Friday, March 20, 2015

Sourdough Surprises: Pretzel Bagels

So, Sourdough Surprises opened up this month. Anything. My head was officially spinning. There's so much I want to redo (I am going to perfect Sourdough Kimmelweck Rolls one day, and I sorta did tell Peanut Butter & Co's

social media director I would make peanut butter filled croissants...) and so much I missed...pie, pizza, bagels, pretzels...

In my pre-blogging days, one of my first successes was a pretzel recipe I found on a party recipe site and turned into sourdough. Then I remembered an age old conversation I had with my father, in which he asked if I had ever thought of trying bagels.

Well, why not combine the two?

Sourdough Pretzel Bagels
Adapted from Sourdough Recipes
Makes 8 smallish bagels

1 cup fresh sourdough starter
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup warm water
2 teaspoons salt
3 1/2 cups flour
1/4 Cup Baking Soda
Cooking Spray
Kosher Salt for sprinkling

Combine all ingredients and knead until smooth. Let rise until doubled in bulk. Divide into eight portions, and form each into a smooth ball. Punch a hole in the center of each and
stretch evenly until about 3 or 4 inches across.

Place on a floured surface and bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add baking soda. Boil the bagels (four at a time if the pot is large enough) 3 minutes on each side. Drain and place on a greased baking
sheet. Spray with cooking spray and sprinkle with salt. Bake about 15 minutes at 450.

As you can see, a few things happened. First and formost, they look weird. Second, maybe the baking soda treatment with the boil wasn't the greatest idea.

I wouldn't say they were inedible. My mother's first reaction was “they're not sweet.” When I said they weren't supposed to be, she said “,Well, maybe 'sweet' isn't the word I was looking for.” In a sense, I have to agree with her.

Well, maybe this is one to tuck away and maybe think about once in awhile. Still, it was worth a college try. And with work slowing down again, you can bet I'll be playing with it.

Check out our other awesome creations!

Friday, February 20, 2015

Sourdough Surprises: Baked Beinegts

I do love my donuts on Fat Tuesday.

The tradition in my family is of course pączki, the Polish variant that, at least from the bakery in my extended family's neighborhood, are filled with an overly sweet fruit filling, are roughly the size of a human head and last long after Fat Tuesday (or Pączki Day, and yes my father still calls it that) is over, kind of defeating the purpose of ridding the house of said foods. However, there's no Polish bakery down here. So last year I bought a donut pan and attempted to make baked banana bread donuts, a variation of the Mocha Hazelnut Donut Muffins I've made in the past. I never perfected the recipe, and the pictures are still on my computer waiting for that to happen.

But Sourdough Surprises picked Beingets for February's challenge. French for “fritters,” beinegts are soft pillows of dough that typically deep fried and are NOLA's answer to donuts. Banana Bread donuts are on the back burner. And that back burner does not contain a pot of frying oil. I'm still not going to burn myself, so I did a little searching and found Good Housekeeping's Baked Beinegts recipe, which I modified for sourdough:

Baked Sourdough Beingets
Adapted from Good Housekeeping
Makes 36 Beingets

1 cup fresh sourdough starter
1/4 cup granulated sugar
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons cold butter or margarine, cut up
1 large egg
1/4 cups confectioners' sugar

  1. In large bowl, stir flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and remaining granulated sugar until combined. With pastry blender or 2 knives used scissors-fashion, cut in butter until mixture resembles fine crumbs.
  2. Beat egg and sourdough starter. Make well in flour mixture; pour in starter. Stir until combined and soft dough forms.
  3. On lightly floured work surface, knead dough lightly several times until dough is smooth. Spray same bowl (no need to clean) with nonstick cooking spray and place dough in bowl. Cover with plastic wrap; let stand 10 minutes.
  4. Spray 2 large cookie sheets with nonstick cooking spray. Punch down dough. On floured work surface, with floured rolling pin, roll dough to 9-in. square. Cut dough into 6 strips, then cut each strip into 6 pieces, making 36 pieces. Transfer Beignets to prepared cookie sheets, placing about 1½ inches apart. Spray sheet of plastic wrap with nonstick cooking spray; cover beignets with wrap, sprayed side down. Let rise 20 minutes.
  1. Preheat oven to 400°F. Bake Beignets 10 to 12 minutes, or until golden brown, rotating sheets between upper and lower racks halfway though baking. While Beignets are hot, toss with confectioners' sugar.

No matter how much I was telling myself that they were for breakfast the next day, I couldn't resist:

They were good. They didn't brown too well (probably because I was running low on cooking spray) but they were soft and light. But they were missing something. I will be adding a touch of vanilla if I make these again.

And then while making our Fat Tuesday dinner of Sourdough Pancakes...

