Sourdough baguettes

A complete guide to crusty homemade sourdough baguettes!

baguettes

I was on a mission to finding the secret or holly grail to making perfect sourdough baguette at home. In a bakery, this would be a no big deal with all the state-of-the-art mixers, proofers and ovens. But it can be quite challenging at home.

baguettes
open crumb and crispy crust

First of all, a baguette is nothing but a type of bread in the form of a long stick. The main reason for shaping the dough into a long stick is to get more of the crust. Baguettes are usually broken by hand rather than sliced and served with stews. If not they are split lengthwise used to make sandwiches. There are a few characteristics to a baguette:

  • long stick like shape
  • Crusty exterior
  • Very open crumb
baguettes
Open airy crumb/ sliced length wise

So in-order to achieve the above, we need to make sure to do the following;

  • Shaping/molding to create tension
  • Use steam while baking
  • a higher hydration ( above 70% is recommended)

You can use a basic bread recipe and turn it into a baguette. The only differences are in retarding and shaping. It is best to let the dough retard as a bulk. If you shape the baguettes and try to retard, they tend to lose their shape and sometimes, become too wet or soft to handle. This makes it harder to score and transfer to the oven. So the best practice is to bulk retard the dough and shape prior to baking.

baguettes
open crumb/ sliced

I have figured out, with time, the less you knead the dough, the better. Gluten is developed over time. And we will only use stretch and folds at intervals to create the strength. This will require no mixer at all.

With all the basic sorted, lets get to the steps

Starter

A first step is to get the starter ready. Feed the starter 6-7 hours before making the bread. Use a 100 % starter, meaning 1 part water to 1 part flour to feed the culture.

e.g: 50 g flour, 50 g water to feed 1 tsp starter

This is how my ripe start looked like at it’s peak

More about starter

Autolysis

Mix the flour, water (leave 3 tbsp of water for later) and starter in a large plastic bowl. Mix only to combine everything just like shown in the picture. Now close the lid and leave for about an hour to autolyze.

Gluten will be developed during this time, without our intervention

Adding salt

After about an hour, add the salt. Dissolve the salt in the left out water and add to the dough. Mix until a smooth dough is formed. Place in the plastic bowl, cover and leave to rest for 45 minutes until the first stretch and fold (s&f).

we will do 3 s&f during bulk

Stretch & fold

Give a stretch and folds (s&f) at 45 minutes and repeat two more at 45 minute intervals. At every fold, you should see the air bubbles on the outside. With every s&f, the dough will start to feel more elastic and stronger. At the end of 3 rd s&f, rest the dough for about 2 hours .

Retardation

Then, cover with a well-fitted lid and refrigerate for several hours/ overnight

Final bulk

On the following day, take out the dough and leave at room temperature for 4-5 hours, until you start to see air bubbles and the dough is risen considerably

Pre-shape 1

Tip the dough slowly on to a floured surface and form a dough ball, without knocking out too much air. The dough should be wobbly and full of air pockets. let this rest for about 5-10 minutes.

This step will make it easier to handle the dough when you try to divide and pre-shape

Pre-shape 2

This is important to create the necessary stretch of the outer skin. Divide the dough in to two pieces, and shape each into a log shape.

Cover with a light dusting of flour and leave uncovered for about 30 minutes to rest.

Cloth/couche

Traditionally a couche is used for this purpose. But you can substitute this with a thick clean tea towel. Dust it with flour and semolina generously.

This is where we are going to proof the baguettes

Shaping

Shape the dough into baguettes and place on the prepared tea towel. Let these rest and proof for about an hour or 1 1/2 hours. Preheat the oven in the meantime.

Check the video attached below for shaping

scoring

Scoring

Transfer the proofed baguettes on to a peel or on to a tray lined with parchment as shown in the picture.

Dust the baguettes with a little flour and score the top using sharp blade.

Once the oven is ready place in the oven, on the pizza stone/skillet along with the parchment and bake according to instructions below.

Steam

This is what I use to generate steam. A bread loaf pan with a tea towel tucked in. Pour boiling water until tea towel is covered and place this during the last few minutes of preheating

  • Preheating and baking instructions
  • Get a oven thermometer, this is your best friend. Place it in the oven.
  • Place a pizza stone or a large enough cast iron skillet on a rack placed at the top half of the oven
  • Preheat oven. I had to set digital display to 520 F and heat for 45 minutes to get to 500F on the oven thermometer inside
  • Get a bread pan, lay a tea towel and fill it with boiling water(check image above)
  • Place this pan in the oven on a lower rack during the last few minutes of the preheating
  • Let temperature reset, if it dropped when you opened the door
  • Be careful when you open the door next, the oven will be full of hot steam, waiting to be released
  • Transfer the baguettes on to a peel
  • If you don’t have a peel, place a parchment paper on the back of a cookie sheet or a large tray and use this to transfer baguettes to oven, along with the parchment
  • Score the baguettes while on the peel/parchment
  • Place the baguettes in the oven on the pizza stone and close the door
  • Temp will plummet right down (450F on thermometer) but that’s okay, it will come back up to 475 F. Maintain at 475 F.
  • Keep an eye and bake at 475 F for 15 minutes
  • Then reduce the internal oven temperature to 450 F(thermometer will read something around 450 – 430)
  • Remove steam and bake for another 12 minutes
  • When you remove the stream, the temperature will drop, so keep an eye and adjust accordingly
  • Then, switch the oven off and bake for a further 10 minutes, with the residual heat

Cool baguettes on a wire rack.

baguettes
Baked baguettes

There you have it. This is everything I have learnt and I hope you will find answers to you questions/problems in this post. When it comes to baguettes, the recipe is only 20 % of the whole process. It is the timing, dough consistency, bulk proofing, shaping and most importantly baking is what matters most.

baguette
even crust on the outside

Following is a simple recipe for two baguettes which I used for experiments. Once you have mastered the technique, feel free change the recipe and try something different!

Sourdough baguettes

Bread

Servings: 2 baguettes

baguettes

Ingredients

  • 250 g strong bread flour
  • 200 g water
  • 60 g fed starter
  • 5 g salt

Instructions

  1. Mix flour, starter and 190 g of the water and autolyse for an hour
  2. Dissolve salt in 10 g of water, add to the dough and mix to form a smooth ball
  3. Let rest for 45 minutes
  4. Give a stretch and fold and let rest for 45 minutes
  5. Give 2 more s&f at 45 minutes apart
  6. After the final (3rd) s&f, leave the dough to rest for about 2-3 hours
  7. Place the dough in the fridge for a slow/cold proofing (retardation) for minimum 8 hours or overnight
  8. After cold bulk, let the dough rest in the room temperature for 4-5 hours or until you see a considerable rise in the dough and air bubbles. Dough would be wobbly
  9. Tip the dough on to a floured surface and round it up gently. Do not let too much air out. Rest for 10- 15 minutes
  10. Divide the dough to two equal parts and pre-shape in to logs. Again be careful not to knock out air. Rest the dough pieces for 30 minutes. Leave them open so the exterior will be dry and would be easier to handle
  11. Shape the baguettes(check video below) and place on the couche or the prepared tea towel
  12. Let the baguettes rise for a final time ( 45 to 90 minutes)
  13. Preheat oven in the meantime (check instructions above in the post)
  14. Bake the baguettes @ 475 F with steam for 15 minutes
  15. Reduce heat to 450 F and bake for a further 12 minutes without steam
  16. Switch off the oven and bake for another 10-15 minutes under the residual heat
  17. Check for dark brown color and when tapped, should sound hollow
https://myloveofbaking.com/sourdough-baguettes/

Continue Reading

Mini flourless orange cakes

flourless orange cake

These are the easiest thing to make when you have a couple of Oranges at hand. The whole Orange is used in this recipe, YES! the skin too. This can be made in steps so even if you have a busy schedule, it is still possible to whip his up without much hassle.

