Pesto & Sourdough Meet in These Twisty Knots

A leavened, enriched dough is the perfect starting point to get creative in the kitchen. Of course, baking the dough straight away without any embellishment would be delicious enough—think brioche!—but it’s also a foundation that can be taken in myriad…

A leavened, enriched dough is the perfect starting point to get creative in the kitchen. Of course, baking the dough straight away without any embellishment would be delicious enough—think brioche!—but it’s also a foundation that can be taken in myriad directions. I’ve folded, braided, cut, twisted, balled, laminated, and now knotted the basic dough, each yielding a completely different result. And the final shape isn’t simply an aesthetic affectation. It also serves to modify the final eating experience. In some cases, like with these savory pesto knots, it is a way to trap a delicious filling between layers of the tender, buttery dough.

Why twist and knot the dough?

When baking, the structure and shape of the treat is almost as important as the ingredients and process. Take, for example, a baguette, with its long and slender shape, compared to something like a boule, which is round and hefty. The smaller diameter of the former results in bread that bakes faster, as the oven’s heat penetrates through the dough in less time, resulting in a thin, crispy crust—the hallmark of a good baguette. Conversely, a round boule takes longer to bake due to its increased diameter and thickness, meaning the crust ends up thicker and heartier.

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How to Use Sourdough Discard in Any Recipe

Sourdough starter needs to be fed constantly to keep the cultures active. But if you add more flour and water today, then more flour and water tomorrow—and on and on—you’ll end up with a starter big enough to occupy your kitchen. That’s where discard c…

Sourdough starter needs to be fed constantly to keep the cultures active. But if you add more flour and water today, then more flour and water tomorrow—and on and on—you’ll end up with a starter big enough to occupy your kitchen. That’s where discard comes in: the portion of starter you, well, discard before feeding.

But don’t interpret discard as throwaway. For starters (pun intended), it’s a matter of food waste. Small amounts of discard swiftly add up in the trash, compost bin, or drain, especially if you feed your starter daily. Why toss something that you can put to good use?

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All Olive Bread Is Good—But This One Is Great

Castelvetrano olives are named after an eponymous town in Sicily, where they’re grown both for pressing into olive oil and simply for snacking (you might find one in your next martini, too!). Unlike the typical green olive you’d find in a salad or entr…

Castelvetrano olives are named after an eponymous town in Sicily, where they’re grown both for pressing into olive oil and simply for snacking (you might find one in your next martini, too!). Unlike the typical green olive you’d find in a salad or entrée, Castelvetranos’ mild flavor comes from being harvested at a younger stage, and because they’re typically packed in a brine that has less salt than other jarred olives. The flavor of these bright green gems leans subtly sweet and buttery, with a mellow tang. When compared to the ubiquitous little green olive in a can, the Castelvetrano is larger and substantially meatier, meaning it truly is an olive you can sink your teeth into.

All of these attributes make for an olive that is simply perfect for baking bread. The reduced salt content means less interference with your intended flavor profile (much like a baker who prefers to use unsalted butter so the salt content is completely under their control) and the thick, meaty olive flesh makes for a dramatic presentation in the loaf’s cross sections—and a substantial bite with every slice of bread.

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This Year’s Hot Cross Buns Should Be Sourdough

The Perfect Loaf is a column from software engineer turned bread expert (and Food52’s Resident Bread Baker) Maurizio Leo. Maurizio is here to show us all things naturally leavened, enriched, yeast-risen, you name it—basically, every vehicle to slather …

The Perfect Loaf is a column from software engineer turned bread expert (and Food52's Resident Bread Baker) Maurizio Leo. Maurizio is here to show us all things naturally leavened, enriched, yeast-risen, you name it—basically, every vehicle to slather on a lot of butter. Today, he tells us how to turn classic hot cross buns into tender, slightly tangy, chocolatey hot cross buns.


At the right time of year and in the right location, you can smell hot cross buns—leavened sweet buns spiked with spices and dried fruit—before even making it inside a bakery. Usually topped with a sweet glaze and a white cross of flour and water, hot cross buns pop up around Easter and are most commonly associated with their place of origin, the United Kingdom. Admittedly, I have never seen them grace a pastry case out here in the southwestern U.S., but I recall seeing their bright white crosses in bakeries during my travels through Europe in years past.

