Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Bread Baking Babes: Celebrating Julia and Saying Good-Bye

The Babes are back! And this month we're celebrating the 100th birthday of one of the most famous personalities in all of food, Julia Child by baking bread from her the thirteen page epic tome she devoted to French Bread.

BBB logo August 2012 (babes and buddies)

Now if you've been a long time reader of mine, you know that many years ago Sara of I Like To Cook and I co-hosted this very recipe with the Daring Bakers. So, it was like returning an old friend when Susan of Wild Yeast suggested we celebrate Julia's birthday by baking the French bread and inviting all our buddies to post with us.

I love this recipe.  It is my go to recipe for making French bread and over the years, I like to think I've mastered it and the shapes that Julia describes in the recipe.

I made two different shapes for this month: baguette and small boule.  BBB Julia French Bread

 I had the boule for dinner the other night.
BBB Julia French Bread Dinner

It was fantastic smeared with pate and brie and downed with a good Bordeaux.

BBB Julia French Bread with Pate and Brie
I took the baguette to a friend's house tonight where we sat out on her back deck with a bottle of wine and a jar of Nutella.  It made for a great evening.

 If you would still like to join us, there is time!  Follow the long, LONG recipe at the bottom of this post, email our host kitchen, Susan of Wild Yeast fame with a picture and link to your bread on your blog, facebook page, social media, what ever before August 25th and she'll be happy to include you in her round up.

Now for the Good-Bye part of this post...

We all go through different phases and I like to think that we are constantly striving to grow and through that growth, we change.  Our passions ebb and flow and sometimes, the things we thought we'd love to do forever, come to an end.  Thus it is with The Sour Dough,

Almost eight years ago, I started The Sour Dough at the urging of my partner Wren.  He told me that I should use my talents as a baker and writer to share my tips about bread with the world through a blog.  So, on a cold snowy night in Boston in 2004 this blog was born.   Now, on a warm rainy night in Atlanta, the time has come to close this chapter of my life.   

I have loved the time I have shared with you, my readers.  I think I've learned more from you than you have from me.  You have made suggestions and asked me questions that I hadn't thought of and forced me to find answers to some really strange and bizarre bread issues. I have met some fantastic people who will be life long friends through the food blogging world.

I especially want to thank a few special people for all the love and support over the years: my Bread Baking Babe sisters (who, thankfully are going to allow me to keep my spot on the back bench guarding our secret stash of scotch, wine, bourbon and other adult beverages) Sara, Tanna, Ilva, Karen, Pat, Astrid, Gorel, Lien, Susan, Katie, Gretchen, Natashya, Elizabeth;  and my other foodie sisters Stephanie, Jasmine, and Kathy.

You know, there is symmetry in life.

One of the first posts on The Sour Dough was about me waiting for a baguette pan from King Arthur's Flour to arrive and the first food pictures on this blog were of the baguettes I made with that pan.   So it is kind of fitting that my last post is of baguettes...don't you think?

So, until we meet again, LB and I say adieu, farewell, and bon appetit.

LB in Window

Pain Francais (French Bread) 
From Mastering the Art of French Cooking: Volume Two by Julia Child and Simone Beck
(Note: for bonus notes and pictures you can go to this post )

Recipe Quantity:
3 - baguettes (24” x 2”) or batards (16” x 3”) or
6 – short loaves, ficelles, 12 – 16” x 2” or
3 – round loaves, boules, 7 – 8” in diameter or
12 – round or oval rolls, petits pains or
1 – large round or oval loaf, pain de menage or miche; pain boulot

Recipe Time: 7 – 9 hours

Additional Information About the Recipe  
Flour: French bakers make plain French bread out of unbleached flour that has gluten strength of 8 to 9 per cent. Most American all-purpose flour is bleached and has slightly higher gluten content as well as being slightly finer in texture. It is easier to make bread with French flour than with American flour.

Bakers’ Oven Versus Home Ovens: Bakers’ ovens are so constructed that one slides the formed bread dough from a wooden panel right onto the hot, fire-brick oven floor, a steam injection system humidifies the oven for the first few minutes of baking. Steam allows the yeast to work a little longer in the dough and this, combined with the hot baking surface, produced an extra push of volume. In addition, steam coagulating the starch on the surface of the dough gives the crust its characteristic brown color. Although you can produce a good loaf of French bread without steam or a hot baking surface, you will a larger and handsomer loaf when you simulate professional conditions.

Stand Mixer Mixing and Kneading of French Bread Dough: French bread dough is too soft to work in the electric food processor, but the heavy-duty mixer with dough hook works perfectly. The double-hook attachment that comes with some hand held mixers and the hand-cranking bread pails are slower and less efficient, to our mind, than hand kneading. In any case, when you are using electricity, follow the steps in the recipe as outlined, including the rests; do not over-knead and for the heavy duty mixer, do not go over a moderate speed of number 3 or 4, or you risk breaking down the gluten in the dough.

Equipment Needed: Unless you plan to go into the more elaborate simulation of a baker’s oven, you need no unusual equipment for the following recipe. Here are the requirements, some of which may sound odd but will explain themselves when you read the recipe.

(Note: you do not neet to buy all these items if you don't have them already. Just improvise with what you already have)

  • 4 to 5 quart mixing bowl with fairly vertical rather than outward slanting sides

  • a kneading surface of some sort, 1 1/2 to 2 square feet

  • a rubber spatula or either a metal scraper or a stiff wide metal spatula

  • 1 to 2 unwrinkled canvas pastry cloths or stiff linen towels upon which the dough may rise

  • a stiff piece of cardboard or plywood 18 – 20 inches long and 6 – 8 inches wide, for unmolding dough from canvas to baking sheet

  • finely ground cornmeal or pasta pulverized in an electric blender to sprinkle on unmolding board so as to prevent dough from sticking

  • the largest baking sheet that will fit in your oven

  • a razor blade or extremely sharp knife for slashing the top of the dough

  • a soft pastry brush or fine spray atomizer for moistening dough before and during baking

  • a room thermometer to verify rising temperature

Making French Bread:
Step 1: The Dough Mixture – le fraisage (or frasage)

1 cake (0.6 ounce) (20grams) fresh yeast or 1 package dry active yeast
1/3 cup (75ml) warm water, not over 100 degrees F/38C in a glass measure
3 1/2 cup (about 1 lb) (490 gr) all purpose flour, measured by scooping
dry measure cups into flour and sweeping off excess
2 1/4 tsp (12 gr) salt
1 1/4 cups (280 - 300ml) tepid water @ 70 – 74 degrees/21 - 23C

Both Methods: Stir the yeast in the 1/3 cup warm water and let liquefy completely while measuring flour into mixing bowl. When yeast has liquefied, pour it into the flour along with the salt and the rest of the water.

