Before you begin to make sourdough you need to make your starter or Levain (as it is often referred to in other recipes)
It is an easy process, BUT you need to look after it everyday during these first stages so it is best to start when you know you are going to be at home.
I LOVE the taste and it's really worth the effort it takes to make it. (it is quite time consuming - why I said in the title that it has taken over)
This recipe makes 2 loaves, You can freeze one loaf if you need to, but I rarely have more than a few slices left after a weekend. I usually make it on Friday. It makes great toast to go with poached eggs for breakfast.
It will last for about 4-5 days and keep its taste, but in our house it doesn't last that long, even though there are only 2 of us.
I tried a couple of other recipes that didn't work out and the one below has given me great results the last 5 or 6 times I have used it.
Making the Starter.
Sourdough Starter replaces yeast. Its a mixture of flour and water and it uses the natural yeast in the air.
You can change the quantities but keep the proportions the same as I have used and you should be OK.
You need 125g organic wholemeal wheat flour and 190g slightly warm water.
Mix the ingredients in a glass container until smooth and then cover with a cotton tea-towel leave at room temp undisturbed until the next morning.
The Next Day.
In the morning, give the mix a good stir and replace the tea-towel.
Day 3 - 8
The next morning pour away half of your starter and refresh with 125g organic wholemeal wheat flour and 190g slightly warm water. Repeat this everyday for a week.
When it starts to bubble then you know things are going well.
When it is bubbly with a 'yeasty' smell or its a bit frothy you can move on to the next step. If its only just starting to bubble, give it a stir, cover and check again the next day, or repeat the above step.
This could be 6 days or may even be 8 days.
Feeding the starter.
Having a starter is a little like having a pet. If you don't feed it weekly you risk it dying. Your starter can be refrigerated with a lid on the glass jar and then before you use it the starter needs to be 'fed'. Bring it out and let it get to room temp before adding 125g organic bread flour and 190g slightly warm water and leaving it for at least 12 hours. It can then be used or returned to the fridge.
Whatever recipe you choose will tell you how much starter to use. always use the starter when it is bubbly. So don't forget to revive it a day before you need it. When you have used the starter, you also need to replenish it so there is enough for the next round of baking.
Making the bread
975g of organic white bread flour
75g of organic wholemeal flour
680g of water (20c to 25c)
22g of Salt
250g of the above Levain
You can play around with the quantities of flour and water depending on the type of flour used, some absorb more water than others. You can also reduce the above amount of White bread Flour - maybe 900g to 850g and then add 50g organic Wholemeal.
I use this white bread flour...
1. 24 hours after your starter was last fed put 75g into a separate bowl and add 75g of organic wholemeal flour and 75g of organic white bread flour and 150g of water.
Mix this by hand until smooth and then cover and leave for around 7 - 10 hours.
2. After around 7 to 10 hours, mix 900g of organic white bread flour, 680g of water and mix together in a large bowl. Let this rest for 30 mins and then add the salt and 22grams of salt and 250grams of the starter.
Wet your hands before mixing as this helps to stop the dough from sticking to your fingers.
If you have the time fold the dough 2 or 3 times during the first 90 mins.
This isn't necessary, but I find it gives me a more manageable dough.
Leave the dough overnight (around 14 hours) until it’s tripled in size. You can play around with adding more starter if you find you don't get enough rise.
3. The next day divide the dough in two equal pieces. Trying not to deflate the bubbles tip the dough onto a floured surface and use a scraper to 'slice' the dough.
Shape the two pieces of dough into reasonably firm balls, and place in proofing baskets or bowls lined with tea towels. Before use, dust the baskets or bowls in flour. Put these into plastic bags and leave at room temp for around 3 to 4 hours.
4. Around 30 minutes before baking you need to preheat your oven to 245c. If you have a Dutch oven/Le Creuset put this in the oven to preheat too.
Tip your proofed loaf into your floured hands then place in your Dutch Oven. - taking care because it will be very hot. Return to the oven with the lid on.
Bake for 35 minutes, then remove the lid and continue to bake for another 20 minutes or until the loaf is dark brown.
I have 2 ovens so I bake both loaves at the same time, but if you don't you can put the second loaf in the fridge until the first loaf is finished.
So the timetable I usually work from looks like this...
