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Cheese and zaatar filled sourdough rolls…

How good does that look?? Well, I can tell you, it tasted as good as it looks!!

This is a cheese and zaatar filled sourdough roll. And it was SOOOOOO tasty!

This one was made with just the addition of zaatar….equally tasty!

If zaatar is new to you, it’s an aromatic spice blend combining toasted sesame seeds, dried thyme, sometimes dried marjoram, and sumac. It tastes and smells amazing! Typically it is mixed with olive oil and placed at the table to dip bread into. Other uses are to top breads and cook them like little pizzas, or sprinkle it over salads or roasted vegetables.

I had made some dough using my master recipe and process and it had proved overnight and I wanted to play with it and try some different shaping and filling, so this was one of the outcomes. I filled some with cheese, I used Red Leicester cheese, I filled some with just zaatar and some with both, and I rolled others in the spice mix.

I also played around with the shapes, rolling some like croissants, some like Swiss rolls, some as blobs!

I then baked them from cold just as I would my sourdough rolls for 25 mins.

To see exactly what I did, check out the video I made of the process on YouTube

So if you fancy playing around with your dough and creating new shapes and fillings, let this be your inspiration!

My sourdough pitta breads…

Pita or pitta, which ever spelling you use, here’s my sourdough version…

As I have with other recipes, I’ve used my master recipe and process to make these. I’ve used 100% strong white bread flour in the dough, and on other occasions I’ve used a mix of strong white bread flour and spelt, and a version with kamut flour; basically, whatever dough you choose to put together (there’s more suggestions in this recipe collection), you can convert it to making rolls, focaccia, pizza dough, or now these pittas.

Follow my master recipe process up to and including the overnight prove, and then use that dough to create these bread pockets.

NOTE: if your dough has proved overnight and is reaching the top of the bowl or hitting the shower cap by the early morning but you’re not ready to use it yet, gently do one round of pulls and folds to calm it down a bit, then cover it again to allow it to grow and fill the bowl again over the next 2-3 hours for when you want to use it.

When you’re ready to use for the dough for your pittas…

Method

Preheat your oven to 250C and place a tray in the oven to heat up.

Take your overnight proved dough, gently pull it into a loose ball to enable you to turn it out onto a floured surface.

Using a dough knife, cut the dough into 8 pieces, as equal as you can by eye.

Very gently shape each piece into a ball.

Using a rolling pin, roll each ball into a larger flat circle or an oval 2-3mm thick.

When the oven is ready, quickly remove the tray from the oven (to maintain the heat in the oven as much as possible), quickly place (or throw!) the rolled pieces of dough onto the tray, place it back into the oven and bake for 5-6 mins maximum.

**Depending on how many you are baking and how big your tray is, you may need to bake these in a couple of batches. If that is the case, roll one set, bake them, then roll the next set and bake them, rather than rolling them all at once and have some of them sitting on the counter for too long.

You should see them puff up during the bake.

Remove from the tray from the oven and place the breads onto a rack to cool slightly before eating, or save for later.

Beware: they will be very hot.

Enjoy!

Rustic easy sourdough rolls…no shaping required…

If you’ve tried making sourdough rolls and struggle with the shaping and looking after those lovely bubbles…this is for you…

Don’t bother!

These rolls were made by just cutting up the dough, gently placing the sticky edges in some oats, then putting them onto the baking tray. Simple.

How to make them…

Follow my master recipe up to and including the overnight prove. (Feel free to mix up the flour/flours you use in the dough, see the other recipes in my recipe index for various ideas).

The next morning gently pull the dough into a loose ball and place it onto a floured surface.

NOTE: if your dough has proved overnight and is reaching the top of the bowl or hitting the shower cap by the early morning but you’re not ready to use it yet, gently do one round of pulls and folds to calm it down a bit, then cover it again to allow it to grow and fill the bowl again over the next 2-3 hours for when you want to use it.

Using a dough knife or cutter, cut the dough into 8 equal-ish pieces.

*HANDLE VERY GENTLY THROUGHOUT*

You’ll find that the edges that you’ve cut into are very sticky; you can now either place the cut shapes directly onto a parchment lined baking tray, or gently place the sticky edges in some oats or sesame seeds before placing onto the baking tray.

You can now either bake them immediately, or after sitting for 10 minutes, or place the tray in the fridge for 1-3 hours then bake when you’re ready.