Hand Method: Stir and cut the liquids into the flour with a rubber spatula, pressing firmly to form a dough and making sure that all the bits of flour and unmassed pieces are gathered in. Turn dough out onto kneading surface, scraping bowl clean. Dough will be soft and sticky.

Stand Mixer:
Using the dough hook attachment on the speed the mixer manufacturer recommends for dough hook use or the lowest setting if there is no recommendation, slowly work all the ingredients together until a dough ball is formed, stopping the mixer and scrapping the bits of flour and chunks of dough off the bottom of the bowl and pressing them into the dough ball. Continue to mix the dough on a low speed until all the bits of flour and loose chunks of dough have formed a solid dough ball.

Both Methods: Turn dough out onto kneading surface, scraping bowl clean. Dough will be soft and sticky. Let the dough rest for 2 – 3 minutes while you wash and dry the bowl (and the dough hook if using a stand mixer).

Step 2: Kneading – petrissage
The flour will have absorbed the liquid during this short rest, and the dough will have a little more cohesion for the kneading that is about to begin. Use one hand only for kneading and keep the other clean to hold a pastry scrapper, to dip out extra flour, to answer the telephone, and so forth. Your object in kneading is to render the dough perfectly smooth and to work it sufficiently so that all the gluten molecules are moistened and joined together into an interlocking web. You cannot see this happen, of course, but you can feel it because the dough will become elastic and will retract into shape when you push it out.

Hand Method: Start kneading by lifting the near edge of the dough, using a pastry scraper or stiff wide spatula to help you if necessary, and flipping the dough over onto itself. Scrape dough off the surface and slap it down; lift edge and flip it over again, repeating the movement rapidly.

In 2 -3 minutes the dough should have enough body so that you can give it a quick forward push with the heel of your hand as you flip it over.

Continue to knead rapidly and vigorously in this way. If the dough remains too sticky, knead in a sprinkling of flour. The whole kneading process will take 5 – 10 minutes, depending on how expert you become.

Shortly after this point, the dough should have developed enough elasticity so it draws back into shape when pushed, indicating the gluten molecules have united and are under tension like a thin web of rubber; the dough should also begin to clean itself off the kneading surface, although it will stick to your fingers if you hold a pinch of dough for more than a second or two.

Stand Mixer:  Place dough back into the bowl and using the dough hook attachment at the recommended speed (low), knead the dough for about 5 – 7 minutes. At about the 5 minute mark, stop the mixer and push at the dough with your fingertips. If it springs back quickly, you have kneaded the dough enough. If it doesn’t spring back continue to knead, stopping the mixer and retesting every 2 minutes. If the dough sticks to your fingers, toss a sprinkling of flour onto the dough and continue to knead. The dough should be light and springy when it is ready. Breadchick also recommends always finishing with about 1 – 2 minutes of hand kneading just to get a good feel for how the gluten is formed.

Both Methods: Let dough rest for 3 – 4 minutes. Knead by hand for a minute. The surface should now look smooth; the dough will be less sticky but will still remain soft. It is now ready for its first rise.

Step 3: First Rising – pointage premier temps (3-5 hours at around 70 degrees)
You now have approximately 3 cups of dough that is to rise to 3 1/2 times its original volume, or to about 10 1/2 cups. Wash and fill the mixing bowl with 10 1/2 cups of tepid water (70 – 80 degrees) and make a mark to indicate that level on the outside of the bowl. Note, that the bowl should have fairly upright sides; if they are too outward slanting, the dough will have difficulty in rising. Pour out the water, dry the bowl, and place the dough in it (Mary and Sara Note: Very lightly grease the bowl with butter or kitchen spray as well to prevent the risen dough from sticking to the bowl).

Slip the bowl into a large plastic bag or cover with plastic, and top with a folded bath towel. Set on a wooden surface, marble or stone are too cold. Or on a folded towel or pillow, and let rise free from drafts anyplace where the temperature is around 70 degrees. If the room is too hot, set bowl in water and keep renewing water to maintain around 70 degrees. Dough should take at least 3 – 4 hours to rise to 10 1/2 cups. If temperature is lower than 70 degrees, it will simply take longer

When fully risen, the dough will be humped into a slight dome,

showing that the yeast is still active; it will be light and spongy when pressed. There will usually be some big bubbly blisters on the surface, and if you are using a glass bowl you will see bubbles through the glass.

Step 4: Deflating and Second Rising – rupture; pointage deuxieme temps (1 1/2 to 2 hours at around 70 degrees)
The dough is now ready to be deflated, which will release the yeast engendered gases and redistribute the yeast cells so that the dough will rise again and continue the fermentation process.

With a rubber spatula, dislodge dough from inside of bowl and turn out onto a lightly floured surface, scraping bowl clean. If dough seems damp and sweaty, sprinkle with a tablespoon of flour.

Lightly flour the palms of your hands and flatten the dough firmly but not too roughly into a circle, deflating any gas bubbles by pinching them.

Lift a corner of the near side and flip it down on the far side.

Do the same with the left side, then the right side. Finally, lift the near side and tuck it just under the edge of the far side. The mass of dough will look like a rounded cushion.

Slip the sides of your hands under the dough and return it to the bowl. Cover and let rise again, this time to not quite triple, but again until it is dome shaped and light and spongy when touched.

Step 5: Cutting and resting dough before forming loaves
Loosen dough all around inside of bowl and turn out onto a lightly floured surface. Because of its two long rises, the dough will have much more body. If it seems damp and sweaty, sprinkle lightly with flour.

