Tomato Cheese Sourdough with Rosemary

Tomato Cheese

Processed with VSCOcam with m5 preset

This bread came out a tasty success of adding in some mix-ins. We all know tomato and cheese taste great together, so add in the bread and you basically just have pizza in a (marginally) different form. It’s probably all more or less the same inside you right? In any case, this bread was fun and easy to make, despite little cheese cubes trying to run away during kneading. And bonus: it makes your apartment smell amazing and will make all of your neighbours jealous.

2015-02-21-tomato cheese bread sliced2

I was inspired by this post on The Fresh Loaf, which is, by the way, a great resource for bread tips and troubleshooting. I made some adjustments to the recipe, mainly because I wanted a longer overnight rise so I could start making it the second I saw the post at night and be able to bake it the next morning. That is how almost all breads end up being made in my home: while putting off work and procrastibaking.

photo (2)

Tomato Cheese Sourdough with Rosemary

Yield: I made one standard-sized loaf, a small oval loaf, and a fougasse out of this batch

110 g sourdough starter (at 100% hydration)
450 g white bread flour
150 g whole wheat flour
410 g warm water
12 g salt
1 tsp dried rosemary
50 g gouda, cheddar, any cheese you have
50 g parmesan, grana padano, or some other kind of hard salty cheese
70 g sun-dried tomato (mine came packed in oil)

Combine the flours, water, and sourdough starter, and leave at room temp for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, cut the cheeses and tomato in small cubes.

Add the salt to the dough and knead 5 minutes by hand. Then add the rosemary and knead another 5 minutes by hand until the gluten is moderately developed. Now add the diced cheese and tomato, and knead another 5 minutes to incorporate. Put the dough into a clean bowl, cover, and leave to rise at room temperature for 2 hours, folding the dough every 30 minutes. Then, place in the fridge overnight.

The next day, the dough should have risen a fair amount and look quite poofy. Take it out of the fridge and let it sit at room temp for about 1 hour, then shape it however you please. Preheat the oven to 475F, and bake with steam for 10 minutes, then in a dry oven for another 15ish (baking times will depend on what shape and size you’ve made). Let it cool completely on a wire rack before slicing.

And lastly, here is a friendly reminder to line your pans! I forgot, and this is what I’ve been left with:

More Tales of Bread

2015-02-19-mini baguette

I’ve been obsessed with making bread lately. Ever since I realized just how easy it was to make a sourdough starter, I’ve been constantly whipping up batches of naturally leavened bread (no literal whipping involved). I like my bread with a chewy crust, an open crumb, and a light sourdough flavour, so I’ve been on a mission to create just that: my favourite form of carbs.

After doing some research, I learned that the large irregular holes are created with a high hydration, or ‘wet’ dough. Working with a baker’s percentage, this means that the 100% flour is mixed with about 75-85% water by weight. A lower hydration dough would be something more like 50% water to 100% flour, and would produce a finer crumb (think sandwich bread).

Boule Crumb

The only thing about working with wet doughs is that they are very sticky, and I mean very sticky. But, with the right techniques, they can be easy to work with. No knead breads are also very wet doughs, and are made with very little handling (and therefore, very little sticking to your hands). But there are also ways to knead wet doughs that help to minimize the sticking.

Here is an absolutely stellar video demonstrating the French folding technique, sometimes referred to as the “slap and fold” method. Though you can get basically the same end results with just a gentle stretch and fold of the dough in the bowl (great example here), I actually really enjoy kneading dough. No knead breads may be easy, but for me, it also takes away all of the fun! I’ve recently been making my way through all the QI episodes, and kneading dough has been the perfect accompaniment.


Continue reading More Tales of Bread

Happy Valentine’s Day!

If Valentine’s Day isn’t a perfect excuse for brunch, I don’t know what is. Especially when you look outside and see the snow blowing, there’s nothing more appealing than staying in your PJs and cranking up that oven to roast some garlic potatoes. Today’s spread included eggs benedict with spinach and smoked salmon, garlic roast potatoes, and a simple fruit salad. Of course, coffee and OJ are also a must. Now, let the food coma begin…

These english muffins are really easy to prep the night before (knead, proof, and shape), then set in the fridge to rest overnight, all set to be freshly baked in the morning. This recipe takes about 4 minutes per side on the stovetop, and then transferred to the oven to finish baking.