You can cook these from a cold start oven or in a preheated oven.

Cold bake: place the tray into a cold oven, turn the dial up to 200C fan assisted (220C non fan), and bake for 25 mins or until browned

Preheated oven: heat the oven to 200C fan assisted (220C non fan) and bake for 20 mins or until browned.

Place on a rack to cool briefly, eat at will!

A review of my ‘perfecting your sourdough’ course…

I’ve been making Sourdough for several months now using Elaine’s starter Star, but I fancied treating myself to a New Year break, and the chance to perfect my sourdough skills, so I booked myself in (with a friend) to one of her courses.

It was lovely to finally meet Elaine after all our online conversations and her helpful tips helping me on my sourdough journey.

The course was wonderful, and I left full of inspiration and ideas to progress and improve with my sourdough baking.

We were met with a cuppa and then Elaine explained about the different flours we would be using, from strong white bread flour to spelt, kamut, einkorn, rye and emmer. We made different shapes and sizes of bread loaves and bread buns, as well as preparing and baking with spice mixes, seeds and grains.

Lunch is included in the course and Elaine treated us to some fabulous sourdough focaccia and an assortment of salads and dips.

We finished the day after shaping and baking our own sourdough loaf, which we took home in a fabulous cotton bag with a packet of Elaine’s sourdough starter, the star!

I learned so much and Elaine was informative without baffling us with science! It’s not just Perfecting your Sourdough Skills but it’s simplifying sourdough too, with lots of hands on activity and the chance to make invaluable notes.

Highly recommended and very reasonably priced.

Karen

https://www.lavenderandlovage.com

My breakfast mix loaf…

I think I can honestly say that I love this little loaf; the shape, the colour, and flavour, the texture…it was all lovely.

Let me explain…I make big batches of a ‘breakfast mix’ that I eat daily, as seen in the photo below, and I decided to throw some in with some dough and see how it went…and it went well!

The mix is made up of oats, milled flaxseeds, toasted pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds and linseeds, whatever chopped nuts I have in the cupboard, and lots of my chai inspired spice mix.

The spice mix includes ground cinnamon, ginger, turmeric, cardamom, nutmeg, cloves and black pepper, the amounts descending in that order. I don’t measure it but as a rough guide I’d say that cinnamon makes up about 50% of the mix, the ginger and turmeric is probably 10-15% of each, and everything else decreases in quantity after that with the smallest amount being the ground black pepper which is only there to get the best out of consuming the turmeric. You can make it to suit your tastes.

I soak 4 heaped tablespoons of this mix with water overnight, then mix it with mashed banana in the morning, heat and eat! And I love it, every single day I love it!

Anyway, back to the bread…you can now see that the colour comes from the spices, particularly the turmeric; with the inclusion of the oats and milled flaxseeds, it also adds some firmness to the dough, hence making it a delight to score..

This was another little loaf using my 17cm diameter banneton, which is working perfectly for such experiments.

The loaf smelled amazing whilst and once baked, and tasted good fresh, the smelled amazing again when toasted!

To make this lovely loaf, I used the process of my master recipe, link to the left, with the quantities below, feel free to scale it up at will. I baked it at 220C fan (240C non fan) for 30-35 mins.

260g strong white bread flour

40g of my breakfast mix

210g water

30g bubbly starter

1/2 tsp salt

If you try it, I hope you like it! Please do let me know xx

My master recipe focaccia..

This lovely vision was created by using my master recipe process and converting it to make focaccia; by using my recipe and process all the way through to the morning after the overnight prove, you can then use the dough to create this lovely bread.

NOTE: if your dough has proved overnight and is reaching the top of the bowl or hitting the shower cap by the early morning but you’re not ready to use it yet, gently do one round of pulls and folds to calm it down a bit, then cover it again to allow it to grow and fill the bowl again over the next 2-3 hours for when you want to use it.

For this focaccia, I scaled down the quantities of my usual recipe, but you can keep them exactly as they are to make a bigger loaf than mine, or use the quantities below to make a smaller version.

Ingredients

300g strong white bread flour

210g water

30g bubbly active starter

1/2tsp salt or to taste

Additions: rosemary, garlic, or whatever you fancy!

Method

*The details for my master recipe and process are in links to the left of your screen.

