Tag: sourdough starter

Sourdough Pita Bread

I’ve been keeping a pet in the refrigerator these days..my sourdough starter. This starter was given to me by my mom, and it’s been alive and kicking for over 2 years now. The starter I made way back when, turned pink for Valentine’s Day, and hence that one was no more.

If there’s anything you can do to keep your baking self-sustaining, it is to grow make some sourdough starter. This method is great- I’ve used it twice with 100% success! I’m no sourdough starter expert; just a novice user who remembers to feed her starter once in a while.

I bought a grain mill last year and I love it! I buy wheat berries and mill turns them into flour for me. Anyway, as I started to bake with whole wheat flour, I realized that some whole wheat bread recipes, even good ones, got kind of crumbly, flaky, and fall apart-y if they weren’t eaten right away. It seemed like most recipes for 100% whole wheat flour require a decent amount of fat, sugar, or both, to help keep the bread soft. I googled and researched a bunch on the internet, read articles, and either from some articles or as a result of reading, got this theory..Whole wheat grains existed long ago, when there was no way to separate the germ and bran from the endosperm. Sourdough also existed way back when, before the invention of today’s baker’s yeast (which, by the way, only contains Saccharomyces cerevisiae, as opposed to sourdough, which contains many more organisms). Soo…maybe whole wheat grains and sourdough go together.

So began the experiments. After baking whole wheat bread with sourdough, I noticed that the bread stayed intact and held a great texture, even though I only used water, sourdough, flour, and salt. My theory is that it’s not only the freshly milled whole wheat, but also the long fermentation time, and in the little organisms in the sourdough starter. So, when I want to eat something biologically leavened, (in this case, leavening that is not baking powder or soda) and nutrient-dense, I bake whole wheat flour/water/sourdough/salt bread. When I want something biologically leavened that is more splurgey, like cinnamon rolls, I’ll use mostly white all purpose flour and commercial yeast. After all, I doubt most people eat those types of breads for nutrition 😉

I tried to think of all the recipes that I could convert to use sourdough instead, because there is always sourdough starter in my kitchen, but not always yeast. I stumbled across this great blog that I think everyone should read- called Bint Rhoda’s Kitchen! She grew up eating this bread (cooked on the stovetop), and she is into sourdough baking as well! :d

I’ve made this pita bread with 100% whole wheat flour (oven), as well as 100% spelt flour (stovetop), both with great success, so I encourage you to try both and see which you prefer. Me? Stovetop for convenience and lack of pre-heating the oven. But, it’s always nice to sit in front of the oven and watch the pitas grow and get pillowy.

If you’ve made pita bread with baker’s yeast, it’ll be easier to make this recipe. No matter, just make sure the dough is soft, but does not stick to your hands.

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Soft Wheat Bread made with TangZhong 湯種

*edit as of April 9, 2014- You can replace 60 grams of the whole wheat bread flour with buckwheat flour. The resulting bread tastes more grassy or malty, or just buckwheatey, and the bread just won’t rise as much!*

I saw this recipe on King Arthur’s website, and I really wanted to make it with the flour that I got from Great River Milling Company (ordered from Amazon). Around the same time, I saw a website that reminded me of TangZhong, a technique that lots of Chinese bakeries use to get soft, fluffy bread. What’s the science behind tangzhong? Right now, my favorite explanation is from Jenni Fields at Pastry Chef Online, but I’d like to do even more research to be able to get even more details. For now, hers is good enough for me!

This recipe has been highly adapted; but I started with King Arthur’s recipe, so I should give them credit!

A summary of the changes:
-added tangzhong and sourdough starter
-used coconut oil instead of vegetable oil
-used a combination of honey, molasses, and maple syrup (emptied my almost-done bottles of honey and molasses, then supplemented with maple syrup)
-didn’t use milk
-cut the sweetness and upped the salt slightly
-used a “light” whole wheat bread flour; 80% of the bran has been removed, although 100% of the germ has been retained. Here’s the spec sheet: King Arthur’s recipe called for 100% whole wheat flour, so I’m sure you can do that too! 

