Posts tagged Bread

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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Apricot, Lavender, and Walnut Sourdough + 2016 Saveur Awards

As you may have caught on my Instagram feed last week I was totally shocked and honored to find out The Perfect Loaf won both Editors’ Choice and Readers’ Choice for The Food Obsessive award in the 2016 Saveur Blog Awards! In addition, I met some incredibly talented and passionate people at the event in New York City — so passionate I could have probably talked with them for weeks upon weeks about food, cooking and baking. A huge thanks goes out to everyone who nominated, voted and supported this site (and me) — I really can’t convey enough thanks. And congratulations to all the other nominees and winners!

Now back to sourdough! I recently had an opportunity to attend a lavender event at Los Poblanos Historic Inn & Organic Farm, a local farm here in the heart of Albuquerque, New Mexico. They offered a small glimpse of their lavender fields, organic farming practices and an introduction to their growing lavender distillation process. The lavender grown on the farm is not culinary lavender, it’s actually only used for cosmetics (essential oils, lotion, etc.), but it was incredibly interesting to see how they follow sustainable growing practices throughout the farm and produce so much local lavender each year. Continue reading

Multigrain Spelt Sourdough

This is the second spelt recipe I’ve posted here, mostly because I am transfixed with the flavor of spelt, but also because I developed this formula for a short article I wrote that will appear in the Bread Baker’s Guild of America Bread Lines magazine early next year.  The article has some background information on me, my process, and my motivation for baking sourdough — most of which if you’ve read my entries for a while you already know. I went into how I started baking, how both the scientific and artisanal processes captivate me each and every bake and how baking not only reminds me of my childhood growing up in an Italian restaurant but also because good, healthy food really just requires time.

So why another spelt recipe? When thinking about the article I went back and forth on what recipe to include, swaying between a few sourdough recipes I’ve been experimenting with and some of my old tried-and-true favorites. I knew I wanted to use one that had fresh milled flour and without a doubt my previous spelt sourdough recipe is among my most favorite; but I wanted to take it a bit further. I began to think about what things I’d change if I was looking to try and improve it and I decided to start with that formula as a base and rove from there, to explore and find something that really struck my palette as different or something that produced a substantial structural difference — or perhaps both.

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