Vegan sourdough donuts

vegan sourdough doughnuts
vegan sourdough doughnuts

Veganism has been embraced by many over the world and it is definitely a growing trend. It is a very unique dietary practice and if you ask me, I am not a vegan myself, but I am fascinated by the idea as always. As a baking enthusiast, this challenges me to create new things and experiment on substitutes.

vegan sourdough doughnuts
bomboloni

So this quest was to re-create the vegan version of the sourdough doughnuts. If you really think about it, scientifically, if you can substitute the animal products with a plant counterpart, then you have solved the puzzle right there. But it might not be this simple. Well one, you can’t really find the match from the plant world. And second, they taste differently. So this has to be a harmonic balance between a few ingredients, rather than just one.

vegan sourdough doughnuts
vegan sourdough doughnuts

Lets see what we need to replace, in a basic sweet dough, to make it plant-based.

Butter: This can easily be replaced by oil. My favorite in this case is the coconut oil. Use a good quality coconut oil, that doesn’t have a strong smell or flavor. (well if you are a coconut fan, by all means, use the strong flavorful version). Other substitutes will be canola oil, rapeseed oil, vegetable oil. I wouldn’t recommend using olive oil, peanut oil or sesame oil as they are have go a very strong flavor which might be not pleasant if used in these quantities.

vegan sourdough doughnuts
vegan sourdough doughnuts

Eggs: Well you can omit eggs altogether! But it is going to take that extra richness away and we don’t want that, right! So my substitute for eggs in this recipe is tofu. I am using silken tofu. It can be either soft or firm, doesn’t really matter. This adds protein to the dough, same as egg white.

Milk: Yes you can skip this one too if you like. But again the dough won’t be as soft. So why not substitute this with a plant milk. Well we have so many options there don’t we? But guess what? I am going with thick coconut milk. It is richer and silkier than most plant milk. Choose a brand that don’t use thickeners. Coconut milk has got a high fat content too, not to mention the all the other good stuff that comes with it!

So there we have it! Now it is only a matter of mixing these in the right proportions. The recipe below does just that!

If you want to know about sourdough starter, read my post about making, feeding and maintaining a starter. This recipe can be executed on the same day or the dough can be retarded overnight(several hours) for convenience.

dough
bulk fermented
dough
punched down

If you are retarding the dough, cut down on the initial bulk fermentation. may be take an hour away. This really depends on the room temperature and the final dough temperature.

vegan sourdough doughnuts
cutting shapes

The shaping is really up to you. If you have a doughnut cutter, use that, or simply make bomboloni. Or cut the dough into squares! Just make sure they are not too big (shouldn’t be bigger than the size of your palm) the smaller they are, the faster and better they will cook. It is easier to handle smaller dough pieces, once proofed.

If it the dough is warmer, it will continue to ferment rapidly in the fridge until, its completely chilled to the core.

Once they are proofed, deep fry them until nice and golden all around. Make sure to test oil temperature. I use a small dough ball for this. If it browns too quickly, its too hot. Ideally it should take about 30 seconds to start browning and there shouldn’t be a lot of smoke. If you have a candy thermometer, make sure oil is at 190C/375F.

vegan sourdough doughnuts
ready to be fried

Once fried, let them drain for a couple of minutes before coating them with cinnamon sugar. Wait until they are cooled to fill them, else the filling would melt and ooze off.

You can fill these with either jam, nutella or my vegan custard. It is an easy custard to make, but make sure you make it ahead of time and chill for at least a few hours or overnight.

vegan sourdough doughnuts
Fill them… with your favorite filling

You can also serve bomboloni as is, or drizzled with chocolate or a dipping of your choice. But seriously, these are so tasty on their own too.

Vegan sourdough donuts

Bread, dessert, snacks

Servings: 3 dozen bombolini/ 15 donuts

vegan sourdough doughnuts

Ingredients

  • 400 g all-purpose flour
  • 12 g salt
  • 85 g castor sugar
  • 160 ml coconut milk (full fat)
  • 30 g coconut oil
  • 75 g silken tofu
  • 150 g active starter
  • 2 tbsp water (if necessary)

Instructions

  1. Weigh all the ingredients except water in to the bowl of a stand mixer. (you can mix by hand too)
  2. Start mixing on low speed until everything is incorporated.
  3. If the dough is tough use the 2 tbsp of water.
  4. Scrape the sides and mix on medium for 5 minutes.
  5. If the dough is too firm for the mixer, kneed it by hand on the bench top.
  6. Let it rest for about 10 minutes.
  7. Then mix for another couple of minutes and take on to a floured surface.
  8. Stretch and fold lightly until dough is smooth.
  9. It should be a soft smooth dough.
  10. Place the dough in a bowl and leave to bulk ferment for about 4 – 5 hours.
  11. If you are retarding, then bulk proof for 3 – 4 hours, punch the dough down and refrigerate covered.
  12. Dough should be close to doubled it’s size at 5 hour mark. This depends on the room temperature. Place the dough in a warm spot to speed up.
  13. Punch the dough down, and let it rest for 10 minutes, covered.
  14. If you have retarded, the dough, take out of fridge and let thaw for about 20 minutes (until the dough has softened)
  15. Roll out the dough on a floured surface and cut doughnut shapes (either round or square)
  16. Or divide in to dough pieces and mold in to dough balls to make bomboloni.
  17. Place these on a lined tray leaving enough space all around, as they will expand.
  18. Leave in a warm place, covered, for the final proof. (dough doesn’t have to be doubled in size)
  19. This could take anywhere from 3-5 hours.
  20. They should look bigger, softer to touch and wobbly.
  21. Heat the oil to 190 C
  22. Fry the doughnuts until golden brown
  23. Leave to drain excess oil
  24. Coat with cinnamon sugar
  25. Let them cool completely before filling them
  26. Best eaten on the same day!
https://myloveofbaking.com/vegan-sourdough-donuts/
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My first attempt at making Sourdough Pretzels

How I prepared for it, what I learnt and what I would do differently next time

sourdough pretzels
sourdough pretzels

I had never ever made pretzels at home before, so thought I should give it a try. In fact I have never made them ever, not even when I was working as a baker. And if you have guessed it already, I am going to use a natural levain or a starter.

