My breakfast mix banana buttermilk sd bites…

These little morsels were an amalgamation of some sourdough of my previous creations mixed up with an idea of recreating banana bread in some way.

They are based on my sourdough buttermilk biscuits/scones and my breakfast mix loaf, so they include a portion of my daily breakfast mix, which includes oats, milled flaxseeds, chopped nuts, roasted seeds & my chai based spice mix, plus the addition of a chopped banana.

The smell as they were baking was amazing due to the spices, more details below, and although they were good straight from the oven, they actually got better as they cooled down and the flavour developed more.

The next morning when I opened the lid of the pot I had stored them in, the aroma was gorgeous!

The use of the sourdough starter in the mix brings the typical texture you would expect, a perfect chewiness. The breakfast mix adds more texture and the banana throws in some soft sweetness.

I don’t eat sweet things and I don’t add sugar to anything, so I didn’t include any form of sweetener in this recipe other than the banana which was enough for me; feel free to add whatever you need to to make the flavour what you want it to be.

Recipe

250g strong white bread flour

100g my breakfast mix (see below)

85g bubbly active starter

284ml pot/300g buttermilk

1 small/medium banana roughly chopped into nicely sized chunks, not too small

3/4tsp bicarbonate of soda

Pinch of salt to taste

My breakfast mix, in descending order of quantities:

Thick cut oats, roasted pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds & linseeds, chopped nuts of your choice, milled flaxseeds and my spice mix of ground cinnamon, ginger, turmeric, nutmeg, cardamom, cloves and black pepper.

Method

Mix everything together in a large bowl, don’t over mix.

*You can now use this dough immediately or let it sit for a little while; I used it immediately

Turn it out onto a floured surface, it will be sticky

Flatten out gently with your hands to about 2cm thick

Using a 3.5-4cm diameter cutter, cut out as many rounds as it produces; keep bringing the leftover dough together to cut more out

Place the bites onto a tray lined with parchment paper

You can now bake these immediately, or let them sit for a little while; I let them sit for about 10-15 minutes

Preheat the oven to 200C fan, 220C non fan, 390F

Bake for 17-18 minutes until golden

They should be soft in the middle but baked; try and catch them before they bake too much; initially they will have a slightly crunchy & chewy outside & soft interior, later they will soften

As I said above, they taste good immediately, but even better later in the day. And still good the next day in my opinion!

Be warned, they’re moreish!

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.

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.

Sourdough rolls…

These rolls were made using my master recipe, link to the left, using Shipton Mill finest bakery no.1 white bread flour, but I also think that their Canadian bread flour would work well as it creates a slightly firmer dough in my experience. I also think they’d be lovely with various mixes of flour..

This week my lovely baking friend Steve and I made sourdough rolls together; I followed my master recipe exactly as it is, then after the overnight prove I pulled the dough together gently, placed it onto a floured surface then we cut it into 16 equal portions..as modelled by my lovely helper…

These pieces were rolled gently into rounds with the sides of our hands – very gently, the dough was very light and airy, and we wanted to preserve the bubbles – and placed onto a baking tray lined with parchment paper.

We then left them to sit for 10-15 minutes whilst preheating the oven to 200C fan (220C convection)

As they sat they did spread a little, and grow a little, which is good as it shows that the starter is still active.

They were too soft to score so I snipped crossed in the tops with scissors..

We baked them for about 18 minutes, turning the tray around half way through so ensure an even colour across the top.

As they baked we watched them grow beautifully, up into lovely balls.

They came out lovely and crusty on the outside and soft and holey in the middle.

We forced ourselves to let them cool once baked whilst we made some spiced root vegetable soup (I topped my soup with my homemade homous, whilst Steve lashed piles of my homemade harissa on his) to enjoy them with…and it was worth the wait, they were so good!

We cut the dough into 16 pieces and made smaller rolls; if you want to make bigger versions, you may need to bake them for a bit longer.

Happy baking!

An update: I made rolls again (below) and these were much bigger, I split the dough into 8 this time and I baked them for about 20 mins until slightly browned on the top…

So good!!!

Another update: I baked these rolls from cold; I put the tray in the fridge for 1-2 hours after shaping them, then baked them from a cold start…

Once I put the tray into the oven, I turned the oven on and up to 200C fan assisted, and left them for 25 mins total. Perfectly baked!

