiments (many he creates on the spot to serve the required purpose) to devise stackings that delight the eye as much as the stomach.

    The day after Thanksgiving, I made a coupe of rye baguettes with caraway and nigella seeds.

    Isaac made cole slaw (with fresh cranberries), a Thousand Island dressing with at least half a dozen ingredients, fried sweet potato steaks, laid out sliced turkey, several hard, soft, ripened, and flavored cheeses, and turkey and took orders from everyone in the house for personal creations.


  • The Sourdoughs of Thanksgiving

    My hat is off to The Perfect Loaf. Maurizio Leo’s recipes are original, consistently creative, and successful.

    Just prior to Thanksgiving, Leo emailed his followers a baking schedule for the Thanksgiving holiday and with one substitution, and only one failure, I prepped his collection.

    For the night before Thanksgiving to fuel the workers, I made focaccia, and my son Isaac decorated them.

    Three days before Thanksgiving, I made a 50:50 whole wheat-white flour loaf that became some of the best mushroom, leek stuffing we ever had.

    For Thanksgiving dinner, I made a large miche from an ancient wheat called Einkhorn, which looked great.

    But proved to be my one disaster. I think I maybe over-proofed it.

    But I redeemed myself with these sourdough pumpkin buns. PLAY VIDEO.

    And to make up for my Einkhorn disaster I whipped together a couple of rye baguettes to support turkey sandwiches (a subsequent blog post.)

  • Bread from Bread

    One technique for adding long-lasting moisture and richness to homemade bread is to recycle old bread. It was a technique apparently used regularly in Eastern Europe. Stale rye bread was soaked in water and then added as a mash to a new sourdough bread.

    Rye from rye

    But why not try other kinds of stale breads soaked in something other than water? The boule below includes a leftover wholewheat loaf soaked in my homemade soy and rice milk. It is leavened with my Meadville white flour starter and also has a cup of spelt flour.

    Multigrain, multibread, bread.