The best part of these dainty cakes in the syrup. Orange syrup helps keep the cake moist and enhances the flavor greatly. You can infuse the syrup with different flavors. I threw in a few springs of lemon thyme. You can spike the syrup with rum or Orange liqueur too. To enhance the Orange flavor, throw in an Orange peel. It’s your chance to be creative here!

flourless orange cake

These cakes are naturally gluten free, and the rising agent is the beaten eggs, just like in sponge cakes or sponge fingers. We beat the eggs and sugar to ribbon stage and then fold in rest of the ingredients. It is easy as that. But there are a few crucial steps, that you have to follow correctly, in order to get the perfect cake. I will highlight those steps with pictures below.

boiled orange

First up, the Orange/oranges need to be boiled for at least an hour or until it becomes soft. Submerge the orange in water when boiling, to remove bitterness. Discard the water and cut the Orange in to pieces, removing any pits and the top bit(where the stem used to be). Place in a food processor/ blender and grind into a pulp.

Orange pulp

This is how the Orange pulp or puree would look like. Place this in a bowl and move on to the next step. This pulp can be refrigerated in a closed container for a few days.

prepare pan

This step is to guarantee the easy removal of the cakes from the pan. Apply a thin layer of butter in the cases. Place teaspoon of flour (rice flour or all purpose flour) in each case and turn and tap the tray so that the inside of the mold is evenly coated with a thin layer of flour. Discard the remaining flour. Set aside.

It is a good time to pre-heat the oven to 160 C (convention/without fan) at this stage.

almond meal

Sieve almond meal and baking soda to remove lumps. The little amount of baking soda is used as a guarantee for the rise, but is not necessary. The sifting will also contribute towards a airy texture of the cakes.

beat eggs and sugar

Place the room temperature eggs and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer and whisk on medium high, until the mixture becomes pale and thick. You will start to see the streaks as it thickens up.

thick and pale

Check the mixture for the consistency. I call this the ribbon stage. You can draw a ribbon with the batter and it will stay for a second before disappearing. This is a crucial step. The air that we incorporate at this stage is what gives the body to the cake.

mixing

Carefully fold in the Orange puree to the beaten egg and sugar mixture. Be gentle and try not to knock out a lot of air out. Follow with the almond meal and once again, fold gently. If you mix vigorously, the batter will lose the air and deflate, resulting in flat, dense cakes. The final batter should have a considerable volume and should feel light and airy.

This mixture can be refrigerated for a day or tow, so it is such a good make ahead dessert.

fill the tray

Pure the batter carefully into the molds of the prepared pan. I like to use a piping bag to ensure clean edges and even, controlled distribution of the batter. Once done, smooth out the tops with a wet finger. You can fill close to the brim, as they will not rise. When ready, place in the oven.

Orange syrup

While the cakes are baking, make the orange Syrup. Place Orange juice and 1/2 cup sugar in a saucepan and bring to boil. Simmer for a about 5 minutes until Syrup start to thicken and remove from heat. It is a good idea to pure the syrup in to a pouring jug and have it ready to use.

You can infuse the syrup with different things. Lemon thyme, lemon rind, rum or orange liqueur and some of the suggestions

baked cakes

They should be done in 30 minutes. Check for doneness by using a cake tester/skewer. If the tester or skewer comes out clean, they are done. You will notice the golden tops too. They will shrink a bit and release from the sides too. Remove from the oven and set aside for a couple of minutes.

prick a few wholes on the cakes while you wait. This will help absorb the syrup later.

Soak with syrup

Use a knife or a offset spatula to release the cakes. They should pop out effortlessly. Place on a wire rack and place a tray underneath to catch any dripping syrup. Heat the syrup if it has gone cold. then pure a generous amount onto each cake. let the syrup seep in and go for a second round. make sure the edges are covered too. Any remaining syrup can be poured when serving.

serve

Decorate however you like and serve with extra syrup

If you prep your Orange puree and the syrup before hand, this recipe would only take about 10 minutes to prepare and 30 minutes to bake. The baked cakes stays fresh for longer due to the syrup.

flourless orange cake

I keep them in a air tight container, in the fridge for about 4 days. You can keep them even longer, but they honestly don’t last that long. You can even freeze these. If you plan to freeze, do not use the syrup. Instead, let the cakes, cool completely and place on a tray. Place the tray in a freezer for a bout an hour, place the frozen cakes in a zip lock bag or a freezer safe container and freeze for several days. I haven’t frozen beyond a month, so I cannot guarantee that.

flourless orange cake

To serve frozen cakes, bring them to room temperature, warm up in the oven or microwave and pour the hot syrup over. They will be as good as new.

flourless orange cake
Mini flourless orange cakes

cakes

Servings: 10 -12 cakes

flourless orange cake

Ingredients

    For the cakes
  • 1 large Orange washed and cleaned
  • 140 g almond meal
  • 1/2 cup + 2 tbsp castor sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
    For the syrup
  • Juice of one Orange
  • 1/4 cup sugar

Instructions

  1. Boil the orange in a large pot of water until soft
  2. Discard the water and puree the orange. Remember to remove any pits
  3. Prepare a 12 hole muffin tray and set aside. Use butter and flour to make it none stick. Check instructions in the post
  4. Pre-heat the oven to 160 C ( without fan)
  5. Whisk eggs and sugar using a stand mixer, until thick and pale
  6. Fold in the Orange puree followed by the almond meal and baking soda
  7. Deposit batter evenly into the prepared muffin tray
  8. Bake the cakes for 30 minutes
  9. Always check at 20 minute mark and if top is browning too quickly, cover with a foil
  10. To make the syrup, bring sugar and Orange juice to a boil and let it simmer for about 5 minutes until syrup thickens a bit
  11. Once cakes are done, done remove from oven and leave to cool for few minutes
  12. Remove the cakes, prick with a tooth pick and soak with warm syrup
https://myloveofbaking.com/mini-flourless-orange-cakes/
Continue Reading

Pineapple macarons

macarones

I still remeber clearly, the first time I bit into a proper macaron, about 8 years ago, at Ladurée in Paris. I was amazed by the elegant, classy spread of pastries and other sweets sitting in that luxurious gold framed cabinet and the macarons caught my eyes immediately.

A picture I took at the Laduree

I had always thought of it as an overly sweet candy full of calories. But, these Oh my God! the not too sweet, yet flavorful, fragile smooth exterior with the soft chewy center….the experience kind of registered in my brain forever!

laduree
Boy! I wanted to buy the whole place

I wasn’t into baking back then, had only made a few cakes here and there, but I tried to replicate the macaron when I returned home. I couldn’t find almond meal (wasn’t common in Sri Lanka back then, not sure about now)so I used peanut flour and came quite close but I wasn’t happy. Long story short, this became one of the many bakes I enjoyed making later after I migrated to Australia, where finding ingredients wasn’t a problem and I was way ahead of my baking game by then.

macarones

So I had several failed attempts like everyone else. But every time, I learnt something new and moved forward. Also I learnt making macarons in bakery school, but they were my least favorite so far. Because the recipe is fool-proof, it uses a different technique, which resulted in a hard, grainy macaron, but they were quite stable of course (bakery style). So I stick to this recipe which is fiddly, tricky yet produced a much delicate and elegant macaron shell, which is very closer to the one I had in Paris years ago.

I will explain the most crucial steps. If you get these steps right, you’ll get the macarons right the first time!

flour mix

Getting the dry ingredients right is very important. Grind the icing sugar and almond flour mixture in a food processor and sieve it twice. If you think the particles are not fine enough, process again and sieve once more, until they are very fine to the touch. There shouldn’t be any grainy bits or lumps.

egg white

Next is getting the meringue ready. For best results use a day(or more) old egg whites. Separate the egg whites, place in a container, close the lid and refrigerate for at least a day. This will remove some of the moisture.

Bring the egg whites to room temperature and beat them to soft peaks before adding sugar.

You can add a pinch of cream of tartar or a drop of vinegar to stabilize the meringue (I have not)

merigue

Use super fine castor sugar for best results.

Add sugar bit by bit while beating the egg white on high speed. When the meringue is thick and glossy, add the gel coloring and the essence. Beat a few seconds to incorporate. Taste the meringue to check on flavor and adjust.

Meringue should be shiny and very stiff. (same consistency you get to make a pavlova)

mixing

The most important step out of all is the mixing of flour mixture and the meringue. Add half the dry mix and fold a few times. No need to mix all the way. Add the other half in one go. Now start mixing using a spatula. Fold and cut through the middle and repeat, until flour is incorporated. Now you have a thick batter. Keep mixing until you reach the ribbon consistency. That means, you should be able to draw a figure 8 without breaking and the figure should disappear slowly into the batter. At this stage STOP mixing!

