Disclaimer!!! This is a crispy cookie and it’s got tahini in it…a lot of tahini.
If you are still reading, then you’ve got to be sesame crazy like me! It’s not everyone’s cup of tea when it comes to this much sesame and tahini. A lot of people don’t mind the sesame in a stir-fry but that’s it. Due to it’s distinct taste and overpowering quality tahini and sesame oil are used with caution in cooking and baking.
We make a large variety of sweets for our New Year celebrations in Sri Lanka, where I grew-up. Though I haven’t done that in years, I still relive those moments . I was a massive fan of these celebrations, all because we get to make and eat sweets.
One of my favorite things to make was the Sesame balls. This uses toasted sesame, coconut, coconut palm sugar (jaggery) and this was a flavor bomb! which got me thinking, that, I haven’t tried making it yet (it require a stone mortar and a pestle… rather a large one, not sure what to substitute this with..) If I did, I will have to share the recipe, it is so yummy!
This cookie takes me back to those days. That’s why I love this so much. If you are a lover of all things sesame, then this recipe is for you.
I love to experiment with my food. You can safely say that this is a mashup of a Brown sugar cookie and a tahini cookie. Tahini was new to me and it was love at first sight. I use it in several dishes from stir-fries to cakes. It is something you can’t eat on it’s own, cos of the bitter after taste, but works like magic when added to something.
This is the easiest cookie recipe ever ( okay may be one of the easiest) You can really mix everything in one bowl and bake them straight away and enjoy. The whole process won’t take more than 25 minutes from measuring ingredients to actually eating a baked cookie. No need to chill the dough!
One important thing, make sure you stir the Tahini before you pour it out!. Natural tahini, tend to separate and if you don’t stir, chances are you will only be using the oils (the liquid part) leaving the solids at the bottom of the jar. We don’t want this!
This cookie is great with tea or coffee and you can actually dunk this as it is crispy and would hold it’s shape. Great with a glass of milk before bed too.
Tahini and Brown Sugar cookies
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp bi carbonate of soda (baking soda)
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup dark brown sugar (lightly packed)
1/2 cup coconut palm sugar
1/2 cup butter (1 stick) at room temperature
1 small egg at room temperature
1/2 cups tahini
1 tsp vanilla extract
about 1/2 cup sesame (raw, not toasted) to coat
Preheat the oven to 375 F
In a bowl of a stand mixer, beat butter with brown sugar and coconut sugar until combined. It should look like a paste
Add the egg followed by tahini, vanilla and blend to combine
Mix flour, baking soda and salt in a separate bowl and add to the above mix
Beat/mix on slow speed until everything combines together to form a nice dough
This dough is not sticky, you should be able to form a ball easily by hand
Prepare a baking sheet or two lined with parchment paper
Spread the row sesame on a flat plate
Take a table spoon of dough, squash it and roll between the two palms to form a ball
place the dough ball on the sesame and press lightly. Check the photo in the post
Place the cookie on a tray, sesame coated side up
Bake for 15 minutes
* 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.
This amazingly soft and warm rolls are the best thing to start fall with. I love making cinnamon rolls. Usually they are best eaten on the same day as they lose their freshness over time. But this pumpkin roll was different. It was fluffy as a cloud and that texture lasted for 3 days.
So if you are a pumpkin lover, this is a must try. I think the pumpkin spice is what makes the whole experience enjoyable. I usually make my own pumpkin spice, but you can use the store bought one too. If you don’t like pumpkin spice, then just use cinnamon.
The dough takes a nice deep orangish yellow color from the pumpkin. I have used butternut squash for this recipe, which is my go to when making pumpkin pies too. They yield a much dense flesh than other varieties and definitely sweeter. Cut the squash in half and roast one half in the oven at about 180 C for 40 minutes. Let it cool and simply scoop out the flesh. Discard the seeds and the skin. You only need 3/4 cups for this recipe, unless you are doubling.
