Serendipity, and a Sourdough Kalamata Bread


Last Saturday we woke up to an expected high temperature of 60F degrees and sunny, blue skies. So we decided to take advantage of the unseasonable weather, put the home renovations on hold, and headed out for a walk and picnic lunch. Fortunately, I had been forced to bake a sourdough bread the night before, so we threw half a loaf together with some cheeses, cold cuts, and roasted tomatoes and headed for the Trail. That's the Appalachian Trail, by the way, which is about a 10 minute drive from our house. This was our picnic view from the base of the original Washington Monument (did you know there was more than one?!) on South Mountain, which straddles Frederick and Washington counties in Maryland, and over which the Appalachian Trail traverses. The town of Boonsboro lies just beyond the treeline, and in the distance are hills in Pennsylvania (to the right) and West Virginia (to the left).

And this is the view of our serendipitous picnic.

One of the truths of caring for a sourdough starter is that it does force you to innovate. With regular feedings, you end up with use-it-lose-it-or-give-it-away sourdough every 4-5 days. This is where I was last Friday, while in the midst of home projects that did not allow for the careful timing of no-knead sourdough bread or for testing the bookmarked and drool-stained new recipes for sourdough pancakes or crumpets.

What I wanted was something relatively quick and a recipe I was already knew — so I adapted the method for the sourdough multi-grain loaf and substituted all bread flour and kalamata olives. Without too much thought or planning — Voila! a nice olive bread just waiting for an occasion.

We liked this bread so much that I will probably make another loaf this week when it's time to feed the starter again. A subtle tang from the sourdough, and plenty of savoriness from the tapenade, olives and olive oil — this bread is an olive-lover's dream. Alone with cheeses and/or cold cuts, or to sop up a savory stew or soup, this is a loaf that will turn any occasion into an event!


By the way, here's what the first Monument dedicated to our first president looks like — it was erected by the townsfolk of nearby Boonsboro in 1827, and is just a couple hundred feet off the Appalachian Trail. We actually didn't think about it on Saturday, but last weekend was Presidents' Day weekend, commemorating the birthdays of our first president, George Washington, as well as our sixteenth, Abraham Lincoln.

Bake some bread — you'll be prepared for anything! (Yes, we're talking to YOU!)

Makes one 2½-lb. loaf

Before you begin, you will need a sourdough starter. If you choose to make a starter from scratch, it may take 7-10 days before it is ready to use so plan ahead. If you already have a starter, this is a good way to use even a groggy starter or some you are ready to cast off. The sourdough lends more flavor than leavening since active dry yeast is also included.

½ cup sourdough starter
½ cup lukewarm water
2 tsp active dry yeast
1 TBL olive oil
3 TBL olive tapenade (optional, but highly recommended)
(if using, taste for saltiness and decide whether to include sea salt with dry ingredients)

In a large mixing bowl, stir together well.

250g bread, aka strong, flour (Typ 500)
½ tsp sea salt (optional, may not need if using tapenade)
2 tsp vital wheat gluten

In a separate bowl, mix well to combine, and add to sourdough. Attach dough hook, and knead for 7-9 minutes. Or knead by hand for 10-12 minutes, or until dough is smooth and elastic. If kneading by hand, the dough may become stickier as you knead so sprinkle board and top of dough with more flour if it becomes unworkable. By the end of the kneading time, I did find the dough a little tacky but not clinging to my fingers.

Shape dough into a ball and place in a large greased bowl and cover with plastic, or a shower cap. Set in warm, draft-free place for first rise, about 2 hours, or until about double in size.

To finish:
½ cup pitted kalamata olives, about 100g

Punch down the dough and gently knead to stretch. Allow to rest for 5 minutes. Gently flatten dough into a large rectangle. Add half the olives, fold dough over and flatten out again. Add remaining olives and fold dough over. Gently knead to distribute olives.

Shape dough into a round, or your favorite shape. Sprinkle cornmeal on a baking sheet. Place dough on baking sheet and cover (I used an overturned bowl — the one the dough rose in earlier, or just plastic film).

Allow dough to proof, about 2 hours, or until you can press the dough and the imprint does not immediately spring back.

About 15 minutes before the dough will be ready, pre-heat oven to 350F/180C.

Remove cover, and score dough, if desired. Bake on middle rack of oven for 40-50 minutes, or until an instant-read thermometer registers 190F/88C, or the bottom of the loaf sounds hollow when rapped with your knuckles.

Remove from oven and brush with olive oil. Allow to cool completely on wire rack.


More sourdough bread recipes:
No-Knead Sourdough Boule
Sourdough Multi-grain Bread
New York-style Light Rye
Raisin Rye


BMB: Sourdough Multi-grain Bread


After a long hiatus, I'm finally baking bread again. This is actually the second loaf of the new baking "season" — a Sourdough Multi-grain Bread adapted from a recipe on the King Arthur flour website. This is an easy sourdough recipe since it does not rely on the starter for leavening; in fact, it has as much yeast as a typical bread dough. Instead, the sourdough gives this bread a tang and chewy texture like an artisan loaf, but has the quick rising time (2 hours) and softness of a good sandwich loaf. Best of all worlds, really.

This is a great way for sourdough starter "guardians" to make use of that excess sourdough you find yourself with when it's time to feed the starter. You can use that "unfed" starter in this recipe because you'll also be using yeast to give the bread its rise.

I've adapted the King Arthur (KA) recipe by substituting two ingredients that are proprietary KA blends with more readily available ingredients. First, I used vital wheat gluten (VWG) instead of KA Whole-Grain Bread Improver. Vital wheat gluten is available in either the baking aisle or natural foods section of many supermarkets, and in bulk in many natural food stores and co-ops. It helps homemade breads retain moisture, and improves their rise. Second, I made up my own blend of grains and seeds in place of the KA Harvest Grains Blend. I started with a multi-grain hot cereal blend that has whole-grain rolled rye, barley, oats and wheat (available at Trader Joe's) and threw in flaxseed, black and white sesame seeds, cracked mahlab seeds (a type of cherry seed from the Mediterranean, available at Penzey's Spice and in Middle East groceries), and white poppy seeds (we didn't have black poppy seeds).

King Arthur is our default choice for baking flours — we keep KA all-purpose, whole wheat, and bread flours as pantry staples. King Arthur flours are neither bleached nor treated with potassium bromate, a flour enhancer that is a possible carcinogen and has been banned in many countries, including the European Union, Canada, and China. It is allowed in the U.S. because the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved its use in 1958, before it was identified as a carcinogen (particularly linked to breast cancers) in the 1980s. For some reason, the FDA continues to decline to ban potassium bromate, and instead "urges bakers not to use it"… what?! In California products containing bromated flour must carry a warning label! (Source: Wikipedia and Livestrong)

This is the third time I've made this loaf. It is every bit as chewy, soft and scrumptious as described in the original recipe. It is divine completely naked, or dressed in a coat of butter and dab of boysenberry jam. It is a soup's best friend, and is an equally great companion to a plate of cheeses with fruit or chutney. Oh, and yes, it holds a sandwich together with some pizazz, too.

Adapted from baker Clay Miller's recipe on the King Arthur Flour website

1 TBL raw sugar
1 to 1½ cups (132g-150g) all-purpose flour
(start with the smaller amount and add 1 TBL at a time, up to an additional 3 tablespoons)
½ cup instant potato flakes
½ cup (65g) whole wheat flour
1¼ tsp sea salt
4 tsp vital wheat gluten (optional, but helps rise for heavy doughs)
cup blend of seeds and rolled whole grains
(see article above for some suggestions)

Combine all dry ingredients.

cup sourdough starter
cup lukewarm water
2 tsp active dry yeast
1 TBL olive oil

Place starter, warm water and yeast in large mixing bowl. Stir to blend. Add dry ingredients and olive oil.

Secure bowl to mixing stand, and attach dough hook. Stir on low speed until dry ingredients are incorporated, then increase speed to medium and knead for 7-10 minutes.

The first two times I made this bread last year, the dough was pretty sticky by the end of the kneading time, even after the full 1½ cups of all-purpose flour was added — this was predicted in the KA recipe, and is okay as long as you can handle the dough with floured hands. But this last time the dough came together as a solid dough with no stickiness at all with only 1 cups flour.

Put the dough in a lightly greased bowl, cover and allow it to rise for 1½ -2 hours. The dough might not double, but it should rise significantly.