One more stoke could ruin your batter

stencil

If you don’t have a fancy macaron mat, use a stencil like shown in the picture. Place it underneath the parchment and remove it once you have piped and reuse it!

I like parchment paper over silicon mat, as it dries out macarons really nicely

piping

Transfer the batter in to a piping bag fitted with a round tip (13 mm).

Hold the bag perpendicular to the tray and pipe a dollop. It shouldn’t cover the whole circle. Because the batter is going to spread a bit and we are going to tap the tray later. So pipe a smaller circle than you actually want it to be.

piped macarones

Once done piping, bang/tap/drop the tray on the table several times. This will release any over sized air bubbles trapped inside the batter. Trust me there is a lot. If you didn’t do this then you will see cracks everywhere and big blisters on the surface, when baked.

If you are like me, take a tooth pick and pop any visible air bubbles on the surface. This is optional 🙂

dry to the touch

Now that you are done piping and tapping, leave the macarones in a cool area to dry out. This may take anywhere between 30 – 60 minutes or more in very humid atmospheres. You can use an exhaust fan or a normal fan to speed the process up!

They should be dry to the touch. You should be able to touch the surface without batter sticking to your finger. It is almost like a skin has formed on top. This skin is what gives the nice feet!

baked

Bake the macarones in a (150 C) 300 F oven for 17 – 19 minutes. But check them at 15 minutes, every oven is different. They should peel off easily once fully done, without anything sticking to the paper.

cool

Once baked, let the shells cool completely. If you are not filling them, on the same day, you can pack them in an air tight container and store in the refrigerator or at room temperature in cooler weathers (18 C – 19 C) Humidity/moisture is their main enemy.

pineapple jam

I’m using a simple butter cream and some homemade pineapple jam to fill these. You can use cream cheese or pineapple flavored butter cream instead. Even store bought jam works too. So be creative with the filling.

filling

This is how I chose to do it!. Apply a light butter cream later on both shells to prevent shells going soggy. And pipe a ring of butter cream on one side. Fill the center with pineapple jam. Place the other shell on top and press to sandwich.

macarones

As bizarre as it may sound, the macarones need to mature a day or two for maximum enjoyment. Place the sandwiched cookies in an air-tight container and refrigerate. This will help firm up the cookie and the filling and also give it’s characteristic texture to the macaron. But nothing is stopping you if you just want to pop them in your mouth right there!

That is it! You have made a batch of macarones. There are many recipes and blog posts and videos on the internet, about getting the perfect macarone, and they all are great!. If you can find time, I suggest, that you check as many as you can. Every person has their little secret and you can learn more by watching a video/tutorial. This is just my two cents!

pineapple macarons

No matter what flavor you want, the basic steps are the same. So try basic vanilla ones if it is your first time. Work on getting the technique right. Once you are there, then play with different flavors and colors. It will be really fun.

close up
Here’s a close up for your maximum enjoyment

Following are some matcha macarones I made some time back, using this same recipe, method and techniques. I only added 2 tablespoons of matcha powder to the flour mixture and sandwiched the cookies with lemon cream cheese.

matcha macarones
Matcha (green tea) and cream cheese macarons
Pineapple macarons

cookies, dessert, snacks

Pineapple macarons

Ingredients

  • 3 (90 g) egg whites ( day old) at room temperature
  • 70 g super fine castor sugar
  • 100 g almond meal
  • 170 g icing sugar
  • 1 tbsp pineapple extract or more to taste
  • few drops of yellow coloring ( Jell paste works best)
  • Pineapple jam ( 2/3 cups)
  • Buttercream frosting ( 1 stick butter + 2- 21/2 cups icing sugar + 1 tbsp milk)

Instructions

  1. Separate eggs and refrigerate the egg whites, in a closed container, at least a day prior to making this recipe
  2. Prepare trays lined with parchment paper and get a stencil ready if you like
  3. Bring the egg whites to room temperature ( let them sit for 30 minutes on the counter)
  4. Grind and sieve the almond meal and icing sugar to obtain a finer texture. See picture and explanation above in the post
  5. Whisk egg whites (using stand mixer) to soft peaks stage
  6. Start adding sugar a tea spoon at a time and continue to whist on high speed
  7. Do this until all sugar is gone and the meringue reach stiff peaks
  8. The meringue should be very stiff and shiny
  9. Add the flavor and color at this stage and whisk to incorporate
  10. Add half of the dry mix to the meringue and mix just to start combining
  11. Then add the rest and mix to incorporate using a spatula
  12. Read the instructions on the post for more details
  13. Keep mixing until the desired batter consistency is achieved (check the post for details and photo)
  14. Transfer the batter into a piping bag fitted with a 13 mm round tip
  15. Pipe circles onto the prepared parchment paper
  16. Leave space around
  17. Once piped, tap the tray several times on the bench
  18. And leave the macarones to air dry for 30 minutes or more
  19. The top should be dry to the touch
  20. Preheat oven to 300 F or 150 C
  21. Bake the macarones one tray at a time for 15 -19 minutes
  22. Always keep an eye and check them at 15 minute mark ( the size of the macarone will affect the time)
  23. Once done take the trays out and let cool for a few minutes
  24. If macarones are releasing without any effort, then they are ready, otherwise they need another 2 minutes or so.
  25. Once done let them cool completely before handling/filling
  26. Fill the macarone with butter cream and pineapple jam. Check post for more information
https://myloveofbaking.com/pineapple-macarons/
Continue Reading

Thyme infused sourdough dinner rolls

dinner rolls

I think I invented the most perfect dinner rolls recipe ever! That sounds a bit too dramatic, but trust me, that’s how I felt when they came out of the oven. They smelled so good and tasted even better with a slathering of butter, still warm and fresh.

These are NOT super enriched, brioche style buns. But they are soft, aromatic, nutty and wholesome. I think these are the perfect side to serve with your main or the bread and butter course it self. They don’t taste overly sweet, jut a touch of honey, so the thyme flavor is the real hero here. Just 10% each of wholemeal and rye makes a world of difference, by adding that nutty texture and the tiny brown color speckle to the crumb.

Thyme infused dinner rolls

Lastly, this is a recipe that can be stretched well over three days and the dough is very forgiving. So you don’t have to be precise about fermenting duration and retardation. I will mention this at each step.

Baked long rolls

To start with, as usual, with any sourdough recipe, you need the fed starter. I’m using a 100% hydrated fed, ripe starter for this recipe. If you want more details about starter head over to this link.

infused butter

Infuse butter by heating the butter with a bunch id thyme over medium heat. Let the mixture come to room temperature before removing the thyme stems.

dough

Mix everything as described in the recipe until a dough is formed, Knead it by hand until smooth. Place in a closed container and let ferment until almost doubled in size.

doubled dough

Once the dough is almost doubled, punch down lightly and refrigerate over night ( or at least 10 hours) You can extend this time up to 24 hours

divided dough

Divide the dough in to pieces and let them rest, covered for 15 minutes before shaping

shaped dough

Shape the dough pieces in to rounds or cylinders and place them in the baking dish/tray leave space around

shaped dough

Shaped into cylindrical shape and stacked in a deep loaf tin works too

proofed dough

proofed dough (after 6-8 hours depending on the temperature) The slower the proof, the better the flavour

proofed dough

proofed long buns. once the buns are proofed, preheat the oven, brush the buns with a whisked egg, and bake for 20 minutes

baked rolles

Once baked let the rolls cool on a wire rack

baked rolls

Baked rolls (long)

These rolls are perfect served warm with butter.

These rolls can be kept in a air-tight container at room temperature for up to two days. You can freshen them up in the microwave (20 sec), then will be soft and lovely as good as new.

Thyme infused dinner rolls
Thyme infused rolls

If you wan to freeze them, seal them tightly in a freezer bag before freezing. To serve the frozen rolls, first let them come to room temperature and warm them in microwave (20 sec) or in a moderate oven (10 minutes).

