Miche With Whole Wheat Starter

Made any French bread lately? I’m not talking about a baguette, but about the original French bread — the huge, heavy, country sourdough round known as a miche. With its dense crumb, tangy flavor, and thick, dark, chewy crust, a miche is about as far from a baguette as you can get, and it was the staple bread in France long before the white-flour interloper arrived from Vienna in the mid-19th century.

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Roasted Garlic and Rosemary Sourdough

Like the timeless little black dress, a good basic sourdough recipe is the consummate staple: perfect all on its own, but a stunning platform for any embellishment that strikes your mood. This is Norwich Sourdough with rosemary and roasted garlic cloves… garlic bread without all the butter!

In general, “chunky” additions such as nuts, seeds, fruits and vegetables are best added at the end of mixing to avoid interfering with the development of the gluten. Mix the dough to, or a little past, the desired level of gluten development, then mix in the additions just until they are evenly distributed.

The easy roasted garlic recipe was adapted from the always-inspiring Simply Recipes. I roasted mine until it was very soft, so the cloves largely disintegrated into the dough with mixing, giving the bread a strong overall garlic flavor. Roasting until barely fork-tender would allow them to maintain their identity. Either way, this is a garlic -lover’s bread, and the classic pairing of rosemary and garlic never disappoints.

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Soft Sandwich Sourdough

soft-sandwich-sourdough-wild-yeast

Crusty boules and batards are wonderful, but do you sometimes want a nice soft sandwich bread to replicate that timeless, comfortable and comforting PB & J of your childhood? This should do it, and it’s a lot better than Wonder Bread (because it’s made with dough — and sourdough! —  not batter).

As with most pan breads, removing the loaves from the pans once their structure is set, and letting them finish the bake standing directly on the stone, helps the side crusts brown. If you don’t have a stone, you can place them right on the oven rack if you don’t mind a few grooves on the bottom of the loaves, or on a baking sheet that has been preheated with the oven.

Size matters! If your loaf pans are not 8.5 x 4.5 inches, you will need to adjust the amount of dough proportionally, with respect to the volume of the pan, to avoid loaves that are too short or tall. If your pans are 9 x 5 inches, use about 880 grams of dough per loaf.

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Seed Grissini

I have sung the praises of grissini (thin crisp bread sticks; literally “little snakes”) many times before, but let’s review:

  • simple to make
  • easy to vary with different flours, toppings, etc.
  • look striking in a bouquet or bundle
  • great party food; no slicing!
  • lots of dough hands-on time, and much more satisfying than Play-Doh
  • disappear quickly
  • satisfy the “crunchy” food group daily requirement

Sesame and fennel seeds are classic for grissini, but I find I have trouble making mine stay on. I solved that problem here by putting the seeds into the dough rather than on top. (Coarse salt, however, always belongs on top!) Mixing the dough in the food processor, as I’ve done here, chops the seeds, so if you prefer them whole, mix by hand or in a stand mixer.

Buon appetito!

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Seeded Sourdough with Multigrain Starter

This is a variation on Seeded Multigrain Sourdough, one of my favorite breads for its reliability and versatility. It’s a great one to play around with, and playing around with your bread is highly encouraged!

For this one, I bumped the overall proportion of whole grain flour up to about 75% by using whole grain flours (equal parts spelt, wheat, and rye) instead of white flour in the final feeding of the starter, and increasing the amount of whole grain flour in the final dough as well. Because whole grain flours are extra thirsty, I also increased the water in the final dough.

Do not expect to get very good gluten development with this dough, because the gluten in spelt and rye is not very strong compared to wheat. Do expect, however, to get a chewy and flavorful bread that will keep well for several days!

(Continue to the recipe…)

Peppercorn-Potato Sourdough Bagels

Here on the West Coast we have a chain of bagel restaurants whose namesake is an ark-builder that rhymes with a feathered neckpiece worn by Mae West (you got that?). While I have always found their bagels a little too puffy and bready for my taste, there is one that makes my heart skip a beat.

I admit it, I’m a sucker for that ark-builder’s peppercorn-potato bagels. But, while I will not be so immodest as to say my sourdough version is better, it is chewier, and makes a damn good tuna sandwich. If you like a bagel that bites back when you bite into it, this could be your creature. Try them one by one or two by two, and decide for yourself.

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