Lightly oil a 9” loaf pan (the original recipe calls for an 8½” x 4½ “ loaf pan, but this is the smallest I have). Punch down the dough and shape it into a loaf to fit your pan. Cover pan with a disposable shower cap, or greased plastic film. (Disposable caps are a genius tip I learned from the original KA recipe — they give the dough plenty of space to rise. You can find multi-packs of these cheap shower caps in dollar stores. They are like the ones you find in hotel toiletries too.)


Set in a warm room, and allow to rise for 1½ -2 hours, or until the dough is well over 1” over the rim of the pan. A finger pressed into the dough shouldn’t spring back right away and should leave a slight impression. Because this dough will not get a dramatic rise once it’s in the oven (known as “oven-spring”), it’s important to give it a good chance to rise in this final proof.

In the last 20 minutes of the proving time, pre-heat oven to 350F/180C.

Bake for 30-40 minutes, or until an instant-read thermometer registers 190F/88C. If you don’t have an instant-read thermometer, you can use the tried-and-true method of pulling the loaf out of the pan and giving it a good knuckle rap on its bottom — if it sounds hollow, the loaf is done; if it sounds like a dull thump, put it back for a few minutes more.

Remove loaf from pan and cool on a wire rack. Let bread cool completely before slicing. Resist the overwhelming temptation to cut this loaf while it’s hot. You get gummy bread slices — I speak from hard-headed experience. This loaf does have a most heavenly aroma, and it’s really, really tempting to just tear into it when it comes out of the oven. I had to leave for a meeting after taking it out and had to bribe T. with a promise that I would bake him a small roll next time if he promised not to cut this loaf while it was still warm.

Pairs perfectly with a bowl of your favorite soup
(turkey vegetable soup, anyone?)
and/or with some flavorful cheeses. Bon Appetit!

The first bread I made to kick off the new baking season was the No-Knead Sourdough, which is easy but requires a long lead time. A variation on a straight sourdough are these rye breads: NY-style light rye and sweet raisin-rye.


Spotted Dog: Raisin & Caraway Teabread

This is a recipe I got many moons ago from a friend when we lived in Cambridge (that's Massachusetts, not UK). She called it Irish Soda Bread, so I called it Irish Soda Bread for all these years. Until I started reading about Irish soda bread last year. Evidently real Irish soda bread does not have raisins or currants, and definitely does not have caraway seeds. These additions are more American than Irish. Like fortune cookies are to the Chinese.

At it's most basic, soda bread is flour, butter, milk and leavening, period. The addition of sugar and flavoring agents makes this more of a cake or large scone, and sometimes goes by the colorful moniker, Spotted Dog. Whatever you call it, it's one you will want to have in your recipe files for a fast and tasty treat. One deserving a large gob of butter and a steamy hot beverage. Enjoy!


For a more traditional style soda bread, check out Mikaela's version @ Baguette Taste, Wonder Bread Budget.

Adapted from D's family recipe
Makes one 1 pound loaf

2 cups (200g) all-purpose flour
4 tsp (15g) baking powder (not a typo, that really says 4 teaspoons)
½ tsp sea salt
1 TBL sugar
3 TBL (43g) cold unsalted butter
½ cup (75g) raisins or currants
1 TBL caraway seeds
cup (160 ml) cold milk

Pre-heat oven to 425F/220C, and place rack in the middle. Dust baking sheet with flour.

Combine flour, baking powder, salt and sugar in a medium sized bowl, and whisk together to aerate dry ingredients. Cut cold butter into small dice, then cut into flour mixture with pastry blender or 2 knives until the mixture resembles petite peas. Work quickly so butter remains cold. If butter begins to soften, put bowl in refrigerator to chill butter again.

Add raisins and caraway seeds and toss to distribute through the flour. Dribble half of milk into dough and start to bring dough towards center. Dribble remaining milk around edges of bowl to moisten dry flour mixture clinging to sides of bowl. Bring dough together — handle dough only enough to pat it into a large circle, about 6 inches across and 2-3 inches deep. (Note: the less the dough is handled, the happier and more tender this Dog will be.)

Place dough on prepared baking sheet. Cut a deep cross over the top and down the sides of the dough circle. Prick the dough with a fork or knife in each quarter.

Place baking sheet in oven and reduce temperature to 400f/200C. Bake for 30-40 minutes, or until the bread is golden brown. Test after the first 30 minutes: tap the bottom of the loaf — a hollow thump means you better have your butter ready! Otherwise, bake for another 5 minutes. Do not overbake or you will have a St. Paddy's Day doorstop!

This is best eaten the day it's baked, and best within the first 30 minutes it comes out of the oven — all the better to barely warm your "pat" of butter without quite melting it...

Don't be shy about the butter!
And yes, please do use real butter...


BMB: No-Knead Wild Sourdough Boule

Kate's first true sourdough loaf — no commercial yeast involved...Yay! Kate is the wild sourdough starter I began on New Year's Day when I vowed to bake more breads. She's only 3 months along, but doing well, don't you think?!

This No-Knead Sourdough Boule — still warm from the oven is winging its way to Italy for Bread Baking Day #38, hosted this month from the gorgeous Lake Garda in northern Italy by Cinzia at Cindystar. Cinzia is holding a "No-Knead Festival" and welcomes breads with ingredients of your choosing, as long as they are made using a variation of the no-knead method made famous by Jim Lahey of the old Sullivan Street Bakery. Bread Baking Day is that wonderful monthly collection of homemade breads from around the world, the brainchild of Zorra at 1x Umrühren Bitte. If you'd like more inspiration for baking with sourdough starters, you'll love Champa's Round-up for last month's Bread Baking Day: Breads Made with Sponge/Pre-Ferment.

I was happy to see that Cinzia chose no-knead breads as her theme because I've never actually baked one before. Sure, I followed the craze and drooled over everyone's beautiful breads online over the last 4 years, but no, there was no actual bread. Now that I've finally unpacked my cocotte (Staub's oval Dutch oven) and have a live and happy sourdough starter, this theme was perfect timing!

This recipe was adapted to use the flours I had on hand from one lovingly detailing the making of a no-knead sourdough loaf by Ann Marie at Cheeseslave. But the biggest difference between Ann Marie's and this one is not really in the ingredients but in the timing — I did not have a chance to bake mine for 78 hours after the dough was assembled. That's not a typo — it was over 3 days before I was able to bake. So to be honest, I was expecting this to be more a flattened brick than a nice airy boule.

My initial timing was thrown off when it took much longer to wake up Kate than I thought it would. Maybe because she's a wild one — sourdough, that is. It was 10pm before I could use the activated starter for a dough, so I refrigerated the whole thing to retard the rise, hoping to bake in 28 hours or so. Life intervened in the form of workshops. Twenty-eight hours became forty-eight, then seventy-eight. Well, a retarded ferment is supposed to improve the bread's flavor so I thought I would at least try baking it and maybe get an interesting flatbread. Maybe a useful doorstop.

Believe me when I say no one was more surprised than I, when the cover of the Dutch oven came off and I saw that crusty boule! I did sneak a taste already and this is the first loaf I've gotten from Kate with a very distinct sourdough tang. Not like the San Francisco sourdoughs I love best, but definitely along that vein. Guess there really is something to that long fermentation! The crust is surprisingly thin and crisp, with a little bit of a chew. The interior is bursting with flavor — yeasty with that tangy sourdoughness and good salt balance; and a moist yet airy crumb, with lots of toothsome mouth action.

I still can't believe this worked out after such a long first rise. I can only guess that using the higher gluten bread flour and very gentle handling helped the dough cope with such a long ferment. Next experiment will be to do this again with the prescribed 18-hour ferment in the original recipe. Since this is my first go at the no-knead loaf, I have nothing with which to compare it.

Happy Baking, Everyone!

Adapted from Cheeseslave
1 one-pound loaf

Note: Please read the full recipe before starting. You will need a large heavy-bottomed Dutch oven or other 5-6 quart pot with a tight-fitting lid to bake the bread, and a large colander and lint-less cotton or linen towel for the final rise. If you already have an active sourdough starter on hand, you will begin at least 20 hours before you intend to bake, but if you have to grow a starter it will add an extra 24 hours on top of that to your prep time, so plan ahead.

