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Sour Cherry, Toasted Pecan and Buckwheat Levain

My childhood home had a craggy, sprawling cherry tree in our backyard where my brother and I would climb day after day. The heightened frequency of our climbing adventures and the arrival of cherry season was not entirely unrelated. Each trip up, swinging and snaking through the litany of maroon branches, was punctuated with a delectable snack somewhere near the end. Of course the acquisition of said snack didn’t come without its battle with a brash bird or two1 and even the occasional angry ant, but this was the price the tree demanded. Serendipitously stumbling upon that bunch of ripe cherries was reward enough for the surprising sting or feather in the face.

It’s during cherry season that I remember my childhood backyard the most. Probably because of the endless cherries we snacked on but also because the tree seemed to be an integral part of our yard, a friend almost, even if it was just one amongst many other fruit trees. During the hot summer days off school we walked barefoot under its branches only to have the soles of our feet stained red from the fallen fruit discarded by the birds or scattered about by the rough winds.

While it’s not cherry season right now, I just couldn’t quite shake a recent happy accident which was the impetus for this entire recipe: a friend’s cherry preserves spread on my toasted sprouted buckwheat sourdough. The flavors instantly transported me back to childhood and my favorite tree. I knew I wanted to work with cherries right then and a flavor profile for this formula began to take shape in my head: cherries, buckwheat, and roasted pecans for a slight buttery, rich note.

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  1. Seriously, birds have way too big of an advantage when it comes to eating cherries off a tree, something they take FULL advantage of.

Sprouted Grain Sourdough Bread

My baking to-do list is rather long, as you might imagine, but I finally had the chance to cross off an item that’s been patiently lingering: working with sprouted grain flour. With my recent successful endeavor into sprouting my own buckwheat groats, and the eye-opening taste and texture they brought to my Sprouted Buckwheat Sourdough, I was keen on venturing further down the same path. My intention was to sprout my own wheat berries, dehydrate the sprouts, and then pass them through my grain mill to produce a fine flour to be used as a percentage in a bread formula. Instead, I was happy to discover that King Arthur Sprouted Wheat Flour offers a sprouted and milled wheat flour. Just perfect for this sprouted grain sourdough bread.

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Sprouted Buckwheat Sourdough

After a few minutes shy of finishing my typical hand mix, I looked down at the dark dough oozing between my fingers and thought to myself: “Wow, this looks and smells remarkably wonderful.”

When working again and again with bread dough, you come to expect a certain color palette: deep reds, nut-browns, soft tans, milky whites, and every possible shade therein—for the most part, this palette neatly defines your bread baking world. Even when changing to freshly milled flour or a new type of grain you can usually be assured the color will be along that spectrum. Not so with whole grain buckwheat. Just a small percentage of the milled, dark and menacing grain-like seed transformed the entire dough to something more like itself: a stunning dark gray, almost black, hue. The earthy aroma surfaced memories of fresh cut soba noodles I had in a modest but astounding restaurant in Japan.

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Sourdough Cinnamon Rolls

Sourdough cinnamon rolls: the new every-weekend tradition? I originally began work on this recipe with the intention that these would be a wonderful Christmas morning indulgence, the birth of a new holiday baking custom. But after making them several times for testing I’m convinced they should seriously be a weekend indulgence. Why limit ourselves and declare these only for special events and holidays? Seriously, let’s just make them every weekend.

Cinnamon rolls fit so perfectly with the cold weather. They’re like that warm blanket you left on the radiator, that puffy wool sweater you wear around the house or that cup of hot chocolate that breaks through the cold. Layers of tender dough segregated by ribbons of gooey cinnamon-sugar and topped with a creamy, white sugar glaze — it’s enough to make you completely forget it’s cold outside, or perhaps stop caring about winter altogether.

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Leftover Sourdough Bread: Croutons and Breadcrumbs

I get asked this question frequently when one looks at my Instagram feed: you bake so often what do you do with all of the sourdough bread that’s leftover? The truth is the majority of my bread gets eaten by my family and I (especially the host of “experimental” loaves), or I baked the bread for friends or perhaps an upcoming gathering at my house. And in the dire case as a loaf starts to sneak toward the end of its lifespan I always find a creative way to work it into another meal for dinner. This post is one way in which stale, aging bread can be transformed into something used to heighten other dishes around the kitchen — an incredibly easy way to further utilize bread made at home and it certainly ensures there’s hardly ever anything going to waste.

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