Soft rolls

I guess these can be infused with other herbs you like, so go ahead and try with your favorite herb like rosemary, sage etc. I have used a mild honey because I wanted to hero the thyme flavor. You can substitute honey with sugar, or maple syrup.

Soft rolls
Thyme infused sourdough dinner rolls

Bread, buns

Thyme infused sourdough dinner rolls

Ingredients

  • 140 g ripe sourdough starter
  • 200 g bread flour
  • 200 g all purpose flour
  • 50 g rye flour
  • 50 g wholemeal flour
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 3 tbsp honey
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3/4 cups milk
  • 1 stick butter (110 g)
  • a bunch of thyme
  • 1 egg to egg wash

Instructions

    For the infused butter
  1. Place the stick of butter and a hand full of thyme(with stems) in a pot and melt over medium heat
  2. Stir until butter melts
  3. Once the butter is melted, let it simmer for two minutes and take off the heat
  4. Let the mixture cool to room temperature
  5. Once cooled, remove the thyme stems, leaving some of the leaves
    For the dough
  1. In to a bowl of a stand mixer, add all the flours and salt
  2. Lightly mix to combine
  3. Add the eggs, honey, starter, butter mixture and 1/2 cup of the milk and start to mix
  4. Add the rest of the milk as you go, to make a soft dough
  5. Once the dough comes together, bring it over to an oiled surface and knead by hand until smooth (for about a minute or two)
  6. Place the dough in a plastic tub (non reactive container) close the lid and set in a warm draft free area to ferment
  7. The dough need to be roughly doubled in size (should take about 5-6 hours or more)
  8. Once the dough is bigger, punch it down slightly, place in the same container and refrigerate overnight (minimum of 10 hours)
  9. When you are ready, take the dough out and let it come to room temperature and soften up (should take about 4 hours)
  10. Place in a warm oven (27 C – 30 C) to speed up
  11. Once the dough is soft, divide into pieces ( 14 pieces of 70 g or 12 pieces of 80 g)
  12. Cover and let these rest for 10 – 15 minutes
  13. Then shape them in to rounds or cylinders (shape of hot dog buns)
  14. Once shaped, place them in on a lined tray or a greased deep baking dish
  15. Leave about 1/2 inch gap all around for the will grow bigger as they prove
  16. Now cover them with plastic wrap and place in a warm draft free place for the final rise(may take several hours ~6 or more)
  17. To speed up place in a warm oven (27 to 30 C)
  18. When they are proofed, preheat the oven to 400 F (200 C)
  19. Lightly egg wash the buns on top, and bake for about 20 minutes or until top is golden brown
  20. Once baked, remove from the oven and cool on a wire rack
  21. Serve warm

Microwave for 20 seconds to warm these buns before serving

Store then in an air-tight container for up to two days at room temperature or freeze in a freezer bag

Thaw frozen buns ans microwave to freshen them up

https://myloveofbaking.com/thyme-infused-sourdough-dinner-rolls/
Continue Reading

Cranberry marzipan sourdough couronne

cranberry couronne

I watch baking videos on my way to work and that is why I love to take the bus. This is the time I use to visualize, sketch and brain storm about my bakes and plan in my head about what I am going to tackles next. I thought of revisiting some of the older seasons of GBBO last week, and this couronne of Paul Hollywood took me in complete awe.

So, I created something in my head, that ticked the following boxes

  • an enriched dough
  • naturally leavened
  • use my cranberry jam
  • tastes and look festive
  • indulging but packs a punch

And as a result, this recipe was born, last weekend. I didn’t know what to expect, up until the time I actually took a bite. Well, I couldn’t believe what I just put in my mouth! It was that good! If I eat this with my eyes closed, I wouldn’t know what to call this. It feels like a bit of mince pie, an orange pond cake, a frangipane tart and brioche all mingling in your mouth harmoniously.

I will mention what each component does in this couronne, so you can substitute these with your favorite things. But I seriously recommend you try this combo.

Homemade Cranberry jam – color, tartness cuts through the sweetness. It is chunky, so adds texture

Orange marzipan – adds fragrance from orange, adds sweetness and texture, keep the bake moist

Crystallized ginger – adds warmth, adds a punch

Sultana – texture, flavor of mince meat (Christmacy in other words)

Orange glaze – adds a shine to the finished product, keeps it moist for longer, enhance flavor

Here is the step by step process:

starter

Get the sweet stiff starter mixed. Form in to a tough dough ball and place in a container, closed. Let this ferment until it is doubled in size. Could take between 8-12 hours depending on the room temp.(overnight works for me) If you wan to delay the process, place this in the fridge for a few hours to slow down.

starter

I forgot to take a picture before opening up the fermented stiff starter ball. Here is an inside shot anyway. This is ready to be mixed with the dough now

dough

Mix everything according to the recipe below to make the dough. Dough will be sticky. Notice there is no sugar in this dough, just in the starter. Once mixed, take it out on to a floured surface, and fold a few times to make it smooth, check the next image.

dough

Once the dough is smooth like this, place it in a greased container, cover and place in a warm draft free area to ferment, until it is nearly doubled in size.

This is a good time to make the marzipan too. Use the same mixing ball, no need to wash it. Mix in all the ingredients in the recipe, and get it shaped nice and smooth like in this picture. Wrap this in cling wrap, and place in the fridge.

dough

The dough is nearly doubled in size. (this took about 6 hours at 20 C) Now place this in the fridge for several hours. Time these to suite your schedule. It is alright to leave it out or in the fridge for couple of extra hours.

At this stage, the dough is too soft to handle. By placing in the fridge, this will firm up.

marzipane

Final big step is to put all these together. Ready your jam, ginger, sultana and set aside. Take the dough out and let it soften a bit. In the meantime, roll the marzipan as thinly as possible. Use two parchment papers or use a Silpat like i did. The marzipan should be the same size as your dough sheet. Get it roughly to what you plan to get your dough at. If your kitchen is warm, place this in the fridge until you roll the dough.

dough

Roll the dough on a well floured bench. The thickness shouldn’t be less than 3/4 of a centimeter. If you roll it too thin, it will break when you spread filling and also will tear when rolling.

dough

Spread the jam on the dough. I use my fingers. A spatula may tear the dough underneath. Leave space here an there. Check the picture. And then scatter the sultana and ginger pieces.

dough

Now lay the marzipan over the filling. Simply take the marzipan you rolled, take the top parchment paper off, tip it over the dough, so marzipan is facing the filling. Peel off the Silpat/parchment that was underneath.

Trim the marzipan edges if it overhangs. Press gently so it sticks to the filling.

dough

Now roll the dough as you would do with a cinnamon roll. Flour your hands generously.

dough

This step is similar to any babka, if you have made that before. Cut through the rolled dough, length wise, using a sharp knife. Turn the strands upwards. Twist the two strands to form a spiral. Try not to lose too much filling in this process.

dough

Once twisted, form a ring with the dough by joining the two ends. Do this on the tray if you like. Or do it on the bench and carefully transfer it onto the tray. Now this has to rest/proof for a few hours. (3-4 hours I would say) You wouldn’t notice much difference in the size. But the dough will spring back when gently poked. The resting will help relax the dough.

Bake in a hot oven (410 F) for 40 minutes. If top start to burn, cover with a foil during the last 5-10 minutes

couronne

While the couronne is baking, get the orange glaze ready. Bring freshly squeezed orange juice and sugar to a boil and simmer for 3-4 minutes until thickens.

You can of course use apricot jam glaze instead.

Once the loaf is out of the oven, glaze while it is still hot. And then let it cool down on a wire rack

That is it! You can then decorate this however you like. You can drizzle this with white lemon icing or even royal icing for a fancier finish. Decorate with red and green cherries for an even better look! I kept is simple with some sugar coated cranberries, few rosemary ends and a light dusting of icing sugar.

You can of course, use mince meat instead of my cranberry filling.

Give this a go and leave a comment

Bon Appétit !!