I needed a recipe to start with, and also I needed to know the procedure, about the shaping and the infamous lye bath! So I found out on IG that @maurizio has shared a recipe that everyone loved. I am so glad I stumbled upon his IG page and his blog “The perfect loaf“, which is very informative. So I spent a good few minutes reading his blog post on making sourdough pretzels. For the original recipe follow this link!

sourdough pretzels
sourdough pretzels

I did a few changes to the recipe, simply because, I didn’t have few of the ingredients in my pantry. Following are the changes;

I used normal bread flour instead of malted bread flour
I used Rye flour in place of all-purpose flour
I didn’t use Diastatic malt powder
I added 2 tablespoons of organic molasses
I used a solution made out of baking soda in place of lye bath
I used sea salt flakes instead of pretzel salt
Dough was retarded in fridge over night


Except for the above alterations, rest of the process is pretty much similar to the original post. Oh and I halved the recipe, and made 8 pretzels each weighing 100 g(prior to baking)

I had to split the process in to two days, due to time constraints. So I made the dough and shaped the pretzels on day 1 and retarded them in fridge over night, so I can bake them fresh in the morning!

at 6 hour mark
fed starter

I fed my starter in the morning around 6.00 am and by 12.00 noon it has doubled and was fully active and ready to go! I mixed the dough and gave it one fold at one hour mark and let it bulk ferment at room temperature for 4 hours.

dough
dough after the bulk proof

Then I divided the dough in to 100 g pieces and molded then in to tiny tubes. I realized, this isn’t as easy as it sounds. So my molding wan’t perfect. So next-time, I really have to nail this step. And I think I didn’t degas them enough, so I got an air bubble here and there. But other than that, it went pretty well.

dough
pre-shaped dough peices

Then I let them rest and shaped them in to pretzels. Placed them on a tray lined with a silicon mat, wrapped in glad-wrap and in to the fridge they went!

shaped pretzels
shaped pretzels

Next day morning! they were pretty firm to the touch. I took them out, unwrapped and let them sit in the fridge until my water bath boils. Also this is the time to preheat your oven to 475 F (mine is a traditional)

So about the lye bath! I didn’t really want to deal with the lye solution for several reasons. One, I don’t want any accidents in my tiny kitchen. Two didn’t want to store it (we have limited space). Three didn’t have a place to buy that(I could have tried online though). Four, I have heard of the baking soda substitute and was rather curious to try it!

So this is how I made my baking soda solution.

Baked baking soda solution (lye substitute)

Bread

Servings: 1 cup

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup baking soda
  • A baking tray lined with parchment
  • 10 cups water

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 120 C
  2. Spread baking soda on the tray
  3. Place in the preheated oven and bake for about an hour
  4. Let cool
  5. Store in an air tight container
  6. When ready to use, dissolve the baked baking soda in 10 cups of water and bring to a boil
  7. This mixture can now be used to bath the pretzels
https://myloveofbaking.com/my-first-attempt-at-making-sourdough-pretzels/

Then I simply dipped the pretzels in the above solution, one at a time and placed them on a wire rack to drain excess liquid off. Once done, discarded the baking soda water. Then I transferred the pretzels back on to the lined trays. I placed 4 in each tray.

Next, I slashed the bottom of each pretzel and sprinkled them with sea salt flakes.

They went in to the preheated oven for 10 minutes. At 10 minutes, I rotated the trays(top and bottom) and turned the temperature down to 450 F and gave another 10 minutes. By that time, the pretzels were fully baked and changed their color to a deep brown.

sourdough pretzels
cooling on wire rack

The rest is pretty simple! Let them cool slightly and serve with your favorite dip !

My pretzels were not as soft as I liked them, because of my alterations above. So I need to either find malted flour or malt powder. Or I am thinking of adding all purpose flour instead of Rye and may be to enrich the dough with some milk/milk powder and a pinch of sugar. That is for another day!

Well, I am pretty happy with the color and shape and overall taste. So I will be making several variations in the future and recipes and stories will be shared of course!

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Sourdough chocolate babka

chocolate babka
chocolate babka

A babka for me is another way to eat brioche, my favorite sweet bread. The combination of rich soft brioche and chocolate can only be described as heavenly. I have made this a few times before for get-together, tea parties and pot lucks. Those were made with commercial or instant yeast.

