Tag Archives: sourdough

Sourdough loaf with buckwheat flour

Sourdough loaf buckwheatWhen life is a bit chaotic, baking bread can help. Feed the starter, watch it develop bubbles and the right smell; set the dough, and fold it now and then, and bake it when it suits your schedule. Familiar rituals, which are also soothing. I might have to leave Rome later this year for work reasons, and I find myself alternating between severe apprehension and resigned stoicism when thinking about it. Then I resort to compiling mental lists at 3 AM of  hierarchies of kitchen gear: what would absolutely have to be in luggage (sourdough starter, good knives, parmesan), what might go in a limited set of moving boxes (coffee grinder, moka, baking gear), and what we could certainly live without (ramekins, cocktail glasses, fondue set). And just how much parmesan and pecorino would one need to pack? Hard to tell when possible new destination is not yet known. Silly, I know, but it calms me. The move might not happen at all, but just contemplating the possibility is making it clear to me that I am really not quite ready to leave Rome yet, despite a number of years here. I have been very fortunate.

Rome is especially nice now in the spring, so I will just take a deep breath, try not to worry too much over what I cannot control, enjoy the spring and see what happens. Baking bread can be done almost anywhere, I tell myself. Here is a normal sourdough loaf with buckwheat flour bought in Northern Italy, in Varese. The speckled flour gives a nice chewiness and flavour to the bread, I will try that again.

Sourdough loaf with buckwheat flour

100 grammes mature sourdough starter, 100% hydration
400 grammes lukewarm water
450 grammes plain white wheat flour (I used 00)
70 grammes buckwheat flour
5 grammes salt

Stir the sourdough starter with the water. Add the flours and mix well. Cover with plastic wrap and let rest for 20 minutes. After this initial rest, add the salt. Fold dough with a spatula. Add more flour or water if you think the dough needs it. This was quite wet.

Garbatella

Cover the bowl and let rise for about a couple hours at room temperature. Go for coffee and enjoy a nice spring day first. I just discovered  a new lemon tree up the road.

imageFold the dough a few times (just in the bowl, using a spoon or spatula). You will feel the dough becoming more elastic and responsive, and it will increase nicely in size.

For baking same day: move the dough to a floured banneton and cover it with plastic (a hotel shower cap works well), and let it rise three hours at room temperature.  I cheat, and line the banneton with baking paper, less pretty markings but easier to lift over to the pot. Our kitchen is already 20C, so this rose quickly.

When ready to bake: heat your oven to 250C, with a cast iron pot. When it is properly hot (or after at least 20 minutes), take the pot out carefully. Invert the dough onto a piece of baking paper, slash the dough, and put the bread in the pot. Bake at 250C for thirty minutes with the lid on, then 10-15 minutes more with the lid off, until the bread looks done and the base of the bread sounds hollow if you tap it. About 45 minutes in all, depending on your oven. Cool before slicing.

Happy Easter to all!

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Sourdough loaf with hazelnuts

imageNothing says Christmas like a yucca palm with tinsel! Our palazzo has decorated for the holidays.

imageThe neighbouring palazzo even has a Christmas tree. The patron saints live there all year, but have company from a couple Santas this month. Our entrance has the Madonna, as I recall.

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I particularly liked these Christmas figurines on the other mailboxes. Anyway, with holidays imminent a little bread might be nice? I tried adding hazelnuts this time, which worked well.

Sourdough loaf with hazelnuts

110 grammes mature sourdough starter, 100% hydration
375 grammes lukewarm water
410 grammes plain white wheat flour (I used 00)
90 grammes barley flour
30 grammes of shelled walnuts
6 grammes salt

I did this last night at dinner time: Stir the sourdough starter with the water. Add the flours and mix well. Cover with plastic wrap and let rest for 20 minutes. After this initial rest, add the salt. Fold dough with a spatula. Add more flour or water if you think the dough needs it.

hazelnuts

Cover the bowl and let rise for about a couple hours at room temperature. Fold the dough a few times (just in the bowl, using a spoon or spatula). You will feel the dough becoming more elastic and responsive, and it will increase nicely in size. Fold in the shelled hazelnuts during the last fold.

