Category Beginner

The Importance of Dough Temperature in Baking

Baking bread at home certainly comes with challenges (or as my enigmatic college calculus professor used to tell me, opportunities for continuous growth). Baking bread at home with a consistent outcome has even more. But there’s a crucial facet of baking that can help us bakers increase consistency that isn’t always immediately apparent: the importance of dough temperature in baking.

Because temperature is one of the main contributors to vigorous fermentation, it’s key that we maintain a sufficiently high, and stable, dough temperature through the entire baking process. Of course, this does become more difficult when ambient temperatures begin to drop (hey, winter!) — and sometimes we don’t even realize it’s happening. Continue reading

Fifty-Fifty Whole Wheat Sourdough Bread

I’ve been thinking about this recipe for some time and I’ve been tinkering with it for just about as long. I wanted to create a whole wheat sourdough bread that wasn’t all the way 100% whole grain, but still enough to bring out that assertive wheat flavor, gentle yet complex sourness, and also one that packs a nutritious punch. I wanted it to be light in the hand, soft of texture and for it to be a good starting place for those who might not have had much experience with breads boasting a majority of whole grains. Sort of a beginner’s sourdough recipe but with more whole grains than not — a fifty-fifty whole wheat sourdough bread to get you and your family on the whole-grain-train without them missing the characteristics of white flour1.

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  1. Usually breads with a significant amount of white flour are lighter, more open and loftier

Beginner’s Sourdough Bread

My very first sourdough loaf surprisingly turned out to be pretty decent, but oh boy was it sour. Sour like those candies you really only eat at the movie theater because they destroy your tongue, sour. Ok, maybe that’s an exaggeration but I remember my wife choking down a slice commenting that it was “pretty good, yeah, pretty good bread” and only later did she fess up that it was “actually not really that good to be honest.” But all-in-all the bread baked fully, rose nicely and had a pretty decent crust. And you know what, we ate the entire thing because despite its sourness it still was tasty, and one has to start somewhere, right? And starting out can be daunting, especially with sourdough, but that’s what this post is about: a beginner’s sourdough bread. A how-to guide on getting started with baking my style of sourdough at home with a touch more explanation for some of the steps and terms.

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Walnut Cranberry Sourdough

Last week I finally found a bottle of walnut oil at a local market (I later found this oil can even be purchased online) and I wanted to use it as soon as I could. When I brought it home I just had to open the bottle and take a smell — divine. Walnuts and walnut oil are so decadent to me, they just add such a deep flavor to any food it’s no wonder I eat them almost every morning with my oat porridge, pancakes, or even waffles.

I didn’t want to do just walnuts this time even though last time it was absurdly good on its own. I had some dried fruit leftover from a recent granola batch (for which a recipe entry is sorely overdue) and I decided to match the walnuts with dried cranberries. I’m sure I’ve seen this done somewhere else but intuitively the two just mesh well together so I decided to give it a go.

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7 Easy Steps to Making an Incredible Sourdough Starter From Scratch

Flour, water, salt. That’s it. Nothing more, nothing less. If you had told me many years ago that I could make enticingly crunchy, tender, healthy bread at home with only these elemental ingredients, I would not have believed you. I would have claimed that baking bread requires a professional mixer, a big oven, and a list of ingredients so long your eyes start to glaze over. And yet, I’m performing this alchemy day after day in my home kitchen: transforming three basic ingredients into wholesome sourdough bread. How does one begin the journey of making naturally leavened bread? It starts with, well, making an incredible sourdough starter from scratch.

Despite all the mysticism and lore about creating the concoction, when broken down, it’s simply a naturally fermenting mixture of flour and water. Add water to dry flour and let it sit on the counter for a few days, and you’ll see nature weave life into a once lifeless lump: bubbles will appear, and the mixture will rise. This natural fermentation can be harnessed, and, once stable, controlled to produce a bread so flavorful and healthy that it’s hard to go back to anything else. Continue reading