Tested out a new trick with these potatoes that worked out great! Quickly parboil the chopped potatoes while you heat up the oven to 400F with a baking tray inside. Then give the tray a nice coating of olive oil and stick it back into the oven to get the oil nice and hot. Drain the potatoes, and shake em up in a colander to rough up the surface a little. You can also sprinkle on a light dusting of flour for an extra crispy skin. Then plop the potatoes onto the hot pan, and stir to coat with the hot oil. Here, I also added some chopped garlic, green onion, and cayenne. Then just bake until crisp and golden, stirring every 10-15 minutes.

I took these two mid-process photos and forgot to take another when they were actually done, but you can get a good idea of the final colour of the potatoes in the leading photo. They turned out nice and crisp on the outside, and soft and creamy on the inside. I’d definitely try these again with some thyme or rosemary next time.

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As everything is topped off with a hollandaise sauce, it only seems appropriate to finish up this post with an easy recipe. This will make about a cup of sauce, which is enough for 5-6 servings of 2 eggs each. It’s one of those things that’s really quite simple to make, but also quite easy to eff up. As long as you remember to whisk constantly and not let the eggs get too hot, all will be just fine!

Hollandaise Sauce

4 egg yolks
1/2 cup butter, melted
1 Tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
Cayenne, salt, and pepper to taste

Whisk yolks and lemon juice in a heat-proof bowl until thickened and doubled. Set atop a pot of simmering water and continue to whisk, warming up the eggs without making them into scrambled eggs. Make sure the bottom of the bowl has at least a couple inches clearance from the surface of the water. Once your eggs are warm, very gradually trickle in the butter, whisking vigorously to incorporate. Once all the butter is added and the sauce has thickened and doubled, take the bowl off the heat and add the cayenne, salt, and pepper. Should the sauce become too thick by the time you’re serving, simply whisk in a few drops of warm water and it’ll all come together nice and smooth.

Adventures in Bread

I’ve been trying my best to document my bread experiments as of late. I am relatively new to bread baking and I still have a LOT to learn, but so far it’s been so much fun!

Challah à la Smitten Kitchen


English Muffins
English Muffins: Christina Tosi’s very thoroughly written recipe with progress photos available here.
The English Muffins became a part of this heavenly brunch.
The English Muffins became a part of this heavenly eggs benedict brunch.
After a week of feeding, my sourdough was finally ready for some bread baking.
After a week of feeding, my sourdough was finally ready for some bread baking.

Sourdough Breads
Sourdough Breads
Bread turned breakfast! Topped with sauteed mushrooms and creamy scrambled eggs.
Bread turned breakfast! Topped with sauteed mushrooms and creamy scrambled eggs.

Cardamom Spiced Sugar Cookies

A quick post just to peek at what I’ve been up to. Also, to document a delicious and super easy spiced sugar cookie recipe, perfect for the holidays. I usually find rolling and cutting out cookies quite a tedious chore, but this one proved to be of minimal hassle. Note that I did not say hassle-free…I still really only make these for the fun of decorating them (which then makes it well worth it!)

“We’re free” is in reference to the end of classes. Rest assured, I am not being held captive in some cookie dungeon.
Why yes, that is a poop emoji. Only for my classiest of friends.

Cardamom Spiced Sugar Cookies
This recipe makes about 5 dozen, depending on size, and can easily be halved or otherwise scaled.

6 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp salt
1 tbsp cardamom
2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp allspice
1/4 tsp cloves
2 cups butter, room temperature
2 cups sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp vanilla bean paste, or extract

Sift the flour, salt, and spices, and set aside. Cream the butter and sugar until light and pale, about 5 minutes in a stand mixer. Add the eggs one at a time, scraping down the sides of the bowl, until well incorporated. Mix in the vanilla. Add the dry ingredients and mix just to combine. Form into 2 discs and chill in the fridge at least 45 minutes, or chuck it in the freezer to save for future use.

Take out one disc and roll it out to about a 1/4 inch thick, then slide it on a board and place it back in the fridge for 15 minutes. Take out the sheet, and cut out your desired shapes. Place the cut out cookies in the freezer for 15 minutes before baking.

Bake at 325 F for 12-15 minutes, or until the edges start to see some colour and the undersides turn golden brown. If you like particularly crispy or soft cookies, go by colour and adjust baking times accordingly.

Note: Leave cookies to cool to room temperature before storing or decorating. Some suggest waiting a day before decorating, but I haven’t run into any problems doing them on the same day. Also, these were so delicious with the pretzels on top, so if you can incorporate some salty crunch into your decorations, I would highly recommend it. That said, I have also eaten many of these cookies naked and they taste fantastic as is.