¼ cup (40g) **active sourdough starter (for growing a wild sourdough starter [like Kate], I used this one from Know Whey)
12 oz (355 ml) filtered water, at room temperature
12 oz bread (340g) bread flour (aka strong or Typ 550 flour)
4 oz (112g) whole wheat flour
1 tsp. sea salt
rice flour, for dusting (I used mochiko, a glutinous rice flour)

**Make sure you wake up your starter by feeding it with equal parts of flour and water about 8 hours before you intend to make the dough. (You will find more information about activating a starter here.)

In a glass or other non-reactive bowl or cup, combine water and active sourdough starter and set aside.

In a large glass, ceramic or other non-reactive bowl mixing bowl, whisk together both flours and sea salt. Add starter and stir together with a wood spoon, or other non-reactive stirrer.

Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and leave at room temperature for at least 18 hours. If you would like to retard the ferment at this stage, you can place the covered bowl in the refrigerator. As I mentioned above, I unintentionally left the dough to ferment for over 3 days (78 hours) and my loaf still came out well. This may have been possible because of the bread flour (as opposed to regular all-purpose in the original Lahey recipe), but just know that if you exceed 18 hours fermentation, the dough might still be saved!

If the dough is refrigerated, bring it to room temperature for an hour before proceeding.

Place a clean, fragrance-free cotton or linen kitchen towel (do not use terry cloth) in a large colander, and sprinkle the towel generously with rice flour.

When the fermentation period is over, sprinkle all-purpose or bread flour generously on your clean countertop. Very gently, coax your dough out of the bowl and onto the countertop.

Still gently, fold the dough on itself, like folding a piece of paper in half. Do not press or you will lose some of those wonderful large holes in your dough. Rotate the dough mass 90 degrees and fold again. Rotate once more and fold a third time. Resist the urge to press on or knead the bubble-filled dough.

Gently cradle the dough and lift it into the prepared cloth-lined colander with the fold seam sides down. Cover the colander with an oiled plastic cover. (Hint: If you have a cheap, never used shower cap (like the ones you might find in a hotel), it makes a great cover because it is domed and unlikely to touch your rising dough.) Set your timer for one hour.

When timer goes off, place the covered pot on the middle rack of the oven and pre-heat to 500F/260C. Note: It is not necessary to prep the pot in any way; if the pot is properly heated, the crust will set and release cleanly when the bread is done. Set timer again for 30 minutes.

When timer goes off, remove Dutch oven from the oven.

Take lid off of pot. Using the kitchen towel as a sling, gently (always gently!) lift out the dough and turn over the dough so it is now on the bottom of the Dutch oven. The seam from the foldings, which had been on the bottom of the colander, should now be on top of the loaf. Instead of having to slash the loaf, the seams will form a natural place for the loaf to open as it rises in the oven! Pretty cool, no?

Cover Dutch oven with lid, return to oven, and reduce heat to 450F/232C. Set timer for 30 minutes.

After 30 minutes, remove lid and reduce heat again to 400F/200C. Bake for another 15 minutes. Test by rapping on the bottom of the loaf — if it sounds hollow, it’s ready!

Cool on wire rack. Admire your gorgeous loaf and marvel at how easy it was to make. Walk away if you feel the temptation to slice it while it’s still warm. Go to another room. Leave the house if you must.

When cooled, slice and savor — your just reward for waiting 24 hours (or more!) for this flavorful, moist and chewy bread. I love nothing more than to dip this in a nice extra virgin olive oil, maybe with a mixture of herbs and spices — try an Arbequina EVOO, a spicy, grassy olive oil available under the California Estate label at Trader Joe's. We also added a za'atar spice blend which included hyssop, sumac and sesame that balance the peppery notes in the oil quite nicely. Delish!


BMB: Raisin Rye Bread

Update: Champa's Round-up for Bread Baking Day #37: Breads with Sponge or Pre-Ferment, is ready. You'll find a wonderful collection including a twist bread, pancakes, several versions of ryes and raisin breads, ciabatta, and so much more to tempt you!


Behold Son of George, the rye sourdough starter — smaller, milder and studded with golden and dark raisins, but no less chewy and perfect for snacking, slathered in butter or not: the Raisin Rye Loaf.

This recipe is an adapted version of master baker George Greenstein's recipe for light rye bread, and assumes you have a sourdough starter on hand already. With only half as much rye flour in the final dough and only one stage of rye development (as opposed to three in Mr. Greenstein's), the loaf is much less tangy and the rye flavor, while distinctive and clear, is more of a background note than the defining flavor.

Since we undertook this resolution last month to bake bread at home, the recipes we've tried have not been enriched (added oil, dairy or eggs) and mostly whole grain — whole wheat, rye or oatmeal. We soon remembered one of the most challenging things about home-baked whole grain bread: you have to eat it within a couple of days because it becomes stale very quickly. Since there are only 2 of us and we are not usually very big bread consumers, my strategy involved dividing the dough to make smaller loaves, and giving away one. Great way to try many different bread recipes, not gain 10 lbs. a month, and gain popularity with colleagues and neighbors! While we would never want to take anything away from sharing, there is another solution. It's called vital wheat gluten (VWG), and when baking with whole grains I think it is the home breadbaker's BFF.

I came across mentions of VWG while perusing the forums on The Fresh Loaf, a wonderful resource for tips and stories from real bakers, both passionate hobbyists and professionals. VWG was touted as increasing the rise and improving the chew of whole grain breads, as well as prolonging their shelf life. We tried it with our first rye loaf, and were impressed at how fresh the loaf remained even on the third day after baking. The same as been true for this raisin rye, and now I don't think I would bake whole grain bread without it. When a bread dough is enriched with eggs, milk and oil, these additions also aid in prolonging bread's freshness and softness so vital wheat gluten is not necessary.

This loaf takes its sweet note to dear Champa of Versatile Vegetarian Kitchen, this month's host for Bread Baking Day. In the 37th edition of this monthly event — the brainchild of our Zorra @ 1x Umrühren Bittethe theme is Bread Made with Sponge/Pre-ferment. I am late to the game this month, as the last day to submit entries is tomorrow, but Champa promises to have a round-up by March 5th that will include not only yeast breads, but may include cakes, scones, waffles, pancakes and the like as long as they use a sponge (such as a sourdough), are vegetarian (can include eggs), and made in the month of February.

Makes approximately two 1lb. loaves or one 1kg loaf

Start about 30 hours before you intend to bake.

For the Sponge:
1 cup (230g) sourdough or rye sourdough starter
1 cup (90g) rye flour
½ cup (120ml) water
½ tsp caraway seeds (optional)

Combine starter, rye flour and water and stir well to combine. Add caraway seeds, if using, and stir in. Leave to ferment at room temperature for at least 24 hours.

For the Dough:
¾ cup (98g) whole wheat flour
2¼ cup (293g) bread flour (aka "strong" or Typ 550)
4 tsp. vital wheat gluten
1 tsp sea salt
1 TBL raw sugar
cup (158ml) warm water
2¼ tsp. active dry yeast (about 1 cake fresh yeast)
1 cup (150g) golden raisins
½ cup (75g) dark raisins
1 TBL flour, for raisins
1 TBL cornmeal, for baking sheet
1 egg yolk mixed with 1 tsp water, for glazing

In a mixing bowl large enough to hold the finished dough, combine both flours, vital wheat gluten, salt and sugar. Mix well. Make a small well in the flours, add warm water and yeast and allow yeast to dissolve. Add fermented Sponge to yeast mixture in well. Slowly incorporate flour mixture into the well, until a shaggy dough forms.

Turn dough out onto a well-floured table and knead well until the dough becomes smooth and elastic, this took me about 13 minutes of hard kneading. Shape into a ball for first rise.

Oil a large bowl and turn dough ball to coat lightly with oil. Cover with plastic wrap and leave at room temperature until doubled in size, mine took about 1½ hours.
Combine raisins and toss with 1 TBL flour to coat. Set aside until needed.

Pre-heat oven to 375F/190C. Sprinkle cornmeal over baking sheet.

Punch down dough, and gently knead. Allow to rest under cover for about 10 minutes. Gently roll out dough to the size of a sheet of paper. Sprinkle half of raisins over half the sheet, and fold dough close, as if closing a book. Press dough to lightly, and press dough back to the size of a sheet of paper again. Sprinkle remaining raisins and fold over dough to enclose the fruit again. Gently knead to distribute fruit through the dough.

Divide dough into 2 equal pieces and shape each into a free-form loaf. Place on prepared baking sheet. Cover each loaf with oiled plastic film and allow to proof until doubled in size, about 50 minutes to 1 hour. To test: gently press dough with a finger, if it springs back quickly, the dough needs more proofing time; if the indentation remains, it is ready to bake.

