Monday, April 27, 2015

SOURDOUGH BANANA BREAD

Who doesn't love banana bread? I seem to make banana bread frequently as a great way to use up those bananas that are on their way out. And, if you don't have time to make banana bread but your bananas are too ripe to eat, throw them in the freezer and just pull them out when you're ready to make that banana bread. You can also put them in the fridge if you know you'll be making the banana bread in a few days but don't have time "right now". The skins will turn black and any bruises on the bananas will intensify, but they're still perfect for banana bread.

I have two favorite banana bread recipes, one is a regular banana bread, which is shared in my cookbook Rocky Mountain Lodge & Cabins' Favorite Recipes (you can buy the cookbook by clicking on the link), and the other is this sourdough banana bread recipe. It's a toss up which one is better, they're both great breads. But the sourdough in the recipe adds a slight tang to the recipe that really makes it extra special. Here's the recipe, enjoy!

SOURDOUGH BANANA BREAD

  •   1/3 cup shortening (I use butter flavored Crisco)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 cup mashed overripe bananas
  • 1 cup sweet sourdough starter
  • 3/4 cup chopped walnuts (optional)
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Grease and flour a 9x5" loaf pan, set aside.

Cream together shortening and sugar; add egg and mix until blended.

Stir in bananas and sourdough starter; add vanilla.

Sift flour with salt, baking powder, and baking soda.

Add flour mixture and walnuts to the wet ingredients, stirring just until blended.

Pour into prepared loaf pan and put in preheated oven. Turn oven down to 350 degrees F and bake for 1 hour, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Remove from oven when done and allow to sit 10 minutes in pan, remove from pan and cool on wire rack before slicing.

Makes 1 loaf




Friday, April 17, 2015

CRUSTY SOURDOUGH BREAD, SOURDOUGH BREAD RECIPE

CRUSTY SOURDOUGH BREAD
Sourdough Bread

I have to admit, I LOVE bread! It's a downfall and I can't help myself, and I love a good crusty sourdough bread. I have been making homemade breads for years and have been making dozens of different types of breads, cakes, pancakes and more out of my sourdough starter for several years. Here's my Sourdough Bread Recipe, enjoy!
  •  3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup traditional sourdough starter 
  • 1 - 1 1/4 cups warm water (approximately)
  • 1 Tablespoon butter, melted
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
This process takes awhile, not so much of YOUR time, but resting time.

Step 1, making the dough: 
In the morning or the night before:
If you are using a stand mixer, combine the flour, starter, butter, and 1 cups of water in the bowl. Knead the dough using the kneading attachment on the lowest speed and knead for about 3-4 minutes. The dough will look very dry. If the dough is so dry that it won't even form a small ball, then add another 1/4 cup of water and knead another minute or so. Now turn the mixer off for 5 minutes. This will allow the water to fully absorb into the flour.
After 5 minutes, turn the mixer back on and add the salt. Knead a few more minutes. The dough should be in a form of a lumpy ball. The dough should just barely stick to your fingers but be mostly dry. If it is too wet, add a tablespoon or two of flour and knead for another minute or two.

After kneading, spray or wipe the inside of a bowl with cooking spray or vegetable oil. Place the dough into the bowl, then flip it over and roll it around to coat the dough ball with the oil. Place a piece of plastic wrap over the dough. This prevents the dough from drying out during rise. Cover the bowl with a kitchen towel and set in a warm place. I typically put it on my stove top (burners off, of course) and if you have a microwave above your stove top turn the microwave light under the microwave to provide a little warmth. Let is rest for about 4-5 hours or so.

Step 2, forming the loaf:

The dough should be expanded, filling most of the bowl, 2-3 times it's original size, and somewhat wetter then it was first made. Remove the plastic wrap and punch the dough down with a single punch. Turn the dough onto a floured board and sprinkle the top of the dough as well.
Knead the dough gently, using your knuckles or the palm of your hand. The idea is to remove all of the larger air bubbles, while keeping some of the smaller air bubbles intact. Avoid using a rolling pin or flattening the dough. The whole process shouldn't take more that a few minutes. Flip the flat dough over and do the same to the back side. If it is sticking to the surface add a little more flour.

Now form the dough into a ball. To do this, lift the dough from its sides and fold it underneath to form a ball. Stretch the dough slightly across the front, while tucking it underneath. Pinch the underside of the dough ball to seal the seams.

If you have a bread baker, place the dough in the bottom and cover with the lid and place in a warm place again. If you don't have a bread baker, you can put it on a cookie sheet, and cover with a towel. Allow to rise about 3-4 more hours, until it has about doubled in size.

Step 3, baking the bread:

After the loaf has risen, using a razor blade or sharp knife, carefully (you do not want to deflate your bread) make 3 or 4 slashes about 1/4 inches deep across the top of the loaf about an inch apart. Make the same 3 or 4 slashes at right angles, forming several squares on the top of the loaf. If the loaf has dried out slightly on top, the knife may drag against the dough causing it to tear. If this happens, spray the knife with some cooking oil. To increase the steam during baking (steam will help provide the crustiness of the bread), you can spray the inside of the cover a few times with water. Place the cover over the dish and place in the center of the oven. 

Tip: If you do not have a baker, you can spray the top of the bread with water and put a pan of water on the rack below the bread in the oven to help provide steam for crustiness.