Making clean, sure cuts with a large knife or a bench scraper, divide the dough into:

  • 3 equal pieces for long loaves (baguettes or batards) or small round loaves (boules only)

  • 5 – 6 equal pieces for long thin loaves (ficelles)

  • 10 – 12 equal pieces for small oval rolls (petits pains, tire-bouchons) or small round rolls (petits pains, champignons)

  • 2 equal pieces for medium round loaves (pain de menage or miche only)

  • If you making one large round loaf (pain de menage, miche, or pain boulot), you will not cut the dough at all and just need to follow the directions below.
After you have cut each piece, lift one end and flip it over onto the opposite end to fold the dough into two.

place dough at far side of kneading surface. Cover loosely with a sheet of plastic and let rest for 5 minutes before forming. This relaxes the gluten enough for shaping but not long enough for dough to begin rising again.

While the dough is resting, prepare the rising surface; smooth the canvas or linen towelling on a large tray or baking sheet, and rub flour thoroughly into the entire surface of the cloth to prevent the dough from sticking

Step 6: Forming the loaves – la tourne; la mise en forme des patons
Because French bread stands free in the oven and is not baked in a pan, it has to be formed in such a way that the tension of the coagulated gluten cloak on the surface will hold the dough in shape.

For Long Loaves - The Batard: (Baguettes are typically much too long for home ovens but the shaping method is the same)

After the 3 pieces of dough have rested 5 minutes, form one piece at a time, keeping the remaining ones covered.

Working rapidly, turn the dough upside down on a lightly floured kneading surface and pat it firmly but not too roughly into an 8 to 10 inch oval with the lightly floured palms of your hands. Deflate any gas bubbles in the dough by pinching them.

Fold the dough in half lengthwise by bringing the far edge down over the near edge.

Being sure that the working surface is always lightly floured so the dough will not stick and tear, which would break the lightly coagulated gluten cloak that is being formed, seal the edges of the dough together, your hands extended, thumbs out at right angles and touching.

Roll the dough a quarter turn forward so the seal is on top.

Flatten the dough again into an oval with the palms of your hands.

Press a trench along the central length of the oval with the side of one hand.

Fold in half again lengthwise.

This time seal the edges together with the heel of one hand, and roll the dough a quarter of a turn toward you so the seal is on the bottom.

Now, by rolling the dough back and forth with the palms of your hands, you will lengthen it into a sausage shape. Start in the middle, placing your right palm on the dough, and your left palm on top of your right hand.

Roll the dough forward and backward rapidly, gradually sliding your hands towards the two ends as the dough lengthens.

Deflate any gas blisters on the surface by pinching them. Repeat the rolling movement rapidly several times until the dough is 16 inches long, or whatever length will fit on your baking sheet. During the extension rolls, keep circumference of dough as even as possible and try to start each roll with the sealed side of the dough down, twisting the rope of dough to straighten the line of seal as necessary. If seal disappears, as it sometimes does with all purpose flour, do not worry.

Place the shaped piece of dough, sealed side up, at one end of the flour rubbed canvas, leaving a free end of canvas 3 to 4 inches wide.

The top will crust slightly as the dough rises; it is turned over for baking so the soft, smooth underside will be uppermost.

Pinch a ridge 2 1/2 to 3 inches high in the canvas to make a trough, and a place for the next piece. Cover dough with plastic while you are forming the rest of the loaves.

After all the pieces of dough are in place, brace the two sides of the canvas with long rolling pins, baking sheets or books, if the dough seems very soft and wants to spread out. Cover the dough loosely with flour rubbed dish towel or canvas, and a sheet of plastic. Proceed immediately to the final rising, next step.

For Long Thin Loaves – Fincelles: Follow the steps above but making thinner sausage shapes about 1/2 inch in diameter. When they have risen, slash as with the Batard.

For Oval Rolls – Petits Pains, Tire-Bouchons: Form like batards, but you will probably not have to lengthen them at all after the two foldings and sealings. Place rolls on a floured canvas about 2 – 4” apart and cover with plastic to rise. When they have risen, make either 2 parallel slashes or a single slash going from one end to the other.

For Small, Medium, or Large Round Loaves – Pain de Menage, Miches, Boules: The object here is to force the cloak of coagulated gluten to hold the ball of dough in shape: the first movement will make cushion; the second will seal and round the ball, establishing surface tension.

Place the dough on a lightly floured surface.

Lift the left side of the dough with the side of your left hand and bring it down almost to the right side.

Scoop up the right side and push it back almost to the left side. Turn the dough a quarter turn clockwise and repeat the movement 8 – 10 times. The movement gradually smooths the bottom of the dough and establishes the necessary surface tension; think of the surface of the dough as if it were a fine sheet of rubber you were stretching in every direction.

Turn the dough smooth side up and begin rotating it between the palms of your hands, tucking a bit of the dough under the ball as you rotate it. In a dozen turns you should have a neatly shaped ball with a little pucker of dough, le cle, underneath where all the edges have joined together.

Place the dough pucker side up in a flour-rubbed canvas; seal the pucker by pinching with your fingers. Flour lightly, cover loosely and let rise to almost triple its size. After unmolding upside down on the baking sheet, slash with either a long central slash, two long central slashes that cross at right angles, or a semi-circular slash around half the circumference.

For Small Round Rolls – Petits Pains, Champignons: The principles are the same here as for the preceding round loaves, but make the cushion shape with your fingers rather than the palms of your hands.

For the second stage, during which the ball of dough is rotated smooth side up, roll it under the palm of one hand, using your thumb and little finger to push the edges of the dough underneath and to form the pucker, where the edges join together

Place the formed ball of dough pucker side up on the flour rubbed canvas and cover loosely while forming the rest. Space the balls 2 inches apart. When risen to almost triple its size, lift gently with lightly floured fingers and place pucker side down on baking sheet. Rolls are usually too small for a cross so make either one central slash or the semi-circular cut.

For Large Oval Loaf – Pain Boulot: Follow the directions for the round loaves except instead of rotating between the balms of your hands and tucking to form a round loaf, continue to turn the dough from the right to the left, tucking a bit of each end under the oblong loaf. In a dozen turns you should have a neatly shaped oval with tow little puckers of dough, le cles, underneath where all the edges of have joined together.

Place the dough pucker sides up in a flour-rubbed canvas; seal the puckers by pinching with your fingers. Flour lightly, cover loosely and let rise to almost triple its size. After unmolding upside down on the baking sheet, slash with parallel slashes going diagonally across the top starting from the upper left and going to the lower right.