With my obsession with sourdough, lately, I have tried to replace instant yeast with natural yeast. It has been successful in almost all the cases. I guess once you get the hang of it, everything just falls in to places. Once you know your starter, you can predict it’s activity and how much rise you can get with what quantity and in how many hours and so forth. And after-all for me it’s a game of all senses. I clock my process and keep track of time, but at the same time, I touch and feel my dough and eye-ball too. This is what makes baking so much enjoyable and engaging.

chocolate babka
chocolate babka

So back to the babka. The brioche dough I’m using is comparatively less richer than a normal brioche or a traditional babka. Reason begin, I wanted to fill it with a much richer chocolate spread that would be oozing with butter and cocoa. So I thought, to take some of the richness off of the brioche would balance out the flavor and the consistency. Also I am using natural yeast, so less microbes than instant.

chocolate babka
Dough rolled out
chocolate babka
Nut and crumb on top of chocolate spread

A lot of recipes use some sort of nuts sprinkled over the chocolate spread. I am going with toasted almonds. I love almonds and the crunch they add. But you can use other nuts too or even a mix. Make sure to toast the nuts and chop them coarsely.

chocolate babka
twist the two dough strands

Some recipes call for a crumble instead of nuts or alongside the nuts. I have come across various recipes, that use different crumbs. This crumb gives a chewy texture and is a great addition. This can take an average babka to a whole new level of indulgence. In my case, I am using cookie crumbs. This makes it easier. I used some store bought brownie cookies. You can use any cookie, like chocolate chip, double chocolate, fudge etc. If you don’t like the crumb, omit this step completely. The babka will still be ohhh so good!!

chocolate babka
fit the twist in to a tin
chocolate babka
Let it rise and fill the sides

And that brings us to the most important thing, the chocolate. Use a good quality 70% dark chocolate. This elevates the cocoa flavor and it will prevent the spread from becoming super sweet. Recipe use both chocolate and cocoa powder. This is to reduce sweetness while lifting the deep chocolate flavor. Use unsweetened, dutch processed cocoa powder, again, make sure it is of good quality.

Those are my tips for nailing a great sourdough babka. Take these tips home and make it your own. Play with the recipe, use different ingredients and create something fun, share and enjoy!

chocolate babka
Let it cool completely before slicing
Sourdough chocolate babka

Bread, snacks

Servings: 1 loaf

chocolate babka

Ingredients

    for the dough
  • 100 g fed active starter
  • 300 g all purpose flour
  • 1 egg + 1 egg yolk
  • 40 g butter
  • 20 g oil (use olive/vegetable/canola)
  • 100 ml milk (+/-)
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
    for the spread
  • 80 g butter melted
  • 50 g castor sugar
  • 50 g brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup 70% dark chocolate chopped
  • 5 tbsp of cocoa powder (unsweetened)
  • hand full of toasted nut of choice (coarsely chopped)
  • brownie or chocolate cookie crumbs (optional)
  • pinch of sea salt
  • 1 egg white to egg wash

Instructions

  1. To make the dough, mix everything except milk in a bowl of a stand mixer, fitted with a hook attachment.
  2. Start mixing on low and slowly add milk, to bring the dough together
  3. If necessary add extra milk or a little water (tablespoon at a time). The dough should be soft but not runny
  4. Once the dough start to form, increase the speed to medium and mix for about 5 to 8 minutes, until dough becomes smooth
  5. Take the dough off on to a floured surface, and knead by hand to form a ball
  6. Place in a covered bowl and leave in a warm place for about 5 hours
  7. The dough will be risen considerably (almost double) if not leave for another hour or two
  8. Then pat down the dough and form in to a ball again, place in the same container and refrigerate for several hours or overnight. (I left it overnight and a whole day and it still turned out good)
  9. When you are ready to make the babka, take the dough out and let it soften (not too much, its easier to handle when cold)
  10. Prepare a loaf tin lined with a parchment paper
  11. Make the chocolate spread
  12. Melt butter and pour over the chopped chocolate
  13. Stir the chocolate and add the sugar
  14. Then add the cocoa powder and mix to a smooth paste. It’s okay to have undissolved chocolate pieces and sugar
  15. Add the salt
  16. Leave aside to cool (as it cools it will become spreadable)
  17. Take the dough on to a floured surface and roll out to a rectangle
  18. About 45 cm by 35 cm( the dough thickness should be no more than 1/2 cm)
  19. Once done, spread the chocolate mixture evenly
  20. Sprinkle the nuts and the cookie crumbs
  21. starting from one end roll the dough tightly length-wise
  22. Using a sharp knife cut the rolled cylinder in half along the length
  23. Now twist the two strands (look at the photos in the post)
  24. Twisting will make it shorter and would fit in the loaf tin
  25. Make sure to have cut sides exposed.
  26. Some nuts and crumbs may fall off, but its okay, you can toss them back in the pan
  27. Once twisted, pack the dough in the loaf tin
  28. Tuck the end bits underneath
  29. Make sure the dough is as evenly as possible spread across the tin
  30. Leave covered in a warm place for about two – three hours for the final rise
  31. The loaf will expand and fill the tin and will look fuller and softer
  32. Preheat the oven to 200 C
  33. Brush the top with egg white and bake in the center rack for 30 minutes
  34. Top should be golden brown
  35. Once done let this cool completely before cutting in as chocolate need setting
  36. Slice with a serrated knife
https://myloveofbaking.com/sourdough-chocolate-babka/
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Sourdough brioche (dairy-free) coconut & matcha

sourdough brioche

I love a good brioche bread. The rich dough is so luscious and silky even to work with. The baked loaf always smells incredible and looks gorgeous with its deep golden crust.

I have made brioche numerous times with different variations. Well I had plenty of time to play with recipes, during my short but sweet bakery career. I used to save the off cuts of danish dough and make flaky brioche loaves.

Just the addition of some eggs, fat and some sugar takes the basic bread dough to whole new level. Brioche are versatile. You can make them in to individual rolls and can be served with any spread. Or use them to make burgers or sliders. Bake it as a loaf and slice it to make incredible french toast. Honestly, I can much it down as is with something as simple as some butter or honey.

sourdough brioche
sourdough brioche

I have been thinking of making a dairy-free version for a long time. I always go towards using coconut products to replace dairy as I am very familiar with flavors and textures that coconut brings to your food. Growing up in the beautiful island of Sri Lanka, coconut was part of our lives. We used several coconuts a week and either grow them r buy them fresh from markets. Even though I don’t have that luxury now, I tend to use coconut as a substitute whenever possible.