It is important not to boil the pumpkin, as this will water down the flesh. I find even the canned puree is bit too thin for this recipe.
The filling is what makes all the difference. Instead of just using brown sugar and butter, I have added almond mean and a little mashed pumpkin. This filling resembled what you usually get in a cinnamon scroll (the flaky pastry made with puff) Also it’s got a nice thick texture and tastes almost like pumpkin pie filling.
If you want, just use the regular cinnamon roll filling. It will still turn out delicious.
You can either bake these in a deep pie dish, casserole dish or on a tray. I like to snug them closely in a deep baking dish so they rise upwards and interior remain soft while the tops get crusty.
Make sure to leave some space when you are placing the rolls, as they will expand while the prove for the second time.
Once they come out, I’d let them cool a little bit. If you try to ice them, while they are still hot, the cream cheese icing will melt away. So let them cool off before slathering with the cheesy topping.
I normally don’t ice the whole thing, as both of us aren’t going to finish it in one sitting! You can store these away in a air tight container and freshen them up in the oven to server later. Ice them just before serving.
Pumpkin pie rolls
Servings:about a dozen
for the dough
3 1/3 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cups pumpkin (roasted mashed)
1 large egg (2 small)
4 tbsp melted butter
1/2 cups sugar
1 tbsp active dry yeast
1/4 milk + 2 tbsp (warm)
1 tsp salt
1 tbsp cinnamon
1/2 cups brown sugar
about 2 tbsp butter melted
2 tbsp almond meal
1/4 cups mashed pumpkin
pinch of salt
pumpkin spice (1 tbsp cinnamon, 1/2 tbsp ginger, 1/4 tsp cloves and nutmeg, pinch of all spice)
cream cheese topping
1 packet of cream cheese at room temp.
2 tbs butter at room temp.
1/2 cups icing sugar (adjust to your taste)
pinch of cinnamon
Mix flour, salt, sugar in a large bowl
Add yeast to the 2 tbsp milk and let activate (for 10 minutes)
Add yeast, eggs, butter, pumpkin into the flour mix and mix on low speed
If the dough is too wet, add some flour, if it is too stiff add a tsp of milk at a time
Once everything mixes, increase the speed to medium high and mix until a dough forms and it comes off the sides (about 8 minutes)
Get the dough on to a floured surface and knead by hand until dough is smooth and elastic
Now place the dough in a large plastic bowl, cover and let rise until doubled in volume (40 minutes – 1 hour)
Once doubled punch down the dough and let it relax for about 10 minutes
Make the filling in the meantime
Just mix every thing until a past is formed
Now place the dough on a floured surface and roll it out to a rectangular shape. The size is up to you, the wider the rectangle the more layers you’ll get.
I usually go for a 12″ by 16″
Once rolled out, spread the paste evenly (a thin even coating)
Then start rolling along the length to form a long cylinder
Using a sharp knife, cut the dough in to 1 1/2 ” pieces
Place the rolls cut side up on a baking dish. Leave room around as they will proof
Cover the baking dish and place in a warm place to rise ( 30 minutes)
Preheat the oven to 175 C
Once risen, bake the rolls for about 25- 30 minutes until top is golden brown
Let cool slightly
While they are baking, make the cream cheese topping by whisking all the ingredients until creamy and spreadable
Decorate rolls while still warm
If you are not going to eat them straight away, then do not ice all of them. Store away in an air container up to two days or longer in fridge.
They freeze well too. Tightly wrap plain rolls and freeze. Thaw them and freshen up in a preheated oven to serve
My weekly sourdough baking is aligned with our weekend breakfast routine. Saturday brunch, if we are home, is our most anticipated time of the week. This features my sourdough :), our favorite deli spread(smoked bacon, cheese, maple syrup, butter, relish), poached eggs, avo, beans and sausages (on someday) and home brewed coffee. We have been doing this ever since we moved to Seattle, which is almost a year now.
