Thursday, March 26, 2015

Sourdough Scones

I knew that I needed to use my starter today. I'll be making three batches of sourdough brownies tomorrow for a friend's wedding this weekend, so I wanted my starter to be drained and fed and ready to go. I didn't want to make bread, since I'm having some weird issues with sourdough bread baking lately and I just didn't feel like trying it again today. So I checked out my Pinterest board and was reminded of these Sourdough Scones that I pinned a while back.

I made these for breakfast, and they turned out so good! I've come to expect a certain flavor when I make sweet baked goods with sourdough, but the baking soda in the recipe neutralized some of that usual sourdough flavor. What was left was just a really delicious scone.

The recipe I'm posting is just a basic sourdough scone that lends itself extraordinarily well to a variety of add-ins. I added spices and dried cranberries this morning, and I'm excited to try other things like chocolate chips, chopped apples, blueberries, etc.

Sourdough Scones
(adapted from allrecipes)
2 1/2 cups flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. cream of tartar
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 cup white sugar
1/3 cup shortening or cold butter
1 1/4 cups sourdough starter (this might vary depending on the hydration level of your starter)
Optional milk and sugar for garnish

Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.

Whisk together flour, salt, cream of tartar, baking soda, and sugar. Cut in shortening until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Add the sourdough starter and mix by hand to form a soft dough. I ended up needing a bit more than 1 1/4 cups.

Turn the dough out onto lightly floured surface. Knead gently a couple times. Divide into 4 pieces. Pat or roll one piece of dough into a 1/2-inch thick round. Cut it into 4 wedge-shaped pieces. Repeat with remaining pieces of dough.

Alternately, press the whole batch of dough into a rectangle and cut into 16 triangles. The shape might not turn out quite as traditional, but I thought it was simpler this way.

Place scones on baking sheet about 1 inch apart. Brush the tops of the scones with milk and sprinkle with sugar, if desired.

Bake until the scones just start to turn golden, 12 to 15 minutes.

Optional variations that I'm eager to try:

-Add 1-2 tsp. spices (cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, allspice, citrus zest, etc) with the dry ingredients.
-Stir in 1-2 cups additions (dried fruit, chopped fresh fruit, baking chips, nuts, etc) after cutting in the shortening.
-Drizzle with powdered sugar glaze after baking.
-Make a savory version by eliminating the sugar, adding savory spices (garlic/onion powder, cayenne, dry mustard, etc) with dry ingredients, and stirring in grated cheese after the shortening.

Linking to:
Link Party Palooza

Friday, March 20, 2015

Sourdough Banana Bread

I recently discovered a fun website called Sourdough Surprises - "a monthly baking group who strive to use our sourdough starters for things besides bread (although we do a lot of that, too!)." Given my recent obsession with exploring uses for my sourdough starter, this got me pretty excited. Basically, each month an assignment is given, participating bakers must make a specific something using sourdough starter. Past months have included challenges like steamed buns, croissants, granola bars, kolaches, crepes, and so many more!

The challenge for March, because of celebrating three years of Sourdough Surprises, was to choose from any of the previous challenges. I had some bananas that needed to be used, so I chose the category of Quick Breads and Muffins, and made Sourdough Banana Bread.

I have found that there is a very distinct flavor in every sweet thing that I have made with sourdough. Sometimes it's strong, sometimes it's mild. It's a little bit of tang, a little bit of richness and depth of flavor that you don't really get when you don't sourdough. But add sourdough, and that flavor is always there, whether the recipe is cookies, brownies, cake, muffins, or pudding. This recipe is no exception. Sourdough Banana Bread tastes exactly like I would have imagined it - like banana bread, but with that distinct tang and richness that sourdough adds. It's quite good.

Sourdough Banana Bread
(recipe from Cook's Hideout)
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1/3 cup oil
3/4 cup sugar
1 egg
1 cup mashed ripe banana
1 cup sourdough starter
1 tsp. vanilla
3/4 cup chocolate chips or walnuts

Preheat oven to 350. Grease 9x5 loaf pan.

In medium mixing bowl, combine flours, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

In large bowl, mix oil and sugar until sugar is almost dissolved. Add egg and mix well. Next add mashed banana, sourdough starter, and vanilla. Mix well.

Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients and mix until combined. Stir in chocolate chips or chopped walnuts.

Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake 50-60 minutes or until toothpick inserted into center of bread comes out clean.

Cool in pan for 10 minutes before removing to wire rack to cool completely.

Notes: I doubled the recipe because I had lots of bananas to use up. I only have one 9x5 pan, so I put half of the batter into the loaf pan, and the other half went into an 8x8 baking dish. The bread in the 8x8 was finished baking after 50 minutes, the bread in the 9x5 loaf pan took the full 60 minutes.

I used peanut butter chips in one, and a combination of peanut butter chips and chocolate chips in the other, just for fun. Yummy!



This post is linked to:
The Little Thumbs Up (March 2015 - BANANA) event organised by Zoe (Bake for Happy Kids) and Mui Mui (My Little Favourite DIY) and hosted by Faeez of BitterSweetSpicy.
"Think Tank Thursday" at Joyful Homemaking

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Sourdough Pudding

I was recently browsing for new recipes to use my sourdough starter. It's a fun pastime, I highly recommend it. I searched for "sourdough pudding," thinking that sourdough starter might make for an interesting custard, if used in place of cornstarch or flour as a thickening agent.

I found recipe after recipe for sourdough bread pudding, and a few random recipes that had nothing to do with either sourdough or pudding. But no recipes for a custard pudding made with sourdough. I tried different wordings, different search engines, but nowhere could I find a recipe that made a simple custard pudding using sourdough starter.

