Getting Creative with Sourdough Bread
I’m not fond of eating cakes but I used to bake it for the fun of decorating it. Here are some of my creations.
But after a while, I had to abandon it because it was such a pain to finish a whole bundle of sweets. I’m no sweet tooth. In fact, when I was young, I had a sour tooth, if ever there was such a term for someone who craves sour food to be dipped in a bowl of salt.
I ate calamansi for snacks (it’s a tropical fruit which is small and tastes like a crossbreed of lemon and lime). I also adored sour, unripe mangoes dipped in anything salty like soysauce, salt, or fermented fish.
After discovering my love for sourdough, it was natural to get creative with this very simple bread. I call it simple because the ingredients are so basic: bread flour, oil, water, salt, and natural sweetener, which for me is not sugar cane but maple syrup. But the resulting bread is so soft, you think I added a bunch of milk and eggs in it. And even when it had been more than three days in the refrigerator, it still stays soft.
Anyway, when the school where my daughter attends asked for cake donations, I refused to
bake cake but volunteered my sourdough bread instead. To make it extra fancy and special, befitting a Cake Walk, I made raisin sourdough bread and pumpkin-shaped sourdough bread.
Below are some pictures from this creative stint.
I wish I knew how the raisin bread tasted because it was my first time to have baked that. Hopefully my gut instinct was right.
The pumpkin bread hopefully paired well with the chimichurri-pumpkin spice dip.
But for the love of art, I think this was worth the effort and very satisfying.
The Spelt Flour Starter Saga
After reading all these posts about spelt and semolina flour, I decided to play with my sourdough starter.
I fed it with 1 cup scant spelt flour instead of the usual unbleached all-purpose flour and half cup of water.
But it did not activate as usual. See bottles below. The three layers of fluid level indicate these babies are still hungry. Or perhaps hangry because they won’t budge to my stirring.
So I experimented with different feeds to see whether the spelt is truly the culprit and to see what would satiate their hunger... and the winner is 3/4 unbleached all-purpose flour and 1/4 spelt, vs. 1/2 unbleached apf and 1/2 spelt (came second), vs 3/4 spelt and 1/4 unbleached apf. Lean is mean. Looks like, spelt made my baby Doughy hungry...
Now the ultimate test whether this spelt-laden sourdough starter would work was to make a dough and put it in the refrigerator for overnight fermentation.
When I checked on my refrigerated doughs, I was surprised to see depressed doughies.
With all-purpose flour feed, they are usually happily lifted the next day. So I dusted their middles with 1 tsp of dehydrated starter.
Let’s see if that will jumpstart these kiddos.
After folding and unraveling their tight and air-free matrix, and giving them a cardiac-massage-like kneading, the baby doughies felt more cushiony but I knew they still need some aeration. Had to put them in a warmer place so my dehydrated starter can activate these cold-hearted doughies.
Photo above is now showing some bubbly activity. Glad I didn’t have to call Baker 911... yet.
And the dehydrated starter kicked the dough back to life! This baby’s about to jump off the bowl. lol!
Success at resuscitating the sour dough starter!
In the Philippines, where I was born and raised, pandesal or saltine bread is a local favorite. Instead of dinner rolls, we prefer breakfast buns because lunch and dinner are meant to be eaten with rice, the staple carbohydrate source, much like potatoes and bread in the other regions of the world.
When we moved to the east coast, I missed this food so much. I spent the first few months in the kitchen baking these wonderful buns, and had quite a success.
Now that I discovered sourdough bread, I thought, why not combine the health benefits of sourdough with the yummy-goodness of hot pandesal.
After a couple of trial and error, I was finally satisfied with this new take on pandesal. Let me call this the pandesour pullout bread or sourdough pandesal.
It’s very easy to make. I used the same dough recipe that I had for sourdough bread with some modifications in the ingredients. I included measurements in grams for accuracy and also some alternative options.
SOFT BREAD RECIPE:
1 1/3 cup (245 gm) well-fed and bubbly sourdough starter
1/4 cup + 3 tbsp (105 gm) water
1 tbsp (15 gm) canola oil
1 tsp (5 gm) salt
1 tsp (5 gm) maple syrup or sugar
1 2/3 cup (245 gm) bread flour (for softer crumb) or all-purpose flour (for cheaper alternative)
1) Pre-heat oven to 375F.
2) Combine all ingredients and knead for 10-15 minutes.
3) Shape into one big round dough and place in a bowl. Cover with an oiled cling-wrap. Refrigerate overnight.
4) Take out from refrigerator and form dough into small round balls. If you want more uniform shapes, feel free to use a cookie cutter, or alternatively, roll the dough into a log and cut into 1-inch size.
5) Put the rounded doughs in a baking pan or Dutch oven. Let rise until these double in size.
6) Sprinkle with plain bread crumbs before baking in the oven for 35-45 minutes, depending on how brown you want the crust to appear. Don’t forget this last step in the process (sprinkling on bread crumbs) because that’s how this bread can make its claim as a pandesal. Without it, it’s just plain old breakfast bun or dinner roll. It’ll have some identity crisis of sorts (as though it hasn’t had one already, being a sourdough bread and pandesal rolled in one).
7) If using a Dutch oven, keep the lid on to keep the crust soft. If using a baking pan, put another pan at the bottom of the oven and pour water for steaming.
For those who want an even softer and more sour crumb, you may substitute water with kefir milk. Research shows that kefir milk prolongs shelf life of sourdough bread. You may need to adjust flour and water depending on the consistency of your kefir milk.
Let me know how your kitchen experiment turns out!
Post your comments below.