Cranberry marzipan couronne

Bread

cranberry couronne

Ingredients

    For the starter
  • 70 g flour
  • 1 tbsp active starter
  • 2 tbs sugar (brown or white)
  • +/-30 g water
    For the dough
  • 70 g of above sweet starter
  • 250 g flour
  • 5 g salt
  • 1 egg
  • 50 g butter (soft, cubed)
  • 125 ml milk (+/-)
    For the Marzipan
  • 200 g ground almonds (almond flour)
  • 100 g icing sugar
  • 60 g castor sugar
  • 1 egg
  • zest of one orange (very important)
    For the spread
  • about a 3/4 cups of Cranberry jam (preferably homemade)
  • 1/3 cups of sultana
  • 1/4 cups of crystallized ginger cut into small pieces
    For the glaze
  • Equal parts of orange juice and sugar
  • OR
  • 1/2 cup apricot jam

Instructions

  1. Make the starter ahead and let ferment.
  2. To make the dough, mix everything except milk in a bowl of a stand mixer, fitted with a hook attachment.
  3. Start mixing on low and slowly add milk, to bring the dough together
  4. If necessary add extra milk or a little water (tablespoon at a time). The dough should be soft and sticky
  5. Take the dough off on to a floured surface, and knead by hand to form a smooth ball
  6. Place in a covered bowl and leave in a warm place for several hours
  7. Make the marzipan, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate.
  8. The dough will be risen considerably (almost double) if not leave for another hour or two
  9. Then refrigerate the dough covered for several hours or overnight
  10. When you are ready to make the couronne, take the dough out and let it soften (not too much, its easier to handle when cold)
  11. Prepare a tray lined with a parchment paper and set aside
  12. Prepare the filling and set them aside
  13. Roll out the marzipan between two parchment papers. Check the post and the pictures.
  14. Now take the dough on to a floured surface and roll out to a rectangle
  15. About 45 cm by 35 cm( the dough thickness should be no more than 3/4 cm)
  16. Once done, spread the pear jam, sprinkle with sultana and ginger (you don’t have to use all of the filling)
  17. Place the marzipan layer on top of the filling. Press gently. check the images above
  18. Starting from one end roll the dough tightly length-wise
  19. Using a sharp knife cut the rolled cylinder in half along the length ( see picture)
  20. Now twist the two strands (look at the photos in the post)
  21. Make sure to have cut sides exposed.
  22. Once twisted, bring the two end together to form a ring
  23. Tuck the end bits underneath
  24. Place on the prepared tray
  25. Leave covered in a warm place for about two – three hours (or more depending on the temp.)
  26. The dough will be softer to tough and will spring back when poked gently
  27. Preheat the oven to 410 F
  28. Bake for 40 minutes, turning the tray half-way through to the bake
  29. In the meantime make the Orange sugar syrup
  30. Once done remove the baked couronne from the oven
  31. Top should be golden brown and should sound hollow when tapped
  32. Lightly brush with the sugar syrup or melted apricot jam
  33. Once done let this cool completely before cutting in as the filling need setting
  34. Decorate with whatever you like
  35. Slice with a serrated knife
https://myloveofbaking.com/cranberry-marzipan-couronne/
Continue Reading

Pear & Walnut Sourdough Babka

babka

I have been all about apples and pumpkins lately and I almost forgot pears, until I accidentally bumped into a stall at the farmers market, flooded with multi-colored pears.

I have been eating them from the start of the season, but didn’t think of baking with them. So I thought, this is a good chance for that. I have been baking more bread than cakes lately as my household solely depend on my bread. Plus we are controlling our sugar intake. It’s not like we are on a strict diet or anything, just that we try to balance what we put in our bodies. So something along bread line seemed more appropriate than an indulgent cake.

babka

The thing is I don’t bake for the sake of IG or my blog. Everything I bake gets eaten to the last crumb, in other words, I can only bake what we could consume.

So back to the babka. For this one, I’m using a sweet starter with less hydration. This allows you to control moisture later. The starter can be made ahead (6 or more hours prior to making the dough). Use 50% – 75% hydration. It is important to use fed, ripe starter to make this to get the maximum volume.

babka

The pear jam could be made ahead too. The jam need to be cold when spreading over the dough. And it wouldn’t hurt to toast the walnuts before hand too.

I will mention the step by step method below.

dough

Mix the dough according to instruction on the recipe. Place the dough in a lightly greased plastic bowl and cover. Let it double in volume. In a warm, draft free place, this could take up to 5-6 hours. The starter strength is a factor here too.

dough

This is how the dough looks like, when it is doubled it’s size. It’s grown sideways and upwards too. (the picture doesn’t show the upwards rise) But roughly twice the size is good enough. At this stage, lightly punch the dough and re-shape in to a ball (it will shrink to a smaller dough ball) and place back in the same container. Close the lid tightly and place in the fridge for 10-12 hours or overnight. This can be longer, even up to 24 hours.

dough

How the dough looks like right out of the refrigerator. It will be firm to the touch. Let this thaw for a bout 5- 10 minutes, but not longer. We just need it to be workable but not too warm. It is easier to roll-out and cut a firmer dough.

dough

Lightly dust the bench and the dough with flour. Start to roll the dough to a rectangle. If dough starts to shrink back, let it rest for 5 minutes. If your kitchen is warm, cover refrigerate the dough for 5-10 minutes to let it relax.

dough

once rolled out, it should be about 1/2 cm in thickness. Do not roll out too thin, the dough might tear when you spread filling. Too thick and you won’t get may swirls.

Pear jam

There’s no specific recipe for this. Peel and core two pears, cut into cubes. Add to a saucepan with 2 tbsp dark brown sugar, 1 tbsp sugar, 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar and bring to boil. Reduce heat and simmer. Smash the pears once soften. I left few chunks. Simmer for about 30 minutes or so until reduced and thickens to a jammy consistency. Let this cool.

walnuts

Toast walnuts until golden. then chop the roughly. Set aside.

dough

Spread the pear jam evenly, and sprinkle with walnuts. Scatter some dark brown sugar if you like.

rolling

Start rolling the dough. This could be along the length or width. If you like more swirls, roll it along the width wise. I’m doing length-wise here. I like medium swirls as it is easier to handle when twisting.

dough

cut the dough in half along the length. And slowly turn the cut sides up, without losing the filling.

dough

Pinch one end together and start inter-twining. Twist the two strands all the way down, keeping the cut(open) side up, all the while. Pinch the end bits too. If the dough is too long for the tin, using both hands, lightly squash the dough from the two ends until it becomes a bit shorter, so it fits the loaf tin.

Check the video to get an idea.

dough

Lift the dough and place carefully in the greased tin. Adjust to fill the tin evenly. Do not disturb the layers. Now cover this with a plastic, with ample room to grow. The top shouldn’t be touching the cover. let this prove in a warm place. This might take up several hours. (4-6 hours) Warmer the room temperature, the quicker the rise

proofed dough

This is how the proofed loaf will look like. It is slightly jiggly, softer to the tough and considerably grown to fit the tin. the dough will spring back when poked. Check this video. Pre-heat the oven to 360 F and place the rack in the bottom 2/3 of the oven. This will stop from top catching too much. Ans back for 40 – 50 minutes. Turn the loaf around after the first 20 minutes, so that both sides will be baked evenly.

Once the loaf is baked (golden brown and sound hollow when tapped) take it out of the oven. Brush with a light sugar syrup. This is optional, but will help keep the loaf moist for longer, and add a shine to the top too. (Sugar syrup is 1:1 water and sugar, boiled for few minutes until slightly thick)

Once baked, this need some time to cool down. Do not cut it while warm, the filling need to settle and the crumb will be too wet and the layers will fall apart.

I loved the flavor so much. The pear jam is sweet and tart at the same time. Goes well with the mildly sweet brioche like bread and the nuts add a crunch, which is perfect!! The most delicious bit for me is the gooey top. It’s crispy, sweet, and crunchy with nuts and sugar crystals. Oh it’s pure heaven on a plate.

Let me know, if you try this out. And as always shoot any comment or question below or on IG.