Brush loaves with egg yolk glaze, and slash tops with sharp razor or scalpel.

Place baking sheet in middle of oven, and spray sides of oven water. Immediately close oven door and bake for 20-25 minutes, or until loaf sounds hollow when tapped on its underside. A single 2lb/1kg loaf may take 35-40 minutes to bake. I turned the sheet around about half way through baking to ensure even browning.

Allow to cool completely on rack before slicing. Its mild sweetness and toothsome chew are wonderful on their own — it's the only way T. has eaten it so far. I've indulged with a pats of unsalted butter to accompany my morning coffee.


BMB: New York-style Light Rye Breads

My new year's resolution to bake bread at home has continued apace (Bake More Bread: BMB). From Anadama to Oatmeal to fruity Banana Yeast, finally we get to the sourdoughs. These are New York style sourdough rye loaves.

On the first day of the new year, I began a wild sourdough starter and attempted to follow directions from Sue, an accomplished bread baker and cheesemaker, at Know Whey. I began running into trouble early on. Sue's directions called for removing a quantity of the starter each day by weight. That sounds logical, and on sight it seems easy. It was not. At least not for me.

The starter batter is very sticky. Could-be-used-to-set-wallpaper sticky. And equally gloppy. In the end I was just not talented enough to weigh and remove the required amount of starter each day without creating a huge mess. Goop on my clothes. Streaky smears on the counters. And paste coating all the utensils, bowls and kitchen scale. It was getting discouraging, so rather than give up on my starter, I gave up on the weighing the starter. Instead I eye-balled what looked like 50% of the starter to use or dump, but still weighed the flour and water going in. And I kept my fingers crossed.

After the requisite one week development period, I was happy to see that the starter looked healthy and active. I gave her a couple more days to really settle in and develop some "sour" before putting her to work. Yes, her. We know sourdoughs are live, active cultures — they must be fed and changed on a regular basis, right? Well, meet "Katharine" or Kate for short — she's bubbly and energetic, with a stern backbone (of whole wheat) despite her soft appearance. Kinda like the actress after whom she's named. This photo was taken today.

My first attempt to make an all sourdough bread (i.e., no yeast) was a potato sourdough that I made into a braid and into rolls. This recipe cautioned that raising and proofing times could be quite extended. The first rise took 8 hours, and the proofing sometime less than 6. In fact, I miscalculated the proofing time based on that first rise, and by the time I checked the breads at 6 hours, the braid had collapsed. The rolls came out all right — a bit dense and light-colored.

For the second sourdough I chose a light rye recipe from "Secrets of a Jewish Baker" by George Greenstein since I had made a Jewish recipe called Schmalz & Gribenes that is often served with rye breads. This is a very involved bread recipe. You begin well over 48 hours before you want to bake by first making a caraway-seasoned rye-based starter. After the first 24 hours, the starter is fed more rye flour in 3 additional stages. After another 18 hours, you're ready to start the dough.
Instead of starting from scratch, I used Kate as the beginning starter and added crushed caraway seeds along with the first measure of rye flour and water for Stage One. The seeds completely disintegrate by the time the starter is ready to be made into a dough, so if you don't want seeds in the final bread, you can still add them at Stage One for the flavor boost they will give your starter. After each feeding, the starter is allowed to double, though the time required for doubling shortens with each stage. Maybe because I did not start from scratch with Mr. Greenstein's recipe, the Stage One rise took 10 hours. Stage Two took about 5, while Stage Three took about 4 hours.

After Stage Three, I removed about a half-cup of the rye sourdough to use for our next loaf — his name is George, of course. Per Mr. Greenstein's recommendation, he's covered with a film of water and lives in the fridge. Kate sits on the sideboard at room temperature.

When making the dough, I again had to depart from Mr. Greenstein's meticulous directions because I had neither clear flour nor left-over rye bread to make something called the Altus, basically a wet mash of left-over rye bread that provides that je ne sais quoi of real rye breads. Clear flour, also called first clear, is a specialty bakery flour — it is traditionally what's left after the first sifting of milled wheat to create white flour. So clear flour has some quantity of wheat bran and germ that are considered undesirable for white flour purposes. Evidently one doesn't find clear flour on market shelves(super-, co-op, specialty or otherwise). You either have to chat up an artisan baker into selling you some, or order it online. Online sources can charge twice as much for shipping as they charge for the flour itself, so you might want to plan accordingly and put all your specialty baking needs in one order. Alternatively, one bread baker's forum suggested a ratio of 3:1 all-purpose flour to whole wheat as a passable substitute for clear flour. I used 3:1 bread flour to whole wheat flour. This bread uses yeast as a leavener in addition to the sourdough, and I also included vital wheat gluten to increase the bread's lift and keeping ability.

The bread is painted with cornstarch solution before it is slashed, then again as soon as it comes out of the oven. I had not used this glaze before — it adds an interesting powdered shine to the finished loaf, don't you think? During baking, the sides of the oven are sprayed with water to create steam that for that distinctive chewy thick crust.

These are the final loaves we got: 2 plain, free-form loaves and one stuffed bread (a la Reuben). I am tickled at how chewy and tasty these breads were — pleasantly sour and redolent of rye. I doubled the amount of caraway seeds called for in the recipe, and I think it could hold up to even more. The rye and sour develop beautifully and taste even better on the second and third days. It was kind of hard but I portioned out a couple of slices to dry and keep for the Altus next time.

I refer any interested bakers to Mr. Greenstein's recipe for the directions for this wonderful bread — they reflect a lifetime of learning and a close understanding of the bread baker's art. Don't be put off by the long lead times — the starter itself is very simple, and most of the work is done by Mother Nature. I am looking forward to baking this again with the Altus and clear flour to see just what the difference will be, but I would not hesitate to bake this with the substituted flours again if I didn't have time to sweet talk a baker.

As I hoped, the light rye was the perfect foil for the Schmalz and Gribenes (GRIB-buh-nuhs).
Translation: Seasoned chicken fat and crispy chicken skin.
Mmmm, chicken skin... Look for that soon.


BMB: Coriander-Spiked Banana Braid

Continuing my resolution to bake bread at home more often (BMB: Bake More Bread), today we’re back to a recipe we first tried 12 years before and know we love: a banana yeast bread from the1000 Classic Recipes cookbook. I had never tried a yeast bread flavored with bananas before then — I had always thought of banana bread as a quick bread (made with baking soda, not yeast). But this lovely yeast bread is a nice change of pace for toast, French toast, and even sandwiches. It is moist, chewy, soft and mildly banana-— the banana flavor is noticeable but subtle. And the bread is really not sweet — other than a couple tablespoonsful of molasses or raw sugar, the only sweetness comes from the fruit itself. Hard to resist eating just as it is, but you can imagine how much better a PB&J would be if made with this bread, can’t you? Warm Nutella or squares of dark chocolate are absolutely heaven (Best.Breakfast.Ever.). I also like to use this for grilled cheese sandwiches, especially with an aged cheese. My dear T. has a problem with sweet breads used for savory purposes — he's surprised that he enjoys the flavor combination, but at the same time feels “repulsed” (his word) by the sweet-savory combination. He recognizes, though, that he has a problem, so that’s the first step, right? *smile*

The original recipe is spiked with cardamom instead of coriander seed, and we do like the original but I just read someone waxing poetic about the combination of bananas and coriander and wanted to see for myself. The coriander is more subtle, but both spices complement bananas well — choose your favorite! Next time I’m going to try the same combination of spices I use for my banana quick bread: cinnamon, cloves, coriander, and allspice.

This loaf came about by pure serendipity. The market where I was shopping last week had a glut of over-ripe bananas that they were selling at 3 lbs. for $1.49. They weren’t bruised or blackened, just speckled. Can you pass that up? I can’t. What isn’t used in a bread, quick bread or oatmeal in the next 2 days will be peeled and frozen for later use. I was thinking of making our usual quick bread at the time I bought the bunch, but the morning I started to bake, I remembered this long unused recipe and went digging through yet-unpacked boxes to find the right cookbook. In 4 hours the kitchen was filled with the faint aroma of yeasty bananas (good name for a rock band?).

Now if only serendipity could help me find my copy of the original Tassajara Bread Book that my SIL gave me… I know it’s around here somewhere but it’s in a box we haven’t unpacked yet.