Step 7: Final Rise – l’appret - 1 1/2 to 2 1/2 hours at around 70 degrees
The covered dough is now to rise until almost triple in volume; look carefully at its pre-risen size so that you will be able to judge correctly. It will be light and swollen when risen, but will still feel a little springy when pressed.

It is important that the final rise take place where it is dry; if your kitchen is damp, hot, and steamy, let the bread rise in another room or dough will stick to the canvas and you will have difficulty getting it off and onto another baking sheet. It will turn into bread in the oven whatever happens, but you will have an easier time and a better loaf if you aim for ideal conditions.

Preheat oven to 450 degrees about 30 minutes before estimated baking time.

Step 8: Unmolding risen dough onto baking sheet – le demoulage.
The 3 pieces of risen dough are now to be unmolded from the canvas and arranged upside down on the baking sheet. The reason for this reversal is that the present top of the dough has crusted over during its rise; the smooth, soft underside should be uppermost in the oven so that the dough can expand and allow the loaf its final puff of volume. For the unmolding you will need a non-sticking intermediate surface such as a stiff piece of cardboard or plywood sprinkled with cornmeal or pulverized pasta.

Remove rolling pins or braces. Place the long side of the board at one side of the dough; pull the edge of the canvas to flatten it; then raise and flip the dough softly upside down onto the board.

Dough is now lying along one edge of the unmolding board: rest this edge on the right side of a lightly buttered baking sheet. Gently dislodge dough onto baking sheet, keeping same side of the dough uppermost: this is the soft smooth side, which was underneath while dough rose on canvas. If necessary run sides of hands lightly down the length of the dough to straighten it. Unmold the next piece of dough the same way, placing it to the left of the first, leaving a 3 inch space. Unmold the final piece near the left side of the sheet.

Step 9: Slashing top of the dough – la coupe.
The top of each piece of dough is now to be slashed in several places. This opens the covering cloak of gluten and allows a bulge of dough underneath to swell up through the cuts during the first 10 minutes of baking, making decorative patterns in the crust. These are done with a blade that cuts almost horizontally into the dough to a depth of less than half an inch. Start the cut at the middle of the blade, drawing toward you in a swift clean sweep. This is not quite as easy as it sounds, and you will probably make ragged cuts at first; never mind, you will improve with practice. Use an ordinary razor blade and slide one side of it into a cork for safety; or buy a barbers straight razor at a cutlery store.

For a 16 to 18 inch loaf make 3 slashes. Note that those at the two ends go straight down the loaf but are slightly off centre, while the middle slash is at a slight angle between the two. Make the first cut at the far end, then the middle cut, and finally the third. Remember that the blade should lie almost parallel to the surface of the dough.

Step 10: Baking – about 25 minutes; oven preheated to 450 degrees (230 degrees C).
As soon as the dough has been slashed, moisten the surface either by painting with a soft brush dipped in cold water, or with a fine spray atomizer, and slide the baking sheet onto rack in upper third of preheated oven. Rapidly paint or spray dough with cold water after 3 minutes, again in 3 minutes, and a final time 3 minutes later. Moistening the dough at this point helps the crust to brown and allows the yeast action to continue in the dough a little longer. The bread should be done in about 25 minutes; the crust will be crisp, and the bread will make a hollow sound when thumped.

If you want the crust to shine, paint lightly with a brush dipped in cold water as soon as you slide the baking sheet out of oven.

Step 11: Cooling – 2 to 3 hours.
Cool the bread on a rack or set it upright in a basket or large bowl so that air can circulate freely around each piece. Although bread is always exciting to eat fresh from the oven, it will have a much better taste when the inside is thoroughly cool and has composed itself.

Step 12: Storing French bread
Because it contains no fats or preservatives of any kind, French bread is at its best when eaten the day it is baked. It will keep for a day or two longer, wrapped airtight and refrigerated, but it will keep best if you freeze it – let the loaves cool first, then wrap airtight. To thaw, unwrap and place on a baking sheet in a cold oven; heat the oven to 400 degrees. In about 20 minutes the crust will be hot and crisp, and the bread thawed. The French, of course, never heat French bread except possibly on Monday, the baker’s holiday, when the bread is a day old.

Step 13: Canvas housekeeping
After each bread session, if you have used canvas, brush it thoroughly to remove all traces of flour and hang it out to dry before putting away. Otherwise the canvas could become mouldy and ruin your next batch of dough.

The Simulated Bakers’ Oven

Baking in the ordinary way, as described in the preceding recipe, produces an acceptable loaf of bread but does not nearly approach the glory you can achieve when you turn your home oven into a baker’s oven. Merely providing yourself with the proper amount of steam, if you can do nothing else, will vastly improve the crust, the color, the slash patterns, and the volume of your bread; steam is only a matter of plopping a heated brick or stone into a pan of water in the bottom of the oven. The second provision is a hot surface upon which the naked dough can bake; this gives that added push of volume that improves both the appearance and the slash patterns. When you have the hot baking surface, you will then also need a paddle or board upon which you can transfer dough from canvas to hot baking surface. For the complete set up here is you should have, and any building-supply store stocks these items.

For the hot baking surface: Metal will not do as a hot baking surface because it burns the bottom of the dough. The most practical and easily obtainable substance is ordinary red floor tiles 1/4” thick. They come in various sizes such as 6 x 6, 6 x 3, and you only need enough to line the surface of an oven rack. Look them up under Tiles in your Directory, and ask for “quarry tiles” their official name.

For unmolding the risen dough from its canvas: A piece of 3/16 inch plywood about 20 inches wide.

For sliding the dough onto the hot tiles: When you are doing 3 long loaves, you must slide them together onto the hot tiles; to do so you unmold them one at a time with one board and arrange them side by side on the second board, which takes place on the baker’s paddle, la pelle. Buy a piece of plywood slightly longer but 2 inches narrower than your oven rack.

To prevent dough from sticking to unmolding and sliding boards: White cornmeal or small dried pasta pulverized in the electric blender until it is the consistency of table salt. This is called fleurage.

