As good as any bread you can buy, maybe better

Seeded Sourdough1

After admitting to my failing and debauchery, I stand before you with the reason I baked bread this week. As time goes on, I keep trying new recipes so that I can improve my baking skills and perhaps, over time, create a personal library of bread recipes. In short, my own personal bakery.

Artisinal bread was quite the rage around here for awhile. Now that the Brea bakery is a subsidiary of a European company, I am finding that the rage is starting to die down. Trader Joes used to have delicious breads but the quality is also going down. There is a local bakery that makes fabulous breads but it will now cost you an arm and a leg to purchase a single loaf. The last time we thought about purchasing that particular bakeries’ kalamata olive bread, it was almost ten dollars a loaf. I still buy bread if I am pressed for time. Sometimes it is worth it when you have a big meal to prepare and a sourdough loaf could take hours sometimes days to create. But when I have time, the most amazing things can be created.

I love a loaf of bread that tastes like it has taken a lot of time to prepare. My favorite loaf would be anything with seeds, especially a mixture of seeds. Seeds are flavorful and each kind has it’s own personality. Get a good mixture and it can change plain bread into something special, get a good mixture on a good bread and you have something amazing on your hands.

I based this loaf on the changes I made to the Sunset hearth baked chili cheese sourdough. This time, I went to Sunset’s original recipe, I added some whole wheat flour and swapped out semolina for the cornmeal I added last time. The bread I ended up with has a good grainy flavor, a dense but soft crumb and a brown crunchy exterior topped with a wonderful combination of seeds. The seeds are really what makes this bread so enjoyable. It’s all about texture and flavor!

I’m not sure how much more experimentation I’ll be doing, I am beginning to notice that I haven’t bought bread in weeks. We keep revisiting the different loaves I have made over the past couple of years. I think I have my own personal bakery now.

I am submitting this loaf to YeastSpotting. If there was a heaven for bread, this would be it.

Seeded Sourdough2

Seeded Multi Grain Loaf

Bread:

1 cup water

1 ½ cups active sourdough starter

2 cups unbleached white flour

1 cup stone ground whole wheat flour

¼ cup semolina flour

½ cup rye flour

1 tbsp honey

1 tsp salt

Topping:

1 egg yolk mixed with a tbsp of water

2 tbsp sesame seeds

1 tbsp poppy seeds

1 tbsp caraway seeds

In a large bowl, Mix together all dough ingredients, mixing with a rubber spatula until all of the ingredients are combined and form a solid mass of dough. Turn the dough out onto a wooden board and knead for at least 10 minutes until you can stretch the dough and see through it without breaking it (window pane test). Wash and dry the bowl. Oil the bowl and place the dough in it, covered with a clean dish towel.   Allow the bread to rise until doubled, three hours or more in a cool kitchen.

Turn the dough out onto the wooden board. Flatten it out into a rectangle and then fold it from the short sides inward like you are folding a letter. Flatten it again and fold it again. Form the dough into a tight ball and place it in a floured banneton. Let the dough rise until doubled again up to 3 hours.

Place a pizza stone in your oven and preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Dust a peel with cornmeal and turn the dough out onto the peel. Mix all of the seeds in the topping ingredients list together in a small bowl. Brush the loaf with egg wash and sprinkle the loaf liberally with the seed mixture (you may have a little seed mixture leftover). Slash the loaf and then place it in the oven. Bake for 25 – 30 minutes until browned and the bread makes a hollow sound when you tap it on the bottom. Place the bread on a cooling rack and cool completely before serving.

I really shouldn’t have…but I did!

Marmalade Cheese Braid2

I was supposed to only bake a regular bread today. It would have been a good idea to leave it at that. If you page back through my blog you will see why I am gaining weight again. It’s been a cake fest around here for weeks. Today, my intentions started out good. I would bake a nice sourdough loaf with an assortment of seeds attached to it’s crust. Simple but good. Then… I found a recipe I shouldn’t have found. Unfortunately, I realized it would use up the cream cheese, left over from last week’s carrot cake, (that was only destined to go bad). I noticed that I had just enough butter left for it. I decided it could use some jam too. I had a number of excuses to cause unrest in my household.

