The sweet caramelised onion is a wonderful addition – and you can intensify the flavour further with the substitution of onion salt (instead of ‘plain’) to the dough.
I often find timing sourdough bread proofing stages challenging. So, although I specify rises in this recipe at room temperature, I sometimes have to put my loaf in the coldest room (believe me, it can get really chilly!) in the house for an overnight rise. Then, first thing next morning, I switch the oven on to pre-heat and get baking. This long, slow prove makes the taste of the loaf even more delicious!
We’ve had this loaf as an accompaniment to a tomato pasta dish – it makes a great mopper-upper! The following day we had what was left with goats cheese and salad.
Click here to save my caramelised onion sourdough recipe to Pinterest.
- 2 medium-sized red or brown onions, finely sliced
- knob of butter
- pinch of salt
- 450g/1lb sourdough starter (100% hydration)
- 175ml/6⅛fl oz water
- 450g/1lb strong white flour
- 7g/¼ salt
- On a medium heat, cook off the onions in the knob of butter adding a pinch of salt. Allow to brown before setting aside to cool
- Mix together the starter, water and salt
- Make a well in the centre of the flour and pour in the starter mixture
- Combine until everything is thoroughly mixed together and the dough begins to feel smooth
- Cover the mixing bowl and allow to sit for about an hour
- Fold the dough 8 times (8 single folds)
- Re-cover the mixing bowl and allow to sit for about 12 hours at room temperature or until the volume of dough doubles
- Turn out the dough out on to a lightly-floured work surface and stretch it out into a rectangle
- Spread the cooled caramelised onion mixture evenly on to the rectangle of dough
- With the short side facing you, fold the dough on to itself in four, equal lengths ensuring that the mixture runs throughout the dough
- Shape the filled dough into your preferred loaf shape (boule, batard, etc.) trying not to have any of the onion mixture poking through the top
- Place it into a well-floured (rice flour is preferred) proofing basket/banneton; cover and allow it to sit at room temperature for an hour or until doubled in size
- Preheat the oven to 260ºC/500ºF
- Once the dough is fully risen and the oven pre-heated, gently transfer the dough from the proofing basket to the baking tray, score the top of the loaf and bake at 260ºC/500ºF/Gas mark 10 for 10 minutes
- Turn the oven temperature down to 200ºC/400ºF/Gas mark 6 and bake for another 30 minutes
- Remove the loaf from the oven and put it on a wire rack to cool for at least an hour before slicing
I’m continuing with Sourdough September this week and making a sourdough beer loaf using a dark, delicious porter from Acorn Brewery in Barnsley.
I’ve been baking with sourdough – on and off – for a few years now and it can be hit & miss with the temperature of our house. This recipe that I’ve used talks about room temperature being 22ºC; we have a thermometer in our kitchen that never gets past 15ºC at the peak of summer! I’ve picked up a couple of tricks to improve the ambient environment for bread baking. In the winter, I simply put the proofing bowl/banneton near the wood-burner. In the summer I boil a mug of water in the microwave, remove it, put the bowl/banneton in and close the door. It usually works quite well.
The web page where I found this recipe has lots of photos of the finished loaf uploaded by all the people that tried it. Lots of lovely, round boules and shapely batards. As you can tell from my photos, mine was a bit of a ‘nailed it’ attempt! It wasn’t the temperature but the consistency of my dough that was to blame.
Starter hydration is described as a percentage – e.g. 100% hydration or 75% hydration. I wasn’t at school on the day percentages were taught and I’ve still not mastered them… maths was always my worst subject too! My starter is kept at the former percentage i.e. equal weight (not volume) of flour & water at each feeding. I don’t know where it went wrong to be honest. I should have gone with my instinct and added more flour – I could tell that I would have to pour my dough out of the banneton, almost as if it was a batter. Even so, it still managed something of a rise and tastes great! I will revisit this sourdough beer loaf recipe very soon and post the results below.
- 400g/14oz strong white flour
- 100g/3½oz wholemeal flour
- 345g/12oz bottle of beer (I used most of a 500ml bottle of Old Moor porter brewed by Acorn Brewery of Barnsley here in Yorkshire)
- 75g/2⅔oz water
- 80g/2¾oz sourdough starter
- 12g/½oz salt
- Pour 345g/12oz of room temperature beer into a bowl and mix thoroughly to release the carbonation
- Add the 500g/17⅔oz flour mixture to the beer and mix until thoroughly incorporated into a shaggy mass
- Cover and set aside (autolyse) at room temperature (22ºC/72ºF) for 2-3 hours
- Combine the salt, water and starter and mix thoroughly before adding to the dough
- Fold repeatedly until everything is thoroughly mixed together and the dough begins to feel smooth
- Cover the mixing bowl and allow to sit for about an hour
- Fold the dough 8 times (8 single folds)
- Re-cover the mixing bowl and allow to sit for about 12 hours at room temperature (22ºC/72ºF) or until the volume of dough doubles (optionally stretch and fold periodically)
- Turn out the fermented dough on a lightly-floured work surface and shape into your preferred loaf (boule, batard, etc.) and then place dough into a well-floured (rice flour is preferred) proofing basket/banneton; cover and allow to sit at room temperature (22ºC/72ºF) for about an hour
- After 30 minutes or so, place your preferred baking vessel, stone or tray (I used my pizza steel) in the oven and preheat to 260ºC/500ºF (or your vessel's maximum safe temperature).