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What Is Durum Wheat (& How the Heck Do You Bake With It)

The Perfect Loaf is a column from software engineer-turned-bread expert (and Food52’s Resident Bread Baker), Maurizio Leo. Maurizio is here to show us all things naturally leavened, enriched, yeast-risen, you name it—basically, every vehicle to slather…

The Perfect Loaf is a column from software engineer-turned-bread expert (and Food52's Resident Bread Baker), Maurizio Leo. Maurizio is here to show us all things naturally leavened, enriched, yeast-risen, you name it—basically, every vehicle to slather on a lot of butter. Today, how to turn high-protein durum flour into a golden loaf of bread.


If you’re a fresh pasta-maker, chances are high you’re familiar with durum wheat. Though the species is most commonly used to make pasta, it’s also an excellent choice to incorporate into bread. It’s a hard wheat—hence the name durum, which is Latin for “hard,”—and is so-called because of the strength of the durum berry itself, requiring significant force to mill. The grain has a high protein percentage, but the gluten quality in durum flour doesn’t have the same gas-trapping characteristics as traditional wheat. This means when using even finely-milled durum flour. The resulting bread will have a tighter, more cake-like crumb, or internal structure, somewhat akin to a loaf of whole wheat bread (as opposed to a super-light loaf with large inner holes, like a country loaf). Though there are visual and textural differences to a loaf of bread made durum wheat, there’s no compromise made: The color, aroma, and flavors from durum are all quite striking when used in bread, yielding a more rustic loaf but nonetheless delicious.

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A Journey in Enriched Sourdough: Buttery, Savory Cheese Rolls

The Perfect Loaf is a column from software engineer-turned-bread expert (and Food52’s Resident Bread Baker), Maurizio Leo. Maurizio is here to show us all things naturally leavened, enriched, yeast-risen, you name it—basically, every vehicle to slather…

The Perfect Loaf is a column from software engineer-turned-bread expert (and Food52's Resident Bread Baker), Maurizio Leo. Maurizio is here to show us all things naturally leavened, enriched, yeast-risen, you name it—basically, every vehicle to slather on a lot of butter. Today, a guide to making fluffy, perfectly enriched rolls.


Harmony—a word that sums up the primary concern when developing a recipe that involves multiple ingredients and components; cooks and bakers know this all too well. When creating a new baking formula, I often step back to assess what I’m making to ensure all the components work in greater unity. The texture and flavors must play their part in contributing to the overall eating experience, and a successful recipe hinges on the presence of all these components in just the right proportion.

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You Think 2020 Was the Year of Sourdough? Look Back to the Gold Rush

When the discovery of gold near Coloma, Calif., in 1848 ignited a massive influx of prospectors to the area from other regions of the United States, as well as Europe, Asia, and Australia, many arrived with little more than the clothes on their backs. …

When the discovery of gold near Coloma, Calif., in 1848 ignited a massive influx of prospectors to the area from other regions of the United States, as well as Europe, Asia, and Australia, many arrived with little more than the clothes on their backs. Among the few prized possessions brought along for the journey were jars of sourdough starter—the mixture of fermented flour and water used to make bread without commercial yeast—that held the promise of a full belly. To thousands of hopeful (and hungry) miners who risked it all in pursuit of striking it rich, those jars of cultivated wild yeast represented a semblance of stability and a taste of home, even amid backbreaking work and an uncertain future. Legend has it that the miners even hugged their starters at night to keep the cultures warm and help them survive.

Sourdough starter served as a lifeline to which the miners literally clung. Due to the sudden population explosion, farms couldn’t keep up with the surge in demand, rendering affordable food an elusive commodity in many parts of the state. Moreover, the discovery of gold excited locals, too: As California’s farm workers left their agricultural jobs to pan for gold, farms that had once supported the state's economy sat abandoned. Local food merchants, smelling opportunity as droves of miners rushed the goldfields, inflated prices on everything from fruit to flour: A single egg could command as much as $3 (more than $80 per egg in today’s dollars). Suffice it to say, many merchants struck more riches than gold miners; after traveling thousands of arduous miles to stake their claim to wealth, most hopefuls in the mining camps ultimately made little money. Faced with limited funds and resources, the miners could extend a small amount of purchased flour by mixing it with sourdough starter—a more affordable solution than buying a fresh loaf of bread.

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Blueberry Sourdough Pancakes

Put that sourdough discard to good use and whip up a batch of these fluffy buttermilk pancakes, studded with fresh blueberries and topped with a drizzle of maple syrup. With a flavor somewhere between a classic buttermilk pancake and a slice of French toast (you can thank the sourdough starter for that), these sourdough pancakes […]

Put that sourdough discard to good use and whip up a batch of these fluffy buttermilk pancakes, studded with fresh blueberries and topped with a drizzle of maple syrup.

With a flavor somewhere between a classic buttermilk pancake and a slice of French toast (you can thank the sourdough starter for that), these sourdough pancakes are light, fluffy, and buttery with just a hint of sweetness.

