Lonzino Batch 4

Lonzino at the start of drying in the drying chamber. Note the fan at the left and humidity sensor on the front dowel

Now that the weather is turning cooler, it is time to make a new batch of Lonzino – Dry Cured Pork Loin. Batches 1 & 2 were Fantastic! Batch 3 was a bust, as I rushed the curing stage, and additionally it was partially frozen for much of the time due to a cold snap. So it smelled bad and most of it was brown not pink when pulled from drying.

With this batch it is back to the basics, for a thorough equalization cure. Nice long cure (3 weeks). Flip and massage every 2-3 days . The garage fridge was kept above freezing the whole time (in large part due to our record breaking warm streak here in Southeast Wisconsin). At this point, the meat is fragrant and firm but definitely not frozen. The whole pork loin was split into 3 pieces, each with a different spice blend. The loin has to be cut to be able to hang within my high tech Rubbermaid curing chamber and I like to try different spice variations. The whole pork loin was divided roughly into thirds for the various flavors.

 

Whole pork loin 2900g
3% salt by weight – 87 g
.25 cure #1 by weight – 7.25 g

Juniper and garlic piece (934g)
1% fresh coarse ground black pepper
0.1% freshly crushed juniper berries
0.25% granulated garlic

Cajun spice piece (909g)
Heavy sprinkle (~1%) Penzey’s Cajun spice blend

Hot/warm pepper piece (1124g)
Heavy sprinkle (1.5%) Penzey’s 33rd and Galena spice blend

Place each piece in zip lock freezer  bag (air removed) or vacuum pack and place in the crisper drawer of the fridge for 3 weeks.   I did put the cajun and hot pieces in the same bag but the juniper garlic was segregated.

After 3 weeks, wrap each piece in a single layer of Collagen Sheet. Then either truss with butcher’s twine or #16 netting .  Note that trying to pull the netting over the pieces will be frustrating.   It is far easier if you place the netting over your hand / wrist. Then grasp the meat from one end  with your fingers,. Now slide the netting down over your fingers onto the meat.  Much easier – done in about 15 seconds.  Tie off the ends and make a loop for hanging.   Record the weight for each piece.

It is recommended to encourage a white penicillium mold growth for flavor and to discourage unwanted organisms. I take a loaf pan filled with about 1/2″ of warm water that has been sprinkled with a bit of Bactoferm 600 (~0.5g).   The package will last for many batches. Fold over the open corner a few times, clip and throw in the freezer for next time.

Now prick the collagen liberally with a sterilized instrument (just lightly) and hang to dry. I use my low budget drying chamber which I detailed previously. Currently it is in the garage rather than the basement with a cold pack in it, as I am still waiting for the temperature outside to drop to seasonal levels.   Basement floor is still at 63-65 (too warm).

Please note per recent regulatory changes, I have to state that I may earn money from affiliate links (at least I hope so). 

Spatchcock Turkey v3

This variation has with more aggressive dry brining and more lemon. It is also gluten free. 18 lb turkey (Kroger or Jennie-o). Note that a Butterball will likely end up too salty.

Dry rub blend:

  •  3 TB fine sea salt
  • 1.5 TB Mexican oregano rubbed
  • 1TB dried thyme
  • 1.5 TB dry rosemary rubbed
  • 1 TB Pepper finely ground
  • Fine zest of one lemon

When rubbing the spices grind them in the mortar and pestle and then pass them through a strainer. Teal hates the “sticks” as she calls the woody pieces . Mix the spices and salt well.

Spatchock the thawed bird, cutting down one side of the backbone and splitting the keel bone. Loosen the skin of the turkey (including legs) and then rub the spice blend on the meat under the skin, on both sides of the bird. Rest for 6 to 18+ hours in the fridge. Place the bird uncovered in the fridge for 4-6 hours of this to start drying out the skin.

In the roasting pan, place 4 carrots chopped, 2 medium onions chopped 18fresh sage leaves chopped, 2 lemons cut into eighths, 1 sweet potato cubed, 5-7 cloves chopped garlic, 1 can of beer (gluten free so that Elyse can have some).

Place the spatchcocked bird in the roasting pan breast side up on the lowest rack of the oven so the convected air hits the legs and thighs first.