(Adapted from 1000 Classic Recipes by Hermes House publishing)
Makes one 1lb loaf

3½ cups/1lb (455g) all-purpose flour
1 tsp sea salt
1 tsp powdered coriander seed
1¼ tsp (1 packet) active dry yeast
cup liquid whey or water, warm to the touch
2 TBL (29ml or 43g) unsulphured molasses
or raw sugar (23g)(used sugar this time)
2 ripe bananas, mashed well
egg wash: 2 TBL beaten egg mixed with 2 TBL water

Combine flour, salt and coriander powder in the bowl of a stand mixer. Make a well in the center of the flour, and add the yeast. Mix together water, molasses/sugar and bananas, then add wet ingredients to the well in the bowl. Attach dough hook to stand mixer, and mix at low speed to incorporate all flour, about 1 minute.

When dough has come together, increase speed to medium high or high for 3-4 minutes, until the dough smoothes out.

Turn dough onto floured table and continue kneading by hand for 6-10 minutes or until dough is elastic and smooth. Let rest for 5 minutes under damp cloth or lightly oiled plastic film.

Divide dough into 3 equal parts. Braid dough and place on baking sheet. Cover again with lightly oiled plastic film and place in a warm spot away from drafts until well-risen, about an hour. Test for doneness by pressing gently but firmly on the top of the dough: if it springs back quickly, the dough needs more time; if the indentation remains, it’s ready to bake.

Pre-heat oven to 425F/220C.

Brush braid with egg wash. Place in middle rack of oven, and bake for 10 minutes. Lower temperature to 400F and bake 15 minutes longer, or until the bottom of the loaf sounds hollow when tapped (you may want to tent with foil if you prefer a softer, lighter-colored crust). Cool on rack.

Toasted Banana Braid with Dove Dark Chocolate:
Toast bread, place 2 chocolates on bread
and return to toaster oven for 30 seconds.
Smear with knife.
Bite. Smile. Repeat.

More homemade breads


New Year's Resolution: Bake More Bread - Anadama Bread

You wouldn't know it by the scant number of entries under "Breadbasket" in the recipe index on this site (a grand total of 1 before today), but I do love homemade bread. Adore it, in fact. Just don't get around to making it very often. A sad testament to this fact: when I started this loaf yesterday afternoon, I realized half way through making the dough that the yeast I had in the fridge was past its 'Use By' date. By 7 months. Had to make a mad dash to the market in the middle of a recipe. Hate that. But it was worth it in the end, as this morning the kitchen is filled with the aroma of molasses and yeast, and what could be better than that?! Only the ham sandwich I'm now munching on as I edit photos and type. *nom, nom, nom....*

This resolve to bake more bread dovetails nicely with the glut of whey I anticipate having as a result of swearing off store-bought fresh curds such as cottage cheese and ricotta and making my own. Two days ago I made my first fresh cheese and after researching uses for liquid whey on the InterWebs, decided bread-making would definitely be one of the primary uses for the whey we will have after cheese-making. From that first effort, we ended up with 500 ml or about a half-quart of liquid whey. I haven't tried this, but saw on several baking forums that liquid whey can be frozen to be used for baking later.

As Serious Eats and Kenji Lopez-Alt was my inspiration for making fresh cheese, Sue at Know Whey is my inspiration for including bread baking one of my resolutions for this year. Sue is a cheese maker and bread baker living in Vermont, and she promotes both avocations beautifully on her site. I was completely entranced by her photos of her Anadama bread which is usually baked in a loaf pan. But Sue freed her loaves from the tin and baked them as batards — a French loaf style that is more elliptical in shape than its cousin the baguette. I wanted my bread to look like that too! I had to adapt Sue's recipe to work without a sourdough starter, but kept the loaf shape.

Reading through many other recipes for Anadama — which usually include cornmeal and molasses, I was reminded of two things: Indian pudding and the canned brown bread that I remember eating with Boston baked beans — both also have that delicious molasses smell and a smidge of cornmeal. I don't know for sure, but I would guess that Anadama and brown bread are somehow related or one was adapted from the other. Anyway, I think Anadama would also make a perfect accompaniment to New England style baked beans — the savory molasses flavor in the bread mirrors the sweeter molasses in the baked beans.

The 2 loaves I ended up with were only 12" or so long (so, mini batards), and I definitely need a better slashing tool to get deeper slashes on my bread. But the texture of the bread was wonderful — close crumb, moist and chewy. And the aroma of molasses belies the fact that the bread is not at all sweet. I was surprised that it is actually a bit tangy — I'm attributing this to the substitution of whey for water since I did not use a sourdough starter this time ('cause mine's not ready yet). The first rise on this dough took a very long while. I can only guess that the cool house (we keep it around 68F deg. in winter) contributed to this, but long slow rises are supposed to help develop both flavor and texture so I didn't want to do anything to speed up the rising time. In fact, since it did take much longer than I anticipated and I was getting sleepy, we ended up putting the dough in an even colder place to further retard the rise so that I could wait to bake it the next morning, which is today. So after a few hurry-up-and-take-the-shot-cuz-I-want-to-eat-warm-bread photos, I scarfed the first end piece with gobs of unsalted butter, then set about building a sandwich with guava-glazed ham left from Christmas morning. I'm so happy, I had to share right away...

Sue is also a sourdough advocate, and offers a primer on making and feeding sourdough starters. I've tried making sourdough starters before without great success, but I'm willing to give it another go, and began a starter yesterday, too. More on that to follow...

Thank you, Sue, for the lovely inspiration in the new year.

UPDATE 01/17/2011: And to really get back into the swing of things, we're sending this molasses cornmeal bread out to Heather, aka Dar, at Girlichef, this month's host for the long-running bread-baker's event, Bread-Baking Day, created by our dear Zorra of 1x Umrühren Bitte. The theme for this month's event — the 36th in the series! — is Corn-y Breads.. The deadline for submitting your bread-baking efforts to this event (remember, it has to feature corn in some form) is February 1st, so get baking and let's fill up Heather's breadbasket!! Can't wait to see this round-up for more inspiration to help me keep my new year's resolution.

What is your resolution for 2011? Hope it involves family and the kitchen! Happy Baking, Everyone!

(Adapted from Anadama Batards on Know Whey)
Makes 2 12" loaves

3/4 cup (177ml) liquid whey (or water)
1/2 cup (85g) yellow corn meal, plus extra for baking sheet
3 TBL (44g) unsalted butter
2 tsp (10g) sea salt
1/4 cup (60ml or 88g) unsulphured (aka blackstrap) molasses
2 ½ tsp. active dry yeast (2 packets)
3/4 cup (177ml) liquid whey
2 cups (200g) (divided) all-purpose flour, plus extra for kneading
1½ cup (195g) whole wheat flour

Attach dough hook to stand mixer.

Put liquid whey in glass container and heat for 1-½ minutes on HIGH in microwave to bring to simmer. Combine liquid whey and corn meal in the bottom of mixer bowl, and stir together well with a spatula or wood spoon. Will be a thick paste. Immediately add butter, salt and molasses and stir again in to combine.

Attach bowl to mixer. Add second measure of liquid whey and first cup of all-purpose flour. Stir together with dough hook until flour is fully incorporated, about 2 minutes on the dough hook. Add yeast, all whole wheat flour, and about ½ cup of remaining all-purpose flour and mix together about 4 minutes at medium speed until the dough is elastic. I had to pause and scrape down the sides at least twice to incorporate all the flour. If the dough appears very sticky (does not begin to pull away from the sides), add the last ½ cup all-purpose flour and more if needed — enough to make a firm dough. Continue mixing with dough hook until flour is well-incorporated, about 3-4 minutes.

Turn dough out on to well-floured board or table. Knead by hand for about 10 minutes.

Prepare large glass bowl by wiping with a well-oiled paper towel. Oil large square of plastic film (to cover bowl while dough rises).

Bring kneaded dough into a ball by bringing all ends to the middle underneath the dough until a smooth ball forms. Toss the dough ball gently in the oiled bowl to cover dough with light film of oil. Cover bowl with plastic film and set aside to rise until doubled in size.

Rise should normally take 90 minutes to a couple of hours, but mine had not quite doubled after 4 hours and I was ready for bed, so I put in an unheated room that was registering about 42F degrees. [When I woke up (6 ½ hour later), I punched down the dough (keep the film) and gently kneaded it on the table again 5-6 times, then let it rest for 10 minutes under a damp cloth.]