The steam contraption: Something that you can heat to sizzling hot on top of the stove and then slide into a pan of water in the oven to make a great burst of steam: a brick, a solid 10lb rock, piece of cast iron or other metal. A 9 x 12 inch roasting pan 2 inches deep to hold an inch of water and the hot brick.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Bread Baking Babes are a Bit Beery- Eyed

The Babes are back and we're all hopped up about this month's bread because Natashya of Living In the Kitchen with Puppies, the host kitchen this month, picked a favorite type of bread of mine, a beer bread!

I used a Michigan micro-brew beer from Bell's, their Two Hearted Ale

two hearted ale

named after the Two Hearted River in the UP and being a Yooper and since the Two Hearted River is about 15 miles from where I grew up and while not Canadian beer, the UP is sorta a lost province of Canada (we say "eh" quite a bit too!)I'm hoping Natashya gives me bonus points for using an almost Canadian beer...

I also deviated a bit from the original recipe, which calls for sausage and cheese, by using some hearty herbs and another ingredient from Canada, Ceasar rimming salt!

ceasar salt

This was a gift from my sister Babe, Sara of I Like to Cook

The finished product:

April Beer Bread

The bread was super tasty and excellent with a beef stew I made to go with it.

If you want to be a buddy with the Babes this month, bake the bread, post about it at your blog or favorite social media site, and email Natashya with a link to your post by April 29th. She'll include you in the round up and send along a nice little badge for your post.

Granville Island Beer Bread
From from

Thanks Chuck for letting us post your recipe on our blogs.


Night before:

    1¼ cups bread flour
    ¾ cup tepid water
    ¼ teaspoon instant yeast

Day of:

    1 - 12 oz bottle beer (room temperature)
    ¼ cup olive oil
    3 tablespoons dried onion flakes
    4 teaspoon instant yeast
    1½ tsp salt
    ½ teaspoon ground pepper
    ¼ cup sugar
    4 - 4½ cups bread flour
    1½ cups farmers sausage
    2 - 3 cups grated Monterey Jack cheese


The night before combine 1¼ cup of bread flour, ¾ cup tepid water and ¼ teaspoon instant yeast, cover with plastic wrap and set aside till next day.

The next morning pour the night before mixture into a large bowl. Add in the room temp. bottle of beer, olive oil, dried onion flakes, 1 cup of bread flour, instant yeast, salt, pepper and sugar, with a wooden spoon mix all these ingredients together till well blended.
Mix in another 1½ cups of flour. Sprinkle some more flour onto a flat surface. Pour out the wet dough onto the floured surface, place a little more flour on top. Start to knead the dough and continue to add a little flour till the dough becomes smooth (a little on the tacky side). Knead the dough for about 8 minutes, then place into a lightly oiled bowl, turn the dough over so all the sides are lightly coated. Cover with plastic and let rise for1 hour or till it has doubled in size.

Sprinkle a little flour onto a flat surface and pour out the dough. Add the farmers sausage or any other cooked sausage you like. Add 1 cup of cheese and knead till all incorporated. Cover dough with plastic wrap and allow to rest for another 15 minutes. Afterwards cut dough in half, shape into loaves and place onto a cornmeal parchment lined cookie sheet. Cover with plastic wrap and allow to rest for 1 hour. Using a sharp knife score the dough about a inch deep. Sprinkle the rest of the grated cheese on top of the loaves. Bake in a preheated 350F oven for 30-35 minutes or till a thermometer places into middle of loaf reads 180F-190F. Remove from oven and allow to cool on a wire rack.

This bread is sourced from and we have been given full permission from Chuck to feature the recipe and publish it to our blogs. He is in the middle of switching over his website to a new one, so links may be updated before the publishing date.

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Saturday Course Photo: Not a Good Sign

Since I'm spending so much time on golf courses and it is one of the most beautiful times of the year, I've decided to every once in a while on Saturday to post a picture from the week's round.

Here is a sign that frankly caused chills up my spine when I saw it on a tough little Par 3 that has a forced carry over a little gully with a creek running through it.

If a course spends the money to have a sign like this made you can bet there was an "incident".

I can tell you this, I'm not even getting out of my cart at this hole. Pars for EVERYONE!

Friday, March 16, 2012

Bread Baking Babes: Swedish Rye

It's that time of the month again. The Bread Baking Babes have been in the kitchen again and this month, our host kitchen Astrid at Paulchen's FoodBlog gave us a fabulous hearty bread for the cold month of February, Swedish Rye.

I'm a sucker for all rye breads. If you had to ask me what is your favorite bread, I wouldn't hesitate to say OH rye. I love the little pumpernickel loaves we see around the holidays here in the US with a bit of a ham and mustard. There is nothing in this world like a big pile of pastrami piled high on a thick slice of Jewish rye bread from a deli in NYC. I love rye bread toasted and spread with marmalade and a cup of tea.

Swedish Rye w orange marm

In keeping with the new me and because when I made this bread, I was a little "ingredient challenged", I made a few changes to the recipe to suit my needs.

I halved the recipe. I didn't use the anise seeds as I had used all mine for some other bread. But, the biggest was I didn't have enough honey to make the bread AND have honey on my peanut butter sandwiches for my golf bag for the week that was ahead, so I used a mix of molasses and honey.

Things I noticed about the recipe: It took a very long time to get the dough to come together, almost 20 minutes of mixing/rest/mixing in a bit more flour/rest. I expected this because of the amount of rye flour in this recipe. Rye flour tends to absorb liquid slowly.

But if you haven't baked with rye a lot (I love rye and used to bake rye bread all the time before the "new me") don't think because it looks like it will need a bunch more flour after a few minutes of mixing and/or kneading, you do. If it looks like it still needs flour after 4 or so minutes of continuous mixing. Let it rest for a few minutes and if it is still really wet, loose, shaggy, or tacky, add a little more of the whole wheat flour the recipe calls for.

The dough was very tacky after I kneaded it but again, after resting for about 5 minutes I had the nice dough ball the recipe describes.

Swedish Rye Dough

It took 80 minutes to bake to an internal temperature 200 degrees. The recipe doesn't call out a temp but my experience with rye breads is that if you don't get the internal to 200 degrees, the bread will be just barely baked inside or even still doughy. So, check your bread temps along with the time.