Cold oven baking…

Every loaf shown in this post has been baked in an oven that started cold.

Everything we read and are told is that the dough should go into a preheated oven, but these loaves belie that fact…it was news to me too!

It started with this loaf baked in a clay pot…

I knew that to use the pot I either needed to soak it before use, or put it cold into a cold oven to reduce the risk of it cracking. And so I did. And I held my breath, and it worked! The loaf above proves it.

So if it worked with a clay pot, surely it would work with my enamel roasters, that was my next test. And I’m here to tell you that it does, it works perfectly, as the loaf below shows too…the crust is crisp, the crumb is even, and the cost is less!

If your question is ‘surely I need to preheat the oven to get maximum oven spring?’ Then hopefully my loaves are showing that you don’t. The oven spring comes from a strong starter, good flour and good dough.

If you’re thinking ‘won’t the dough spread whilst the oven is heating up?’ Just make sure that you prove it in the fridge for a few hours to firm up the dough. And yes, it may spread initially, but then it will rise as it bakes, as my photos show.

If you’re thinking ‘that won’t work in my cast iron Dutch oven’, I can tell you that it will. I don’t have a DO but many of the people in my Facebook group and on Instagram do and they’ve tried it, and it works.

A slice from a cold baked loaf

So, this is the process I’ve been using: I’ve followed my master recipe, link to the left, done the final prove in the fridge for several hours, then:

put the dough into the cold baking vessel and score;

put the pot with the dough in into the cold oven;

turn the oven on, turn the heat up to 240C fan (255-260C convection) & the timer on for 30 mins;

after 30 mins, turn it down to 220C fan (235-240C convection) for 25-30 mins.

Lid on the entire time.

Total time 55-60 mins.

For me that saves 20 mins of time for the oven to heat up, for others it may be longer.

So, who’s up for the cold baking challenge?

A course review…

My personal introduction to baking Sourdough bread – Knowledgeable, Enthusiastic and Great Fun.

I’ve been a lover of sourdough bread for a while now but the demise of local bakers restricted me to supermarkets. I’ve tried them all with Waitrose being by far the best. But is it real sourdough? I cook a lot at home and bake bread from tv recipes. But none of them really seem to deliver real sourdough bread. So what’s the answer? A sourdough baking course, of course. Hmmmmm.

Encouraged by my wife who had spotted Elaine on social media, I decided to take the plunge so I booked and went along to Elaine’s course feeling, strange for a retired man, very nervous. Possibly remembering many of the interminably boring management courses I have been forced to attend over the years.

The course was a good half day’s introduction to baking sourdough bread. The great thing is that it was hands on or should that be hands in! Elaine turned out to be a great enthusiastic and patient teacher, putting me at my ease and explaining at a level of detail that was just right for me.  The constant supply of tea and sourdough goodies all adds to the experience. I thoroughly enjoyed the teaching, the baking and the chat. Informality was the key to the day and I went home with some superb self cooked sourdough bread and cheese scones plus course notes to help at home. Boring it was not.

Elaine clearly explains the methods and the equipment you will need to be a successful home baker. Watching and learning and doing it yourself and learning is key. Since the course, I’ve made my own starter and two loaves and things are looking good. I’ve encountered one or two problems or should that be memory lapses since the course but Elaine has been superb with her help, guidance and sympathy.

If you love sourdough and want to cook your own, I couldn’t recommend Elaine’s course more highly. Get motivated and try something refreshingly different.

Brian.

Seeded sourdough…

Welcome to my seeded sourdough 🙂

This loaf is full of seeds as well as being coated with seeds, and it tastes as good as it looks!

I followed my master recipe on my main site (link in the left hand side menu) and folded toasted pumpkin, sunflower and linseeds into the dough in the second set of pulls and folds. You can find videos of the process on my YouTube channel.

Shots from my video

The bowl below was the dough after its overnight prove, you can all of the bubbles in the dough plus the seeds…

I filled the dough with toasted seeds, but coated the outside with raw seeds so that they toasted as the loaf baked.

The dough ready in the banneton

It was a beautiful loaf to look at, and to eat!!

Have fun and add seeds if your choice 🙂