Instagram inspires my bakes most of the time!. I borrowed this coconut and matcha idea from @makeitdough. I am glad I tried this combo and couldn’t be happier that it worked both flavor and texture wise. But if you want skip the matcha part altogether and bake this as a coconut loaf or rolls.

sourdough brioche
sourdough brioche

As you can see my plait is not perfect as a result of the white dough having a different constancy. I have mentioned this in the tips section, so you will know exactly how to fix it!

Tip 1:

Use a mild coconut oil if you don’t like the coconut smell or flavor too much. I have used a neutral one which isn’t strong so it doesn’t overpower any other flavors

Tip 2:

Use thick coconut cream/milk not the light version. If you have coconut milk powder, you can use that too. Either add it straight to flour mixture or dissolve in a 1/3 cups of water and use in-place of milk. Make sure to adjust water content depending on what you use. As a general rule of thumb, add water gradually. Coconut oil and milk both help give the crumb a softer texture and keep the loaf moist for longer.
sourdough brioche
soft marbled crumb

Tip 3:

If you are doing the match half, you’ll see after adding matcha powder, the dough becomes slightly tougher to the touch than the other dough half. So add about 4 tbsp of flour to the plain dough to counter balance that. Keep adjusting the consistency until you are satisfied. The two dough pieces should have equal consistency for them to rise evenly. This is not crucial! Don’t worry too much as it will not affect the flavor just the look!
sourdough brioche
braided loaf

Final proof before baking is important. This may take anywhere from couple of hours to several, depending on the room temperature. You can speed this up by placing the dough in a warmer place.

sourdough brioche
final rise

Egg wash is optional but gives a nice shine to the finished product. there are few options:

  • egg white – beat the egg white and brush the tops and sprinkle with sugar or sesame or poppy
  • Egg yolk – dilute an egg yolk with tsp of water and brush the top for a deep golden color, and sprinkle with sugar(optional)
sourdough brioche
golden crust with sugar

Make sure to cool the loaf completely before slicing. This will ensure a clean cut and less drag. And loaf is softer when it’s warm, so might be a little difficult to handle. once completely cooled, it can be stored in a air-tight container at room temperature for up to a day. This can be refrigerated too. Freeze the slices to keep for longer but thaw them before serving, re-heating or toasting.

sourdough brioche
sliced

Try the recipe and let me know how it all went. If you have any questions, post them as comments or ask them on Instagram. I’d be happy to help.

Sourdough brioche (dairy-free) coconut & matcha

Bread

sourdough brioche

Ingredients

  • 400 g all purpose flour + extra to dust and adjust consistency
  • 3 eggs
  • 200 g active starter
  • 1/3 cups coconut milk
  • 80 g coconut oil
  • 40 g coconut sugar (can use castor sugar too)
  • 10 g salt
  • 5 tbsp (or more to your liking) unsweetened matcha powder

Instructions

  1. Mix everything except for the matcha powder in a large bowl, using a spatula.
  2. Transfer the mixture in to a bowl of a stand mixture, with a dough hook attached.
  3. Mix on low speed for 5 minutes or until it becomes smooth.
  4. Add a little flour and scrap the sides and keep mixing for another couple of minutes until dough is released from sides.
  5. If you are doing the matcha version, this is the stage to divide the dough in to two equal parts.
  6. Reserve one half in a separate bowl. Add matcha powder to the dough in the mixing bowl, and mix until dough is evenly colored. Once mixed transfer to a separate bowl.
  7. Now mix 3-4 tbsp of flour to the plain dough and mix it for a couple of minutes, until it achieves the same consistency as the matcha dough.
  8. Once done transfer to a bowl.
  9. Cover the two bowls and let it sit at room temperature for 5 hours. Its
  10. Give the dough a fold every two hours to help it get stronger.
  11. Transfer the bowl in to the refrigerator for a long cold bulk proof (this should be several hours at least 8 or overnight)
  12. Take the dough pieces out and let it sit at room temperature until they become pliable, but not too much
  13. You need the dough to be stiff so its easy to handle.
  14. shape the dough however you like.
  15. I have done the braid with four strands (4 over 2, 1 over 3, 2 over 3 and repeat)
  16. You can either make a tin loaf shape or make mini brioche buns or bake the braided loaf straight on a pan.
  17. Let the shaped loaf or rolls rise until almost double in size.
  18. preheat oven to 400 F
  19. Brush with egg wash, sprinkle some sugar and bake for 20 minutes.
  20. If top is too brown, cover the top with a foil.
  21. Reduce temperature to 350 F and bake for a further 20 minutes.
  22. Switch off the oven and let it bake for an extra 10 minutes to dry off.
  23. Let it cool in the pan for a few minutes and then cool the loaf on a wire rack.
  24. Slice once completely cooled.
https://myloveofbaking.com/sourdough-brioche-dairy-free-coconut-matcha/
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Whole wheat sourdough bread

whole wheat sourdough
Whole wheat sourdough

Making whole wheat sourdough is a challenge. It is not difficult, but it requires some extra attention and tricks to make the bread light and airy. Whole wheat flour has less gluten than the white flour. This is the main reason for whole wheat bread to be dense and not pleasurable to eat some times.