This is what my boule looked like when it came out of the oven

Swedish Rye Boule

I LOVE this bread. It was fantastic tasting, the right combo of caraway with the citrus of the orange. I loved it so much after having a slice with marmalade the morning after I baked it, that I ventured out in 21 degree temps (Brrrrrr) to get a corned beef brisket to make for dinner that night just so I could make Rueben sandwiches all the next week.

In the land of rye breads, this one is a keeper...

To bake along with the Babes this month and be a Buddy, bake the Swedish rye, blog about it or post it to your facebook page, or any other place you want to post it to and contact Astrid via her email with a link to your post. She'll send you nice badge to put on your post.

Swedish Rye Bread
adapted from Tassajara Bread Book by Edward Espe Brown

3 cups lukewarm water
1 1/2 tablespoons dry yeast (2 packets)
1/3 cups honey
1 cup dry milk
grated peel of 2 oranges
2 teaspoons anise seeds
2 teaspoons caraway seeds
4 cups unbleached white flour

4 teaspoons salt
1/4 cup oil
4 cups rye flour
1 cup whole wheat flour (for kneading)


  1. Dissolve the yeast in water. Add the honey and dry milk plus the oranges and seeds
  2. Add the flour to get a thick batter.
    Add one cup of flour at a time, stirring good after each addition. The more flour you add the more you knead to go into a beating mode with your spoon. Best way is to stir up and down in a circular mode from the bottom of the bowl to the surface of the dough. Don't forget to scrape the sides of the bowl from time to time. After the 4 cups of flour you should have a thick mud-like dough.
  3. Beat well with a spoon (100 strokes).
    Continue to beat until you have a smooth dough. Again pull your spoon under the dough and bring it up to the surface again in a circular mode. The batter will be more elastic while you are doing this as more and more air gets incorporated.
  4. Let rise for 45 minutes.
    Cover the bowl with a damp towel and let rise in a warm place.
  5. Folding in the remaining ingredients. Do not stir! Do not cut through the dough, this will improve the elasticity and strength of the dough.
  6. Sprinkle on the salt and pour on the oil. Stir around the side of the bowl working carefully your way towards the center. Rotate your bowl a little with every stroke you do. Repeat until all of the salt and oil is incorporated.
  7. Sprinkle the flour 1/2 a cup at a time onto the dough. Again fold it in while rotating your bowl.
  8. Continue until the dough comes away from the sides of your bowl. Now the dough is ready to give it a good knead!
  9. Plop your dough on your kneading board and scrap all remainings from the bowl onto the dough. Keep in mind that your surface should be floured enough to prevent the dough from sticking to much on the board.
  10. Flour your hands and the top of the dough. From the middle of your down stretch it away from you and then fold it back onto the remaining part of the dough. Continue to push down and forward.
  11. Turn the dough a quarter turn. Again continue with the pushing and folding.
  12. Turn, fold, push. Rock forward. Twist and fold as you rock back. Be careful not to stretch the dough too much and tear it. Add flour to the boards as needed.
  13. While you continue with the kneading the dough will become more and more elastic, smooth and shiny.
  14. When you are finished, place the dough in your lightly oiled bowl smooth side down, then turn it over so the dough ball is covered lightly with oil. This will prevent the dough from forming a crust on the top while rising.
  15. Cover the bowl with a damp towel again and set aside to rise in a warm place. (50.60 minutes until doubled in size)
  16. Punch down your dough with your fists steadily and firmly about 15-20 times.
  17. Let rise again 40-50 minutes until doubled in size again.
  18. Preheat your oven at 350°F.
  19. Turn your dough onto the board again.
  20. Form the dough into a ball. Cut the dough into two even pieces and form smaller balls again. Let rest for 5 minutes.
  21. Knead the dough and fold it about 5 times, this gives the dough added spring. After the final push turn the dough a quarter turn.
  22. Roll up the dough into a log shape. Seam at the bottom, flatten the top of the dough. Square the sides and ends. Turn the dough over and pinch the seams all the way.
  23. Put the dough seam side down into your pan. Press it down into the pan with your fingers.
  24. Cover and let rise again. This will take 20-25 minutes.
  25. Cut the top with 1/2 inch deep slits to allow the steam to escape.
  26. You and brush with eggwash and sprinkle with poppy seeds or sesame if you want!
  27. Bake for about 50-60 minutes.
  28. Remove from pan to cool down completely.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Weekend Cat Blogging: Cozy Sunday with Mom

Since Mom has started blogging again she is going to let me take over the writing duties every once in a while; which means we can participate in Weekend Cat Blogging this week!

And it is a special week for us to come back because our best cat friends, Kashim, Othello, and Salome are hosting and it is their Mom, Astrid's, birthday today!!

Now, that I'm a Southern cat I have gotten used to lazy Sundays around here. Typically, Mom gets up, goes to church and then either goes to the golf course to work on something her instructor wants her to get better at or she goes and plays a round of golf with friends. Then she comes home and makes a really nice Sunday dinner.

Today it is raining and cold and she said all she wanted to do today is cuddle with me! So, I'm very happily snuggled up next to her and we're watching the last round of the Northern Trust Open together.

LB watching golf

I'm rooting for Keegan Bradley but Mom is hoping Phil Mickelson wins back to back.

I think Mom is rooting for Phil because Grandma Hunt, Dad's Mom loved Phil and Mom still misses her so much. She is pretty sure last weekend that Grandma Hunt reached down from the 19th Hole in Heaven and pushed some of Phil's putts into the hole so he could beat Tiger at Grandpa Hunt's favorite course.

I hope everyone has a good rest of your weekend and go see what the other kitties are up to by visiting Othello, Kashim, and Salome!

Now, I need to curl up and flick Mom's hand with my tail while she tries to write a long email to her friend Kim.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Bread Baking Babes: Biscotti Picanti

The Babes are back!

And not only are we back but this month we are celebrating four fabulous years of sharing a kitchen and yeasty classroom together. I can't believe I've been with this incredible group of women baking breads. Even more so, I can't believe that they've kept me around for four years.

To celebrate this milestone, we are making a really unique bread, courtesy of host kitchen, Lien of Notitie van Lien, Biscotti Picanti

I was fascinated by this bread. I had never heard of rusks and after the Babes that share the back bench of our little haven educated me, I was excited to give these try.

