ohmysourdough! sourdough english muffins

If you’ve been feeding your sourdough starter regularly but not been baking bread as regularly, you’ll probably find yourself in a position somewhat like mine- with lots of starter but unwilling to throw them all away.

I never liked throwing away food, so I was so excited to find this recipe that is so forgiving towards my little Bruno (aka my sourdough starter).

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If you are new to sourdough and found your hands on some starter, then here’s a quick crash course on how to turn that starter into some yummy bread!

The starter is basically wild yeast that we cultivated from our environment. It is this yeast that makes the bread rise. There are two principles behind the successful sourdough bread.

Firstly, the yeast must be active. The yeast needs flour and water to multiply, so it has to be fed regularly. By putting it in the fridge, we can slow down its metabolism so that it multiples at a slower rate. This is a very useful concept to the home baker who probably only bakes once/ week. A simple trick is to feed the starter in a ratio of 1:1:1 (starter:flour:water), then put it in the fridge for a week and only take it out when you need it! For this recipe, you can use the sourdough starter straight out from the fridge!

Secondly, the structure of the bread must be well-made. The additional flour and water/ milk added to the starter are the spaces for the yeast to multiply. When the yeast is active, they produce bubbles. However, we need structure to ensure that these bubbles stay there. Gluten gives us the structure. Hence, stretching and folding the dough will help us to form the gluten! So we will end up with nice, stretchy dough that contains air bubbles!

Keep these two principles in mind for now, and I will go on to explain in further detail regarding each step of the sourdough bread-making in subsequent posts. For now, you can try your hand at these easy English muffins!

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Sourdough English Muffin
makes 6 muffins

Ingredients
135g full cream milk
190 g sourdough starter
190 g bread flour
8 g sugar
6 g salt
28 g butter (room temp)
cornmeal (to sprinkle)

Directions
1. Heat milk until it reaches 85 degrees Celsius. Then leave it aside to cool to room temperature.
2. Whisk sourdough starter into the milk until thoroughly mixed.
3. Add the bread flour into the mixture, and mix with your hands until there is no more dry flour.
4. Leave it aside, covered, for 30min
5. Add in the butter, sugar and salt, and mix with your hands until you do not feel the sugar & salt granules.
6. Allow bulk fermentation for 3h. Every 30 minute, do 1 stretch and fold.
7. At the end of 3h, divide the dough into 90g pieces, and shape it into rounds.
8. Sprinkle with cornmeal and place onto a baking sheet. Rest overnight, up to 24h.
9. The next day, remove from the fridge and rest at room temperature until doubled in size.
10. Preheat the oven at 160 degrees Celsius.
11. Place on a medium-heat griddle, 5 min on each side.
12. Place the muffins into the oven for 12 min.
13. Remove from oven and let it cool on a wire rack.

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Focaccia Bread

Sorry for the really really long hiatus ): My family is without a helper right now so I’ve been busy doing house chores and cooking the meals. It’s been super tiring cooking most of the meals and running around, so much so that I can see why being a housewife is a legit job all by itself. Hats off to all stay home moms!! On the bright side, I’ve been learning chinese cooking from my mother and trying out new recipes! I now pride myself in ‘marriage worthy veggies’, knowing how to stir fry my chinese vegetables and turning purple cabbage edible. More on my veggies later ๐Ÿ™‚

Also my 21st birthday just passed so I was a bit busy preparing my food for my party. It was a two day baking fiesta, consisting of carrot cake, lemon cake, earl grey tea cake, chocolate chip cookies and pizza. Decided to treat my friends to all my home baked stuff to show my appreciation for their wonderful presence in my life :))

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Thank God for my mother and D for being kitchen assistants ๐Ÿ™‚ Also, D came up with a super awesome drink combination of sprite, lemon and mint. Try it out if you need respite on a sweltering hot day (which means tomorrow).

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Anyway!
Today’s post is on anย amazing focaccia bread that I made for my family for lunch.ย I was a bit fearful and skeptical about how it would turn out because I never ever had affinity with bread making. But this bread is soft and pillowy. Topping it off with roasted garlic and onions made it perfect ๐Ÿ™‚ Can’t wait to make this more often just that I’m not really in the mood of cleaning up ten million baking equipment right now hahah but do try this out if you love bread and have lots of time to spare, waiting for bread to rise. It’s worth the wait.