For baking same day: move the dough to a floured banneton and cover it with plastic (a hotel shower cap works well), and let it rise 5-6 hours at room temperature.  I cheat, and line the banneton with baking paper, less pretty markings but easier to lift over to the pot. I left the dough to rise overnight in the fridge. Depends when you want to eat and have time to bake, I really appreciate how flexible sourdough can be that way.

When ready to bake (in my case, this morning): heat your oven to 250C, with a cast iron pot. When it is properly hot (or after at least 20 minutes), take the pot out carefully. Invert the dough onto a piece of baking paper, slash the dough, and put the bread in the pot. Bake at 250C for thirty minutes with the lid on, then 10-15 minutes more with the lid off, until the bread looks done and the base of the bread sounds hollow if you tap it. About 45 minutes in all, depending on your oven. Cool before slicing.

Sourdough hazelnut bread Happy holidays to all!

Sourdough loaf with yoghurt and cracked wheat

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“Mamma mia, che freddo!” Here in Rome, the forecast is 19C and sun, with 9-10C in the morning. Gorgeous, if you ask me. However, we are in the pre-heating phase, as our condomino heating does not get turned on until November 15. This goes by calendar (unless you have the luxury of autonomous heating), so thank goodness it is not raining yet. Hence, it is weirdly colder inside than outside much of the day, with resulting mamma mias and complaints from various neighbours, and we are wrapping up to stay warm inside and shedding layers for a lunchtime walk in the sun. Of course, a nice loaf of fresh bread helps warm up the kitchen too.
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Sourdough loaf with yoghurt and cracked wheat

100 grammes mature starter, 100% hydration
220 grammes lukewarm water
450 grammes plain white wheat flour (I used 00)
100 grammes barley flour
240 grammes low-fat plain yoghurt
25 grammes cracked wheat
8 grammes salt

A few hours before: mix the yoghurt and cracked wheat to soak. Overnight soaking would work too, just leave it in the fridge. Mix the sourdough starter with the water. Add the flours and mix well. Cover with plastic wrap and let rest for 20 minutes. After the initial rest, add the salt. Mix well. Add more flour or water if you think the dough needs it.

Cover the bowl and let rise for about a couple hours at room temperature. Fold the dough a few times (just in the bowl, using a spoon or spatula). You will feel the dough becoming more elastic and responsive, and it will increase nicely in size.

For baking same day: move the dough to a floured banneton and cover it with plastic (a hotel shower cap works well), and let it rise 3-4 hours at room temperature. (I cheat and line the banneton with baking paper, easier to lift over to the pot.) OR: Park the dough in covered banneton to rise slowly in the fridge until you are ready to bake.

When ready to bake: heat your oven to 250C, with a cast iron pot. When it is properly hot (after at least 20 minutes), take the pot out carefully. Lift baking paper with dough into the cast iron pot. (OR: if banneton was not lined, only floured, then invert dough onto a piece of baking paper, and put the dough in the pot.) Slash the dough – I usually snip,it with kitchen scissors. Bake at 250C for thirty minutes with the lid on, then 10-15 minutes more with the lid off, until the bread looks done and the base of the bread sounds hollow if you tap it. About 45 minutes in all, depending on your oven. Cool before slicing.

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Notes: Normally I would soak the cracked wheat in water, but since I had aging yoghurt in the fridge, I thought I would try that. I was not sure if adding the yoghurt would impact the sourdough development, but it seemed to work just fine. The hydration was also a bit of guesswork, I just approximated and hoped for the best. All of these loaves are variations on basic sourdough loaves, but they all taste slightly different, which is nice.

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A newcomer to Rome just asked what we do in the weekends. Exciting weekend trips of wine tasting, medieval towns and Italian wonders? We looked at each other and said “Sometimes, yes….. Usually we stay home in Rome and do market, coffee, supermarket, more coffee, house cleaning and laundry.” So mundane, I know. But laundry here is an exercise in strategy. Electrity costs more weekdays, and costs less evenings and weekends. However, you cannot do laundry too late, that is banned by condomino rules. So weekends it is. They are forecasting rain this week, so I did extra laundry today. Some laundry is now on lines on our little balcony, some on a rack on the balcony, and half-dry sheets are draped on the coatrack. Once the November rain comes, it takes days to get laundry dry, especially without indoor heating on yet. Still, I know many places have snow already, so we cannot complain! It is great though, to be able to air-dry laundry most of the year.