But we can overcome this, by simply following few extra steps in the bread making process. A slight change in the recipe could also help maximizing the bloom. Lets see what they are.

whole wheat sourdough
whole wheat sourdough

First on to the tips:

If the whole wheat percentage in the recipe, is anywhere between 100% – 80%, these tips can help you get strength in the crumb and thus help trap air while proofing, which in-turn will help the bread to expand in the oven with ease.

Tip 1

Use a higher percentage of water. I find this easier to handle the dough as whole wheat is hi-gyroscopic. A tough dough will inhibit blooming and oven spring. More water means a softer dough which could be worked to develop gluten.

Tip 2:

Autolyze the dough. It is important to not add the starter until the very end of autolyzing process. This will give you more control over how your bread is proofed. Autolyze is the word used to describe the simple process of , mixing the flour and water(usually a larger percentage) and letting it sit for an extended period of time. This process helps develop maximum strength of gluten. At the end of the autolyze, add the starter and move on to kneading.

Tip 3:

Give the dough some extra kneading. Kneading help strengthen the gluten too. Since our whole wheat has less gluten, we need all the strength we can get out of those gluten.

Tip 4:

Give extra folds. On the same note as kneading, give one or two extra folds while the dough ferments. When doing this, try to stretch the dough on a surface and fold it back so that this will give maximum strength to the gluten strands.

Key is to develop more gluten and to strengthen that gluten as much as possible so we get that nice airy crumb.

whole wheat sourdough

It is always a good idea to add something glutenous to the recipe in addition to the above steps. even a 10% of white flour makes a big difference in strengthening the crumb, without affecting the taste and texture of the whole wheat bread.

whole wheat sourdough
50% whole wheat crumb

I find adding the following help give more body to the bread

  • chia seeds – 2 table spoons per loaf
  • ground linseed – 1/4 cup per loaf
  • psyllium husk – 1 – 2 teaspoon per loaf

I love to experiment with adding these extras to breads and there can be several other great ways to make your whole wheat loaf a success. I am still in the process of finding possibilities and feel free to comment if you know a way to achieve this or simply share your tips and tricks!

Following is a whole wheat recipes I bake often.

Whole wheat sourdough bread

Bread

Ingredients

    for the stater:
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon culture
    for the bread:
  • 250 g white bread flour
  • 250 g whole wheat flour (red or white)
  • 10 g salt
  • 15 g oil (of your choice)
  • 300 g + 50 g water
  • 1 cup of above starter (about 200 g)

Instructions

    To make the starter (at least 6 hours prior to making bread/preferably previous night)
  1. Use a clean jar
  2. mix flour and water until it resembles porridge. Add the culture, mix well again and loosely cover
  3. set aside until ready.
    For the bread
  1. In a large plastic container weigh the flours.
  2. In a separate container weigh the water and oil.
  3. Add wet ingredients into the flour mix. Incorporate well.
  4. Let it sit for about an hour/two.
  5. Then add the salt and starter and mix until combined and knead for about a minute of two and let rest for 10 minutes
  6. Then give another kneading for about 5 minutes. Kneading should involve stretching and folding action. With every stretch and pull, you are making the gluten stronger.
  7. Leave aside for another 10 minutes
  8. Repeat this process three more times
  9. You would notice the dough changes every time. It will become less sticky and much easier to work with. You will also notice it is a lot more “elasticy” now.
  10. At this point its ready for bulk fermentation.
  11. Cover the container and place in a warm draft free place. I usually use my oven (turned off of-course :D) for this. Place a cup of steaming water in the oven to make the environment warm and moist. Or your can use a big plastic tub with lid on or even one of your kitchen cupboards.
  12. After 45 minutes, we will give the sough a fold. So take the container out. With wet hands, stretch and fold and tuck the dough from all four sides like you are wrapping something with it. The idea is to strengthen the gluten even more. Then leave it just as before for another 45 minutes.
  13. Repeat the folding twice more and now its time for the final bulk fermentation
  14. This will depend on your starter activity, room temperature, humidity. So check your dough every 30 minutes. What we are looking for is the dough to have bulked in side and possibly with some few visible air pockets. Usually it will be ready in about 1.5 hours to 2 hours
  15. Its time to shape the loaf now.
  16. Remove the dough on to a lightly dusted surface. Fold it to make a big dough ball. This will be bouncy. This folding and shaping will remove some air but not all of it.
  17. Leave it covered for about 10 minutes to relax.
  18. Then it is ready for the final shaping. Follow some videos to learn how to do the final shaping. Punch some air out first, then stretch and fold to center to make a cob shape which is the easiest.
  19. Place in a proofing basket or in any container. Make sure to lay a flour dusted tea towel or flour the basket well.
  20. Cover it completely and place in the fridge. The bread will now go in to a slow prove/bloom overnight. It will be ready for the oven in the morning
  21. On the following day,place the oven rack in the center and preheat the oven to 260 °C/ 500 °F.
  22. If you have a pizza stone, a ceramic tile, cast iron skillet or a dutch oven, place it in while the oven heats up. Place another deep tray at the bottom most rack of the oven and fill it with boiling water. This will produce steam.
  23. Check if your bread has risen. If you think it need some more time, you can pull it out and leave out for about half an hour or so. You can test this by gently poking the dough with a finger and if it springs back but not all the way back, it is ready.
  24. Once the oven is hot enough, slash the bread and place it in the oven. Bake for 20 minutes. And then take the tray of water out, bring the oven temperature down to 230 °C/ 450 °F and bake for a further 20 minutes
  25. Once the bread is done, remove it from the oven and let it cool on a wire rack.
  26. Once the bread cools down, you can slice it with a serrated knife.
  27. If you want to preserve, slice the loaf, store in an air tight container and freeze.
https://myloveofbaking.com/whole-wheat-sourdough-bread/

Another one of my favorite whole wheat recipes is the 90% whole wheat one with 90% hydration. For this simply use 200 g whole white wheat flour, 200 g whole red wheat flour, 100 g of white bread flour. Use the same amount of oil, salt and starter weights as above. Use 400 g of water and autolyze the dough for two hours.

