Monday, February 24, 2014

We Knead to Bake #14-Scandinavian Rye Bread (A Sourdough Bread)

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Finally, I have made a sourdough rye bread that I think is pretty near perfect! This crusty loaf's unique flavor comes from using a simple rye sourdough starter. Nothing difficult about the starter, it just needs to be made several days ahead. Some starters use no yeast and depend upon the natural yeast spores found in many foods around the home-grapes, apples, dairy products as well as many other sources. In fact, bakers have made yeast breads for thousands of years before commercial yeasts were available. With a starter, the finished bread has a longer shelf life than those made with just yeast and have a more complex and interesting taste.

On our We Knead to Bake group on Facebook, we were given the opportunity to choose our own yeast bread recipe for this month. Please check out My Diverse Kitchen for not only Aparna's lovely ciabatta rolls, but other breads baked by the group.

A few words about making your own rye sourdough starter whose method apply to all good sourdough starters-use organic bread flour and spring water. There are many additives in chemically treated flour and water that retard the growth of yeast spores.  Sometimes, it might not really matter, but if you are having difficulties in getting good results for your starter, using the organic flour and spring water might resolve those problems.

Scandinavian Rye Bread
Recipe adapted from Red Star Yeast
  • 1 spring cup water
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1`-1/4 rye sourdough starter (recipe and tips for a successful sourdough starter below)
  • 2-1/2 cups organic bread flour
  • 1-1/2 cups organic rye flour
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 tablespoon, plus 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 2-1/2 teaspoons caraway seed, optional
  • 2-1/2 teaspoons bread machine yeast
Bread Machine Method
  1. Have the liquid ingredients at room temperature. Place the ingredients in the bread machine pan in the order listed or according to the manufacturer's instruction of your bread machine. Process on the dough cycle, checking consistency of dough after a few minutes. If too dry or too wet, add small amounts of water or flour until dough is a soft, tacky ball. Preheat oven to 375°F.
  2. When processed, remove to a lightly floured surface and form into a ball.
  3. On a parchment lined baking sheet, place ball of dough and let rise until indentation remains after touching the raised loaf. With a sharp knife, make an X in the top of the loaf. 
  4. Bake for 30-40 minutes until golden brown and instant read temperature is at 190-200°F. Makes one large loaf- a 1-1/2 pound loaf.
Tip- When your dough has processed and before shaping, pull off about 1 cup of the dough and save it for the next loaf of bread. See photo below. The "old dough" will improve the taste of your next loaf of bread. Continue this for each loaf of bread you process and you will find that your bread has better keeping qualities by having done this simple task. Store the old dough covered in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Warm to room temperature before using. When incorporating into a new batch of dough, just tear the old dough into small pieces and add to the other ingredients, adjusting the flour as necessary.
Rye Sourdough Starter
Make at least 3 days ahead of making the dough.

  • 2/3 cup room temperature spring water
  • 1 cup organic rye flour
  • 1/8 teaspoon bread machine yeast
  1. Stir the water, flour and bread machine yeast together in a clear glass or plastic container. Cover with a tight lid and set aside in a warm kitchen for 24 hours. Next day, add another 1/2 cup flour and 1/3 cup water. Mix well to aerate the mixture. Cover and set aside as before for another 24 hours. On the third day, repeat the flour and water addition. Mix well again and let stand for about 8 hours. The mixture should double in bulk and be bubbly and lively and the taste and smell should be tangy and sour. Refrigerate or use it in bread dough.
  2. If refrigerating for later use, bring the starter back to room temperature, then add a cup of it to any rye bread recipe. Feed the starter by adding equal parts four and water (1/2 cup) every few days. Store in a clean, covered jar in the refrigerator after the first 3 or 4 days. Use or feed frequently.
Important-it is normal for a starter to separate with a liquid on top. Just stir in back in. The starter should smell pleasantly sour, but never should smell rotten. If the liquid is pinkish in color, throw it away and start again. You have unwanted yeast spores in it. I don't think you can use a starter forever-if it begins to look unhealthy, dump it and start over.