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Put the bread in the oven and turn temperature down to 425 degrees F (ovens drop in temperature 25 degrees every time you open the oven door for just a couple of seconds); bake fore 30 minutes. Now remove the lid, reduce the heat to 375 degrees F and bake an additional 5-10 minutes until the loaf turns a dark, golden brown.

Move the loaf to a cooling rack and let it cool at least 30 minutes. ENJOY!

Makes 1 loaf


Monday, April 13, 2015

SOURDOUGH STARTER, SOURDOUGH RECIPE

SOURDOUGH STARTER
SOURDOUGH RECIPE
Sourdough Starter
I make various types of sourdough breads, pancakes, waffles, doughnuts, cakes, and more all the time. I've been using the same sourdough starter for several years, and I've heard of some places that have the same starter that has been passed down from generation to general for more than 100 years! It makes delicious breads of all kinds. I have recipes for two different sourdoughs, one is a sweet sourdough starter, and the other a traditional sourdough starter. I'll include both recipes here and when I post recipes I'll let you know which sourdough starter is used in each recipe... either the sweet sourdough starter, or the traditional sourdough starter.


The best thing about sourdough starter is it's very forgivable! It's really a living organism, but if you forget to "feed" it or "tend" it, it is very hardy and you can easily rescue it and "bring it back to life".

At the end of the recipes I'll share some tips on caring for your starter, and rescue remedies.

Feel free to experiment with all kinds of bread recipes with the sourdough starter. It's a big hit!


TRADITIONAL SOURDOUGH STARTER
  • 1 pkg. dry yeast
  • 1/2 cups warm water (110 degrees F)
  • 2 cups milk
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 Tablespoon sugar
Dissolve the yeast in warm water in a large non-metal bowl or crock and let stand for about 5 minutes. Using a non-metal spoon or whisk stir in flour, sugar and milk and stir or whisk until smooth. Cover with a cheesecloth, towel, or loose lid. Let stand at room temperature for 5 days, stirring 2-3 times a day.

On the 5th day you are ready to use your starter!

Keeping your starter going: After using some starter, add 3/4 cup milk, 3/4 cup flour, and 1 teaspoon sugar to the remaining starter. Whisk and leave at room temperature, covered with cheesecloth or loose lid. Stir once a day. If you don't use any starter after 10 days, add 1 teaspoon sugar to keep it going. Make sure to stir daily. Repeat adding sugar every 10 days if necessary.


SWEET SOURDOUGH STARTER 
  • 1 pkg. dry yeast
  • 1/4 cup warm water (110 degrees F)
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup warm milk
Dissolve the yeast in warm water in a large non-metal bowl or crock and land let stand for about 5 minutes. Using a non-metal spoon or whisk stir in flour, sugar and milk and stir or whisk until smooth. Stir once a day for the next 4 days (this is a 10 day process).

On the 5th day add 1 cup flour, 1 cup sugar, and 1 cup milk (doesn't have to be warm). Stir until smooth. Stir once a day for the next 4 days.

On day 10 you are ready to use your starter!

Keeping your starter going: After using some starter, add 1 cup milk, 1 cup flour, and 1 cup sugar to the remaining starter. Whisk and leave at room temperature, covered with cheesecloth or loose lid. Stir once a day. If you don't use any starter after 10 days, add 1 teaspoon sugar to keep it going. Make sure to stir daily. Repeat adding sugar every 10 days if necessary.


TIPS:

SMELL: Sourdough starter should be yeasty, fermenting, and beer-like. If it smells sharp and hasn’t been fed in the past 4-6 days, feed it and then check the smell in 1-2 days, it should smell better.

COLOR & APPEARANCE: Creamy, off-white, not gray-ish, and consistency of pancake batter, but on warm days can be thicker and more bubbly.

BUBBLES: After a feeding, it should be active and bubbly within 24 hours. On other days it may be flat like pancake batter, but a quick stir should reveal a few bubbles. It’s important to stir on a daily basis, just to make sure all the ingredients have a chance to get metabolized.

WHY NOT METAL BOWLS OR UTENSILS? There is a chemical reaction that happens between the fermenting starter and metal. You’ll know this has happened because your batter will turn color, usually green or sometimes pink, and while some people have said the bread still tastes fine, there is a definite metallic taste to it. Now if your metal utensils and bowls are stainless steel or coated, for example, you’re probably fine (most KitchenAid mixers shouldn’t be a problem). But if they’re scratched up in any way, it can turn and spoil your starter almost instantly.

STORING STARTER: You can store your starter in a glass, ceramic, or plastic mixing bowls, jar, and Ziploc bags, at room temperature. Just make sure there’s enough room for the starter to grow and expand, otherwise you could have a mess on your hands.

REVIVING STARTER: If you forgot to stir or feed your starter for a few days it's usually fine, just give it a stir and it should be fine. If it's been 4-5 days, feed it the flour, sugar and milk and stir daily for the next few days and you'll be fine.

TOO MUCH STARTER, NEED A BREAK? If you have too much starter or need to take a break for a bit you can either give some away, dump some of it, or you can freeze your starter. Put 1-2 cups of starter in a large zip top bag and pop it in the freezer. It won't freeze completely but will become more like a semi-firm slushy. When you want to use it again take it out of the freezer and let it come to room temperature on your counter, feed it, and then you can use it again and keep it going.

This also makes great gifts, give some sourdough starter along with a couple recipes. You can divide your starter in half when ready to use, and have 2 starters going, then divide those in half again and you have several going to give as gifts.