Following photo shows how the bread looks followed by the crumb shot. Incredibly soft crumb for a whole wheat loaf. The crumb is very gelatinous due to the higher water percentage and this stays fresh for longer.

whole wheat sourdough
90% whole wheat
whole wheat sourdough
the crumb
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Cocoa & orange sourdough

cocoa orange sourdough
cocoa orange sourdough

Cocoa sourdough has been quite the hype recently on Instagram. I was intrigued by all the nice loaves and flavor combos that bread enthusiast keep posting everyday. I so wanted to try the cocoa addition, but I has to postpone it as my list of ‘to-be-baked’ has already too long.

cocoa orange sourdough
cocoa orange sourdough

I only get to bake a bread once a week now, with a full time job. When I see photos of mini bakeries and people who bake several breads at a time, I actually miss my job in the baking industry. Even though short, about a year and a half, I truly enjoyed baking hundreds of loaves and sometimes just watching the bread being made. I hope to write about that in a separate post, how i decided to switch careers in order to do what I’m passionate about.

cocoa orange sourdough
cocoa orange sourdough

Back to cocoa adventure. Having lived in Australia for some-time, long enough I guess, I fell in love with the Jaffa cookies or the flavor to be exact. I think chocolate and orange are a match made in heaven. I have made cakes, cookies, slices, desserts and all sorts of things with this flavor combo. Out of all, chocolate dipped candied orange has got to be my favorite. So this is how the idea of cocoa and orange sourdough came to be.

The basic 50% rye bread recipe is tweaked a little to achieve this. I have added 40 g of unsweetened cocoa tog the chocolate flavor and color. cocoa tend to be a little bit bitter, so to balance that, two table spoons of molasses is added. Zest of two whole oranges is what gives the orange scent. I have upped the water content too as cocoa absorbs moisture.

cocoa orange sourdough
cocoa orange sourdough

Also I have added 2 tablespoons of strong coffee, hoping to intensify the chocolate flavor. To be honest, I didn’t think it made a difference, but I can’t really know until I make another one without coffee. So, that to a later date.

I think, you can be creative here and try to incorporate something extra to this bread too. Some ideas would be, orange peel, some dried fruits, or even candied orange pieces. I am planning to redo this recipe with nuts, and if it turned out to be good, the recipe will be shared of course.

Served with cream and strawberries
Cocoa & orange sourdough

Bread

Servings: 1 loaf

cocoa orange sourdough

Ingredients

  • 220 g active starter
  • 250 g white bread flour
  • 200 g dark rye flour
  • 40 g unsweetened dutch processed cocoa
  • 350 g water (approx.)
  • 10 g oil (I used olive oil)
  • 10 g salt
  • 2 tablespoons of molasses
  • zest of two oranges
    optional
  • few orange slices to decorate
  • some sugar to coat the orange slices

Instructions

  1. As usual, make your starter the day before, if you want more details on how to do that, refer to my post on making and maintaining sourdough starter.
  2. The process of mixing the bread is similar to that of the white sourdough bread. So I will not write details but mention the steps.
  3. Weigh in the dry ingredients in to a bowl and mix.
  4. Weigh the wet ingredients in a separate bowl, mix and add to the dry mix.
  5. Using a spoon or your hand, mix everything until no more dry flour bits are visible. Add more water if the dough is tough.
  6. Let sit for about 15 minutes and mix using hand or mixer for about 5 minutes.
  7. Add the finely grated orange zest and make sure to mix until its nicely and evenly spread across the whole dough.
  8. Let this rest for a 15 minutes more and give a good mix (stretch and fold action)
  9. If you are adding fruits or nuts, now is the time.
  10. Cover the dough and let it bulk proof for 45 minutes – 1 hour give it a fold and repeat this in another 45 minutes.
  11. Let it sit for another 11/2 to 2 hours for the final proofing to happen.
  12. Punch the dough lightly to remove excess air and shape it up to a cobb and let it rest for at least 10 minutes.
  13. Shape the dough however you like.
  14. Give it a good dusting of flour before placing upside down in a proofing basket. If you are not using a basket, place the loaf on a tray lined with plastic or a tea towel.
  15. Cover the loaf to prevent it from drying out and place in the fridge. (retarding can be anywhere from 12 hours to 20 hours)
  16. When you are ready to bake, preheat the oven to 500 F (I bake my bread on a cast iron skillet so I preheat the skillet in the oven). Place a tray of boiling water on the bottom rack.
  17. If you are using, dip the orange slices in sugar and set aside. This will draw remove excess water out of the slices.
  18. Once the oven is ready,take the bread out and slash. Decorate with orange slices if you like. (remove excess juices before placing them on the bread)
  19. Place the bread in the oven (on the center rack) and bake 20 minutes. Then, remove the water tray, reduce temperature to 450 F and bake for another 20 minutes.
  20. Once done, cool off on a wire rack before cutting into it.
https://myloveofbaking.com/cocoa-orange-sourdough/
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Sourdough starter

starter
Active starter

This post is about making and maintaining a sourdough starter. Mainly aiming for newbies (like myself 4 years ago) and anyone who is interested in natural levain. But if you are a pro, please feel free to read and help me improve the contents. All ideas, suggestions and proposals are welcome.