Rye Sourdough Starter and a Ball of Finished Dough

Please do not use images or text without my permission. 

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Salami and Provolone Cheese Brioche-Brioche Rustica

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The perfect meal in my eyes is a thick slice of crusty country bread, a hunk of good cheese, some salami or prosciutto, a lovely glass or red wine and maybe some fruit for dessert. This perfect meal would be serve outdoors whether at home or in a beautiful pastoral setting.  These salami and provolone brioche would definitely satisfy the bread, cheese and meat part of my outdoor meal. Plus, would be very easy to pack and carry.

Although many bakers shy away from making brioche as it is time-consuming and forming the traditional top knot brioche does take a little practice, the pleasure lies in enjoying the fruits of your hard-earned labor. If brioche molds are not in your batterie de cuisine, these brioche are just as delicious made in muffin tins or in a ring mold. After the recipe, be sure and watch the video on shaping brioche.

Making the brioche dough begins with a sponge, a small amount of dough that is prepared a short time before the actual dough which gives the entire dough a boost.  Although the sponge may contain other ingredients such as eggs, milk or sugar,  a very simple one is made with yeast dissolved in water  and flour beaten in to make a smooth batter.

Salami and Provolone Cheese Brioche
Recipe From Italy in Small Bites by Carol Field


  • 1 package active dry yeast (2-1/2 teaspoons)
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/2 cup milk, warmed-105°-115° F
  • 1/2 cup (70grams) unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 8 ounces boiling potatoes, peeled (about 3 medium-size)
  • 4 eggs, room temperature
  • 1-1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 3 cups, plus 2 teaspoons unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
  • 2 ounces salami, finely chopped
  • 2 ounces piquant provolone cheese, diced ( I used jalapeño jack cheese with good results)
  • Freshly grated pepper
  • 1 egg, beaten
  1. Cook the potatoes in boiling water until tender, about 10 minutes. Drain and set aside to use while still warm, not hot.
  2. While the potatoes are boiling, prepare the sponge. Stir the yeast and sugar into the warmed milk in a large bowl and leave until the yeast is foamy, about 10 minutes. Whisk in the flour to make a soft dough. Cover and let stand until doubled in volume, about 15 minutes. As soon as the potatoes are still just warm, mash them until no lumps remain.
  3. First Rise- Beat the eggs and salt together and add to the sponge. With a wooden spoon or the paddle attachment of a heavy duty mixer, mix in the flour and potatoes. Add the butter, then the Parmesan, salami, provolone(jalapeño jack) and pepper. 
  4. Either switch to the dough hook of your mixer or turn out on a lightly floured surface and knead for 7-9 minutes by hand or with a dough hook, 2 minutes on low, then 3 minutes on medium speed, until dough is firm, response and slightly sticky.
  5. Remove to a lightly oiled bowl, turning to oil both sides, then cover tightly with plastic wrap and lead to rise until doubled, about 1to 1-1/4 hours.
  6. Shaping and Second Rise-Review the video for individual brioches. If making brioche in rings, divide the dough in half and shape each piece in a long roll. Join the ends to make two rings, leaving as large a hole as possible in the center. Set the rings on greased or parchment-lined baking sheets, cover with towels and let rise until puffy, 1 to 1-1/4 hours.
  7. Baking-Preheat the oven to 400°F. If using baking stones, preheat them 30 minutes and place the baking sheets directly on top of the stones. Just before baking, brush the tops of the rings well with the beaten egg. Bake the brioche for 25 minutes, until glossy and golden brown. Makes two 10-inch rings or about 12 individual brioche.
The black and white polaroid image of the brioche tins is my contribution to BWW #117 hosted this week by Satsuki. BWW was created by Susan and is managed by Cinzia.

Please do not use images or text without my permission. 

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Black and White Wednesday #116-The Gallery

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Another lovely gallery of culinary black and white images for your viewing pleasure. Thanks to all who submitted such fine images to this Valentine's edition of Black and White Wednesday. A huge thank you to Susan for creating this immensely popular blog event and to Cinzia for her superb effort in keeping the event alive and thriving. Previous gallery-BWW#115-Cooking with Siri. Next week, Satsuki will host BWW#117. Send your information to More information regarding Black and White Wednesday can be found here.