Convection roast at 375 for  1 hour adding an aluminum foil L shaped deflector tucked under the wings to keep most of the heat blast away from the breasts. Then 275-300 for 1 hour looking for final internal temp of 157F. Then pull and rest for 30 min prior to carving.

This was a winner and is the family favorite so far with multiple questions about what was new. Changes were not huge: put the spice blend UNDER the skin rather than on top for the dry brining stage, add lemons in the pan, leave out the stuffing (to allow for those with Celiac disease). The lemons added a nice flavor and the juices made for great gravy . I used rice flour as the thickener (~ half as much as regular AP wheat flour). Of course, discard the pseudo gravy gunk in the bag in the bird (it just inflates the weight).

To take a look at the earlier versions (and photos), go to: Spatchcock Turkey

Reuben Crisps

Reuben crisps are perfect party appetizer. They have been very popular with our family and friends.   The phyllo dough crust gives a great crunch. It is  a bit fussier to wrap than if using crescent dough or bread dough but you will be rewarded with a prettier and tastier treat.  If you have smoked your own Corned Beef or Pastrami, as I do,  all the better.

Filling

8 oz Thinly sliced and crumbled pastrami or corned beef
12 oz Shredded swiss cheese
12-16 oz Franks Polish style Sauerkraut
3 oz cream cheese
3 Tbsp Thousand Island dressing (Ken’s light)

Mix well with  your hands

Making the crisps

Thaw the phyllo dough,  lay out horizontally and then cut vertically into thirds, cover with a damp towel.

Take one strip of the dough oriented vertically in front of you. Place approx. 1 Tbsp of the filling mixture on the dough and fold in a triangle pattern (like folding the flag) . Brush with melted butter and place on the cookie sheet

Variations

Place a few slices of Cowboy Candy on the filling prior to wrapping.

Fermented Hot Sauce

Every few years I make some fermented hot sauce.   We call it “Cold Snap” hot sauce as we harvest the ripe peppers at the time of the first frost.   I greatly prefer to use ripe peppers rather than green for the flavor as well as the color.  A few green ones do get included but if you add too many the bright orange/ red color will become brown.

This year we had: Mucho Nacho Jalapeno, Super Cayenne, Super Chili, Sweet Banana. Unfortunately my habaneros split in the recent rains and were mostly moldy inside, so there were only 4 to distribute among the jars.

Each quart jar has about 15-16 oz mixed chopped peppers (most seeds removed), 1/2 bulb chopped garlic.  2 jars were left as is.  The other 4 jars  also had 1/4 can – 3oz- of Minutemaid Limeade concentrate. Of these 4 jars,  2 jars had a pinch of Lactobacillus Helveticus and the 2 remaining jars had a pinch of  Lactobacillus Plantarum powder. I use these for  my kettle sour beers.  The 6 quart jars started out as 3 gallons of mixed peppers before chopping, destemming and removing the seeds from the larger ones.

The jars are topped off with a glass weight and 4% brine.   Lids and fermentation locks. The jars are placed in a plastic bin (to catch the inevitable overflow) and left in a dark place at room temperature for 3 weeks.  The time is not critical but there is the risk of mold forming.

chooped peppers in fermentation jars
Peppers at the start of fermentation

The Lactobacillus Helveticus kicked off the fastest by a day or 2. In the end it was also my favorite due to a slightly fruitier flavor.

Most of the jars had a layer of pellicle and / or  Kahm yeast to some degree. This was scooped off and the inside of the rim cleaned with a spatula before adding to the blender. Approximately 4 oz of liquid was removed in the process.

Ferment with pellicle and some kahm yeast – normal

After scooping out the pellicle and kahm yeast.

Each jar is blended separately. When starting the blender, beware – the pepper pulp still has a lot of CO2 in it that will be released as you start the blender. Hold your hand over the lid as you start it!   Each pair of jars of the same type were then blended and boiled for 15 min.  This is IMPORTANT. There is still dissolved CO2 in the pulp. If you go straight from the blender to the jars and heat process the bottles will blow their tops!  Blend until reasonably smooth 30-60 seconds. If you go too long, the seeds get ground up too, which is not desirable as they can add a bitter flavor .