Day 1 - feed starter in the morning (10am)
Day 2 - take out amt for bread 24 hours after it was fed (10am)
Day 2 - 7-10 hours later mix bread (5 - 8pm)
Day 3 - after 14 hours split dough in half (7 - 10am)
Day 3 - 3-4 hours later bake bread.
Once you get the hang of it there are lots of other recipes you can find online that use the sourdough starter. I have eaten sourdough pizza at a Jason Atherton restaurant and it was amazing so that is on my list to try.
It takes a bit of practice to get the perfect loaf, and the right quantities of flour and starter etc but all the 'mistakes' can be eaten so its not normally a big disaster. Enjoy baking and let me know how it works out.
I LOVE these pastries. Its hard to find a good one as I am a bit fussy about the filling and also the pastry has to be fresh enough that it crumbles and doesn't just flatten the filing when you try to break it.
I'd eaten a few recently and been disappointed and decided to give them a try. I was VERY pleased with he flavour and the flakiness of the pastry. The icing needs a bit of work, but hey, its a learning curve and I can't imagine there will be many complaints as family and friends are taste testing the 'experiments'. The first step is to make the pastry. You can buy the pastry, but I really don't like the strange 'lardy' after-taste that the pre-made pastries have, I guess they must use a cheap butter or butter alternative. Either way, it has an unpleasant taste so I made a Rough Puff Pastry. This is slightly quicker than a traditional Puff Pastry as it doesn't need to chill overnight.
In between the chilling and folding of the pastry I made the creme patisserie and kept it in a piping bag in the fridge until I needed it.
I whipped fresh cream and put this into a piping bag too.
When the pastry was chilled sufficiently I matched up the rectangles so they would make even sized pastries and lay them out in rows of threes.
I made my Mille Feuille with three layers of pastry, one layer of creme and one layer of Creme Patisserie. When I made mini versions of these for a party I just did 2 layers of pastry and a filling of Creme Patisserie. The choice is yours
Before assembling the Mille Feuille you need to ice the pastry that will be the top layer. This is simply a mixture of icing sugar mixed into a paste with a TINY bit of water.
This got a little messy as it was my first attempt, but once you lift the pastries from the baking tray they don't look too bad. When the icing sugar mix is thick enough that you can paint in on and it doesn't run you literally paint it over the pastry.
I dipped a cocktail stick into gel food colouring and dribbled its over the icing and swirled it a little to give the pink chaotic pattern I have here. I definitely need to work on this technique but it wasn't a bad first attempt.
The final stage is to pipe the creme patisserie onto one layer of pastry. Not too thick but it needs to be thick enough to give the pastries some height. Lay the second pastry on top and then repeat with the fresh creme.
I put the fresh cream as the top layer because it isn't as dense as the creme patisserie and I wasn't sure it would hold the weight of the other layers. Lastly, the pastry layer with the icing goes on top.
And there you go.
Now I admit, its not the quickest or easiest recipe to do, but its not a bad one if you are at home all day and are cooking other things at the same time. I made them on the same day as a batch of Macarons, using the left over egg yolks for the Creme Patisserie.
Even with my messy icing they were a HUGE hit. My father-in-law said they were better than Sprungli, and as compliments go - they don't come any bigger than that.
225g plain flour
half a tsp salt
200g chilled grated butter
180ml chilled water
juice from half a lemon.
Mix the flour and salt into a large bowl and add the butter. Mix the butter around with a large metal spoon to coat it in flour. Be careful to keep the butter in lumps. Most recipes just say to keep the butter in lumps or shreds when you add it as this helps to give the nice raise and flaky layers. I grated the butter because I wanted to control the amount of raise.
Mix the water and lemon juice together and slowly pour into the flour mixture.
Mix everything together using a metal knife. Use a chopping action to kind of chop the butter into the flour until it looks like a dough.
It will still be quite wet.
Tip it out onto a floured surface and work it into a rectangle shape. I rolled it out slightly and then folded the bottom third into the middle and the top third down over that so it is three layers.
Wrap in clingfilm and chill for 10-15mins.
When chilled, remove from the fridge and with the folded edges to the sides roll the pastry out into a rectangle again. The same size as before. Again fold the bottom third into the middle and the top third over. Wrap it again and chill for 30mins. Repeat this step twice more. After the last rolling leave the pastry to chill for 2 hours.