I couldn't let it go. I had to try it, to see if it would work. I was nervous and excited. I was about to attempt to do something that, according to the internet, had NEVER BEEN DONE BEFORE. Because obviously, if it had ever been done before, it would be somewhere on the internet. Amiright?

Well, now it has been done, and now it is on the interwebs. I have successfully made a custard-style pudding, using sourdough starter in place of flour, cornstarch, and part of the milk. And it totally worked.

The flavor is what I would expect, having tried a number of dessert recipes that use sourdough starter. It's sweet and pudding-like, and it has that bit of tang and richness that sourdough usually gives. I will say that the distinct flavor that sourdough gives is very distinct in this recipe. There aren't any other flavors to compete with it, so it's quite strong. So if you don't like the flavor of sourdough starter, this probably isn't the pudding for you. But if you like sourdough in just about anything, you'll like it in this.

In the interest of being fully honest, at one point I thought I would have to scrap the whole thing, pour it out into cheesecloth, and claim that my intention all along had been to create a sweet sourdough cheese (details in the recipe below). Even now, I'm throwing around the idea of making cheese with sourdough, because I found out today that it would totally work. But I held out and it turned into pudding after all.

Sourdough Vanilla Pudding
2/3 cup sugar
Dash of salt
1/2 cup sourdough starter
2 2/3 cup milk
2 eggs, beaten
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla
1 tbsp. butter or margarine

Combine sugar and salt in large saucepan. Mix together sourdough starter and milk, and add gradually to the sugar, stirring to combine.

Cook over moderate heat, stirring constantly. At some point, the milk will curdle. Sourdough starter is acidic, which I halfway forgot when I was planning out this recipe. The mixture will look like you're making cheese, with chunky curds and watery whey. Just keep stirring. Don't use a whisk at this point, though, or you'll end up with a very large, gloppy, stretchy blob of curds stuck to the whisk. Just use a spoon.

Continue heating and stirring until the curds dissolve back into the whey. At this point you can use a whisk so the mixture gets smooth. Once it comes to a boil, boil for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat.

Slowly stir half of the mixture into the beaten eggs. Blend egg mixture into hot mixture in saucepan. Return to a boil, and boil for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Blend in vanilla and butter.

Pour pudding into serving dish(es). Cover with plastic wrap and chill thoroughly (about 2 hours) before serving.

I'm pretty sure this could be used in place of vanilla pudding in any recipe. I want to try it in a pie crust. You could add bananas and make sourdough banana cream pie. Add coconut and make sourdough coconut cream pie. Stir in a cup of chocolate chips with the vanilla and butter and make sourdough chocolate pudding or sourdough chocolate cream pie. Layer this stuff with bananas and nilla wafers to make sourdough banana pudding. The possibilities are endless!

Think Tank Thursday

Monday, March 2, 2015

Amazing Sourdough Brownies

These sourdough brownies are absolutely amazing. The chocolate flavor is intense, more so than any brownie I've ever tried. The texture of the brownies is dense, smooth, and fudgy. The sourdough adds a touch of tang, but its most noticeable contributions are richness and intensity. The overall combination of flavor and texture makes these brownies divine. I would go on and on, but basically no words can really describe how amazing these brownies are, so you should just make them. If you don't have sourdough starter, make some, then make these brownies.

Don't you want to dive in head first?

I made a batch a few weeks ago, and have been dreaming about them pretty much nonstop ever since. My mouth waters just thinking about these incredible bars of chocolate perfection.

This recipe gives ingredient amounts by weight instead of volume. I have a nice little digital kitchen scale that I use, I just zero it out after adding each ingredient. I prefer volume recipes, but I'm willing to make adjustments for a recipe this delicious.

Sourdough Brownies
(source Chef in Disguise)
300 grams chocolate, chopped (I used chocolate chips for one batch, and a *substitute made with cocoa powder, sugar, and oil the second time, both worked great)
226 grams (2 sticks) unsalted butter
200 grams sugar
6 grams (1 tsp.) salt
8.4 grams (2 tsp.) vanilla
3 eggs, room temperature
40 grams cocoa powder
220 grams sourdough starter

Preheat oven to 325 F.

Line a metal 9×13 pan with parchment paper and grease it ( it makes it easier  to lift the brownies out of the pan if you leave some extra parchment at the 13 inch sides).

In a double broiler, saucepan, or the microwave, melt the chocolate and butter. Stir it often so it does not burn.

Pour the melted chocolate/butter into a large bowl. Whisk in the sugar, salt and vanilla.

Add the eggs one at a time, whisking to combine each addition. Sift the cocoa powder over the chocolate and stir to combine. Add the starter and stir gently until it is completely incorporated.

Turn the batter into the prepared pan and bake for about 40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

Cool in the pan 20 minutes then lift the parchment paper out and allow to cool the rest of the way on a wire rack. When cool completely, cut into squares and enjoy!

*To make chocolate substitute: For one ounce of semisweet/bittersweet chocolate, whisk together 1 tbsp. cocoa powder, 3 1/2 tsp. sugar, and 2 tsp. oil or softened butter or margarine.

300 grams of chocolate converts to about 10.5 ounces. So for this recipe I used 10 1/2 tbsp. cocoa powder, 12 tbsp. plus 1 tsp. sugar, and 7 tbsp. oil. I then added this mixture to the melted unsalted butter and continued with the recipe from there.

Complicated enough? I know, I know. But I WANTED these brownies and I was out of chocolate. I did what I had to do.

Le Swoon!

Linking to:
Think Tank Thursday 
Link Party Palooza