Blending the peppers – note the bubbles

All of the batches ended up very sour with pH in the range of 2.85 to 2.94.  This a safe pH (<3.4) for shelf stable canning. I calibrated the meter right before use and checked it twice.

pH checking hot sauce

 

 

 

 

Run the pulp through a food mill or strainer to remove the seeds and skins. Pour the now cooked hot sauce into the jars.  We use a measuring cup and funnel rather than a ladle.  You can see my ever so patient wife, Teal, filling the bottles (she does not use hot sauce).

Teal filling the bottles

Process in boiling water for 15 minutes.  Once they are cool add the labels and shrink bands on top for a finishing touch. We prefer to shrink with a heat gun or you can invert them into boiling water to shrink.

Success

Finished Hot Sauces

All 3 sets tasted great but I am partial to the Helveticus batch.

Resources:

Facebook group: Fermented Hot Sauce Society 

Book: Fiery Ferments

5oz Woozy bottles with red bands

Hot sauce bottle labels

Dr. Meter pH meter  I bought this initially for beer making and is more accurate than relying on the acid range (0-6) pH paper that I had used in the past.

Mirro Foley Food Mill 

Lallemand Sourpitch Lactobacillus Helveticus

Lallemand Sourpitch Lactobacillus Plantarum

 

So did anything go wrong along the way?

Yes.

Moldy Ferment – discard

We were short one of the glass weights as it was in a jar of fermented pickles we made earlier in the summer. We ere going to get it back and then forgot. We should have just placed  a baggie of water in that jar. That jar was ruined by mold.   Above, you can see the fuzzy result with white and green mold.   This is a good reason to split up your ferment / experiment into multiple jars. That way if one goes bad there are still others to use. Basically for us we get one shot at this each year. The farmers markets and grocery stores just don’t have sufficient quantities of RIPE pepper, just lots of green ones.

We initially skipped boiling the hot sauce before hot water processing. 4 lids blew off and we had a good mess to clean off of the underside of the microwave and all over the cook top.  We lost about 1 bottle (net) of hot sauce due to this.  As the sauce heated up,  the CO2 was released from the pulp and it rose up the neck of the bottles and blew the lids.   This was an oversight that will not be repeated.    We had to empty the bottles, boil the sauce, refill and then hot process.  No more issues.

Splattered hot sauce-4 lids blew off

Please note, I may earn money from affiliate links.

 

 

 

Pastrami v2

 

We have been pleased with the first couple of batches of home made pastrami  – see: Home Made Pastrami .  However, I am always looking for variations that are (hopefully) better. We would like to lower the salt content and adjust the spices to better match our taste preferences.

Note that this recipe uses  approximately 1/3 the salt vs. the weight of the meat of the starting recipe in: Charcuterie  by Ruhlman and Polsyn, This book is  a great intro to cured meats.

Please do not start with a pre-packaged corned beef and try this. It will be FAR too salty as they are both going for “food safety” and easy factory reproducibility, as well as  assuming you will boil the  meat, which leaches out much of the salt. It is worth the wait to start with uncured brisket.

Prep

This batch started as a whole 15lb “packer” beef brisket.  It was carefully trimmed of excess fat with the flat and point separated into separate pieces. It was then brined for a week (flipping every 2 days) in one of the crisper drawers of the garage fridge.   The other crisper bin coincidentally had a whole pork loin brining for 4 days for canadian bacon which was then smoked as before: Canadian Bacon 

Brine

Weigh your salt, sugar and cure#1 rather than relying on volume as the proportions can easily be way off by volume, especially if changing brand and type of salt, cure or brown sugar. Please excuse the mixed US and metric measurements but the spice amounts are not near as critical as the salt and sugar.

1 gallon (4 liters) water

350 g Morton’s kosher salt

225 g white sugar

80 g pink salt (cure #1)

100 g dark brown sugar

10 green cardamom pods cracked

3 crushed bay leaves

1 Tbsp dried dill weed

6 Tbsp whole black peppercorns

2 Tbsp brown mustard seed

16 whole dried allspice berries

8 cloves garlic – chopped

15 whole cloves

Mix the brine, add the meat and weight with a large plate or platter. Flip every other day.

Final prep

Remove from the brine and pat dry with paper towels.  Sprinkle with 2 tsp ground coriander and 3-5 Tbsp fresh ground black pepper.