When chilled remove and quickly roll out into a long rectangle shape about half a cm in thickness, try not to handle the pastry too much as this will make it warm and the butter will melt.
Lay the pastry on a tray and chill again for maybe 10-15 mins.
I made a stencil for the size of the Mile Feuille using baking paper. I lay this over the chilled pastry and used a pizza cutter to cut out the rectangle shapes I needed.
Carefully place the rectangles on a baking sheet lined with paper with a few cm between them.
Lie a piece of making paper over them and lie another baking tray on top to weigh them down.
You want to get a little rise but no too much. I have seen recipes where they suggest to prick the surface for the pastry all over with a fork.... laying a baking tray over the top worked for me, so I'm sticking with it !!
Bake these in the oven for about 10 mins at 200 degrees. remove the baking tray and paper from the top and put them back in the oven for another 5-10 mins until golden brown. Bring them out and let them cool on a wire rack.
This is a nice, quick easy to make tray-bake.
My chocolate drizzle needs a bit of work.... but these little bite-sized treats taste amazing.
Heat the oven to 200 C
Stir together the biscuit crumbs and coconut then add the condensed milk and melted butter.
Press into a greased square cake tin
bake for 10-12 mins.
Remove and let cool.
Turn out the 'cake' onto a board and divide with a sharp knife into small bite sized squares.
Separate them all slightly and drizzle the melted choc over them using small spoon.
Chill and serve ideally from the fridge (or the choc may melt)
These are quick to make.
170g digestive biscuits - crumbled
150g desiccated coconut
395g tin / tube condensed milk
175g chocolate - melted in a bain marie
Baking is my new hobby. (And quite a good one for the winter months). I don't have a particularly sweet tooth so I'm happily feeding everyone I know with my experiments, usually the family here in CH.
Most people, I am happy to report are quite pleased with this set-up - me randomly showing up with home baked goodies !!
I really enjoy being in the kitchen, music playing, the food processor whiring, the oven blowing out yummy smells and just the chaos that cooking creates.
I've love cooking for people and having people for dinner, so baking was really the next step. Since my desserts had always been a bit 'simple' this has given me a whole new culinary avenue to explore. Before I'd manage maybe a Tiramisu or profiteroles made with ice cream inside - but now I am really enjoying making cakes and 'proper' desserts, and I'm looking forward to trying out some petit fours in the New Year.
I bought some new cook-books and downloaded the Great British Bake Off TV shows which really inspired me to get started.
My first attempt was a chocolate cake with piped roses (in the picture above), then a lemon cake with lemon roses piped on it, followed by cupcakes, fruit torte, chocolate torte, lemon torte, apple strudel and even my own Christmas Stollen. My cookbooks are plastered with post-it's stuck to recipes I want to try next and my cupboards are filled with different types of sugar and food flavourings.
The next big influence was the macaron class I took when I was in London in September.
Both my husband and I love Macarons but it is not easy to find a good one and when you do they are so expensive it really has to be a special occasion to justify the cost. Since the class I've been making them on a weekly basis, much to the pleasure of my husband.
I made them for friends when I was visiting the USA for Thanksgiving and I made a small mountain of them to give to friends and family here in CH instead of Christmas Cookies.
Its been a rough road trying to perfect the technique and also getting the ingredient quantities right when changing the flavours. Everything right down to the oven temperature needs to be spot on... so believe me there have been many mistakes, albeit tasty mistakes, and a fair bit of 'colourful' language, but it has still been fun.
The other thing I want to start making in the New Year is Ice Cream.
I want to eat an ice cream with ingredients that I know, not the E-numbers in the shop bought ones, and also it will be a great use for the left over egg yolks from the macaron making.
Both cooking and baking make me happy, my day is filled with something productive, we eat relatively 'clean' food with very few preservatives. Also there is nothing quite as rewarding as the look on someones face when they taste something (and enjoy) something you have created.
This tart has a wonderful sweet shortcrust base. It can be made with whatever fruits are in season, but the cooking times for bigger fruit such at plums or apricots will be longer.
Its REALLY easy - apart from the pastry bit. I personally make my own as it has a much lighter finish and taste, but you can also buy it and roll it out !!
Ingredients for the filling
half a cup creme fraiche
1 large egg beaten
half a tsp vanilla extract
2 tablespoons honey (pref gritty)
1 tablespoon flour.