Following the process up to the morning after the overnight prove, prepare a large baking tray by liberally drizzling it with a good amount of olive oil.

Using a bowl scraper or your hands, gently ease the bubbly risen dough from the bowl and let is fall onto the tray; it will pretty much plop onto the tray, which is fine, just take care not to handle it roughly or press out any of the lovely bubbles.

Gently turn the dough over so that it is all covered in olive oil and cover loosely with a large plastic bag or cling film and leave it on the counter to prove again for 1.5 – 2 hours.

Heat your oven to 200C fan (220C non fan).

Using your fingertips, push the dough out to a rectangular/oval shape until it’s about 1″/2-3cm thick. Use your finger tips to firmly press dimples all over the dough.

Sprinkle or place whatever toppings you choose over the dough; here I’ve used dried rosemary and sliced garlic (not too thinly sliced).

Bake for 17-18 until browned, or longer if you’re using a bigger dough at the start. If like me your oven has a hot spot, turn the tray round half way through.

Ease off the tray and place on a rack to cool. Resist the temptation to cut into it whilst it’s piping hot.

Cut when ready to consume and enjoy!

This makes a lovely holey light focaccia with a nice crunchy base.

Baking sourdough with spelt and kamut/khorason flour…

These loaves have been made using my starter and a variety of white spelt flour, kamut/khorason flour, and mixes of the two.

These were experimental to test how the flours would hold up on their own for use in sourdough so this post is to share the outcome. I’ve used both spelt and kamut flour in loaves that included strong white bread flour with great success and flavour, which you can find in my recipe index; this time I wanted to test them out on their own to see how they behaved.

Please note: these loaves were all made with a smaller banneton which is 17cm diameter and 7.5cm deep. This allowed me to use less flour in these trials. The quantities are included at the end of the post.

And: I’ve used my same starter in all of them, fed the usual way with strong white bread flour; you don’t need different starters for different loaves.

Firstly, let me talk about the actual flours themselves; these are milled from ancients grains. Spelt and khorason (kamut is actually the brand name, the entire grain has a brand!) are wonderfully tasty grains that are lovely and nutty and chewy to eat in their naturally grown form once cooked, I eat them a lot this way.

The flours are milled from those grains.

Being ancient grains, they are quite different from more modern flours, and very different from one another, so considerations have to be taken when using them in your sourdough.

White spelt flour is very soft, it’s a lovely fine gentle flour. It therefore struggles to hold its form if used 100% for a free form loaf such as sourdough because it is not a very strong flour, the protein level is less than 11%, and so it benefits from additions to give it strength to hold its shape. I found that when used on it’s own for a loaf, it still created a lovely dough, it rose well, it baked nicely, the crumb was lovely and light, but it was a bit unevenly shaped once baked. I know from past experience that spelt does not hold its shape so I chose to bake it in a smaller pan (20cm diameter as opposed to me usual 26cm diameter enamel roaster) to give it the benefit of the sides of the pan to stop it from spreading, which it needed. The cut slice shows the shape more.

Once I added seeds to the dough, it was a whole different story: they gave the dough structure and it held its shape perfectly, hence being able to use a bigger pan.

And it tasted great!!!!! I always toast my seeds beforehand which all adds to the flavour.

Khorason flour is quite different. I used a wholewheat khorason flour which has 15g of protein per 100g. The flour is a lot more grainy that the spelt, and it soaks up a lot more water. It can often pull in quite tightly when first mixed into a dough, then loosen up later, so don’t be fooled! I have found that it enhances the flavour of the sourdough quite distinctly and increases the sourness.

Using it for a 100% khorason loaf generates a tight crumb and a denser bake, but it’s so tasty, I recommend trying it.

Mixing 50:50 white spelt flour and wholewheat khorason was a real success: the spelt lifts and lightens the khorason, whilst the khorason gives the spelt structure. And it tastes great! it’s still a closer crumb than all white or all spelt, but it’s tasty and lovely which is all that matters right? And the butter doesn’t escape!

I will be putting videos of making these loaves on YouTube, but all I’ve done is use my master recipe process, all I’ve done is change the quantities, so everything else is the same; please feel free to increase the quantities to make a bigger loaf.