Smoking

Place on the smoler with the thicker edges out and the thin edges touching or overlapping in the center. In the BGE (Big Green Egg) , place the conveggtor with the flat side down so that you have indirect heat. Place a tray with 2 qts water on it and then the grate on top of the legs.   Set the Heatermeter temp for 225F (as measured with the probe clipped to the lid thermometer bracket) . Place the meat temperature probes in the thickest parts of the pieces and close for the night.  I typically start at 7 pm for an overnight smoke so I can get up well after dawn to check the meat. The smoke comes from the hardwood (oak and hickory) charcoal and several (6)  chunks of well cured cherry wood (slabs 3-4″ thick by 5-6″ diameter , cut in half).   I greatly prefer the fruitwood (cherry or apple)  smoke vs hickory pecan or mesquite which are too harsh for this meat in my opinion.

Brisket on the smoker and the temperature probes in the center of the thickest part of each piece

Smoker – Big Green Egg with heatermeter

90 min in, internal temp at ~130F

Next morning

The meat should be in the range of 150-170F. Edges will be higher and the center lower.  I slice a bit on the ends to check for color and flavor. It is tasty but still tough at this point (but great for a breakfast omelet).

Pull the meat and put in a large pot with about 1/2 ” of water and place in the oven at 235F.  The meat will be done somewhere between 203 and 206F which should take another 3-4 hours.

It is now ready to serve and /or vacuum pack and freeze.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The slices on the right are from the point. You can see a small tan/ brown area in the middle of one of the point slices. This is where the cure did not completely penetrate. It could have used a few more days in the brine.   The slices on the left are from the flat. At this point it is quite lean.

It all tastes great!

To learn more about smoking brisket and trimming the meat I recommend the Franklin Barbeque book.

If you don’t have a Heatermeter or are not up for building one, take a look at the Thermoworks Signals with the companion Billows temperature control blower. I have been using their probes and Chefalarms for years.

 

Pizza, Pizza on the grill

I LOVE pizza, it is one of my favorite foods and is great hot or cold whether for dinner, lunch or breakfast. I have cooked pizza in the oven , on the grill (weber, gas or BGE) but they have all lacked “something” that you get at a great pizzeria. I especially enjoyed those over 30 years ago when I worked for Philips and stayed for training in New Haven, CT where I became enamored of garlic as a pizza topping. 

I use a Large Big Green Egg for most of my grilling, smoking, BBQ adventures. However, as is for pizza, it is lacking as I would ofren end up with burnt crust and watery or undercooked toppings. So one night while searching for ideas, as I was thinking of making a pizza oven adapter, up popped the web site for the Pizza Porta.  Basically an adapter that turns the BGE into a pizza oven. I ordered one (for my birthday) set up for 2 pizza stones and long handled aluminum peel (I do have to look the part as I attempt to finesse the pizzas).   Apparently due to COVID and lots of folks baking bread pizza stones were in short supply. I have my BGE stone and ordered a Kamado Joe pizza stone form Ace. Don’t even think of using a thin Pampered CHef stone on the grill – It WILL crack after a few uses.

First time use of the Pizza Porta was a circus / carnival of errors.  I threw in a bunch of hard lump charcoal but did not clean out the ashes or remove the cherry log pieces that had been used for a prior roast . LOTS of smoke and being unskilled with a pizza peel coupled with a too wet crust (80% hydration), led to 4 pizzas of fairly weird shapes and a fair amount of toppings being fed to the grill Gods.   This was edible and the kids / grand kids loved it but there was a lot of room for improvement.  The goat cheese , speck (like prosciutto), pistaschios (drizzled with honey after baking) was the best.

Second use was only slightly better. I forgot to place the ConVegtor (head deflector) on the grill under the stones. This meant the bottom pizza (Teal’s of course had a very charred crust (not just black in spots but charred).   Lets not repeat that mistake . However switching to a 60% hydration dough recipe made the dough slide off the peels,  more nicely (but still a bit fussy) and we only lost one slice of pepperoni to the grill . However the dough for mine was underdone (yet not blackened)

I was still worried about getting the dough consistency right for my meager pizzaiola skills and I was also looking for diastatic malt powder for the crust. This lead me to PennMac.com  which not only had the malt powder, but also pizza screens, incredible olives and other goodies (yes the surcharge for perishable goods in summer is worth it.  They do an incredible job packing the goodies).

So now armed with more tools, I made a new batch of dough. 60 % hydration and instead of using a poolish I used sour dough discard (actually most of the starter I had in the fridge).   The dough recipe will be another post.