I promptly burned myself on bacon grease. Well, I can't avoid it all!

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Sourdough Surprises: Stollen

Well, it seemed like a long time off from baking anything. My mother monopolizes Thanksgiving, and work took it's toll. But I had a whole week off and just in time to make some Stollen for December's Sourdough Surprises.

I don't have too many Christmas baking traditions. I make sugar cookies for my mother as a joke, as I mentioned a while ago. So it gave me plenty of time to make something completely new and different:

Without further ado:

Sourdough Stollen
Adapted from The Cheerful Agrarian
Makes 2 loaves
2 cups flour
1 tsp salt
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup honey
2 cups sourdough starter
3/4 Cup candied fruitcake mix

  1. Mix all ingredients in a large bowl and let proof overnight.
  2. Fold in fruit and pour into loaf pans
  3. Bake at 350 for 45 minutes

My first attempt, I halved the recipe...and it came out dense and almost blondie-like. I thought it would make a good biscotti, so I popped a slice in the toaster oven for 5 minutes. It didn't even brown. Time to try again....

It still didn't rise as much as I'd like (I suppose lack of use has left my sourdough starter a little too dormant). But taste wise they were wonderful. So good, in fact, that my mother consumed about 3/4 of the first loaf in an 18 hour span.

I've still got a whole container of candied fruit, so I may make this again in the not so distant future. And I officially made my New Year's Resolution:

Get back to baking!

Check out our other tasty takes on stollen!

Monday, October 20, 2014

Sourdough Surprises: Red Velvet Filled Croissants

I'm a bad food blogger I suppose, seeing how many pictures of recipes I've made are on my computer with no corresponding blog post. It's one of the things I love about Sourdough Surprises. Once a month at least, I need to sit down at my computer and blog. Oh, that and I am challenged to make something either a). I've never heard of or b). Would never intend to make in a million years.

This month's Sourdough Surprises falls into the latter category. While I can't say I've taken completely after my nothing-from-scratch mother, I'm also not one to put hours of effort into one project. Still, a challenge is a challenge...and I am up for that task.

I've made several recipes from Sourdough Recipes from Richard Packham and can honestly say I've yet to be disappointment. I chose to start with his croissant recipe (modified, since despite the recent cold front I inevitably need less liquid and more flour for any bread recipe). And since I seldom approach Sourdough Surprises with plain in mind, I found some Wilton Red Velvet Candy Melts I had bought on clearance after Valentine's Day that I thought I should use up.

Sourdough Red Velvet Filled Croissants
Adapted from Sourdough Recipes
Makes 12 croissants

1/2 cup starter
5 tablespoons sugar, divided
1/2 cup warm water
2 cups flour, divided
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) cold butter
36 pieces Wilton Red Velvet Candy Melts

Combine starter, water, 2 tablespoons sugar and 3/4 cup flour. Let sit, covered, overnight.

Slice butter onto wax paper. Cover with more wax paper and press into 9x9” square. Chill at least one hour.

Add remaining ingredients to starter mixture. Chill for about 1/2 hour.

On a well-floured surface, quickly roll out the cold dough into a
rectangle about 15" x 10". Cut the cold butter in half and place
one slab of butter across the center one-third of the dough. Fold
one end of the dough over the butter, and then place the other half-
slab of butter on it. Then fold the last third of the dough over
the butter, forming a package of dough-butter-dough-butter-dough,
about 10" x 5". Pinch the edges together so that there is no butter

Quickly roll out this package of dough and butter into a rectangle
about 10" x 15". Fold it again into thirds, forming a package about
10" x 5"; roll it out one more time, fold into thirds, and chill in the
refrigerator at least an hour.

Repeat the previous step once more (roll out to 10" x 15", fold in thirds,
roll out and fold again, roll out, fold, chill).

Prepare a large jelly-roll pan by greasing lightly. (Do not use rimless
cookie sheets.)

Roll out the dough into a rectangle about 10" x 15". Cut the dough
into six 5" x 5" squares, then cut each square diagonally forming
twelve triangles, 5" x 5" x 7". Flatten each triangle to about 1/8 thick-
ness, by rolling from the longest side to the point, stretching it until
the point is about 8" from the longest side. Place 3 candy melts along long edge. Starting at the longest side, roll it up tightly. Turn so that the point is underneath the roll, then bend the two ends so that they curl around toward the point. Place each croissant on the pans. Let rise in a warm place about
one hour.

Preheat the oven to 360 degrees. Bake the croissants 20 minutes,
then turn off the oven and let them sit in the warm oven an additional
10 minutes.
This ranks as one of the most intensive and messy recipes I've ever made. Again in spite of the cold front, the dough was still getting warm by the time I was rolling them, getting butter all over my kitchen counter and causing them to fall apart. And in spite of their bad was worth it. They were absolutely delicious. Unfortunately the rest of my family thought so too. They were gone within a day.