While the dough is resting, sprinkle a baking sheet with cornmeal and prepare an egg wash: beat an egg and remove a tablespoon into a small bowl — keep the remaining egg for breakfast. Add a teaspoon of water to the tablespoonful of egg and beat well.

After its power nap, cut the dough in two with a dough scraper, then shape them into elliptical loaves. Place loaves on baking sheet, sprinkle with corn meal from at least 12” above the dough (this will help evenly distribute the corn meal into a fine dusting). Cover with film and let rest until the dough is fully risen. Test by gently but firmly pressing the top of the loaf — if the indentation remains, it is ready to bake; if it springs back, it needs more time. It took almost an hour before my loaves were ready to bake, but start checking after 30 minutes.

Pre-heat oven to 400F/200C after 30 minutes of proofing. Place rack in middle of oven.

Brush loaves with egg wash, then slash about ½” deep with extra sharp razor. (Note to self: look for extra-sharp razor — I “slashed” with a regular chef’s knife that was not nearly as sharp as it needed to be and sort of pulled the dough as it cut. My slashes were also rather timid, about 1/4” deep.) Sprinkle with more corn meal and flour, if desired.

Place loaves on rack and bake 15 minutes.

Turn oven down to 375F/190C. Turn baking sheet around. Bake another 15 minutes and check for doneness. Test: lift loaf with oven mitts or kitchen towel, and turn over. Knock on bottom of loaf and listen for dull, hollow thump that signals bread is done. My loaves were ready after 17 minutes. Cool on rack.

I couldn't wait until the loaves cooled completely and started slicing while the first loaf was still warm, which is why the bread did not slice cleanly. But the pay-off of eating warm bread with butter was so-o worth the ruined photo...

Bread was absolutely divine with just unsalted butter. But here’s my ham sandwich flanked with Trader Joe’s New Zealand grass-fed cheddar and bread ‘n’ butter pickles homemade by my neighbor, Barb. Also known as this morning's breakfast — the sandwich, not the neighbor....

For more in the "Bake More Bread" series — my resolution to bake more bread at home this year — check our the Breadbasket archive, including a lovely Banana Yeast Braid.


Streusel Rhubarb Cake

Before 1997, if you asked me what rhubarb tasted like I would have said it was sour but tasted faintly like strawberry because I had only ever tried rhubarb in combination with strawberries. I had heard rumors of strawberry-less rhubarb recipes, but had never tried one.

In Germany, we were fortunate to sample many, many rhubarb cakes (Rhabarberkuchen), most of them at the Kuchentheken, or Counters-with-Yummy-Cakes (my own translation), at Volksmarches we attended around the country. (Volksmarches are organized walks through woods, fields and towns in 5K, 10K and 20K loops for walkers, and 42K loops for bikers and marathoners. But I digress… ) At the Kuchentheken, you can get a generous slice of cake and strong cup of coffee for about 2 Euros — an incredible deal, and a welcome one after a long walk. At this time of year, when rhubarb is in high season, you can find at the Kuchentheken (and in the bakeries in town, to a lesser degree) an astounding varieties of homemade cakes, tortes and pies (but all called Kuchen) starring rhubarb. Of course, I tried any new variation we came across — there are rhubarb cakes with meringue toppings and ones with glazes, cakes with streusel and ones coated with nuts, cakes with custard filling and ones filled with sponge cake. German cakes, like many Japanese cakes, would be considered under-sweetened by American standards, but T and I prefer less-sweet sweets so these were perfect. Most of the rhubarb cake variations had no fruit other than rhubarb.

I learned to love the distinct flavor of naked rhubarb. I experimented with recipes for stews and even a savory bread pudding with rhubarb, but making a cake was never a priority because there were so many to try from all these accomplished home bakers during the season! But it’s been 4 years since we moved from Germany, and now that we’re again seeing lots of beautiful fresh rhubarb in the markets (something we didn’t see as much on Oahu), it’s reminded me that I can’t just look up the nearest Volksmarch to get my fix of homemade rhubarb cake/pie. I’ll finally have to make one myself.

Searching through dozens of recipes on German websites, I’ve narrowed it down to 4 recipes with different styles of “rhubarb cake” to try. This is the first because it was always my favorite — it has a yeasted “batter,” streusel topping, and naked fruit. In truth, it’s more bread than cake, but with a very airy and moist crumb reminiscent of Panettone, the Italian fruited bread-cake. Had a piece (okay, I had 2) after dinner last night, and there’s a slice with my name on it for my morning coffee today... mmmmmm....

Adapted from
For 6-8 servings

For the Dough:
4½ tsp. active dry yeast (or 35g fresh yeast)
(about 2 packets of dry yeast)
⅔ cup/ 160 ml lukewarm milk
5 cups/ 500g unbleached flour (used unbleached white whole wheat from King Arthur, which is why the bread is so dark)
6½ TBL/ 60g butter, softened to room temperature
½ cup/80g raw sugar (or cup regular sugar)
⅓ cup/ 80ml milk
Grated peel from ½ lemon
1 large egg + 1 egg yolk, lightly beaten together
1 tsp. sea salt

Dissolve yeast in warm milk with 1 TBL. of flour taken from the measured flour, and mix well. Set aside for 10 minutes to activate yeast.

Meanwhile, combine remaining flour, butter, sugar, milk, grated lemon peel, eggs, and salt. Once yeast is bubbling, add to dry ingredients with remaining milk and knead together to make a smooth dough. Cover and let rise until doubled — it took about an hour in my cool but humid kitchen. Meanwhile, prep the fruit and streusel.

For the Filling:
1lb./ 450g rhubarb
2 TBL. raw sugar
1 TBL. butter, cut into small dice

Wash, dry, and cut the rhubarb into 1” pieces. Place in a large bowl and sprinkle sugar over. Let rest until needed..

Preheat oven to 350F/ 180C.

Butter an 8” springform pan. Punch down the risen dough, and lay it out in the pan to cover the bottom and sides of the pan. (Confession: I could not locate my springform pan (although I know I’ve seen it since we moved in), so I used 2 non-traditional ceramic pans, one rectangular and one round. With exceedingly generous amounts of butter to coat the pans, the cake lifted out beautifully after cooling.)

For the Streusel:
½ cup/ 60g raw sugar (or cup regular sugar)
¾ cup/ 75g unbleached flour
½ cup/ 40g old-fashioned oatmeal (this is my own addition, to add some crunch; the original recipe uses another ¼ cup flour instead)
½ tsp. ground cinnamon
4 TBL/ 60g butter, melted

Combine all ingredients for Streusel, and mix well until large crumbs form.

Dot cake dough with diced butter, then put rhubarb and any accumulated juices in the bowl over the dough. Top with streusel and let rest for 10 minutes. Place in pre-heated oven and bake for 35 minutes. If streusel starts to brown too quickly, cover with foil.

Remove from oven and let cool. Dust with powdered sugar, if desired. A nice dollop of sweetened creme fraiche or drained yogurt would compliment this nicely.

And now for your musical entertainment while you enjoy your rhubarb delicacy...
(Nope, this isn’t John Cleese. You can find that song here.)


Double Mango Wholewheat Quickbread

July 7, 2008: It’s been a hectic last couple of weeks. Sorry, I thought this actually got posted last week...

Mango season is in full swing in the Islands! We were gifted recently with a bag of home-picked beauties, and after having our fill of mango au naturel, the rest were peeled and put to good use. First up was a whole wheat mango bread using both fresh and dried mangoes. The fresh Hayden mangoes provide yummy mango deliciousness and moisture, while the dried mangoes add extra mango tanginess and texture.

Enough for 2 loaves: 8-1/2 in. x 4-1/2 in. each (or 18 muffins or 1 bundt cake)

2-1/2 cups (325g) whole wheat flour
2 tsp bkg soda
1 tsp salt
1 cup (230g) unsalted butter, room temp.
2 cups (350g) raw brown sugar
4 large mangoes, peeled and chopped (about half-pound or 225g)
4 large eggs
1 package (100g) dried mango, chopped
1 cup chopped nuts (115g) (optional)

Preheat oven 350F/180C. Grease and flour loaf pans.

Combine flour, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

In large bowl, beat butter and sugar together until well combined. Beat in mango pulp, then eggs until completely mixed. Mixture may look curdled — don’t worry, that’s normal.

Stir in dried mango and nuts (if using). Lastly, add dry ingredients and stir just until blended — don’t overmix.