Pizza Porta in BGE, heatermeter, peel and tools

After an all day rise, we cut the dough into 2 balls which rested on the counter  (80F) for a couple of hours and then formed the crusts. Just gentle pulling and pushing (no need for a rolling pin) . The crusts were placed on the 12″ screens and docked (poke holes to prevent big bubbles).   These were baked at 500F for 2 minutes, taken out and inverted onto another peel, ready for topping . I was having a hard time getting the temp anywhere near  500-600F so I enlisted the help of Heatermeter and the fan helped a lot but still would not go above 500 (need a bigger fan) .

Teal’s was one of our go-to favorites: home made tomato sauce, shredded, slivered onions, shredded part skim mozzarella,  dabs of fresh mozzarella  and turkey pepperoni.

Mine was: tomato sauce (heated), italian seasoning, shredded onions, shredded mozzarella , but slightly sparse, 6 cloves of garlic slivered and pre-cooked in olive oil, sliced black olives and a few pieces of pepperoni.

Each was cooked for a total of 10 min at 500F rotating between bottom and top pizza stones.

Darn good eats. Not perfect yet, but we are definitely  getting closer. Technique still needs a lot of work as I nearly lost a bunch of toppings. The BGE ash clean out tool does work as a great pizza grabber when it just does not want to get on the peel .  Pizza crust is nicely brown with very dark spots but not charred.

 

Fast and Easy Focaccia

Spring in Wisconsin means there is yard work to do. This weekend I was pulling buckthorn, dividing perennials and getting the garden ready.  Body hurts and I want some comfort food. We had decided on leftovers for today and I chose the pasta and meatball bake. However I  wanted some fresh bread  or bread sticks to go with it.    Gardening and sourdough bread baking dont really go together.  Rise & fold times are missed and cleaning off all of the dirt before playing with the dough is a pain.  However I still craved fresh bread.

After showering and applying a hot pack to my back, I was surfing the internet searching for ideas.  At this point it was 5PM and teal was getting hungry and would not tolerate a long drawn out process (neither would I- I wanted near instant reward).  One stood out as a quick from scratch idea: https://thesaltymarshmallow.com/quick-homemade-cheese-bread/ .   This would morph into a sort of foccacia bread.

Quick

Preheat oven to proofing temperature  approx.  100F

1 Tbsp instant yeast   (I use SAF instant)

1 tsp sugar

1 c luke warm water

Mix and rest for 10 min – it should start to foam in the mixer bowl.

Add 2 Tbsp Olive oil and scant 1 tps salt.

Slowly add about 2.5 c flour  – I used bread flour. Add the rfirst 2 cups and assess the consistency . Add more as needed so that it pullsa away from the side of the bowl and mix for 5 min on 2 (second slowest speed) on the Kitchenaid mixer.

Cover the bowl with a towel and place in the oven for 30 min.

Get your sheet pan ready. Slather with olive oil (including the sides)  about 1.5 -2 Tbsp.   Lightly cover with corn meal

When the 30 min has passed the dough should easily have doubled (thanks to lots of well fed yeast) . Start working it out on the counter with a little flour, (no rolling pin) like you see the pizza guys do.  Move it to the sheet pan and stretch / push to fit (my pizzas are normally circular so it needed reshaping.

Preheat oven to 450F

Add 2-3 Tbsp olive oil to the top and spread around and then sprinkle on the goodies:

5-8 Tbsp grated parmesan (yes the green can cheese)

1-3 tsp granulated garlic

1 tsp Italian seasoning

1 Tbsp dried rosemary crushed

1/4 c shredded cheese .    I did not want “cheese bread” but if so inclined, cover it with a lot more  (4 cheese mexican and mozzarella mixed if going heavy)

Rest on the counter (bread not me) until 50 min point.

Place in the oven for 10-12 min until lightly browned. If the middle bubbles way up, get one of the kids to stab it and let the steam out.

Remove and place on a rack to cool enough so you can rip off pieces without burning yourself too much.  Enjoy with a good beer or wine (and maybe forget about the rest of  the  dinner) .   And it was done by 6 PM!  No frozen or tube food involved.