Drizzling maple syrup on a tall stack of blueberry pancakes

If you haven’t given up on your sourdough starter yet, here’s another recipe to make use of that discard.

And in fact, these pancakes or so good, you may find yourself feeding the yeasty beast for the discard alone, just to make this recipe.

That’s totally allowed. I’m sure your starter, comfy as it is napping in the fridge, will appreciate the exercise, even if it doesn’t result in a loaf of homemade bread.

Overhead, plate of Blueberry Sourdough Pancakes with pat of butter, fresh blueberries and pot of maple syrup

How are these pancakes different from old-fashioned buttermilk pancakes? Upon first taste, you might think they were just regular old blueberry pancakes. They are light and fluffy and buttery and everything that a blueberry pancake should be.

However, as you eat, you might start to notice a hint of… something… a fascinating undertone of flavor that you can’t quite pinpoint. All you know is these are possible the best pancakes you’ve ever tasted.

I like to describe them as a French toast-flavored pancakes. Which, if you think about, makes sense, since ingredient-wise they are almost identical: French toast is made from bread, milk and eggs, and pancakes made from flour, milk and eggs. Yeast, in this case, is the critical difference. So adding some natural yeast in the form of a sourdough starter, it’s no wonder they end up tasting a bit like French toast.

Now, sourdough bread has a distinctive sour flavor (I mean, that’s why it’s called sourdough, right?) but I would in no way describe these pancakes as such. There is a bit of tang, sure, but it’s more from the buttermilk, and the blueberries, than the sourdough. I think the sugar and butter tempers the sour flavor, leaving only the yeasty undertones.

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Sourdough Pumpkin Bread (Vegan)

Having recently revived my sourdough starter, my collection of sourdough discard has started up again. Since it’s the spooky season (a.k.a October), it only felt appropriate to make a vegan pumpkin bread version of my sourdough banana bread!! Using homemade pumpkin puree I had planned on doing this a few weeks ago but found I there was NO CANNED PUMPKIN PUREE in stock anywhere near me & ordering it online would’ve cost £3 a tin! Who’s buying up all the canned pumpkin!? Anywho, I’m no stranger to making my own purees so I went ahead and bought a cooking pumpkin, cut it in half & roasted for an hour then scooped the flesh out & blended it up to make some puree. However I found that this homemade puree was much more watery than the canned puree so the loaf turned out gummy and crumbly. An intense few weeks of shoots got in the way but this week I got round to retesting it with homemade pumpkin puree which I strained in a cheesecloth-lined strainer set over a bowl for 3 hours. I also gathered up the edges of the cheesecloth after this time and gently squeezed until no more […]

The post Sourdough Pumpkin Bread (Vegan) appeared first on Izy Hossack – Top With Cinnamon.

sourdough pumpkin bread sliced with a cup of tea

Having recently revived my sourdough starter, my collection of sourdough discard has started up again. Since it’s the spooky season (a.k.a October), it only felt appropriate to make a vegan pumpkin bread version of my sourdough banana bread!!

a loaf of vegan sourdough pumpkin bread with tea being poured and winter squash

Using homemade pumpkin puree

I had planned on doing this a few weeks ago but found I there was NO CANNED PUMPKIN PUREE in stock anywhere near me & ordering it online would’ve cost £3 a tin! Who’s buying up all the canned pumpkin!? Anywho, I’m no stranger to making my own purees so I went ahead and bought a cooking pumpkin, cut it in half & roasted for an hour then scooped the flesh out & blended it up to make some puree. However I found that this homemade puree was much more watery than the canned puree so the loaf turned out gummy and crumbly.

An intense few weeks of shoots got in the way but this week I got round to retesting it with homemade pumpkin puree which I strained in a cheesecloth-lined strainer set over a bowl for 3 hours. I also gathered up the edges of the cheesecloth after this time and gently squeezed until no more water was coming out. This resulted in a texture which was much more like the canned pumpkin puree I buy. I tried it in a loaf and it worked a treat!!

a sliced sourdough pumpkin loaf on a plate with a cup of tea

Luckily, I’d had a conversation with someone on my IG DMs about converting my banana bread into a a pumpkin bread (shout out to Kelsey!!). She actually tested the recipe too – telling me her changes of increasing the sugar slightly & lowering the pumpkin slightly – and declared it a success 🙂 I’ve made it both with 150g sugar and 200g sugar and they both work out so it’s up to you and your preferred level of sweetness.