Back in Melbourne, we used to go out as there were plenty of good, soulful, cosy cafes that served real sourdough bread and the best coffee in the whole world. Not to mention the fine french pastries and pies and cakes and slices….
There was one particular breakfast (I have this for lunch too) at a deli cafe in the hills, which was my favorite. This was a toasted fruit sourdough served with sticky baby figs and mascarpone. I have recreated this dish many times since. The most important part of this dish, the fruit sourdough, obviously, was from a local sourdough bakery, which I used to work for two years(lucky me!). So my fruit sourdough is inspired by this bread, but I have tweaked the recipe so much over time to suite our taste.
I use different dried fruit combinations and use different spices every time to make it exiting. You can use most of the dried fruits like Sultana, Raisins, Currents, Cranberries, blueberries, apricots, prunes, plums, figs etc. I always keep it limited to three verities, two sweet and one tangy. But it’s up to you.
You can also use spices like cinnamon, cloves, pumpkin spice, nutmeg to give it some warmth. This will really enhance the flavor and the house smells festive every time I bake these breads.
Make sure to wash the dried fruits, specially the dark colored once. This will wash off excess residue and also help them hydrate slightly. I figured this out the hard way. The dried fruit tend to absorb water from the bread dough resulting in a tougher dough, which inhibits fermentation, gluten development and the oven bloom later. So washing them and patting them dry have helped me solve this problem. Also this recipe calls for a higher hydration too.
As always, incorporate the fruit at the end of the kneading, just before the bulk proof.
This will make sure the gluten development is not disturbed. Also fruit brings in sugar to the dough and to counter balance that we need to up the leaven percentage a little. Sugar is hygroscopic and will compete with yeast for water, which could inhibit fermentation.
This is why adjusting measurement is crucial. If you mix the dough with the fruits in it, more sugar is going to get incorporated into the dough, so adding fruits later prevents this. Also we just fold the fruit in, by hand and not mixing vigorously.
That’s some extra tips if you are kind of like me, curious about whats going on behind the scene. If this is too much info and you just wanted the nice bread, then just follow the recipe, which is also me sometimes.
This bread can be served in many different ways. Eat it as is on the same day, it will be moist and great with butter or maple syrup and some fresh berried. It is already loaded with fruit so you can pretty much eat it on it’s own.
It is also great toasted with cream and berries. Or cut it in to thin wedges and toast both sides. This will be similar to biscotti and you can serve with tea or coffee. I love these with lemon curd, cream cheese.
Try this bread with your favorite dried fruits, you won’t be disappointed.
for the stater:
1 cup flour
1 cup water
2 tablespoon culture
for the bread:
350 g white bread flour
50 g Rye (or Spelt)
12 g salt
1 tbsp oil
1 tsp dry milk powder ( optional)
350 g water
1 cup of above starter (about 200 g)
1 1/4 of dried fruit of choice
1 tsp cinnamon or more
other spices if you like (a pinch each)
To make the starter (at least 6 hours prior to making bread/preferably previous night)
Use a clean jar
mix flour and water until it resembles porridge. Add the culture, mix well again and loosely cover
set aside until ready.
For the bread
Wash the dried fruit and pat dry. Cut them in to small chunks if necessary
In a large plastic container weigh the flours, milk powder, spices
In a separate container weigh the water and oil.
Add wet ingredients into the flour mix. Incorporate well.
Let it sit for about an hour/two.
Then add the salt and starter and mix until combined and knead for about a minute or two and let rest for 10 minutes
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.
Leave aside for another 10 minutes
Repeat this process three more times
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 stretchy, smooth now.
At this point its ready for bulk fermentation. So time to add the fruit.
Fold in the fruit and make sure to spread them evenly. Do not knead or over mix
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.
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.
Repeat the folding twice more and now its time for the final bulk fermentation
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 size and possibly with some few visible air pockets. Usually it will be ready in about 1.5 hours to 2 hours
Its time to shape the loaf now.
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.
Leave it covered for about 10 minutes to relax.