Once you have the pastry case blind baked then you literally just throw the filling in and arrange the fruit on top. In a bowl mix the honey, creme fraiche, egg and vanilla. Mix it well with a whisk until smooth, then whisk in the flour. That is literally it !! How easy is that one !!??
I would suggest putting the fruit in the base and pouring the mixture on while the pie is on the oven shelf. That way you won't get any spillage.
Your choice of fruit will dictate how long the tart needs to bake. I baked the apricot one for about 50-60 mins at 175 C. The smaller raspberry one above they only took about 20mins. This will be a bit trial and error, and also depend on your oven. The bigger and more dense the fruit the longer it will take to cook. You may also want to put a crust protector on the sides to stop the edges burning.
I've been a big fan of The Great British Bake Off since day one. I think Mel and Sue are hysterical, and I'd love to adopt Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood...... I've got some of the cookbooks, tried some of the recipes and have printed out loads more from the BBC site to try...... what I also did was to make a list of all the 'tips' from the show.... and here they are..
I made this for the In-laws as a dessert after Sunday Lunch. They loved it. Its not too heavy and its relatively quick to make. You can use raspberries or blueberries alongside the apples if you fancy it too !!
I was going to serve it with custard but opted for fresh whipped cream instead. Ingredients
5 sheets filo pastry
60g butter melted
3 tbsp almonds
I tbsp brown sugar.
750 g apples cored and peeled
zest and juice of one lemon
3 tbsp muscovado sugar
half tsp cinnamon
half tsp mixed spice
125g sultanas soaked in brandy / orange juice Mix the filling together - apples (sliced), sultanas, lemon zest and juice, muscovado sugar, spices and cinnamon.
Lightly brush one sheet of fill with melted butter. Cover with another sheet and repeat until all five sheets are layered. This can be a bit diddly if the sheets break. You really should use whole sheets to stop the filling leaking out.
Sprinkle the almonds over the middle of the fill pastry and add the filling.
Fold the pastry over the at the top, brushing the join with butter will help to seal it.
Brush butter over the top of the strudel and sprinkle with the tbsp brown sugar.
Bake in a pre-heated oven at 190 C for about 40-45 minutes until crisp and golden.
Mine leaked a little so I rolled it over and baked the bottom for 5 mins too and this dried it up a bit !!
You can dust with icing sugar just before serving. Serve hot of cold, with custard or fresh cream - such tough decisions !!
I really enjoy making these. They are incredibly tasty and great for taking on picnics or car/train journeys.
The hot water pastry really makes the difference with this pie.
I guess you could use different fillings but the pork filling reminds me of my childhood and when my Dad used to eat these with lashings of Coleman's Mustard.
This recipe is from the Paul Hollywood 'How to Bake' Book. The only thing I changed is that I added an egg to the pastry before mixing as I think it gives a richer pastry, and I also added ground juniper berries to the pork mix.
In the images below I baked the pies in a silicon tray. I think a metal tray works better as it gives the pies a better bake around the edges and bottom... Ingredients for the filling.
350g minced pork 1 large onion chopped finely
100g unsmoked back bacon sea salt and fresh pepper
small bunch parsley 5 or 6 juniper berries - ground.
half a chicken stock cube dissolved in 300ml boiling water.
2 small sheets gelatine
Put the pork, onion, chopped parsley, juniper berries and salt and pepper in a bowl and mix well. Cover and set aside.
I usually put a tiny bit of this mix in a pan and fry to check it is seasoned OK.
Ingredients for hot water pastry.
300g plain flour 1/2 tsp salt
1 large egg 55g unsalted butter
65g lard 85ml water
1 egg yolk lightly beaten with 1tbsp water to glaze.
Sift the flour and salt into a large bowl.
Make a well in the middle and crack the egg into to. Cover with flour.
In a pan heat the water, lard and butter together - but don't boil. Immediately pour around the edge of the flour and stir in quickly using a large butter knife or spatula.
Knead the dough until smooth and wrap in cling film and hill in the fridge until firm.
Grease the inside of the baking tins.
When the pastry is cooled you need to work quickly, roll out the dough to about 3cm thickness.
Cut the pastry for the insides and also slightly smaller discs for the tops.
Put a heaped tablespoon of the filling into each case and put the lid on. You can join the sides with just fingers or you can use a fork/end of a spoon to give a nice design.