The spelt loaf quantities:

300g white spelt flour

200g water

30g starter

1/2 tsp salt, or to your taste

The seeded spelt loaf quantities:

300g white spelt flour

200g water

30g starter

1/2 salt, or to taste

50g mixed roasted seeds, I use pumpkin seed, sunflower seeds and linseeds

The khorason loaf:

300g wholewheat khorason flour

250g water

30g starter

1/2 tsp salt, or to taste

The spelt & khorason loaf:

150g white spelt flour

150g wholewheat khorason flour

250g water

30g starter

1/2 tsp salt, or to taste

The process: I used the process of my master recipe, find the links to the left, all the way through, and baked in a preheated oven at 220C fan (240C non fan) covered, for 30-35 minutes as required.

Happy baking!

The white spelt flour was from Mathews Cotswold Flours

The khorason flour was from Doves Farm

The starter was always fed and bubbly!

A review of my superStar…

When making sourdough bread, a good sourdough starter is essential to get your bread to rise as it should, regardless of the flour combination or recipe you’re using. I tried for a long time, unsuccessfully, to get my own starter nice and robust but it just wouldn’t cooperate. Finally I decided to buy some of Elaine’s starter, Star, and what a difference it made!

She dehydrates her Star at the peak of its strength. Star comes from a long line of Elaine’s starters that have been performing consistently well for many years, and that was evident from the very first loaf I baked.

When I received my packet of dried starter all I needed to do was to rehydrate it and it was ready to bake with. Elaine provides simple and clear instructions, and in a little over a day I had a fully active starter I could either bake with then or store in the fridge to use later.

I just can’t say enough about how much more fun baking has become for me now!

Katie

Minneapolis, USA

Creating sourdough with Mrs Middletons beautiful flour…

Mrs Middleton is actually a lovely lady called Whizz, and Whizz’s farm is very very close to where I live. For several years Whizz has sold a lovely light rapeseed oil made from her own crops, and recently she also started to sell flour from wheat grown on her land and milled at a local historical mill. This flour therefore is grown and milled very close to where I live and therefore sits it firmly in my heart.

Whizz produces just two flours as shown above, and I love the plain natural white stoneground flour; but do not be fooled, this is not what you would think of as ‘plain flour’. This flour is 13% protein and therefore perfect for bread making. It also has a slight pink tint to the flour which bakes to a light brown, and it’s not just the colour that behaves like a wholemeal/whole wheat; this flour takes up a lot of water, which you have to take into account, and bakes to a gloriously flavoured textured loaf.

If used solely, the loaf will be quite dense and heavy unless you add extra water, which is what I did for the first 2 photos of this post; or, I lift it with some white spelt flour and it works perfectly, as these last 2 photos show. These loaves and the one below are made using my master recipe with 250g Mrs Middletons plain white flour & 250g white spelt flour, otherwise all the same quantities,

And this is definitely my most favourite flour mix to date, the dough is generated is so smooth, it’s beautiful to handle, and when turned out it’s always wonderfully firm and a joy to score…

I’ve also use this flour for making sourdough buttermilk biscuits/scones…

I can happily recommend trying Whizz’s beautiful flour, and I even had the honour of meeting her and teaching her how to make sourdough, which was lovely.

Trying new flours is so much fun, and this one has definitely been a successful experiment for me.

You can find Whizz’s lovely flour and oil here.

Review of my ‘introduction to sourdough’ course…

Having never made bread before, and always wanted to learn, I  was slightly nervous at first as I had heard Sourdough was extremely complicated.

The workshop with Elaine – what can I say…..took away all my fears in the first few minutes, absolutely amazing and I loved every second. Elaine has a beautiful way of teaching and made it simple and effortless in the step by step process. I learned how to make my first sourdough bread and got to take one home…. I learnt how to use the same starter in so many other ways – cheese scones of all things… absolutely to die for and just melted in your mouth.

It was a fun day with a life skill of how to make sourdough bread and an experience that I will never forget……I am hoping to be baking my own loaf from this point forward and am no longer nervous.  Elaine is a wonderful person who gives you so much more than you can read in a book and I would highly recommend her workshop to do on your own or with a close friend or family member.  I had fun with my sister and it is a memory I will not forget…

Thank you Elaine for sharing your knowledge and making it such a lovely day and Oh I forgot to mention I loved your homemade salad and humous  – please do a cooking class – I will be the first to book on…..!

Renu Kaunda