Then it is ready for the final shaping. Shape however you like it. If you are not sure checkout some videos
Place in a proofing basket or in any container. Make sure to lay a flour dusted tea towel or flour the basket well.
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
On the following day,place the oven rack in the center and preheat the oven to 260 °C/ 500 °F.
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.
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.
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
Once the bread is done, remove it from the oven and let it cool on a wire rack.
Once the bread cools down, you can slice it with a serrated knife.
If you want to preserve, slice the loaf, store in an air tight container and freeze.
fermented rice flour and coconut milk pancakes/crepes
If you have been to south east Asia, specifically Sri Lanka or southern India, chances are that you’ve already eaten these. If not, these should be on the top of your “must have food” list, when/if you go there.
These are a very popular staple in Sri Lanka, where I was born and a family favorite in almost every household. There are different recipes and a few variations to this versatile oriental pancake.
The crispy, melt-in-your-mouth, tuile like edges are addicting! The center is soft and naturally mildly sweetened by the thick coconut milk. They have to be eaten as soon as they are made which makes the experience even more exiting. Due to this reason, you’ll always find a “hopper station” in buffets and restaurants, where hoppers are made to order.
The recipe is so simple, it only has five ingredients including the salt. This is a mixture of rice flour, coconut milk, water, salt that is fermented using either commercial yeast or a sourdough starter. The instant version, use baking soda(sodium bicarbonate) to get the bubbly effect and so you can skip the long fermentation. But you’ll get an after taste, which I personally don’t like.
In lot of house holds, they use a piece of bread instead of the yeast. This is a cleaver way of using the leftover yeast in the bread. Yes! apparently, some yeast survive the heat of the oven. All you have to do is mash up a piece of bread in a little water and add it to the rice flour mix and let it ferment!
If you want them to be completely gluten free, feel free to use commercial yeast or use a gluten free starter. Remember commercial yeast is fast acting so your batter will be ready in 2-3 hours. Use 1 tsp of instant dry yeast to ferment, roughly about two cups of flour. Activate the yeast first! Stir the yeast in a little water and a pinch of sugar and let sit for 10 minutes. Then mix that with water and rice flour to form a thick batter. This should now be left in a warm place until doubled in volume. After which you can incorporate coconut milk and salt. There you have it! GF version done!
In my case I’m using my trusty sourdough starter! So my hoppers aren’t gluten free. If you have a gluten-free starter, then of course you can follow these same steps and make sourdough hoppers that are gluten free!
The only difference when you are using a sourdough starter to ferment something, is that it takes a longer time. So if you use 1:1 ratio of rice flour and starter, it takes about 4-5 hours to ferment. You can double that time if you use 1:2 ratio. So one part starter to two parts rice flour. This is my preferred method as it allows me to mix these the night before, so I can make hoppers in the morning. Or you can mix in the morning and make your hoppers in the evening for supper. This works perfectly with my schedule, that I can actually make them on a weekday!
Ideally, for this, you need ripe starter. So feed your starter and let it get activated. If you are using leftover starter, then it might take considerably longer to ferment so keep an eye on your batter.
To make the batter, all you have to do is mix rice flour, starter and water in a big plastic bowl. Do not add all the water in. Add half of the water in the recipe and mix well. Then keep adding more water until the batter is thick but not firm. It shouldn’t stick to your hand but look like a past than batter.
Now all you have to do is let it sit in a warm place covered. You will see some activity in about 4-5 hours. There won’t be bubbles or visible action but you will see the batter rising upwards slowly. At the end of the fermentation, there will be a considerable increase in volume. But more than that, when you touch the batter, you will feel it has lightened up and aerated. This will look like, cottage cheese and you will see bubbles underneath the dough. Also it will smell acidic or yogurt like!
All you have to do now is add thick coconut milk and salt. Again go slowly when adding coconut milk. We need a runny batter but not watery. It is runnier than a normal pancake batter.
To make the hoppers, ideally you need a hopper pan and the lid and an open flames that heats the sides of the pan.