Pear Jam and Walnut Sourdough Babka

Bread, snacks

babka

Ingredients

    for the dough
  • 120 g fed active sweet starter
  • 300 g flour
  • 1 egg + 1 egg yolk
  • 50 g butter (soft, cubed)
  • 100 ml milk (+/-)
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
    for the spread
  • about a 3/4 cups of Pear jam (made from 2 pears)
  • 1/2 cup of toasted chopped walnuts
  • 1/4 cups dark brown sugar (optional)
  • 1 egg to egg wash

Instructions

  1. Make the starter ahead. ( mix roughly 75 g flour, 35 g water, 10 g culture)
  2. Make the Pear jam and ready the nuts ( you can do this while the dough ferments)
  3. To make the dough, mix everything except milk in a bowl of a stand mixer, fitted with a hook attachment.
  4. Start mixing on low and slowly add milk, to bring the dough together
  5. If necessary add extra milk or a little water (tablespoon at a time). The dough should be soft
  6. Once the dough start to form, increase the speed to medium and mix for about 5 to 8 minutes, until dough becomes smooth or do this by hand.
  7. Take the dough off on to a floured surface, and knead by hand to form a ball
  8. Place in a covered bowl and leave in a warm place for about 5 hours
  9. The dough will be risen considerably (almost double) if not leave for another hour or two
  10. 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)
  11. 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)
  12. Prepare a loaf tin lined with a parchment paper or grease it with spray
  13. Take the dough on to a floured surface and roll out to a rectangle
  14. About 45 cm by 35 cm( the dough thickness should be no more than 1/2 cm)
  15. Once done, spread the pear jam, sprinkle nuts and brown sugar evenly
  16. Starting from one end roll the dough tightly length-wise ( or width-wise if you prefer)
  17. Using a sharp knife cut the rolled cylinder in half along the length ( see picture)
  18. Now twist the two strands (look at the photos in the post)
  19. Twisting will make it shorter and would fit in the loaf tin
  20. Make sure to have cut sides exposed.
  21. Once twisted, pack the dough in the loaf tin
  22. Tuck the end bits underneath
  23. Make sure the dough is spread as evenly as possible across the tin
  24. Leave covered in a warm place for about two – three hours (or more depending on the temp.) for the final rise
  25. The loaf will expand and fill the tin and will look fuller and softer
  26. Preheat the oven to 360 F ( 180 C)
  27. Brush the top with egg wash and bake for 40-50 minutes, turning the pan half-way through to the bake
  28. In the meantime make the sugar syrup
  29. Once done remove the loaf from the oven
  30. Top should be golden brown and should sound hollow when tapped
  31. Lightly brush with a sugar syrup if you like
  32. Once done let this cool completely before cutting in as the filling need setting
  33. Slice with a serrated knife
https://myloveofbaking.com/pear-walnut-sourdough-babka/
Continue Reading

Spicy Ginger cookies

Make these ahead for the winter!

ginger cookies

These ginger cookies resembles, my favorite ginger biscuit I used to eat back in Sri Lanka. Oddly enough, I used to hate these as a kid but fell completely in love with, growing up. I remember the mini me wondering why would anyone want to eat the fiery biscuit when there are so many other sweet and delicious stuff out there let along enjoying them.Funnily enough, I took a packet of these to Sweden, and my colleagues at work, allegedly burnt their throats trying to eat them.

So undoubtedly, this is an adult cookie, despite not having any booze. And these are not for the faint-hearted. If you can’t handle spices, you should consider cutting down on the amount of fresh ginger used in the recipe. I used 4 tsp but the recipe states 3, as I thought this might be too much for anyone trying this for the first time.

ginger cookies

This cookie is very similar to a gingerbread except for the fact that it uses a lot of freshly grated ginger to give it’s characteristic heat. The fresh ginger is a great addition for desserts and I love to use it in place of or in combination with ground ginger. The flavor is very pungent and it really adds warmth to a dish.

ginger cookies

The ginger that’s grown in South east Asia is different to the ones I found here in the US and back in Australia. The Asian version is smaller, more compact and very strong. A little goes a long way. But the ginger I buy here are huge, watery and very mild in flavor. So I had to use a considerable amount to get the same heat.

I’m using both fresh and ground ginger

Make sure to grate the ginger finely, using a micro-plane. This ensures a smooth batter and the heat is distributed evenly.

If you can’t find fresh ginger, you can substitute that with ground ginger, but the flavor won’t be the same, but it will still be a warming cookie. If you feel experimental, try adding crystallized ginger for an extra kick and texture.

ginger cookies
baked ginger cookies looking all crispy and inviting

Feel free to adjust the heat, by varying the amount of fresh ginger you use. I suggest you give this a try first, may be make half a batch and adjust the recipe to your liking. If for any reason you didn’t like the cookie as is or if it is too pungent to eat on it’s own, you can use it in desserts. These can be used in trifels, biscuit puddings and even in tiramisu.

I have coated the ginger cookies in turbinado sugar/ raw sugar, just to add extra crisp and texture. This is entirely optional. The original biscuit was plain anyway.

dough should not be sticky so you could roll it in between your palms into ball

coat the dough ball with raw sugar crystals

place on a tray and bake until golden brown and firm to the touch

Finally, these are great for dunking! makes the perfect treat with a warm cup of tea on a cold winter evening. I love these with a glass of milk in the night.

So give these a go, burn your lips and think of me!

Spicy Ginger cookies

cookies

ginger cookies

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp bi carbonate of soda (baking soda)
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 3/4 cup dark brown sugar (lightly packed)
  • 1/8 cup molasses
  • 1/2 cup butter (1 stick) at room temperature
  • 1 small egg at room temperature
  • 1 tbsp ground ginger
  • 3 tsp freshly grated ginger
  • 1/8 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/4 tsp Ceylon cinnamon
  • turbinado sugar/raw sugar to coat (optional)

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 360 F
  2. In a bowl of a stand mixer, fitted with a paddle, beat the butter with brown sugar until combined
  3. Add molasses, ground ginger and mix to combine
  4. Add the egg and beat to clear
  5. Sift flour, baking soda, salt and other spices into a separate bowl
  6. Add the flour mixture to the above wet ingredients
  7. Beat/mix on slow speed until everything combines together to form a dough and sides are cleared
  8. This dough should not be sticky, you should be able to form a ball easily by hand
  9. If it is too sticky, place in the fridge for 5- 10 minutes to firm up
  10. Prepare two baking sheets lined with parchment paper
  11. Take a table spoon of dough, squash it and roll between the two palms to form a ball
  12. Coat the dough with raw sugar and place on the rack and press to flatten a bit. Check the photo in the post
  13. Bake for 17 minutes. But check for doneness at 15 minute mark
  14. * it is always a good idea to bake a tester cookie, just to make sure the oven temperature is right and the cookie comes out the way you like! Depending on the tester, you can tweak the cookie size and the oven temp.
  15. Let cool off on the tray before removing on to a wire rack to fully cool the cookies
  16. Store in an air-tight container
https://myloveofbaking.com/spicy-ginger-cookies/
Continue Reading

Sourdough croissants

A guide to patisserie quality french laminated pastry using natural yeast!

sourdough croissants

I will skip the long boring story about my love for laminated dough and get straight to the technical details. I have another post where I talk about nailing the croissants at home. Those points are still valid here too. The fact that you are using natural yeast, doesn’t change anything with the lamination and the rest of the technicalities of making croissants.

The most important factor here is the strength of your starter. Only you know your starter, so it is practically impossible for me to tell you when it is at it’s peak or how much of it to use. But for the moment, I will assume that you have an active starter, with a good track record of making nice baked goods. I generally consider a starter as a good starter, if it doubles in less than 6 hours (at room temperature), once fed with 1:1 flour and water. This is just a gauge I use, and has worked for me.

To rejuvenate your starter, make sure you feed it for a whole day (every 6 hours) and that it is not starved or tucked in a fridge. Once your starter is active an bubbly (just before it collapses) is the perfect time to make the sweet starter for the croissant dough. This may sound like a lot of work, but if you are constantly baking with your starter, you usually know when your starter is at it’s peak, and for best results we have to use it just before it reaches it’s peak.

chart

Red circle shows the starter height just before it’s peak and so the red star is the time we should use the starter!

For the croissants we will make a stiffer starter, meaning using less water. In this case it is a little less than 40% water. This makes a dough ball rather than a paste. If you are not used to making stiff starters, this might seems strange at first. So by reducing water, we will slow down the activity and also, this gives us a chance to control our final dough hydration. The starter also use two tablespoons of sugar ( this can be either brown or white) This is a considerable amount of sugar and could slow down fermentation. That is why we use 50% culture. A starter made with these ratios will take roughly about 12 hours to reach it’s peak.