As well as these changes, I made a custom pumpkin spice blend for the cake with cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves & ginger for that Autumnal flavour. As I had some oranges to hand, I grated in some zest too as I always find it helps to round out the spices in things like carrot cakes & pumpkin breads. This is such a delicious, soft loaf and is VERY moreish. Perfect for a cuppa as an afternoon snack!

Other sourdough discard recipes

Sourdough Pumpkin Bread (Vegan)

Sourdough Pumpkin Bread (Vegan)

Yield: 1 loaf (serves 12)

A warmly spiced vegan pumpkin bread which uses sourdough discard!

Ingredients

  • 200g (3/4 cup plus 1 tbsp) pumpkin puree* (SEE NOTES if using homemade)
  • 150g (3/4 cup) to 200g (1 cup) light brown sugar*
  • 90g (1/3 cup + 2 tsp) neutral oil or light olive oil
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/8 tsp ground cloves
  • zest of 1 orange, finely grated
  • 1/4 tsp fine table salt
  • 150g (3/4 cup) sourdough starter/discard (100% hydration)
  • 120g (1 cup) plain white (all-purpose) flour
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda (baking soda)

Topping (optional):

  • 2 tbsp light brown sugar
  • 3 tbsp pumpkin seeds/pepitas

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C fan (350°F). Grease a 2lb loaf tin with some oil and line with a sling of baking paper.
  2. In a large bowl, mix the pumpkin puree, sugar, oil, spices, orange zest and salt until smooth. Stir in the sourdough starter. Lastly, add the flour and bicarbonate of soda. Fold together until just combined.
  3. Pour the batter into your lined loaf tin. Sprinkle with the topping of light brown sugar and pumpkin seeds, if using.
  4. Bake for 55-70 minutes - a toothpick inserted into the centre should come out clean. If the loaf looks like it's browning too much but is not cooked through yet, tent the top with foil for the last 20 minutes of baking.
  5. Allow to cool before removing from the tin, slicing & serving.

Notes

Adapted from my Sourdough Banana Bread (vegan)

Amount of sugar: use 150g for a slightly less sweet loaf or 200g if you prefer things sweeter

If using homemade pumpkin puree: it is essential that your pumpkin puree is drained before weighing & using in this recipe. To do this, line a sieve (mesh strainer) set over a bowl with 2 layers of cheesecloth. Fill with your homemade pumpkin puree and leave to drain for 2-3 hours. After this time, gather up the edges of the cheesecloth and twist together at the top. Gently squeeze the bundle of puree to remove any last bit of water - don't squeeze too hard or the puree may start to seep through the cheesecloth! The texture should be very thick just like canned pumpkin puree. You can now measure it out and use it in the recipe.

To make homemade pumpkin puree: cut your pumpkin in half. Place cut side down on a baking tray and roast at 180C fan (350F) for 1-2 hours until completely soft. Remove from the oven, flip over and scoop out the seeds then discard them. Scoop the flesh into a blender/food processor/bowl with sitck blender, discard the skin. Blitz the flesh until smooth then drain as instructed above.

What is 100% hydration sourdough starter? This means that when feeding your starter, you're using an equal weight of flour & water (e.g. feeding it with 50g flour & 50g water each time).

Non-Vegan option: use 100g butter, melted, in place of the oil.

Have you made this recipe?
I’d love to see how it went! Tag me on instagram @izyhossack and hashtag it #topwithcinnamon so I can have a look & reshare in my stories!

The post Sourdough Pumpkin Bread (Vegan) appeared first on Izy Hossack - Top With Cinnamon.

How to Make Sourdough With…Beets? (Or Any Vegetable!)

The Perfect Loaf is a column from software engineer-turned-bread expert (and Food52’s Resident Bread Baker), Maurizio Leo. Maurizio is here to show us all things naturally leavened, enriched, yeast-risen, you name it—basically, every vehicle to slather…

The Perfect Loaf is a column from software engineer-turned-bread expert (and Food52's Resident Bread Baker), Maurizio Leo. Maurizio is here to show us all things naturally leavened, enriched, yeast-risen, you name it—basically, every vehicle to slather on a lot of butter. Today, a guide to making vibrant, flavorful loaves with vegetable purees.


Creating a recipe for a loaf of bread oftentimes requires a series of trials, where each trial inches you closer toward your ideal. It’s your job, as the baker, to figure out the inputs (flour, water, mix-ins, salt, preferment) and the process (mixing, bulk fermentation, shaping, proofing) to get you there. And for me, this is perhaps the most exciting part about baking sourdough bread: It’s like seeing a picture of a finished, beautiful puzzle, then being handed a box of scattered pieces to put together yourself.

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