A lot of baking enthusiasts have been asking me questions about the process. Even though, I reply to every single message the best way possible, I feel like I need to write a good comprehensive post explaining everything I know and I do. So it will be helpful to anyone looking for answers.

Bubbly starter
Bubbly starter

I will try to include more pictures with time and also let this post grow based on replies and any follow up questions. I want this to be a conversation rather than a article, for it to continue to grow. Please feel free to add your thoughts in comments section and/or reply to any question, if you think you know the answer. We can all try to help each other.

Lets get some basic things straightened up:

What is a starter: A starter also referred to as a culture, is a micro-organism. In the context of sourdough, this organism is yeast.

what is yeast: A microscopic single-cell fungus. While there are many species, the bakers yeast is identified by the scientific name Saccharomyces cerevisiae.

How do yeast help make bread: Yeast, when provided with flour, water and air, start to reproduce. They consume the sugars and release CO2 (carbon dioxide) and ethyl alcohol as by-products. CO2 helps give the bread the rise or the bloom. This in turn, gives the light and airy crumb that we love. Without yeast, the dough will be dense, hard, flat and not enjoyable.

Commercial yeast vs natural leaven: commercial yeast is nothing but the same single-cell organism that is isolated. They are grown, extracted and then compacted for commercial use. This gives speed and reliability. Natural leaven, however is slow, because the yeast density is low. Hence it takes longer for the process. This gives lactobacilli (another bacteria naturally occurring) ample time,to act on flour. The lactobacilli consumes the protein in flour (gluten) and releases lactic acid as a by product, which gives sour-dough, well, the sour flavor.

This is a very basic simple explanation. But if you are curious, internet is flooded with information. With that in mind lets see the process of making a starter from the scratch. It is easy, you just need patience and consistency.

  • Place 1 cup flour and 1/2 cup filtered, room temperature water in a clean container
    • I use either bread flour or all purpose flour
    • white flour is the easiest
    • although, you can use whole wheat, rye, spelt etc.
  • Mix with a clean spoon until it resembles porridge(I will call this slurry) pic_1
  • If you like, deposit this mixture in a clear glass jar or a drinking glass.
    • if it is clear, you can watch the activity
    • the container can be anything but it has to be clean and non-reactive (no metal or aluminium)
  • Loosely cover the container, with a lid or a piece of plastic wrap
    • do not make it air tight
    • we want the yeast in the air to reach out to the flour
    • consider your mixture as bait for the yeast
  • Now let the mixture sit in a warm but dry place for 2 days
    • if it is warmer, make it 1 day
    • The process takes longer if environment is colder (I once let my slurry sit for 4 days)
    • If it is too warm, the mixture might go bad, because other bacteria start to act upon the slurry before the yeast
  • Check if your slurry is catching yeast or going off
    • if it has green, yellow, gray spots then it has caught other bacteria. So discard and start the process again. Don’t get discouraged.
    • if it smells horrible, its gone bad and you will have to start again.
    • The good signs are,
      • seeing nothing dramatic
      • may be seeing a few air pockets
      • getting a faint smell of acidity (this should not be off-putting) like vinegar
  • If your slurry is doing good, then, discard half of it.
  • Make a new slurry using 1 cup flour and 1/2 cup water.
  • Mix well and add to the saved mixture. Mix well to incorporate everything. Let it sit for a day.
  • This is considered a feeding
    • assume now that yeast has started to grow
  • Now we have to repeat this process everyday until you see some activity for up to a week
    • like air bubbles (pic_2)
    • the mixture expanse
  • when its active like this, we change the feeding style. We discard everything but a teaspoon full of our active starter
    (culture) and feed it the same amount of food (1 cup water 1/2 cup water)
  • Continue to feed everyday, until you see some real activity
    • usually takes about another 4-5 days
    • when your starter doubles in size over night, its a good sigh(pic_3)
    • Its is ready to be used at this stage
  • I personally, think, you can’t really know a starter for sure, until you make a loaf of bread with it.
  • Once your starter is active, you can feed it the same way and leave it in the fridge.
  • But you have to take it out often(every week ) and freshen it up for best results.
  • To freshen up, take it out of fridge, let it come to room temperature and become active.
  • Feed and let grow over night.
  • Give a feeding in the morning and place back in fridge.
  • Anytime you make bread, freshen it up first.
  • Then use some of the fresh starter to make bread
    • when you freshen up, if you see slow activity, feed it for a day or two more before using or storing away in fridge
slurry
pic_1 porridge like slurry
pic_2 visible air bubbles
starter doubles in volume
Pic_3 starter doubles in volume

A good starter is like a sponge. It is airy,light and fluffy. When you very gently fold it with a spoon, you will hear the bubbles pop. Another good indication is, that when you pour the starter into a bowl of water, it will float like a foamy sloppy thing. Pic_4.

starter
starter floating in the water

The best time to use a starter once it is fed is, when it is at it’s peak or better yet, just before it reaches it’s peak. How do we know if it is at its peak. Well this takes a lot of getting to know your starter. You can usually keep an eye once you feed and use it when it doubles. If you want and have got time you can chart your starter growth, and use the chart to get the exact hour that it reaches it’s peak. But keep in mind, starters have got their own mind, so you’ll have to re do this chart once in a while.

how to find the right time to use a starter
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White sourdough bread

white sourdough bread
white sourdough

This is my most basic sourdough recipe. By basic i mean, the simplest. This is a good every day recipe or could be a go-to recipe. As usual I don’t stick too much with measurements as bread making is sensory.  In saying that, I didn’t mean to ditch the recipe but to use it as a guide line. This is  especially true when it comes to adding water to the mixture.