Immediately spread in prepared pans and bake 55-60 minutes, or until thin wooden skewer comes clean.
(For muffins, bake 22-25 minutes; Bundt pan, 60-70 minutes).

Cool in pan 10 minutes, then turn out to wire rack to cool completely.

See also:
Double Mango Yeast Bread
Mango-stuffed French Toast


Double Mango Bread in Deutschland

Lavaterra, writing from Bavaria, in Germany put an overripe mango to good use by baking the mango bread recipe I submitted for World Bread Day (October 16). She is a prolific bread baker so I'm thrilled she was willing to try this recipe. Her bread seemed to have much more fruit through it, and I will update that recipe to include more dried mango. Check out her lovely bread here.

The double mango bread recipe was translated (not well, mind you) into German too: Doppelmango Brot hier.

To see more about the 183 recipes that were submitted for World Bread Day 2007, visit Zorra's incredible Round-up here.

Warming a chilly Leeward morning

Bocha (aka Pocha): Tibetan butter tea

For the last month or so I've been thinking about a tea we tried last January when we took a quick trip to the Pacific Northwest to visit my brother's family. Wouldn't you know it, it was the coldest days they had had there in 30 years or something. The roads were icy, the wind bit through our wool coats, clouds hung practically on our heads, and only the bravest of souls were out. On a drive back to our hotel, we happened on a Tibetan restaurant, Lungta. Never having had Tibetan cuisine before, it was a no-brainer that we would stop and try it. The food was exquisite, with some of the most subtle and delicious seasoning I've ever encountered. But the true revelation was the unusual butter tea. On the menu it was called Bocha, and was described as "lightly buttered, salted & churned with milk." We asked our waitress about it and she gave us fair warning that most people don't like it on first taste, but that it was sort of the national drink in her country. She also said it was very “warming.” On such a day, it sounded like it might be a winner. (You have to figure that Tibetans know a little something about how to keep warm in bitter weather.) She soon produced large mugs of a milky tea with a trace of butter on the surface.

First sip: OK, that's different — I've never had salt in my tea before, and I rarely add milk to tea either. But the spread of heat down and through the chest was a welcome sensation, and certainly worth a second sip. By the third sip, we were both hooked and loving the “heatiness” it provided — it was more than just the physical sensation of drinking a warm beverage, it was a warmth that went down to your toes. Before we left we asked the proprietor about the Bocha, and what special type of tea she used. She was genuinely surprised we liked the tea, and was kind enough to bring out a brick of dark pungent leaves to show us. We asked if it was something we could find in a shop nearby, but she told us she didn't know of a source, and said that friends send her the tea. So that was that. Nice experience, recommended Tibetan cuisine to any one who cares about good food, and soon returned to Oahu.

Eight months later and I'm craving this butter tea. It's not exactly cold here, but lately after midnight the temperature has been dropping below ... 70°F/21°C!! I know folks on the Mainland and elsewhere will have little sympathy for us, but that's pretty cool temperatures for around here. : - )

I found a few recipes for butter tea on the web, but the most helpful was from the Tibetan Assn. of Northern California at
Lobsang's Tibetan recipes. On this site it is called Po Cha and the recipe seems straightforward enough: you need black tea, salt, butter and full-cream milk. And a chandong, or churn for making tea. (If anyone knows where I can get one of these, please let me know!) The original Bocha is made with yak butter or milk, but we were a bit short on that so we went with unsalted butter from cow's milk.

I’m not much of a black tea drinker, except as iced tea, so in deciding on a tea to use I opted for the kind I used to send my tea-loving mother by the bags full — Lipton’s Yellow Label black tea. This was not available on Guam, so wherever we have lived, one of my first missions was always to seek out a new source of Yellow Label to keep mom supplied. These are available in Oriental shops, especially Chinese groceries, everywhere we have lived except here in Hawaii. Fortunately the Indian grocery carries 2 types of Yellow Label, the regular one, and another that is produced in India (shown here). But plain black tea just didn't smell as fragrant and earthy as I remembered the tea brick at Lungta being. One site I found mentioned using Pu-erh tea instead of black tea, so I used a mix of 1/3 Pu-erh and 2/3 Yellow Label.
Pu-erh teaYellow Label black tea
First we made a double strength tea (2 heaping TBL black, and 1 heaping TBL pu-erh, simmered with 4 cups water and reduced to 2 cups liquid). Then added 1 TBL butter, 1/4 tsp. salt and 1/2 cup half-and-half. And since I don't have a chandong (yet) and I'm a little leery of spinning hot liquids in closed containers at high speed, I opted to use a stick blender. This step emulsifies the butter into the tea.
Blending to emulsify butter

Now what to nibble with this delicious heat-y tea? Seemed a good opportunity to try something from all those new recipes collected from the
World Bread Day round-up. Something that wouldn't require turning on the full oven. In the end, we went with Hannah's vegetarian butterscotch bread, with the following adjustments. There was no vegetarian butterscotch pudding mix to be found at either of Oahu's 2 main health food shops so I turned to my over-stocked pantry to see what I had for substitutes. We had a powdered flan mix that comes with its own caramel sauce: the ingredient list had no gelatin so I hope it qualifies as vegetarian.

Soy milk disagrees with both of us, but we do use almond milk, and Hannah emailed to say it was an acceptable substitute for soy (Thanks, Hannah!). I only have olive oil for cooking and baking, so I substituted an equal amount for the canola in Hannah’s recipe. Also, I used less sugar because I wanted to use the liquid caramel flavoring from the flan mix for the extra flavoring.
As much as I hated to, I omitted the chocolate chips ONLY because we’re making this to complement the butter tea and it didn’t seem like the chocolate would mesh well with the salty tea.
Bocha and Butterscotch bread

The Verdict
The tea was delicious and hit the right notes from our memory of that first taste of Bocha. It is a very rich and filling tea, thanks to the half and half and butter, of course. Not something you really want to drink on a regular basis unless you have a chance to work it off outdoors in a cold clime. It would make a great pre-ski or pre-Volkswanderung drink. I wouldn't recommend adding a sweetener to this beverage, and if you aren't used to drinking tea without a sweetener, you might literally find this tea hard to swallow. You may want to have sweet cake or cookie on the side to round out your experience.

The bread was a super moist loaf with a great chewy crust and delicious caramely butterscotchy flavor. T admits that he is not a big fan of vegetarian baking (he usually passes on treats at the health food bakery), but he was the first to say how pleasantly surprised he was by how flavorful, light and moist this quick bread is. The mild sweetness was a perfect counterpoint to the salty rich tea.

Here is the final recipe, with the original quantities/ingredients noted in parentheses.

Butterscotch bread
Butterscotch Bread
(Original by Hannah, as adapted by manju)

1 cup/ 250ml almond milk (Soymilk)
1 tsp. apple cider vinegar
3/4 cup/ 145g granulated brown sugar,
aka “raw” sugar or demerara (1 cup/190g sugar)
1/4 cup/ 60 ml. olive oil (canola oil)
1 tsp. vanilla extract

Caramel flavoring packet from flan mix
1 cup/ 100g all-purpose flour (1 ½ cup/ 150g)
1 cup/ 90g whole wheat pastry flour (½ cup/ 45g)
1 2.75 oz. package
Goya flan mix (Dr. Oetker’s butterscotch pudding)
½ tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. salt
(optional) ½ cup chocolate chips

Pre-heat oven 350F/ 180C. Butter/oil loaf pan.

In large mixing bowl, add vinegar to almond milk and set aside to curdle.

In separate bowl, combine both flours, flan mix powder, baking soda and powder and salt, and sift well together.

Beat vinegar/milk mixture until frothy. Add sugar, oil, vanilla and caramel packet and beat again until sugar dissolves.

Slowly add dry ingredients to wet, mixing well after each incorporation. Pour into prepared pan and bake 35-50 minutes, depending on your pan, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.

Cool in pan 15 minutes, then on rack until completely cool. Use serrated knife to slice.

World Bread Day: Double Mango Bread

(Rezept auf Deutsch hier)

Mango Bread for breakfast

There are few things that call to mind Home and Love more readily than home-baked bread. Even people who don’t grow up with home-baked bread (like me) will feel emotional strings tugged when the aromas and textures of baking bread are evoked. Bread-making also invites Taoist mindfulness and a visceral connection to our food: the frothy wakening of yeast; the rhythmic meditative kneading; the long anticipation of the rises; the glorious aroma of baking bread filling the kitchen; and the simple happiness of having homemade bread in the house. So when I heard about World Bread Day, it was just the catalyst I needed to resolve to start baking again. I’ve dusted off my baker’s apron, scrounged around for the oven thermometer, pulled out my favorite fruit yeast bread recipe and bought some bread flour — so here we go!