Spray the pan with cooking oil and remove excess using a paper towel or piece of cloth. Too much oil will prevent batter sticking to the sides. Heat the pan to medium hot, (shouldn’t be smoking) and ladle about a 1/4 cups of batter and swirl the pan to let the batter flow around to cover the entire area. Place on medium heat, cover with lid for 30 seconds. Then remove the lid and let the sides go golden brown and crispy. Once done, use an offset spatula or a knife to carefully release the crepe from the sides. Slide the knife all around until it is completely released and toss on to a plate.
If you don’t have a hopper pan, worry not. You can use a non stick pan to make these. They will be of a different shape, but will taste the same.
Or if you have a cast iron skillet, that’ll work too. Make sure to spray and wipe excess oil off. Heat the skillet and drop about 1/3 of a cup batter and spread the batter quickly to form a thin crepe. If you have a crepe tool, use that or use the back of a ladle. Or if you can, swirl the skillet so the batter will spread evenly. These will be flat, thin and crispy.
Egg hoppers is another variation, where you break an egg to the center and it will cook the same time as the hopper.
Hoppers are really neutral, so you can serve them with anything. We love it plain, with butter ,with a curry, coconut chutney, salsa, honey, maple syrup you name it!. This can be served as a dessert too, if you pair with cream and strawberries. You can also add brown sugar to the batter and make these extra sweet! Really the possibilities are endless.
They will lose their crispness over time, so eat them as soon as they are made. You can refrigerate the batter though, for up to a day. Any longer and it will be turn sour.
So give these a go. It is worth it! I’d love to here or see if you try it so please either leave a comment or tag me on Instagram.
Hoppers (Sourdough coconut crepes)
Servings:15 – 20 crepes
2 cups white rice flour
1 cup starter
1-2 cups water
1 can of thick coconut milk
1 tsp salt (or more to taste)
Mix starter, flour, and 1 cup of water in a plastic bowl. Mix well.
Keep adding water a little bit at a time and mix until a thick paste like batter is formed
Close with a lid and place in a warm place to ferment (8-10 hours or overnight)
Add the coconut milk, salt and stir
Spay a pan or skillet and wipe off excess oil
Heat to a medium hot stage (precise heat will produce more bubbles and give a nicer lace like edge. If it’s not hot enough, there won’t be any bubbles, so the crepe will be like a sheet. We want a net like texture with a lot of tiny holes. That’s what makes it crispy
Once the pan is ready pore 1/4 cups of batter and quickly swirl the pan to spread batter evenly as thinly as possible. Thinner the better
You will need to practice this a few times
Now let the crepe/hopper cook and crisp up.
Once it’s edges are golden brown, use a thin offset spatula or a knife to release it from the pan
I use this recipe(orthodox) when I need a more stable product that I can store in fridge for a couple of days or transport to places or served in outdoors. The sponge is very stable, moist and fluffier than the one that use whipped egg whites. Rolling could be a little tricky as the sponge is thicker and I find it a little less flexible, but the flavor is unbeatable.
Eggs and sugar are whipped to ribbon consistency and dry ingredients are folded in carefully. It’s important to not to knock out too much air out or the sponge will be flat and dense.
These kind of sponges are baked for a shorter time at a higher temperature. It’s ready when the sponge is dry and springs back when pressed. Let the sponge cool down for a few minutes on a wire rack before removing the paper.
Use a generous amount of fine sugar on a parchment paper when flipping the sponge sheet over to remove from the baking sheet. This will stop it from sticking to the paper or use a clean tea towel. I prefer the tea towel method. While it is still warm, roll the sponge sheet and then let it cool completely. This initial rolling helps keep the roll from cracking later when we roll with the filling inside. It acts as a memory 🙂 so the sponge knows where to bend. This step is crucial to a smooth finish!
The filling I am using for this is a very refreshing and less sweet alternative to jam or butter cream. I’m using cultured sour cream. It’s got a sharpness and slight tang to it. Any verity of sour cream would work just fine.