So this recipe uses bread flour, 100%. Bread-flour gives structure to bread and that strong crumb we love. So I recommend, using a strong-flour (with a higher gluten %) if you want good results.

White sourdough bread

First things first! Lets get the starter ready, shall we. So if you keep your starter in the fridge like me, the process has to start the day before you intend to make your bread. Get your starter out in the morning and let it come to room temperature and let it get activated for a few hours. Give it a feeding and observe! If your starter is very active, it is ready. So you can give it another feeding in the night and let it sit in a cool place and this would be ready to use in the morning. Using a fresh starter is the key to reduce or eliminate strong sour flavor in the final product. And by using the starter at it’s prime stage, we get the maximum activity and hence a good rise to the loaf later.

If your kitchen is warm, you might want to be creative here. I usually place the fed stater  in the fridge for couple of hours before setting it on the counter-top. That way, it slows down a bit and would be ready by morning. Another thing is the ratio of starter to flour when you feed. 1 cup flour : 1 teaspoon mother starter (culture). Increase the flour(food) to lengthen the time. The idea is that the yeast will have plenty of flour to feed on, over-night, without going into starvation mode.
When you know your starter, this process becomes second nature. You would be able to predict the activity and the exact time the starter would be in it’s peak. 
The rest of the process it easy. Follow the steps. I have mentioned key things to remember in each step. And when adding water, do it gradually. If you think the dough is tough, it is okay to add more water, but make a note of how much you added, so you know next time. 

For a bread shaping video check this link

White sourdough bread

Bread

Servings: 1 loaf

white sourdough bread

Ingredients

    for the stater:
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 teaspoon culture
    for the bread:
  • 500 g bread flour
  • 10 g salt
  • 15 g oil (of your choice)
  • 200 g + 50 g water
  • 1 cup of starter (about 200 g)

Instructions

    To make the starter (at least 6 hours prior to making bread/preferably previous night)
  1. Use a clean jar
  2. mix flour and water until it resembles porridge. Add the culture, mix well again and loosely cover
  3. set aside until ready.
    For the bread
  1. In a large plastic container weigh flour and salt and set aside.
  2. In a separate container weigh 200 g water and oil.
  3. Then add the 1 cup of starter. Starter should be floating over the water like a sponge and this is a good way to know if your starter is active.
  4. Mix wet ingredients and add straight into the flour mix.
  5. Start mixing with a spatula or a spoon until water is absorbed. If it is dry, add the remaining 50 g water. (I have tried this recipe with 60% hydration, so 300 g water, and it still produced a manageable dough)
  6. Wash your hands and start mixing with your hands now. This way you can tell if the dough needs more water or not. The dough should be easy to work with, not too tough and a bit sticky.
  7. Make sure all the flour and water are combined, and that there are no traces of dry flour in the dough
  8. Now leave this covered for about 5 minutes
  9. Then give another mixing for about 5 minutes. Mixing should involve stretching and folding action. With every stretch and pull, you are making the gluten stronger.
  10. Leave aside for another 5 minutes
  11. Repeat this process twice more
  12. You would notice the dough changes every time. It will become less sticky and much easier to work with. You will also notice it is a lot more “elasticy” now.
  13. At this point its ready for bulk fermentation.
  14. Cover the container and place in a warm draft free place. I usually use my oven (turned off of-course :D) for this. Place a cup of steaming water in the oven to make the environment warm and moist. Or your can use a big plastic tub with lid on or even one of your kitchen cupboards.
  15. After 45 minutes, we will give the dough a fold. So take the container out. With wet hands, stretch and fold and tuck the dough from all four sides like you are wrapping something with it. The idea is to strengthen the gluten even more. Then leave it just as before for another 45 minutes.
  16. Repeat the folding once more and now its time for the final bulk fermentation
  17. This will depend on your starter activity, room temperature, humidity. So check your dough every 30 minutes. What we are looking for is the dough to have bulked in side and possibly with some few visible air pockets. Usually it will be ready in about 1.5 hours to 2 hours
  18. Its time to shape the loaf now.
  19. Remove the dough on to a lightly dusted surface. Fold it to make a big dough ball. This will be bouncy. This folding and shaping will remove some air but not all of it.
  20. Leave it covered for about 10 minutes to relax.
  21. Then it is ready for the final shaping. Follow some videos to learn how to do the final shaping.
  22. Place in a proofing basket or in any container. Make sure to lay a flour dusted tea towel or flour the basket well.
  23. Cover it completely and place in the fridge. The bread will now go in to a slow prove/bloom overnight. It will be ready for the oven in the morning
  24. On the following day,place the oven rack in the center and preheat the oven to 260 °C/ 500 °F.
  25. If you have a pizza stone, a ceramic tile, cast iron skillet or a dutch oven, place it in while the oven heats up. Place another deep tray at the bottom most rack of the oven and fill it with boiling water. This will produce steam.
  26. Check if your bread has risen. If you think it need some more time, you can pull it out and leave out for about half an hour or so. You can test this by gently poking the dough with a finger and if it springs back but not all the way back, it is ready.
  27. Once the oven is hot enough, slash the bread and place it in the oven. Bake for 20 minutes. And then take the tray of water out, bring the oven temperature down to 230 °C/ 450 °F and bake for a further 20 minutes
  28. Once the bread is done, remove it from the oven and let it cool on a wire rack.
  29. Once the bread cools down, you can slice it with a serrated knife.
  30. If you want to preserve, slice the loaf, store in an air tight container and freeze.
https://myloveofbaking.com/white-sourdough-bread/
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