 

 

 

Just Peachy Pork Loin

We had prepared 3 pork loin roasts in anticipation of a big family gathering next weekend. However, with the Covid-19 lock down, that is not happening.  So I pulled one of the pork loin roasts from the freezer. It was already seasoned with Penzey’s “Barbeque of the Americas” and vacuum bagged, ready for sous vide cooking and grilling. However today it was not exactly great grilling weather with 20-30mph winds rain and 40 degree temps.  I figured it would be better to make something that could be cooked completely indoors.

Roast pork loin with peaches

So I surfed for recipes for pork loin or chops.  One with peaches looked appealing. We had also stocked up on canned fruit at the start of the virus outbreak, so this seemed workable.

Pork loin

  • 3 lb pork loin trimmed of fat
  • Season Liberally with Penzey’s Barbeque of the Americas
  • Vacuum bag and cook at 141F for 4 hours.

Sauce

Toward the end of the cooking time, prepare the sauce.  Later when serving it was clear we underestimated the amount of fruit and sauce needed for the meal and left-overs. So think of the list below as the amount per pound of meat.

  • 1 can – 14 oz sliced peaches in natural juice
  • Drain the juice into a sauce pan and add:
    • 3 finely minced cloves of garlic
    • 1/2 tsp dried thyme – crushed after measuring
    • 1/2 tsp dried rosemary  -crushed after measuring(Teal hates the “twigs” as she calls the rosemary needles)
    • 1/3c packed brown sugar
    • 1/4c balsamic vinegar
    • 6 peach slices finely chopped

Simmer this until reduced by half. Then add:

1 shot (1.5 oz )bourbon  – I use Makers Mark , and simmer for 5 min more

Prepare to brown and roast

Preheat the oven to 500F

Remove the roast from the bag, scrape off  the protein globs and pat dry.

In a large pan , melt 1.5 TB bacon drippings and heat to just under smoking

Brown the roast on the top, sides and ends (about 2 min per side)

Add the rest of the peaches and pour the thickened sauce over the top of the roast

Place in the oven on convect for 10 min. It will get all nice, bubbly and caramelized.   When I pulled it from the oven the center temp was 147F.  This was a bit higher than desired, but still acceptable

Rest the roast  for 10-15 min and carve for serving.

Roast pork loin with peach sauce

Changes for next time

Definitely more peach sauce – as I noted above treat these amounts as “per pound of pork”

Maybe I should have set the sous vide temp to 139 instead?   Maybe it will be a bit pinker but it was definitely juicy and delicious.

Add Cowboy Candy or half a finely chopped, seeded and deveined habanero chili to a batch. I will try this when I am making multiple batches (otherwise Teal would revolt) .

 

Sourdough bread variations

Now that you have your loaves coming out more or less consistently (or at least fewer batches consigned to being croutons) you may want to start mixing things up.

Remember when trying different flours, the autolyse step becomes even more important. They absorb the water at different rates and you can easily over-do the water if you use the initial consistency as mixed as a guide.  So start out with a bit less water than you might think you need.

Cheesy sourdough

Split batch white and cheesy

Cut the salt by half

Leave the dough stickier than usual

About 3/4 of the way through mixing add 2 big hand-fulls of shredded cheese. I am partial to 4 cheese mexican blend from costco.    This can be a bit hard to mix in. Crank up the mixer to 6 for short bursts until blended .

Now add flour if needed to adjust the texture.

Sprinkle with a bit of cheese, after slashing for fun.  If you put the cheese on prior to slashing you will pull a lot of it off.

This is one where you can split the recipe and make one loaf of white and one cheesy.  I love the cheesy sourdough toasted for breakfast slathered with peanut butter.

Rye sourdough

Rye sourdough

To the starter (about 2 cups) add 2 cups dark rye flour  and 3/4 c water

2 Tbsp Vital wheat gluten  (Bobs Red Mill) or King Arthur Rye dough Enhancer (which also adds more traditional “deli-rye” flavors

Caraway seed (optional)

Autolyze and mix as you normally would and adjust consistency as normal

 

Whole wheat

To the starter (about 2 cups) add 2 cups whole wheat flour (I like King Arthur Whole Wheat)   and 3/4 c water

2 Tbsp Vital wheat gluten  (Bobs red mill)

Autolyze and mix as you normally would and adjust consistency as normal

Note that a rye and whole wheat blend is really good as well

Pizza bread

1/2 salt

Leave the dough stickier than usual

About 3/4 of the way through mixing add 1/2 c sun dried tomatoes drained of oil and chopped finely  or 1/2 c rehydrated dried cherry tomatoes from the garden. Chop after rehydrating or you will have tomato chip shrapnel all over the kitchen.    The dried cherry tomatoes from my garden are awesome and keep in the fridge for years.