I’m also using thinly sliced strawberries. I have coated the strawberries in honey and orange juice.
If you have over backed edges, just in case, just trim them off and apply some sugar syrup to moisten up. When filling, unwrap the roll and leave it on the tea towel or the parchment paper. Spread sour cream evenly and leave a little room( about 1/2 an inch) at the end so it will not overflow when you roll the last bit.
Use the paper or the tea towel underneath to guide the sponge sheet when rolling. Do not roll too tightly, as it will rack. Once rolled out completely, do not remove the paper/tea towel but place the roll seam side down, and refrigerate for at least 15 minutes to set.
Once set, it’s easier to cut. Use a clean sharp serrated knife. If you are not serving it on the same day, then wrap the roll cake in a cling wrap to make it air tight and refrigerate.
Summer Sponge Roll Cake
Servings:1 roll cake
For the sponge
70 g castor sugar
60 g all purpose flour
25 g corn flour
1 tbsp white rice flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup sour cream (cultured preferred)
1/2 cup strawberries
1 tbsp honey
2 tbsp orange juice
Icing sugar to dust
More strawberries to decorate
Preheat Oven to 180 C
Line a cookie sheet or a 9″ by 13″ baking shallow baking sheet(could be slightly bigger)
Weigh the sugar in to a glass bowl and break the eggs in
Place the bowl on a bain-marie or water bath, and whisk until the mixture is at blood temperature 35 C – 38 C (slightly warm to the touch)
Be careful not let the bottom of the bowl touch the water, else the eggs might curdle.
Once mixture is warm enough, transfer to a bowl of a stand mixer attached with a whisk.
Whisk on medium-high speed until mixture doubles in volume (for about 5 – 8 minutes)
The batter should be at ribbon consistency. Check the images in the post
Once done stop the mixer, remove the bowl
Mix all the flours in a separate bowl and sift directly on to the egg, sugar mixture.
Add salt and then fold lightly using a spatula
Do not knock too much air out. But make sure all the flour is incorporated.
Pure the batter on to the prepared baking sheet, spread evenly using an offset spatula.
Tap to release any big air bubble trapped inside
Bake for 12 minutes
Remove from the oven once done, let cool slightly on a wire rack
Use a clean tea towel/baking paper dusted with sugar and tip the sponge over and remove the paper stuck to the bottom
Roll the sponge along with the tea towel, while still warm and let it cool down
In the mean time, thinly slice the strawberries and mix 1 tbsp honey(you can use sugar too) , orange juice and let sit
Once the sponge is cool, unwrap and spread sour cream evenly. Place the strawberries in a single layer
Using the tea towel/parchment as a guide, slowly roll the sponge applying gentle pressure
Do not remove the tea towel/parchment, but wrap the whole roll and tuck the seam side down
Place the roll in the fridge for at least 15 minutes
Once set, decorate with more strawberries and dust with icing sugar
This is a dairy and egg free recipe and for a vegan option, simply swap honey with maple syrup
Who doesn’t love a good pancake? right? But for me it has to be a good old-fashioned, made-from-the-scratch kind. Supermarket shelves are flooded with pancake mixes that comes in plastic containers, where all you have to do is add water and shake. But where’s all the fun in that!
I always love to make my pancakes from the scratch and I save the store bought ones for hiking, camping and trekking. The good thing about whipping up your own pancake mix is that you can be creative. I use different flours, oils, sugars, and milk to create unique flavors. Another good thing about pancakes is that they are like carrier for all the good produce like berries, bananas, stone fruit, nuts, chocolate to name a few. And my favorite has got to be the blueberries, when they are season!
Well, this recipe has it all. I’m using a natural leavening to give the rise to the pancake. Also the eggs are being replaced with tofu, milk with coconut milk and the butter with coconut oil. So this is a almost a vegan recipe, if I didn’t use a dash of honey that is. But you can replace honey with any sweeter of your choice, like, maple syrup, rice malt syrup, molasses or agave syrup.