To make the starter, mix the starter ingredients and knead into a firm ball. Make sure everything is combined. Now let this sit for 12 hours in a big plastic container covered with a lid or cling film.

The sponge will be expanded to about three times it’s original size and would feel like a sponge when you touch it. The texture will be airy and sponge like and would smell acidic. This is now ready to be mixed with the dough.

To make the dough mix all the dough ingredients and the starter sponge in a stand mixer and mix until everything is combined. When the dough forms, take it off the mixer on to a bench surface and knead slightly by hand, just to make sure it’s consistent and no lumps are present. You do not have to make it smooth, just make sure everything is properly mixed.

croissant dough

Then flatten the dough slightly, as shown in the picture below, wrap it in cling film and refrigerate for about a day (24 hours) If I mix the dough around 11 am on Friday, I usually refrigerate it till Saturday morning (9 a.m or 10 a.m). I usually do this to fit my schedule,and this retardation is forgiving, so it doesn’t matter if you over do it by a couple of hours.

This long slow proof allow yeast to multiply but without making the dough going soft. If we proof too much at this stage, we will be losing all the air during the lamination. So this is just to let the yeast kick start their fermentation.

After the long retardation, now we are ready to laminate the dough. This is the crucial bit. This is where the layers are being added. The neater the layers now, the prettier your croissants will look.

butter

We will start this by making a butter block. I use four butter ticks and about 1/3 cup of flour to make the butter slab. I read this somewhere, that flour makes butter a little bit more stable, so when we roll out, it won’t melt as fast. Because at home, we don’t have the dough sheeters, which roll out the pastry in one go. Instead we have to try rolling several times using a rolling pin. This takes time and dough sitting for too long in the room temperature isn’t a good thing as the butter tend to melt away, taking the layers with it.

butter

To make the butter slab, let butter go a little soft, just until it feels like play dough. Now all we do is mix butter with flour.

butter

Take the mix out and flatten it out between two cling films. The slab should be about 3/4 centimeter in thickness. Make it to a neat rectangle or a square (about 9″ by 9″ for this dough). Refrigerate this to firm up. Check this video.

For the lamination to start, the dough and the butter slab should have the same firmness. So that when we roll out, the two will expand harmoniously creating an even layer of butter and dough.

lamination

Take the dough out of the fridge, and roll it out to twice the size of the butter slab as we are going to wrap the butter with this dough. Check the image. Check this video to see how I do this.

When rolling out the dough, lightly dust the bench and use firm motion to roll out the dough to one direction. Lift the dough up and re-flour the bench to stop it from sticking and stretching too much. If your dough feels elastic let it rest in the fridge for 10 minutes before continuing.

Now wrap the butter slab with the dough and seal all sides. Now place the dough so that the closed side (the folded edge) is on either on your right or left. Follow the diagram for the folds. We will do three letter folds. If you are worried, stop at two letter folds or you can do two book folds if you like. The more you folds, the more you handle the dough and the risk of butter being melted gets higher, if you are not careful. Check this video.

lamination

Roll out the dough to about 20 inches and do a letter fold. Wrap and refrigerate for about 30 minutes. Rotate the dough 90 degrees and roll out to 20 inches again, wrap and chill for another 30 minutes. Take out the dough and give another letter fold. Repeat one more time. Place back in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes and roll out to 20 inches. Now we are done laminating.

Now wrap and let this dough rest for about 10 – 12 hours. Then we need to roll out the pastry to actual final thickness to cut out the shapes. What I usually do it cut the pastry in to two and roll out the two pieces separately. Final dough thickness should be about 1/2 centimeter.

dough
roll out in two batches

Take your time doing this. If the dough seems elastic, let it rest in the fridge and roll out again. Once the final width is achieved, wrap and chill for another two hours before cutting out shapes.

Use a ruler or a cardboard block to cut the triangular shapes. And make the croissants as shown in the pictures below.

Make a slit on the top edge and stretch it slightly

Start rolling from top to bottom.

sourdough croissants

Tuck the end underneath

Once these are done, you can either refrigerate them for about 12 hours or let them proof straight. To prove these, place on a tray cover and let sit for about 8 hours. If you want to speed the process up, place in a slightly warmer place. I usually make the shapes in the midnight, let them sit there covered until morning and them place them in a switched off oven with a cup of boiling water, for about 3-4 hours. Then they are usually ready for morning tea (or brunch).

sourdough croissants

You know its proofed, when its swollen and wobbly. You would also be able to see all the layers.

sourdough croissants

Leaving a gap around croissants is important, as it will stop from sticking together and they will be baked nice and even all around

Once the croissants are ready, heat the oven to 420 ℉ and place a rack in the center. Prepare an egg wash by whisking together two egg yolks and a teaspoon of water.Once the oven is ready, paint the croissants with a thin even coating of egg wash. Be gentle not to disturb the fragile pastry. Also avoid egg wash dripping around the sides as it will seep to the bottom, get burnt and be messy.

Place the croissants in the oven and bake for about 20 minutes. Then rotate the trays reduce the temperature to 400 ℉ and give another 15 – 20 minutes. Keep an eye on the croissants during the final few minutes as they might burn easily. Once they are evenly golden brown, remove from the oven and place the trays on a wire rack to cool.

sourdough croissants
Bake until evenly golden brown

These are best served fresh and still warm. If you want to store them, let them cool down completely. Store in an air-tight container at room temperature for up to two days. To keep for longer freeze them sealed in freezer bags. To freshen up frozen croissants, let them thaw and reheat them in a moderate oven for about 5-10 minutes.

sourdough croissants
The jewel

There you have it! Homemade croissants are the best and when they are naturally levained, it’s even better! Get the recipe from below and refer to the above post for execution details. It might take time to get a perfect croissants, but practice makes perfect. Give this a go and let me know how it went. If you have questions or comments please do not hesitate to ask me either on Instagram or use the comments section below!

sourdough croissants
All the layers
Sourdough croissants

pastry

Servings: 16 – 18 croissants

Sourdough croissants

Ingredients

    For the starter sponge
  • 120 g AP flour
  • 50 g culture (fed)
  • 2 tbsp brown/white sugar
  • 50 g water
    For the dough
  • 650 g AP flour plus extra to dust
  • 200 g starter
  • 1/4 cup sugar (white or brown)
  • 1 tbsp salt
  • 2 tbsp butter softened
  • 1 large egg at room temperature (52 g)
  • 1/2 cup milk (118 g)
  • +/- 1 cups water and extra if needed ( add gradually, you might not need to use all of it)
    For the butter slab
  • 4 sticks of butter ( 440 g)
  • 1/3 cups flour
    For the egg wash
  • whisk together 2 egg yolks and 1 tsp water

Instructions

  1. Make the starter the day before and let ferment for 12 hours
  2. To make the dough, mix flour salt and sugar in a stand mixer.
  3. Add egg, butter, milk and start to mix. As dough comes together, add the starter and mix to combine.
  4. Now add 3/4 cup of water and keep mixing using the dough hook. Add the rest of the water gradually until the dough becomes a stiff ball. You may not need all the water in the recipe. If it is too soft add a bit of flour.
  5. At this stage take the dough off the mixing ball and knead on a surface to make sure everything is combined and dough is even. the dough should be malleable but not too soft.
  6. Pat the dough flat and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for a day.
  7. When ready to laminate, thaw butter for about 10 minutes and mix with flour. Scoop out on to a plastic sheet. Place another plastic sheet on top and roll out to form a 3/4 cm thick slab. Wrap and chill.
  8. Take the dough out and check if butter is the same softness as the dough. Then roll out a dough to a square twice the size of the butter (check photo)
  9. Wrap the butter slab in the dough and seal sides.
  10. Roll out to a about 20 inch rectangle. (place in the fridge to rest if necessary) Check notes below for video guides
  11. Do a letter fold and roll out to 20 inches again
  12. Wrap and place in the fridge for 30 minutes to an hour
  13. Repeat this once or twice (if your butter hasn’t melted) more (place in the fridge to rest if necessary)
  14. And roll out to 20 inches again
  15. Wrap and chill for at least 10 hours (or more)
  16. Then take the dough and divide in to two
  17. Roll out the two pieces separately to a rectangular shape.
  18. Thickness should be about 1/2 cm and roughly 8″ of width. The length may vary
  19. Do not try to roll out in one go. Do a few inches at a time, wrap and chill for 15 minutes. Continue until desired thickness is achieved
  20. Let the dough rest for about two hours finally
  21. Then cut the triangle shapes and make croissants as shown in the images above
  22. Do not handle dough for a long time( be quick) as this will melt the butter
  23. Arrange croissants on a tray leaving ample space around them
  24. Let prove until rinses and ready to bake (Usually takes about 8-10 hours or more depending on your starter activity
  25. Preheat the oven to 400F (my oven is not hot enough so I go 420F) place a rack at the center
  26. Once proofed, egg wash and bake the croissants for 20 minutes and reduce heat to 380F (400 F) and bake for a further 15-20 minutes ( keep an eye though)
  27. Once done cool on the tray and serve warm