Please do not use images or text without my permission. 

Monday, February 10, 2014

English Muffins-Secret Recipe Club

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If you have only eaten store bought English muffins or those from a national fast food chain, you are in for a treat. These muffins are the real deal! For those who are yeast challenged or think these muffins require the rolling out and cutting technique, think again.  With just a little egg and butter to enrich the mixture, a small amount of baking powder dissolved in water to ensure a bubbly texture, the batter comes together in a flash. Given at least an hour and a half rest in the fridge or overnight if you prefer, the batter is then poured into English muffin rings or free form and baked on a cornmeal dusted griddle. The result is a perfect English muffin, a vehicle for any spread, sandwich or topping.
 It's time for the February Secret Recipe Club reveal! I was assigned Rebecah's blog, Family, Food and Fun, a very appropriate title as her blog is filled with not only delicious food, but vignettes of her lovely family and the fun they have together. I admire her and husband, Grant for home educating their five beautiful children.  I can see her that her handsome son, the eldest, will be a great big brother to his sisters! Food wise, she eschews packaged food products and the like saying if her grandparents didn't eat these modern day products filled with artificial ingredients when they were kids in the 20's, then her family wouldn't either. A homemaker of many talents! While perusing so many delicious recipes, I decided on Rebecah's English Muffins, an adaptation of one of my favorite food writer's who is also a  trained chef, Michael Ruhlman.
If you don't have the English muffin rings for the batter, it's perfectly fine to bake them free-form. In fact, the muffins are easier to flip without the rings.  The batter sometimes sticks to the rings, making them difficult to turn and to remove. 
English Muffins


2 ounces unsalted butter (60 grams)
1 tablespoon sugar
2 cups milk (16 ounces-475 ml)
1 package active dry yeast (2-1/4 teaspoons, 7 grams)
1 large egg, beaten
4 cups all-purpose flour, (16 ounces, 450 grams)
1-1/2 teaspoons Kosher salt (7 grams)
2 teaspoons baking powder dissolved in 1 tablespoon of water
Cornmeal for dusting


Combine the butter and sugar in a small saucepan, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Add the milk, stir and remove from heat. Stir in the yeast and egg.

Combine the flour and salt in a mixing bowl. Add the milk mixture and stir until well-combined. Cover and set aside for 1-1/2 hours, or refrigerate overnight. Remove from the fridge at least an hour before cooking the muffins.

Heat a griddle or skillet (cast iron is perfect) over medium heat. If using the rings, grease them lightly with butter. Stir the dissolved baking powder into the batter. Dust the griddle with corn meal. Scoop out about 1/4-cup portions onto the griddle, free form or in the prepared rings. Cook for about seven minutes. Flip and continue cooking until done, 7-10 more minutes.

Allow the muffins to rest for at least 10 minutes. Split with a form and serve with butter, jam, honey or use for poached eggs, bacon or Canadian bacon and a Hollandaise sauce.

Makes 8-12 muffins.

Enjoy! Next time I make these, I will use my sourdough starter!

This post also goes to Yeastspotting

Please do not use images or text without my permission. 

Saturday, February 08, 2014

Black and White Wednesday #116-Valentine's Edition

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Happy Valentine's Day to all! I'm pleased to be hosting BWW #116, the Valentine's edition. I would love to see your black and white, shades of gray and white, duotoned-any food related images devoid of actual color to post in the gallery on Wednesday, February 12th. I will accept images up to 10:00 am, New York time on that day. Your images don't have to be heart related, anything goes. Thanks to  Susan, creator of this event and to Cinzia, admin of BWW! Both are very talented cooks, food and lifestyle photographers. 

If you are interested in posting to or hosting this event, the very simple rules and regulations information can be found here.

Please do not use images or text without my permission. 
Gadget by The Blog Doctor.