This recipe actually takes much longer to prepare than a usual pancake. As we are using natural yeast, the mixture need time to ferment and get bubbly.
But it’s very simple and only got four steps to it.
Mix the ingredients, let it ferment slowly overnight, loosen batter, final fermentation of two hours. That is it!
The key to remember is that the final fermentation is where the magic happens. The yeast that multiplied during the overnight will start to speed up their activity. The batter will rise considerably and will be bubbly. So it is important not to disturb this process. The batter shouldn’t be sired after the final fermentation so as not to knock all the air out. Instead, we slowly scoop out spoonfuls and drop on to a hot skillet. This trapped air bubbles will then expand and will give the pancakes a good lift and a soft pillowy texture.
This is what baking soda or baking powder does for us in a traditional recipe.
And also, I add the blue berries while the pancake cooks. So just after you drop the batter to a pan, scatter few blueberries. This way we can make sure everyone gets berries. And the batter won’t turn all blue or purple. you can use either fresh or frozen. I like to add frozen wild blueberries, as they are tiny and sink in to the pancake nicely.
Serve these warm, drizzled with honey and more fresh blueberries!
Here is the recipe! Give it a try!
Sourdough blueberry coconut pancakes
Servings:2 dozen medium pancakes
2 cups flour (all-purpose)
1 cup starter (sourdough starter fed/mature)
120 g silken tofu (soft or firm)
1 cup thick coconut milk
1 tsp salt
1/4 cups coconut oil
1 tbsp ground linseed (optional)
2 tbsp honey (or more if you like it sweeter)
1 cup blueberries (frozen or fresh)
1 1/2 cups water (lukewarm)
extra honey and berries to serve
Mix all the ingredients except for the water in a large glass bowl. You can use a food processor for this. Batter should be thick but dropping consistency. If batter is too thick, add a splash of water.
Cover the batter and leave at room temperature for about and hour. (if its cooler extend by half an hour)
Then place in the fridge for overnight (or several hours)
In the morning, add the 1 1/2 cups warm water to loosen up the batter. Check batter consistency carefully and adjust it with more water if necessary. It should be thicker than normal pancake batter, but still dropping consistency (closer to a porridge)
Leave in a warm spot for about two to three hours(depending on how warm your kitchen is)Speed this up by placing the bowl in the oven with a cup of boiling water.
After this final fermentation, the batter should have expanded considerably and you will notice bubbles on the surface
DO NOT stir the batter!
Heat a nonstick pan or a skillet
Deposit roughly about 1/3 cups of batter onto the pre-heated pan.
Scatter blueberries and turn the pancake over before the top cooks completely. (30 seconds from dropping blueberries)
Remove cooked pancake and place on a plate
Continue until the batter is all used up.
Serve with honey and more fresh blueberries.
Resist the urge to stir or mix the batter while making the pancakes, as his will knock all the air out and the pancakes will be flat.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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
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)
Weigh all the ingredients except water in to the bowl of a stand mixer. (you can mix by hand too)
Start mixing on low speed until everything is incorporated.
If the dough is tough use the 2 tbsp of water.
Scrape the sides and mix on medium for 5 minutes.
If the dough is too firm for the mixer, kneed it by hand on the bench top.
Let it rest for about 10 minutes.
Then mix for another couple of minutes and take on to a floured surface.
Stretch and fold lightly until dough is smooth.
It should be a soft smooth dough.
Place the dough in a bowl and leave to bulk ferment for about 4 – 5 hours.
If you are retarding, then bulk proof for 3 – 4 hours, punch the dough down and refrigerate covered.
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.
Punch the dough down, and let it rest for 10 minutes, covered.
If you have retarded, the dough, take out of fridge and let thaw for about 20 minutes (until the dough has softened)
Roll out the dough on a floured surface and cut doughnut shapes (either round or square)
Or divide in to dough pieces and mold in to dough balls to make bomboloni.