When we moved to the hot and dry Leeward side of Oahu 2 years ago, we opted to forego air conditioning. Cool island tradewinds provide comfortable living temperatures 85% of the time, and we’ve learned work-arounds for the 15% when it’s either cloudy and humid, or scorching and windless. One thing we learned early on is: don’t use the oven unless you absolutely, positively HAVE TO. So far, we haven’t had to. T has become a master roaster with the outdoor propane grill, even roasting the Thanksgiving turkey to golden perfection last year. Our large capacity toaster oven does the bulk of the roasting for our small household, everything from whole chickens to loaf quick breads and brownies to roast potatoes and veg. The two things I haven’t made since we came to the Islands are bread and cookies because these both require the large capacity of a full-size oven for proper air circulation and distance from the heating elements.

First, the recipe. I’ve often made the Banana and Cardamom Bread from
1000 Classic Recipes — it produces a mildly sweet, fragrant and dense loaf with a lovely surprise of cardamom in the nose. Now that I have something I’ve never had in my life — access to fresh tree-ripe mangos — I want to substitute an equal amount of mango pulp for the bananas, and ground coriander for the cardamom and see what we get. I also want to add some dried mango because I know from all these years of oatmeal-making that the combination of fresh and dried fruit adds complexities in flavor notes. I think that will really be true in this case because 2 different mango varieties (dried Manila, and fresh Pirie) will be featured in this recipe. I’ll also take notes on measurement conversions for our friends who are metric.

Second, the timing. To do this and not live IN an oven for the rest of the day, I’ll have to plan to bake in the wee small hours of the morning. Which is OK, because I’m usually up early anyway. But to allow the dough a proper rise, I’ll have to start at least 3 hours before baking. Thank goodness for French Roast coffee.

Third, take advantage of having the oven on. My dad always says, if you’re going to turn on the oven, you better make full use of it. He’s right, of course. Pre-heating an oven consumes most of the energy spent in its use. So if we’re going to turn on the whole oven for a loaf of bread, then we’re going to make cookies too. I want to try using wolfberries in something other than oatmeal or soup, so I’ll make a batch of oatmeal cookie dough, using wolfberries and blueberries instead of raisins. These can bake while the bread is in its last hour of rising out of the fridge.

It’s six o’clock on a cool Oahu morning, I’m on my second mug of French Roast and the dough is in the oven. I’m a little surprised how easily it all came back — the mixing, the kneading rhythm, checking the “proof,” even the clean-up.
Sticky mango dough out of the bowl Dough after 10 minutes of knedaing
When the dough first came together in the bowl, it was pretty wet and sticky, but I loved its deep orange color. I heavily dusted my work space with flour, dumped out the dough, then sprinkled it with lots more flour and floured my hands before starting to knead. Once the kneading started, it was very easy to fall into a meditative mode. Watching the dough start to come together and take form as something so much more than just the sum of it parts; to see the flour proteins stretch and gather, stretch and gather; it was al kind of mesmerizing. I had set a timer for 10 minutes and was startled when it went off. I was happy to see the lovely color was retained and evenly distributed through the dough.
Rolled dough in loaf pan Place pan in oiled plastic bag Risen dough after 2 hours
Looking at my pictures, I didn’t do a very good job of the final shaping of the dough before placing it in the loaf pan and tying it off. If the ballooned plastic bag thing looks too complicated, use your own favorite method for covering your dough while it’s rising.

The biggest stickler I encountered was with my oven. Since I’ve never used it, I’m not at all familiar with its heating properties, and I found out after the first batch of goji-blueberry oatmeal cookies came out that it tends to run cool (the oven thermometer said it was running a hefty 30 degrees cooler than the stated temperature — that’s a lot!). Luckily, there was still time to get the heat up to the right internal temp before the bread was done proofing.

After a 2-hour rise, the dough was ready for the oven. I was so excited that I forgot to add the glaze (I’m a little out of practice). That’s OK, I have a work-around for that. When the aroma first hits you, it’s the simple earthy smell of baking yeast bread — the fruit doesn’t develop until it’s actually out of the oven. (Fresh unsalted butter over the to
p of the hot loaf provides some shine and helps to soften the crust a bit.)

Cooling Mango bread Melted butter glazes the hot bread for shine

Now the hardest part of the whole operation: waiting for the bread to cool before slicing. You can try slicing it while it’s still warm, but I tend to smoosh the bread and then am left with an unattractive, if still delicious, loaf for the rest of its days (or hours). I think I may try this recipe again as rolls so I can eat it hot and not have to worry about the slicing thing.

Dense and fruity mango bread

We loved it. It was the chewy, dense, mildly sweet and very fruity bread we were expecting. The mango flavors are great, but we started with tree-ripened Pirie mangos, so it’s hard to go wrong on that note. Whatever your mangos smell like when you’re adding them to the dough, that’s what flavors and smells you’ll get in your loaf. The dried Manila mangos added intense flavors that were very distinct from the Pirie flavors. I think if you can get fresh Manila (they were called "champagne mangos" in the Mainland) mangos and can bear not eating them straight out of your fist, then the fresh and dried Manila mango will really make this bread sing. One disappointment was that no coriander came through at all, so I would up the amount to a full teaspoon next time.

A word to the wise, while this IS a fruit bread, it isn’t a soft, fluffy, sweet bread, the way a cinnamon-raisin bread might be. You can see the recipe calls for only 2 Tablespoons of brown sugar. In the original recipe, the bananas (especially overripe bananas which is what I would normally use) provided a lot of sweetness and the 2 TBL were just enough to give the bread a boost. I liked the delicious mango flavor that carried through in this loaf, but I would adjust the recipe to add 2 more Tablespoons of brown sugar to make it more like the original banana recipe. This is still not enough to make it a “sweet bread” just closer to the original.

Also, this is a chewy loaf, provided by the heavier bread flour. We had thick slabs of bread with a bit of unsalted butter with breakfast, and it was onolicious. It’s also a great toasting bread, and makes a novel grilled cheese (try mozzarella or provolone) or grilled peanut butter sandwich.

I’d like to try this recipe again using plain flour (instead of bread flour) to get a lighter, airier loaf. If anyone does it before I do, I’d love to get your feedback on how it comes out. Until then,
Happy World Bread Day, Everyone! To see more wonderful bread recipes celebrating World Bread Day, visit our host, kochtopf.

(UPDATE: 11/11/07
Lavaterra made this bread too, and I liked how hers had lots more dried mango pieces, so I would recommend the maximum amount of dried mango, even up to double this amount *)

Double Mango Bread
Mis en place
In small bowl, mix together:
1 packet dry yeast
2/3 cup (150 ml) lukewarm water
1 Tbl. (15g) brown sugar

Dissolve yeast completely and leave for 5 minutes.

Sift together:
3 1/2 cups (500g) bread flour
1 tsp. (5g) sea salt
½ - 1 tsp. (3-6g) ground coriander
1 - 3 Tbl. (15-45g) brown sugar (depends on sweetness of mango, see notes bove)

Place in large bowl and make well in center. Once yeast is foaming, add to center of flour, and mix well.

Fruit from 2-3 mangos (about 1/2 cup or 150g)
¼-½ cup (70g - 140g) chopped dried mango * (1/2-3/4 cup [140g-210g] dried mango)
and mix again.

Flour your work surface and turn dough out. Knead for 5 minutes or until smooth and elastic. If dough is too sticky, sparingly sprinkle additional flour over dough, one tablespoonful at a time, incorporating well after each addition.

Shape dough and turn into loaf pan. Place in a clean plastic bag, “balloon” bag to trap air and tie off. Leave in a warm place until double in size.

Preheat oven to 425°F (220°C).

Mix together
2 Tbl. (30ml) milk
1 tsp water

Remove pan from bag. With pastry brush, gently glaze top of dough.

Bake for 10 minutes, then lower heat to 400°F (200°C). Bake another 15 minutes or until loaf sounds hollow when tapped underneath. Transfer to cooling rack and cool completely before slicing.

See also
Mango-Stuffed French Bread and
Double Mango Wholewheat Quickbread

Doppelmango Brot: Das Rezept auf Deutsch? (With apologies to native German speakers, this translation was an exercise for me to practice reading and writing German)