It all started yesterday. My boyfriend who has had a difficult time gaining weight in the past has put on a few pounds lately and… his face broke out. Due to this troubling turn of events, He had that intervention kind of talk with me. He let me know that he did not want me baking sweets for awhile. He explained the health benfits for both him and me. He told me it was my choice, but if if I did make sweets of any kind, I would have to eat them alone. This conversation was after the conversation last week about reducing the amount of sugar in the things I bake. He does not want to eat so much sugar.

Marmalade Cheese Braid1

Well somehow in my baking fervor today, I thought it would be ok to bake a cheese filled sweet braid if I only used honey and not much of it. I would do a direct substitution of honey for sugar in the bread and then reduce the sweetener from ½ a cup of sugar to a scant 2 tablespoons of honey in the cheese filling. I had it all planned. I was so virtuous. How could anyone be angry if I made a lightly sweet bread? But then… I saw the orange marmalade, you know, real orange marmalade made from bitter Seville oranges. That elixir of bitter fruit and sweet sticky sugar. I knew I had to use it! Which makes me wonder, is this the way criminals justify their thinking…society (in this case the other member of this household) sets guidelines and then the criminal element flaunts those guidelines? Well… it was just too good of an idea to let go of and I was already lost at this point.

As it turns out this Danish is a knock out! The whole thing has a subtle flavor of honey and is not very sweet. When the marmalade hits your tongue, there is a burst of sweet and bitter. It is so good! My boyfriend politely ate a few bites, admitted it was stupendous and then sat there a pillar of self control. I however, polished off two pieces of my own and half of his. I am such a rebel!

I am submitting this dangerous snack food to YeastSpotting, the weekly baking event for those who love bread.

Marmalade Cheese Braid3

I had a couple of problems converting the King Arthur recipe to sourdough today – read on as I explain and give you measurements….

Marmalade and Cheese-Filled Sweet Braid

Adapted from King Arthur Cheese-Filled Sweet Braid recipe

Dough:
1 ½ cups active sourdough starter
¼ cup water
½ cup lukewarm nonfat milk
1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
1 ¼ tsp salt
¼ cup honey
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 egg, beaten
3 ¼ cups unbleached white flour plus up to a cup if needed

Filling:
6 oz cream cheese
2 tbsp honey
3 tbsp unbleached white flour
1 egg, beaten
2 tsp vanilla
½ cup orange marmalade (the kind made from seville oranges)

Glaze:
Egg yolk mixed with 1 tbsp water

Dough:
Combine all of the ingredients, mix well and then knead by hand until you have made a soft smooth dough, about 10 minutes. I had to mix in an additional ½ to 1 cup of flour. The dough started out too wet and sticky. I added the flour a tablespoon at a time as I kneaded. Now that I have reread the original recipe, I realize I added twice the butter in error. I will keep the recipe modified because the bread came out really good (I guess due to so much fat!). When you are done kneading, form the dough into a tight ball, transfer the dough to an oiled bowl and allow it to rise until it is puffy (not necessarily doubled in bulk) about an hour and a half.

Filling:
Using a mixer, mix all of the filling ingredients except for the marmalade together, beating until it is smooth. If you do this ahead of time while the dough it rising, refrigerate the filling until you are ready to use it.

Assembly:
Transfer dough to a lightly floured work surface. Cut the dough in half. Working one at a time, roll the dough into a 12”x 8” rectangle. Transfer the rectangle to a parchment lined cookie sheet. Spread half the marmalade down the length of the rectangle. Spread half of the cheese filling over the marmalade down the length of the rectangle. Cut 1” strips from each side of the filling  out to the edges of the dough (I found this blog post that shows the cuts). Fold an inch of the dough at each end over the filling then fold the strips at an angle across the filling, alternating from side to side. Repeat the process for the second round of dough. (The bread can be left as a straight braid or you can form a circle). Allow the braids to rise, covered until they are almost doubled in size, this took nearly three hours in my cool kitchen.

Baking:
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Brush the loaves with the egg mixture right before putting them in the oven. Bake 35 – 40 minutes. You may have to rotate the sheets from the upper to the lower rack during baking if they are browning unevenly.

Cool completely before serving.