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Focaccia Bread
from Epicurious
40cm x 30cm focaccia bread

Ingredients
350ml cold water
20g instant dry yeast
625g plain flour
13g salt
70ml olive oil, plus extra for greasing

Directions
1. Place all ingredients in the bowl of your stand mixer.
2. With a dough hook, knead for 5 minutes. Turn up the speed by 1 level and kneed for another 10 minutes until dough is smooth.
3. Transfer dough into a lightly greased mixing dough and cover loosely with a cling wrap. Wait for the dough to double, approximately for 1 hour.
4. Turn out dough onto lightly floured surface. Punch down and flatten onto lightly greased baking tray. Spread till approximately 40cm x 30cm, not taller than 1/2 inch.
5. Brush with olive oil and proof for another 15 minutes.
6. Place desired toppings on dough and proof for another 20 minutes.
7. Bake at 210 degrees Celsius for 15 minutes.
8. Remove from oven and brush with olive oil. Cool before serving.

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Shakshuka & Pita Bread

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I always wanted to try making this dish after spotting it at Habitat Coffee but I was missing a key ingredient, Harissa paste. To all Singaporeans, here’s the great news. I found it. The all important, life-saving Harissa paste. It costs $6.50 for a small bottle and is sold in Marks and Spencer. Don’t underestimate the flavour of this paste because adding that one teaspoon transforms the entire dish. It elevates an Italian-like tomato stew to this most amazing North African dish.

After buying the Harissa paste, there was no more excuse to not make this dish. So I invited Esther over for lunch today and she was just as excited to make this dish as I was ๐Ÿ™‚ Thank God she tried Shakshuka before in a cafe so she knew what the ideal taste was. For me, I was just making this dish because it looked amazing. So I had no idea how it was supposed to taste like. But damn, I was blown away by the final product.

541A0740You have to eat this with bread or just something to dip with. We made our own pita breads to go with our Shakshuka. We just went all the way with our exotic theme for lunch. Store bought pita bread simply wasn’t good enough. It had to be handmade. It was my first time making pita bread and I was really excited seeing it poof up though a bit disappointed that it was a tad too hard (perhaps I added a bit too much flour). I especially loved tearing my pita bread apart and stuffing the pocket with egg and tomato ๐Ÿ™‚ Quite upset that I’m starting my Atkins diet tomorrow. Bye bye pita pockets with Shakshuka ): 541A0726

Shakshuka
Serves 4

Ingredients
Olive oil
3/4 brown onion, diced
1 bell pepper, diced
5 cloves of garlic, sliced
2 teaspoons of harissa
2 teaspoons of paprika
2 teaspoons of tumeric
200g of crushed tomatoes
3 tomatoes, diced
1 tablespoon of honey
60g of feta cheese
3 eggs

Directions
1. Heat pan with olive oil and fry the brown onions till translucent.
2. Add the bell peppers and fry till soft.
3. Add in the garlic and fry for another minute.
4. Add the harissa, paprika and tumeric and cook for another minute.
5. Add the crushed canned tomatoes, diced tomatoes and honey and simmer for 20 minutes, reducing it until the sauce is quite thick.
6. Add the feta cheese and stir through. Add salt & pepper to taste.
7. Crack one egg into a bowl. Make a well in the middle of the tomato paste and pour the egg into that well. Repeat with the other 2 eggs.
8. Place a cover on the pan until the egg whites are slightly set but the yolk is still runny.
9. Remove from heat and garnish with Italian parsley!

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Pita Bread
Makes 8 Pitas

Ingredients
1 cup of warm water
1 tbsp of sugar
2 teaspoons of baking yeast
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons salt

Directions
1. Mix warm water, sugar and baking yeast in a bowl. Leave it to rest for 15 minutes until it has frothed up.
2. Pour the flour and salt into another bowl and make a well in the middle. Pour the yeast mixture into the well and using your hands, slowly mix the flour into the yeast mixture.
3. Sprinkle a little flour onto your clean work surface and turn out the dough. Knead the dough for about 5-7 minutes, until the dough is smooth and elastic.
4. Oil a bowl and place the dough inside the oiled bowl. Let it rest for 1-2 hours until it has doubled in size.
5. Heat your oven to 230 degrees Celsius with the baking tray in the oven.
6. Roll out the dough into the size you want, making sure its at least half an inch thick so that it can puff up.
7. Place the pita bread onto the baking tray and watch it magically puff up! ๐Ÿ™‚ The pita is done when it is fully puffed up, about 2 minutes.

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