Make a hole in the top of each pie. Brush the pies with the beaten egg and bake until golden ( for about 50 mins at 190 C)
Soften the gelatine in cold water for 5 mins, squeeze out to remove excess liquid and then dissolve it in the water and chicken stock.
When the pies come out of the oven carefully pour a little of the gelatine mix into each pie.
Allow too cool overnight.
One thing I like to do in the kitchen is to save time on the boring dishes, those that freeze well or those that need a lot of prep. So what I do is I literally cook extra for the freezer.
Although I haven't bought a pre-prepared anything for a long time, I do like to have a little standby stock of things in the freezer I can throw together quickly.
Just like everybody else, there are days when I simply don't have the time to make everything from scratch. If I've been out for lunch that stretched out longer than expected or included one glass of wine more than anticipated then I have a small reserve of scrummy food, (cooked by myself so I know exactly what is in it) to put in the oven or heat up in a pan. The house smells delicious, husband gets a home cooked meal and thinks I've been a slave to the kitchen for the afternoon because I love him so much - everybody is happy!
On a practical note, cooking for the freezer also allows me to take advantage when meat is being reduced in the supermarket. This is particularly important here in Switzerland where meat is incredibly expensive. Last week I managed to buy some cubed beef and chicken breasts that were reduced to less than half price, as they needed to be sold that day.
I made a big pan of Beef Red Thai Curry and another pan of Chicken Tikka Masala. We ate one portion of the beef curry and I froze the rest. I divided the chicken up and froze that in portions for another day.
I've bought myself time to have a day out and about in Switzerland while dinner for that day defrosts....
I usually have a stock of home cooked bolognese, a lasagna, the filling for a beef pie, a couple of curries and potato gratin in small oven to table dishes.
I also have a great biscuit dough that I freeze in rolls so I can simply defrost, slice and bake. Fresh cookies almost on demand !!
A little organisation, sticky labels to write on and Tupperware are all that is needed to turn yourself into a domestic goddess (even when you are out having fun).
This was my first attempt at a 'proper' cake and also first attempt at butter icing and piping...... If I can do it - anyone can !! Clearly my presentation needs quite a bit of work as I'm sure it would have Mary Berry hyperventilating, but I was quite pleased with it as a starting place...
You need quite a bit of time as the cake needs to cool down before you attempt to ice it, but as you do it in stages its easy to fit around other things you may be doing around the house wether that be cleaning, watching TV or drinking wine and chatting with friends via SKYPE. As long as you are around to keep an eye on the cake in the oven and to stop people taking a slice before it is iced !! First you need to make the chocolate cake. I make two sponges as I find it easier than cutting and also you have a better chance that they are both cooked evenly.
170g unsalted butter - softened 170g caster sugar
115g flour sifted with 1 tsp baking powder
3 large eggs 55g cocoa powder
pinch of salt
Cream the butter and sugar.
Add a third of the flour and one egg and mix well.
follow this process for the rest of the flour and eggs.
The batter should be smooth, if it is stiff add a splash of water.
Divide the mixture into 2 cake tins and bake for about 25mins at 170/190 C until springy to touch.
While the cake is baking you can make the buttercream icing and fill the icing bag ready...
Turn out and allow to cool before adding the filling.
This is where I cheated - slightly, as I bought the granache for the filling from Tesco's finest range !! You can use a layer of jam and fresh cream or even make more of the buttercream filling and use that. Its really up to you and your taste buds.
The buttercream Icing
50g good quality dark chic 100g unsalted butter softened
200g icing sugar 1 tsp vanilla extract
a little milk
Melt the chic in a bowl over hot water (or a bain Marie if you have one !!)
Beat the butter in a bowl until soft slowly adding the icing sugar.
Add vanilla and beat again.
Fold in the melted choc until fully mixed. If the mixture is too stiff you can add a little milk.
put the cake on the plate it will be served on - as it will be difficult to move later on !!
Using a 'rose' attachment on your piping bag fill the bag with the icing and get to work on decorating the cake. I started on the top and worked my way down the side. Keep a knife to hand incase you make a mistake - you can scoop up the icing and put it back in the piping bag and try again. If you aren't confident the you can always practice on some parchment paper first !!
This cake needs to be stored in a cool place until served.
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