Soft Wheat Bread
Heavily adapted from King Arthur Flour

Tang Zhong:
-35g whole wheat bread flour
-175 mL water

Sourdough starter
-50 grams 100% hydration unfed or weakly fed sourdough starter OR 25 g whole wheat flour + 25 g water

Rest of the dough
-50g coconut oil
-73g honey, molasses, or maple syrup, or a combination of any of them
-337 grams whole wheat bread flour
-2.5 tsp instant yeast
-1.5 tsp salt 

-65-88 grams water (I used 88 for a dough on the wetter side)

1. Make the tangzhong first:
Whisk the flour and water together, and heat over very low heat, stirring occasionally, until it forms a paste at 65C or 150F. This will only take 1-2 minutes! The water should be completely absorbed by the flour at this point. Cool the tangzhong before you add it to the rest of the ingredients.

2. While the tangzhong is cooking:  Combine the sourdough starter and the rest of the dough ingredients together. Start with 75 grams of water. Mix well. If the dough looks like it already absorbed all the water and leaves stray flour grains behind, add water 1 tsp at a time until all flour has made friends with the water.

3. Add cooled tangzhong to the dough ingredients from step 2.

4. Walk away for 30 minutes; do some dishes and let the flour absorb the moisture from all the components.

5. Knead the dough from 5-7 minutes until it has a homogeneous texture and is smooth and elastic. The dough shouldn’t be sticking to your hands and should not be falling apart / not sticking together in a cohesive mass. Add flour or water 1 tsp at a time to adjust.

6. Leave covered in a warm spot (~70F) to rise for 1-2 hours, until the dough is puffy. Shape into a log that will fit in your oiled or parchment paper lined 9×5 loaf pan. Cover loosely with oiled plastic wrap and let it rise 1-2 hours, or until the bread has domed above the center of the pan by about one inch. When the bread is getting close to doming (say, at the same level as the center of the pan), preheat the oven to 350F.

7. Bake for 35-40 minutes OR until a thermometer inserted into the middle of the loaf reads 190F. If the bread is browning too quickly after 20 minutes, tent it with foil.

8. Remove the bread from the oven when it is done, and turn it onto a wire rack to cool. Don’t slice until it has completely cooled! Eat by itself, or with some Hazelnut Chocolate Spread.

Eggless (Vegan) Banana Bread (Sourdough optional!)

I’ve been trying to use my sourdough discard, and also wanted to use up my 3 overripe bananas. I also read that 1 cup sourdough discard = 2/3 cup flour and 1/3 cup water (100% hydration, which is flour:water ratio of 1:1 by WEIGHT)

I also have been meaning to try making eggless banana bread..If bananas can replace egg in some instances, why can’t it replace all the egg?

Eggless Banana Bread (with sourdough starter)
adapted from about.com

-3 overripe bananas
-1/4 cup oil (I did 1/8 cup oil and 2 T. coconut oil)
-1/3 cup white sugar
-1/3 cup brown sugar
-1/2 cup UNFED sourdough starter (or 1/3 cup flour and 1/6 cup of water if you don’t have starter) – doesn’t matter what % hydration.
-2/3 cup whole wheat flour
-1 cup AP flour
-3/4 tsp salt
-3/4 tsp baking soda
-1/2 cup chopped nuts (optional)
0) Preheat oven to 350 F
1) Mash bananas well. Add other wet ingredients plus sugar.
2) Combine dry ingredients [almond flour through nuts] in a separate bowl.
3) Mix dry and wet until just combined.
4) Scoop into a 9×5 loaf pan; bake at 350F for 45-55 minutes, or until cake tester comes out clean or with few moist crumbs on it.

(Vanilla bean ice cream not included)

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