 

https://myloveofbaking.com/sourdough-croissants/

Continue Reading

Beer barm

A magical formula to take your sourdough to the next level!

beer brm
bubbly barm

Barm is usually found in the brewing terminology, used to identify the form or scum formed on the top of a fermenting liquid, like beer or wine. This barm has been used as the levain in the process of making bread from the ancient times.

As you can imagine, that would result in bread that has a complex flavor profile. If you have trained you sensors enough, you can identify all these subtle changes in bread. I personally love to dig my nostrils in the bread crumb and inhale before I toss a piece in my mouth. It is such a sensory experience.

As we don’t have access to barm in everyday life, bakers have come up with ways to recreate the same thing. Even though it is not quite the same, you can achieve similar results in terms of flavor.

Just like you make a poolish, you can combine flour, beer and starter (sourdough culture) to make your own barm. The flavor will differ depending on the beer you choose. Any beer is okay for the job and most of the alcohol will be cooked off in the process.

Use various beers to experiment and it can be quite fun as you can smell and taste the different notes of beers in the final product. Try pale ales, dark full bodied stouts, craft beers etc. and compare the results. I find this very interesting and fun and rewarding at the same time. I am a massive beer love as well, so this is right up my ally.

Making your own beer barm is easier than you think. All you have to do is mix flour and your choice of beer, cook it off on medium heat, let cool and mix with the sourdough starter. Then you let this sit overnight and do its thing. You will wake up to find the barm bubbling away. The barm will look exactly like the form you’d find afloat a beer barrel, smell acidic.

beer barm

All you need is beer:flour:starter in 5:1:2 ratios

beer barm

Mix flour and beer and heat to 70 C string until thickens

beer barm

let the mixture cool down and add your sourdough culture and mix well

beer barm

let it ferment overnight

This barm is now ready to be used to make bread. Use it in any sourdough recipe and depending on the activity level, you can decide how much to use. All you have to adjust is the hydration as the barm is very runny.

I use this in baguettes, pizza bases, foccacia, and potato bread etc. When making pizza base, I use more of the same beer instead of water to heightened the flavor but it is completely optional.

I usually use 40% of this as the levain for my pizza and baguettes. You might need to bulk the dough for longer depending on the activity of the barm.

Here is the basic recipe that I use, feel free to experiment and let me know what you think.

Beer barm

Bread, technique

Ingredients

  • ale (beer) 5 parts
  • flour 1 part
  • culture 2 parts

Instructions

  1. Mix flour and beer in a saucepan
  2. Heat over medium heat util thickens string constantly (70 C)
  3. Do not boil
  4. Take off the heat and let it cool down completely
  5. Add the active sourdough starter and mix thoroughly
  6. Cover and leave overnight at room temperature to ferment
  7. Use in you bread recipe as the levain
https://myloveofbaking.com/beer-barm/
Continue Reading

Rolled Oats and Apple Sourdough

oats and apple sourdough

This is inspired by one of the recipes from my bakery school. I remember how much I loved the smell of grated apples while making this bread at school. We grated about 10 kilos of apple altogether and it was incredible!

When apples start to hit the farmers market, you know it is fall! I know from practice that fruits are at their best when in season. I couldn’t think of anything else but this bread when I bought home a dozen of fresh apples. I love all sorts of apple things, like pies, cakes, sauces etc, but for now I’ll stick to the bread.

Oats and apples

The original recipe uses a levain to add flavor to the bread. Dry yeast is used to actually rise the dough. I though, why not use the levain to do both of these jobs, and that way, I can convert this into a complete sourdough.

Grated apples and soaked oats. Use any apple variety you like, grate using the larger side of the grater. If you grate them any smaller, it will make you dough sticker and harder to knead.

I had to give it a couple of tries to get it right! But at the end, it was all worth it. The crumb smells amazing scented with apple. And oats make the crumb softer. This loaf used an entire apple. So I think this is a great way to use up apples.

Unlike several other recipes, this bread is mixed with apple and soaked/cooked oats from the beginning. Yes this might inhibit gluten development to a certain extent, but that is expected. This was shaped in to vienna or made into a tin loaf for that reason.

dough is stickier

You can use any sort of apple for this. But remember, some apples are juicier than others, so be mindful when adding water. The recipe only require 15% water as the moister is replaced by the apple and the soaked oats.

dough

Bring the dough together on a floured surface. Use extra flour to dust, if necessary. The developed dough is less sticky.

Rolled oats are soaked in boiling water for 30 minutes. This will partially cook the oats and soften them. Make sure to cool it down before adding to the bread.

dough

dough after the final fold. It has got much more strength now

The levain or the starter should be 50% hydrated. Depending on the room temperature, you can ripe it overnight. It it is warm, this might only take 5-6 hours. Make sure the levain is fully active.

dough
ready to hit the oven

I am baking this bread just like any other sourdough. I gave this extra steam though, at I wanted a good crust to form.

oats and apple sourdough
beautiful and apple scented crumb

The previous loaf, lacked strength, so this is what I changed;

  • reduced culture % and proved for longer
  • did the initial mixing in the mixer
  • did 3 folds at 30 minute intervals
  • used steam when baking

Hope you will enjoy this bread.

Rolled Oats and Apple Sourdough

Bread

oats and apple sourdough

Ingredients

  • Oats 40 g
  • Boiling water 80 g
  • Apples grated 80 g
  • water 10 g
  • Levain/starter 80 g
  • bread flour 250 g extra 50 g
  • salt 4 g

Instructions

  1. Make the starter the day before or 5-6 hours prior to making bread
  2. To make the starter, mix 12 g culture with 25 g water and 50 g flour
  3. You will get roughly about 100 g of starter, use 80 g from that for the recipe
  4. To make the bread pour boiling water to cover rolled oats, close with a lid and set aside for 30 minutes. Then let it cool down completely
  5. Grate the apples using the larger size of the grater
  6. Measure the flour and salt directly into the bowl of a stand mixer
  7. Mix apples, levain, oats and 10 g of water in separate bowl
  8. Add it to the flour and mix on low speed until combined (use the paddle attachment)
  9. The dough will be very sticky
  10. Let this sit covered for 15 minutes
  11. And mix again for about 2-3 minutes using the dough hook
  12. Use extra flour to dust the sides
  13. Then take the dough on to a floured surface and knead by hand
  14. Once the dough is developed, place it in a plastic bowl, cover and leave in a warm place to bulk for 90 minutes
  15. Give 2 folds at 30 minute intervals
  16. At 90 minutes mark, do another fold and leave for 15 minutes to rest
  17. Then shape the dough, cover and refrigerate for about 10 hours (overnight)
  18. When ready to bake, take the loaf out and leave at room temp for another 2 hours (this duration may change depending on how active your starter is, judge by doing the poke test)
  19. In the mean time preheat the oven to 480 F
  20. I use a dutch oven, you can use what ever the method you use to bake this
  21. Cover the top with oats or flour, slash and place in the oven
  22. Bake for 20 minutes (with lid closed if in DO) and then reduce temperature to 450 F and bake for a further 20 minutes (lid off)
  23. You can dry out for a further 10 minutes, with oven switched off
  24. Cool the loaf on a wire rack completely before slicing
https://myloveofbaking.com/rolled-oats-and-apple-sourdough/
Continue Reading