Monday, January 4, 2021

Multigrain Apple Sourdough

Multigrain Apple Sourdough is a giant loaf cooked in a Dutch oven for extra crusty goodness. Sweetened with apple juice and studded with local apples, it is a wonderful treat with butter or jam in the morning or with tea in the afternoon.

I cannot believe it took me so long to write about this wonderful bread. To be fair, December is always kind of insane around here, but since I've made (and refined) this recipe three times now I feel it is only fair to make it the first bread post of 2021! 

When N and I went apple picking in October, I knew this bread from Green Healthy Cooking had to be on my list of things to make. Normally, the apples we pick are firm and dense, perfect for baking because they don't ooze moisture - but this year they let me down in my first loaf. While the outside was beautifully burnished, the residual moisture in the fruit made the centre soggy and unsuitable for anything without a good toast. After figuring that out, though, I made sure to roast up a bunch of apple cubes and resolved to perfect the dough - I can't resist the combination of apples, maple and whole grains because it truly reminds me of my mom's apple squares. The roasting turned out to be the key! Not only did it remove the excess moisture in the apples, but it concentrated the sugars making them taste like pops of candy in the sourdough that surrounded them. I had to up the baking time as well, but don't worry - the slices are tender without falling apart, stand up to toasting or eating plain and keep extraordinarily well! The first morning she sliced into the most recent loaf, my mom topped it with old Cheddar and just snacked away, then for lunch spread it with peanut butter. If it had lasted, I'm sure I would have had some bread pudding perfection on my hands too in a week or so. 

The strangest thing for me, which I didn't notice until I was typing up the recipe, is that while I have apples and maple syrup going on, I didn't add any spice. No cinnamon, nutmeg or ginger to be found! That said, the loaf doesn't need them at all, but you most definitely could toss in your favourite (just note that cinnamon for some reason seems to antagonize yeast, so knead it in after the first rise).

You also may notice that this loaf does contain two types of yeast - regular active dry and instant. Normally, either will work, but because of the biga that is made for this loaf and the yeast spike after, they need different working times. If you use all active dry, the final dough will take longer to rise and may not be as robust, but if you use all instant I strongly suggest only using 4 g in the biga (you may not have to let it rest as long, maybe 8 hours or so). The combination I used includes a "gold" yeast intended for enriched doughs and really helps move the heavier flours in this loaf too.

Multigrain Apple Sourdough
Adapted from Green Healthy Cooking
Makes 1 large loaf 
2 large baking apples (I used Northern Spy), peeled and chopped
200g active sourdough starter
120 ml apple juice or cider
Final Dough
400 g multigrain flour blend (or 350 g whole wheat bread flour + 50 g grain cereal like Qia)
10 g instant yeast (I used SAF Gold)
480 ml water
3 tbsp maple syrup
1 tsp salt 
  1. Heat the oven to 425°F. 
  2. Spread the apples on a parchment-lined baking sheet.
  3. Bake the apples for 10 minutes, then set aside to cool.
  1. In a medium bowl, mix all the biga ingredients together until well combined. Cover with plastic and let rest at cool room temperature for 8-14 hours.
Final Dough
  1. After the biga has rested, add the flours, instant yeast, water, maple syrup and salt.
  2. Knead on low for at least 20 minutes until the dough is sticky and elastic.
  3. Cover and let rise 1 hour.
  4. By hand, fold in the roasted apple pieces until well mixed.
  5. Transfer the dough to a piece of parchment and place in a bowl (parchment side down). Cover and let rise 45-50 minutes. 
  6. About 15 minutes into the second rise, place a cast iron Dutch oven (I used my Staub) in the oven and heat to 475F.
  7. When the dough has risen, carefully lower it into the hot Dutch oven using the parchment as a sling. Place the lid back on top of the Dutch oven and return to the oven, immediately lowering the temperature to 450F.
  8. Bake (lid on) for 40 minutes, then remove the lid and bake a further 10 minutes. 
  9. Remove from the oven and cool in the Dutch oven (lid off) for 10 minutes, then carefully move the bread to a cooling rack and cool completely

Sunday, January 3, 2021

Chocolate Sourdough Zucchini Bread

Recipes like this Chocolate Sourdough Zucchini Bread can dispatch a bunch of either fresh or pre-grated frozen zucchini in short order! This whole grain, vegan loaf has a bit of tang from the starter discard (no waste!) and makes one large loaf - plus a few muffins!

Our fridge freezer's door broke about 2 months ago. While we are lucky enough to have a large, standing freezer, the shift of all the frozen goods to it meant that other things - like this past summer's stash of frozen, grated zucchini - had to go. Luckily, we love the squash and I could toss handfuls into cottage pie, soup and stew. However, I saved some just to make this delicious quickbread, because (like I'm sure many of you) I also have a sourdough starter that spends most of it's time just chilling out in the fridge and I hate throwing away perfectly good flavour!

The mixture of flavours in this bread is insanely good, almost like a red velvet cake with more chocolatey oomph. It is sweet, but not tooth-achingly so, and with all the liquid it stays tender and moist for days even though it is incredibly low in fat! I tossed in some Naked Rice protein powder just because I had it on hand and wanted to make this a little bit more breakfast friendly. If you make resolutions (I don't - I don't have the attention span for those :D ) this loaf is definitely one that supports any "cook more, eat more veggies, eat fermented foods, eat vegan, eat breakfast, eat more fibre... etc" ones! If not, then sit back and enjoy a slice with abandon - it's 2021 after all, why not?

Saturday, January 2, 2021

Saffron and Orange Cookies

Have a happy holiday with these two bite Orange and Saffron Cookies. Soft and full of exotic flavour from blood orange zest, saffron and orange flower water, they'll be a real treat even after the holidays are over!

I hope everyone had a fantastic holiday season (and are continuing to do so if you're still off of work and school!). No matter how long or short the actual holidays seem to be, the ghosts of cookies past seem to remain prevalent on the table for most of January simply because I (and mom) make so many kinds. These cookies were a sleeper hit over Christmas 2019, so even though last year's celebrations were tiny I made sure to whip up a batch for doorstep delivery. 

We always have multiple varieties of oranges around the house in the wintertime, but by far blood oranges are my favourite. There is something about that shockingly garnet hue they have! Their Spanish origin (and my general love of falling into rabbit holes about cuisines) led me to a random recipe from Midwest Living that I just had to try out - with a few changes of course. I love the texture cream cheese lends to cookies along with the slight tang, and paired with the sweet-tart orange juice, saffron and orange flower water my kitchen smelled nothing short of heavenly. The oat flour addition (the first time around) came out of desperation - I ran out of all purpose - but I have to say it made the cookies have the perfect texture and just a tiny hint of flavour. When I made the batch again, I added it as well because, why not?

One of my favourite things about these cookies is that they pack a ton of flavour into a two-bite drop. The batch only makes about two dozen, but you won't feel the need to eat them by the handful - one or two will do (especially with tea - they are SO NICE with tea). You can also roll the dough into a log and slice it before stamping or docking it, or scoop all the cookies and freeze so you can only bake off what you need. They do keep quite a while though - not that they'll last too long anyway!

Here's to a wonderful new year!