One large handful shredded mozzarella  or maybe two

1 tsp Italian seasoning (Penzey’s)

Now add flour if needed to adjust the texture.

Spent Grain Sourdough

What can be better than combining brewing and baking?

Spent Grain Sourdough 2 

Spent Grain Sourdough 1

Added seeds and grains

In proper baking terms this is referred to as adding a “soaker” . You need to hydrate the seeds before adding or they will dry out the dough AND not cling very well to the dough, resulting in deflated loaves.

1/2 c seed mix  such as King Arthur Flour Harvest Grains Blend

1/4 c hot / boiling water.

Mix the seeds and water for 1/2 hour before adding to the dough about 3/4 the way through mixing . DO NOT add at the start!

Mix and adjust as usual

Closing

So think of these as jumping off points to try different flours and flavors rather than firm recipes. Now that you know how to adjust your dough be feel, feel free to try new things. Worst case,  is that you end up with more croutons or bread crumbs to use for something else.

Happy baking.

Sourdough Bread Basics 2- Rising, Forming and Baking

Now that we have the bread dough it is time to let it rise. There will be 3 rises and then baking.

End of the first rise

Rolling the dough

Rolling more

Dough ball after turning and rolling the second time

Rise 1,   1 hour  At the end of the hour, the dough will have doubled in size. Scrape the dough for the bowl with your fingertips and turn out onto the countertop which has been dusted with flour.  You can fold the dough in theirs each way or do as I do and roll it. Grab an edge of the dough ball, and start rolling that towards the center. Keep doing this until you have rolled all of the surface in – typically 3-4 turns. Pop any large bubbles along the way. Turn the dough 90 degrees and repat, starting on one end. Now it will be back into a ball shape. Return it to the bowl and cover with the damp towel .

Rise 2, 1-1.5 hours   At the end of this time scrape the dough from the bowl as before onto the floured counter top. If making loaves, split the ball in half with a pastry scraper and  then work each piece individually as before, rolling  inwards and form a pair of loaves. I place them on my pizza peel which has been liberally coated with corn meal.    Place the pastry scraper upside down between the loaves. Cover with the damp towel .

If you are cooking as one large boule in a dutch oven , roll the dough as before and the place the ball in the center of the oiled dutch oven and put the lid on.

Rise 3,  2-3 hours

Loaves formed for 3rd rise

Loaves risen and ready for oven

Before the end of the rise place your pizza stone in the oven on the middle rack. Place a sheet pan on the bottom rack or the bottom of the oven. Pre-heat oven to 440F. Set for convect.   If yours does not have convection baking set for 460F.

Heat 1 cup of water to boiling (2 min in my microwave).

Transfer the loaves to the pizza stone. The scraper can help if they are sticking.

Pour the hot water in the sheet pan and quickly close the oven.

Tops slashed.

Nearly finished with temp probe in place. Look below and you can see the sheet pan

Wait 2 minutes then quickly score the top of the loaves in the pattern you desire. I use a bread knife and like one long slash in each about 3/8″ deep. No need for a fancy lame or other tool – just the bread knife.

Waiting before slashing the top, lets the skin of the dough set up a bit, and avoids deflating the loaf.

Work quickly to keep the steam in the oven.   Now you can have the kids watch see the slash open up as the bread rises further. This is known as the “oven spring”.

Set the timer for 13 minutes. At the end insert the thermometer probe close the middle of the loaf. You want 200- 205F.   I like the remote probe of the Thermoworks  ChefAlarm as I can leave the probe in and close the oven door. The alarm is normally set for 203F so I can wander around the house and do other things while the bread finishes and not worry about forgetting to pull the bread out of the oven (again).

Once the temperature is reached open the door and pull out the rack to let it cool for 3-5 min before transferring to a wire rack on the counter to cool. If the bread cools too fast, it may cave in a bit in the middle.

Done

The sourdough bread freezes well and makes fantastic toast, grilled cheese sandwiches and garlic bread.  King Arthur flour sells nice light weight bread bags to use for storage.