The dough was really easy to make and it makes so much, I divided it into two and made two different versions: Roasted Garlic with Sea Salt and Bacon Cheese.

Biscotti Picanti

I really like both but if I was to make these again, I'd just make a big batch of the roasted garlic and sea salt. They were perfect as the backdrop for cheese and cured meats but really good on their own.

To bake along with the Babes this month and be a Buddy, bake the Biscotti Picanti, blog about it or post it to your facebook page, or any other place you want to post it to and contact Lien via her email with a link to your post. She'll send you nice badge to put on your post.

Also, if you do blog or post somewhere else about this fantastic bread please place a link to incredibly gracious Anissa Halou's Blog. She was so sweet to let us blog about her recipe and re-post it verbatim (A refreshing attitude in the land of food blogs). While your at it, go visit her blog because it is full of fabulous photos and food.

Biscotti Picanti (Sicilian Spicy Rusks)
(makes about 36 rusks)

2 ¼ tsp active dry yeast (1 package = 7 grams)
60 ml warm water
1 ⅔ (± 225 g) cups AP-flour (+ extra for kneading and shaping)
1 ⅔ (240 g) cups semolina flour
¼ cups (25 g) aniseed
3 TBsp (28 g) white sesame seeds
1 tsp salt
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
½ cup + 2 TBsp (150 ml/130 g) extra-virgin olive oil (+ extra for greasing the bowl)
¼ cup (60 ml) dry white wine
115 ml water

1. Dissolve the yeast in ¼ cup/60 ml warm water and stir until creamy.

2. Combine flours, aniseed, sesame seeds, salt and pepper in a large mixing bowl and make a well in the center. Add the olive oil in the well and rub into the flour with your fingertips until well incorporated.

3. Add yeast, wine and ½ cup (115 ml) warm water en knead briefly to make a rough ball of dough. Knead this for another 3-5 minutes or so. Cover and let rest for 15 minutes.
Knead for another 3 minutes until the dough is smooth and elastic. Shape into a ball and let rise in a lightly greased bowl, covered with greased plastic, for 1 hour in a warm place (or until doubled).

4. Divide the dough in 3 equal pieces and shape each piece into a loaf about 12”( 30 cm) long.
Transfer the logs to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and leaving at least 2 inches/5 cm between them so they can expand. Take a dough cutter (or sharp knife) and cut the loaves into 1 inch/2,5 cm thick slices (or if you prefer them thinner in 1"/1 cm slices). Cover with greased plastic and let the rise for about 45 minutes.

Meanwhile preheat the oven to 500ºF/260ºC.

5. Bake the sliced loaves for 15 minutes, until golden. Remove from the oven and reduce the temperature to 175ºF/80ºC.
Separate the slices and turn so that they lie flat on the baking sheet. Return to the oven and bake for about 1 hour more, or until golden brown and completely hardened (if not totally hardened, return to the turned off oven to let them dry more).Transfer to a wire rack to cool.
Serve at room temperature, or store in an airtight container for up to 3 weeks.Link

(source: “Savory baking from the Mediterranean” - Anissa Helou)

Monday, February 13, 2012

My Bucket List of Golf Courses for the Next Ten Years

If you come here for food, I'm afraid today you are going to be a bit disappointed because today's post is all about my other passion, golf.

This past weekend was one of my favorite tournaments of the PGA tour season, the ATT Pebble Beach Pro-Am, also known as the Crosby Clam Bake, after Bing Crosby who was instrumental in bringing high profile stars to Pebble Beach to play golf with the Pros in the 30s.

The scenery along Monterey Bay, where Pebble Beach, Spy Glass and the Monterery County Club, the three courses that are played during the ATT are located is legendary and even non-golfers enjoy walking these courses. For the serious golfer, getting a chance to tee it up on any of these courses is a treat but playing at Pebble Beach is like visiting the Sistine Chapel with Michelangelo for the painter, baking alongside Julia Child for the baker, having a private driving lesson with Mario Andretti for the lead foot, and winning the lottery all rolled into one.

Watching one of my favorite players, Phil Mickelson, win this past weekend in that fabulous setting, got me to thinking about my bucket list of golf courses I want to play before I hang up the 5 iron for the last time. More importantly, it got me to thinking about the courses I want to play in the next five to ten years with my father before he is too old to travel and enjoy playing them.

So, here is my bucket list of the courses I want to share with my best partner on the course, my dad.
  1. Pebble Beach - Pebble Beach, CA
  2. Cypress Point Golf Club - Pebble Beach, CA (This was my father in law's favorite course of all time too)
  3. TPC Sawgrass: Players Stadium Course - Ponte Verde, FL (Most famous island green in golf)
  4. The Jewel - Grand Hotel, Mackinac Island, MI
  5. Wawashkamo Club - Mackinac Island, MI (Gem of a little course, still use sand tees)
  6. Royal St. George's - Sandwich, Kent England
  7. Old Head Golf Links, Kinsale, County Cork Ireland
  8. Carnoustie, Scotland
  9. Seaside Course, Sea Island, GA
  10. Retreat Course, Sea Island, GA
  11. Oakland Hills Country Club, Bloomfield Hills, MI (Walter Hagen was the first head pro)
  12. Forest Dunes, Roscommon, MI
  13. Harbour Town, Hilton Head Island, SC
  14. Spyglass Hill - Pebble Beach, CA
  15. Links at Spanish Bay - Pebble Beach, CA
  16. Lakewood Shores Resort, Oscoda MI
  17. Elk Ridge Golf Course, Atlanta, MI
  18. Magnolia, Walt Disney World, Orlando, FL
  19. Sun Valley Resort, Sun Valley, ID
  20. Black Lake Golf Club, Onaway, MI (15 minutes from my folk's home in N. MI)

Sunday, February 05, 2012

Blog Party #44: Sweet Tooth

My good friend and fellow food blogger and once and future partner in a bakery/driving range project, Stephanie is back with the 44th edition of her Blog Party!

Blog Party Banner

It's been awhile since we all gathered in her front room to share a little food, drink and fun but it sure is good to see everyone again.