So perhaps I will have to do this again...both to use up the rest of the candy and so I can get more than two!

Check out our other awesome croissant creations!


Monday, September 29, 2014

White Chocolate Wonderful Peanut Butter Biscuits

When my aunt is in town, I must bake breakfast bread.

While my Mocha Cappucino Hazelnut biscuits were in the category of “pretty good”, I've also been eager to do more experimentation with Peanut Butter & Co's flavored peanut butters. With an open jar of White ChocolateWonderful calling my name, I wanted to do some playing around.

I used the same Fabio Viviani recipe as I did for my Mocha Cappucino Hazelnut biscuits, only this time swapping the White Chocolate Wonderful for the Nutella JifMocha Hazelnut Spread

White Chocolate Wonderful Biscuits

Adapted from Fabio Viviani
Makes about 8-3” biscuits
  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 Tsp baking powder
  • 1 Tsp salt
  • 3 Tsp butter at room temperature
  • 4 Tbsp Peanut Butter & Co. White Chocolate Wonderful
  • ¾ cup milk

Start by combining all the dry ingredients. Cut in butter and spread. Then add milk.
Mix until well combined. Drop into greased muffin tins. Bake at 450 for about 15 minutes.

The first thing I noticed is the dough was a lot wetter than the previous incarnation (which is why I made the last minute decision to make them drop biscuits). Once baked, they took on a similar texture to the Mocha Cappuccino Hazelnut version.

My favorite thing about this recipe is its sheer simplicity. Most people have the ingredients handy. It only takes a few minutes and a few steps. Someone who is a little better at functioning than me could easily get up a half hour earlier than everyone else and get a fresh variation of biscuits out for breakfast.

Oh, and these even got a little attention from Peanut Butter & Co themselves!

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Sourdough Surprises: Honey Walnut Swirl Cornbread

Cornbread falls into the category of “one of those” foods. Although my dad loves it, my mother doesn't care for it much and I can only take or leave it. I made it early on in my sourdough adventures and it was okay, but not something any of the family would eat over and over. So the recipe sat in one of my massive binders until Sourdough Surprises picked it for the September challenge.

There is one particular cornbread even my mother loves, and that's the skillet cornbread at Smokey Bones. Since the nearest location is one of the busiest in the country, we don't get it often. It's not even necessarily the cornbread, but the honey nut butter that goes with it. With that in mind, I took my old cornbread recipe and made a honey walnut caramel topping.

Honey Walnut Swirl Cornbread
Adapted from
Makes 12 servings

  • 1 1/2 cups cornmeal
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 1/2 cups sourdough starter
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cream of tartar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 2 eggs, slightly beaten
  • 6 tablespoons butter, melted

  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/4 cup water
  1. Spray a well seasoned, 9 or 10 inch iron skillet with non-stick cooking spray, add a small amount of oil and place in oven while it preheats.
  2. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
  3. Heat topping ingredients over low to medium heat and set aside
  4. Combine the cornmeal, sugar and salt in medium bowl.
  5. Scald milk and pour over cornmeal mixture.
  6. When mixture is room temperature, add remaining ingredients and mix well.
  7. Pour mixture into prepared pan. Add topping and swirl through with a spoon. Bake for 20 to 30 minutes or until golden brown.
Unfortunately, the swirl topping kind of got lost within the cornbread. On the other hand, with my more advanced knowledge of sourdough baking and the use of my fairly-newly-seasoned cast iron pan, it turned out to be better cornbread than my first attempt.

Does that mean I'll make it again? Well, I've still got half a package of cornmeal to use...

Check out our other awesome cornbreads!

Monday, September 15, 2014

Turkey Noodle Surprise

Here's to nostalgia and simplicity...

When I was young, before we gave up and started eating out almost every night, my dad would attempt to cook. He wasn't much of a cook – he notoriously used powdered sugar instead of flour as a thickener on more than one occasion – so one day he created this recipe. Some random veggies, ground turkey, and prepared gravy over noodles.

My mother has very few foods she won't eat, so when she's out of town, it's harder to make things special. Mushrooms will always be a staple, usually with chicken wings or shellfish. This time, I decided to go back to old times.

My recipe:

Turkey Noodle Surprise:

Serves 2
1/2lb ground turkey breast
1 8oz can mushroom stems and pieces
1/2 onion, diced
1 15oz jar homestyle turkey gravy
1 cup cooked pasta

Brown ground turkey and onions over medium heat. Add gravy and mushrooms, continue cooking until heated through. Serve over pasta.

Incredibly simple, right? We need simplicity in this world. Against the nostalgia, I did serve it with a breadstick:

Brings me back to the good old days...