Place these on a lined tray leaving enough space all around, as they will expand.
Leave in a warm place, covered, for the final proof. (dough doesn’t have to be doubled in size)
This could take anywhere from 3-5 hours.
They should look bigger, softer to touch and wobbly.
I tested this recipe just to fill my vegan doughnuts. I have recently become so fond with tofu and trying to incorporate them in to making desserts. I have used tofu in chocolate mousse and in pancakes successfully. So the fact that it’s got a a high percentage of proteins and the no flavor makes them a good candidate in many desserts.
This recipe, makes a smooth, silky custard like cream that you can use to fill doughnuts, drizzle over fruits and spread over chilled deserts. I can eat this by the spoonfuls, it is that yummy.
This has got no eggs, so technically calling this a custard could be misleading. But I was referring to the consistency mostly, when I decided to call it a custard.
I’m using coconut sugar, which is the key ingredient behind the flavor. You can use juggery (rock solid coconut sugar) in-place of coconut sugar. Palm sugar will work too. This gives a nice caramel like flavor and the color. This is far easier than using cane sugar and caramelizing it.
Next is the coconut milk. Simmering coconut sugar and coconut milk, results in a thick molasses. This syrup has to cool completely. It becomes thicker and stickier when cooled.You simply have to process this with silken tofu to get the custard. It is that easy.
Use the firm version of silken tofu which is meant for desserts. Drain the tofu first. Place the slab inside a sieve with a fine mesh and leave for about an hour.
Make this custard a day ahead and chill it for a firmer consistency. And last but not least, the salt is very important as it rounds up the flavor and vanilla is optional, but recommended!
How I prepared for it, what I learnt and what I would do differently next time
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!
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!
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.
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.
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!
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)
3/4 cup baking soda
A baking tray lined with parchment
10 cups water
Preheat oven to 120 C
Spread baking soda on the tray
Place in the preheated oven and bake for about an hour
Store in an air tight container
When ready to use, dissolve the baked baking soda in 10 cups of water and bring to a boil
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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!!
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!
Sourdough chocolate babka
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
To make the dough, mix everything except milk in a bowl of a stand mixer, fitted with a hook attachment.
Start mixing on low and slowly add milk, to bring the dough together
If necessary add extra milk or a little water (tablespoon at a time). The dough should be soft but not runny
Once the dough start to form, increase the speed to medium and mix for about 5 to 8 minutes, until dough becomes smooth
Take the dough off on to a floured surface, and knead by hand to form a ball
Place in a covered bowl and leave in a warm place for about 5 hours
The dough will be risen considerably (almost double) if not leave for another hour or two
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)
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)
Prepare a loaf tin lined with a parchment paper
Make the chocolate spread
Melt butter and pour over the chopped chocolate
Stir the chocolate and add the sugar
Then add the cocoa powder and mix to a smooth paste. It’s okay to have undissolved chocolate pieces and sugar
Add the salt
Leave aside to cool (as it cools it will become spreadable)
Take the dough on to a floured surface and roll out to a rectangle
About 45 cm by 35 cm( the dough thickness should be no more than 1/2 cm)
Once done, spread the chocolate mixture evenly
Sprinkle the nuts and the cookie crumbs
starting from one end roll the dough tightly length-wise
Using a sharp knife cut the rolled cylinder in half along the length
Now twist the two strands (look at the photos in the post)
Twisting will make it shorter and would fit in the loaf tin
Make sure to have cut sides exposed.
Some nuts and crumbs may fall off, but its okay, you can toss them back in the pan
Once twisted, pack the dough in the loaf tin
Tuck the end bits underneath
Make sure the dough is as evenly as possible spread across the tin
Leave covered in a warm place for about two – three hours for the final rise
The loaf will expand and fill the tin and will look fuller and softer
Preheat the oven to 200 C
Brush the top with egg white and bake in the center rack for 30 minutes
Top should be golden brown
Once done let this cool completely before cutting in as chocolate need setting