Since all these folks are friends and friends are golden AND the theme is sweet tooth, I couldn't think of anything better to bring than my Black Gold Brownies.

black gold brownies

These things are absolutely the most decedent brownie you will ever taste and best of all, they combine the best of both types of brownies: cake and fudgey. They are also STUPID SIMPLE. Seriously stupid simple They also only use two pans: a sauce pan to make the batter in and a square 8x8 pan to bake them in. AND if that wasn't enough, they have a secret ingredient, which is the gold part, butterscotch baking chips.

The toughest part of this recipe? Actually having any batter left to put in the pan,

black gold brownie batter

because once you start licking the spoon or spatula, you may not stop...

Black Gold Brownies

1 stick + 1 TBSP unsalted butter
6 Tbsp cocoa powder
2 Tbsp espresso powder (or if you don't have espresso powder instant coffee or cocoa powder)
1 C sugar
1 tsp vanilla
2 eggs
3/4 C flour
1/2 C butterscotch baking chips

In a sauce pan over medium-low heat, melt butter. Remove from heat. Stir in cocoa and espresso powder, sugar, vanilla and butterscotch chips. Add 1/4 cup of flour and stir in the eggs. Add remaining flour.

Spoon batter into prepared 8x8 square pan.

Bake in a pre-heated 350 degree oven for 22-25 min until edges are firm and top has crinkle crust. Remove from oven and let cool completely before cutting.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Bread Baking Babes: Bring on the Cuban and Pork

This month, the Bread Baking Babes got a little revolutionary with the choice of bread when we made a soft sandwich bread from Cuba.

Ilva from Lucullian Delights is our host kitchen and the recipe can be found here. It is from Bernard Clayton's "New Complete Book of Breads".

It is wicked easy to make and the really cool thing is the bread is baked from a cold start oven.

I paired this fantastic bread with pulled pork and coleslaw.

The pulled pork recipe is a family recipe and is made in the crockpot. The coleslaw recipe is one I found several years ago and I've modified it to make it "healthy" (no mayo or sugar).

If you want to be Bread Baking Babe Buddy,send Ilva the link to your blog post about it before midnight Saturday 28th of January to luculliandelights AT gmail DOT com, please write Bread Baking Buddy a the subject so Ilva doesn't miss it for her round up.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

A New Me in a New Town with a New Life

Look words here! Bet you never thought you'd see them on this blog again and frankly I wasn't sure I was ever going to write them here again either.

But, here they are. I guess I owe you a small explanation for my long absence from The Sour Dough and what has brought me back at least every once in a while. So, what has happened since I last posted here?

Let's see here since I last typed words here, I've completely upset my life by quitting my wretched job, moving 1,000 miles due south of Connecticut to a state deep in the heart of Dixie, only working when I want to and then only for people I want to work for and only if the project doesn't require me to work a bizillion hours, weekends or travel one day away from home. When I'm not working, I'm doing what I really love to do, seriously work on my golf game.

I also made some major changes to my lifestyle in regards to food and how I use food in my life and what I do with food like baking and cooking, which has resulted in my dropping over 1oolbs of weight.

I haven't wanted to talk much about this here because well, it's was a food blog and frankly I was embarrassed by my weight, the way I got fat, and that I had let myself go as badly as I did, especially after Wren's death. I've never been a tiny petite person. I'm tall and from good Midwestern stock, but I was never obese and never not active. Even when I was a bit heavier than I wanted to be, I carried it well because of my height and body build.

When Wren passed away I put on so much weight that at one point, my weight had approached 300lbs. At my top weight in early and mid 2010, I was 298.7lbs. I was morbidly obese and wretchedly unhappy with myself, my job, and my life. The more unhappy I was the more I turned to emotional eating. It was a vicious cycle that looked like it would never end.

But golf saved my life. Seriously. It did.

I don't mind telling you how hard it was to do simple things like go up stairs and carry loudspeakers, etc like I needed to for my job let alone swing a golf club correctly to hit it long and walking a golf course was impossible when you are as fat as I was.

In September 2010, after playing golf for a little of six months, I ventured to a golf outing in Florida with some folks I met through an online golf forum. I had the most wonderful time and the people were non-judgemental about my weight and my golf game. All they cared about was that I loved the game of golf and was there to have fun. I ended up meeting people who have become lifetime friends and in some cases, as important to me as members of my family.

The big life changing moment came after the outing when I saw pictures of myself. I was horrified by what I saw (I'm the fat girl on the left)

I came home from that outing and joined Weight Watchers. It has been a long slog but this earlier this month when I weighed in at a meeting, I am now only 48lbs away from my goal weight. This is the new me as of October 2011 and I've lost more since then.

The new me is playing the best golf of her life. I've not only broke 100 but I'm well on my way to breaking 90. AND, if my instructor is right and I keep working as hard as I am right now at both my fitness, weight loss and my golf game, there is no reason I won't be playing in the mid-low 80s by the summer and driving the ball over 170yds.

The new me is actually interested in "gasp" DATING again and loves getting those looks from men again. The new me loves to shop for clothes and the girly girl I've always secretly been is living out loud in lipstick, red nail polish, and flirty clothes. But, most importantly the new me doesn't use food as a crutch for her unhappiness and stress.

SO, you are asking what the hello does this have to do with anything at The Sour Dough and what this blog is about?

Well, it means that this blog is no longer going to be just about food. It started as a general topic blog. A place where I could just write and let my thought come out. Because of food is no longer the center focus of my life, I'm taking The Sour Dough back to a more general topic blog when I post. Now that doesn't mean there will be no food here.

I'm still a Bread Baking Babe and hopefully, once a month, the bread of the month will show up here. My lovely sister babes have all thrown their support behind me and know that I will be baking with them when I can adapt the recipe for my new lifestyle.

I still love to cook and bake other things too but I don't eat much of what I bake. Basically, if I can't give away 99.9% of what I bake, I'm not baking it. The cooking I do is very healthy cooking...most of the time. I may post about some of that here if the mood strikes me.

What definitely is changing, is I'm not posting to just post. Also, you will notice there really isn't a way to contact me or leave comments. It isn't that I haven't enjoyed helping you with your bread and recipe questions over the years. Rather, my life has changed and this blog isn't the end all be all of my existence anymore.

So, thank you all for all your support over the years. Feel free to hang out and see if I can break 80 on the golf course before next year and definitely check out the Babe Bread every month and be a Buddy with us!