- With the dough fully risen and oven pre-heated, gently transfer the dough from the proofing basket to the baking vessel, score the top of the loaf, and then bake at 260ºC/500ºF with top on (if using) for 20 minutes
- Turn the oven temperature down to 230ºC/450ºF and bake for another 10 minutes
- Remove the top of the baking vessel (if using) and bake for 20 minutes or until the colour of the crust is as desired and the internal loaf temperature is at least 90ºC/200ºF
- Remove the loaf from the oven and place it on a wire rack and allow it to cool for at least an hour before slicing
I’ve been wondering for ages what I’d choose for this week’s Cakes & Bakes recipe. You see, it’s Sourdough September and I wanted to make something more than a just a plain sourdough loaf. I’ve come up with a mushroom pasty recipe using sourdough pastry.
I only feed my sourdough starter in the summer months – our old, stone house just isn’t conducive to developing the warmth-loving wild yeasts for much of the year. When the temperature drops and the wood-burning stove needs to be sparked up, I store a small batch of starter in the freezer to revive again the following year.
This sourdough pastry recipe is very similar to plain shortcrust pastry but the taste is so much better – and it’s more buttery and flakier too.
I’m sure some Cornish people and other pasty aficionados will be up in arms with my mushroom pasty recipe. However, I’m vegetarian and a meat pasty isn’t tempting. I used Rustica mushrooms. However, you can use any kind – button, woodland, chestnut, wild… add a handful of garden peas if it takes your fancy. I used Maris Piper potatoes, but as with the mushrooms, it’s down to personal preference or what’s to hand. Also, a bit of onion, garlic and fresh thyme.
We have some 20cm/8-inch starter plates that are the perfect diameter for a pasty pastry cutter. Just roll out the pastry, place a plate on the top and cut around it with the tip of a sharp, pointy knife.
I picked up a(nother!) tip from Nadiya Hussain for making pasties. Use the tip of the self-same knife – this time, the un-sharp side of the blade – to just gently push the pastry inwards at 1cm intervals to crimp.
The recipe made 6 pasties; I cooked off half of them for immediate consumption – and put the other three into the freezer for a later date. They were truly delicious. Justin and I agree that this pastry is one of the best – if not THE best I’ve ever made – and the simple combination of flavours in the filling worked brilliantly too.
- 185g/6½oz plain flour
- 1tsp salt
- 225g/8oz very cold butter, cubed
- 225g/8oz cold sourdough starter
- a little beaten egg to glaze
- 250g/9oz potatoes, cubed
- 30g/1oz butter
- 2 medium onions, finely chopped
- 1 large clove of garlic, finely chopped
- 250g/9oz mushrooms, sliced
- sprig of thyme
- salt & ground black pepper to taste
- Sieve the flour and salt into the bowl of a food processor
- Scatter the cold, cubed butter over the top of the flour mixture and pulse a few times until the butter breaks up into small chunks
- Spread the sourdough starter over the top of the flour/butter mixture
- Pulse again until the mixture just starts to clump together a bit, but is still crumbly. The dough should feel like it will stay together if you pinch it with your fingers
- Lay out two strips of cling film at right angles to each other and empty the pastry mixture into the middle
- Bring the mixture together using the lengths of cling until it just about comes together into a ball. Quickly flatten the ball into a round, wrap and chill for an hour in the fridge
- In a medium-sized saucepan, just cover the potatoes with cold, salted water and bring to the boil for 5 minutes
- Using a colander, strain the water away
- In a large saucepan, melt the butter over a low heat
- Add the onions and garlic and sweat until they're soft but not browned
- Add the mushrooms, thyme and salt & pepper and continue to sweat until the mushrooms have softened
- Strain any liquid away (or you can reserve this to make a mushroom sauce using a dash of cream)
- Mix the potatoes into the mushrooms until well combined
- Set the mixture aside to cool
- Preheat the oven to 180ºC/350ºF/Gas mark 4
- Divide the pastry into 6 equal pieces. Put five back into the fridge to keep cool while you make the first pasty
- Form the pastry piece into a round and roll out on a floured work surface
- Place a side plate on to the pastry and cut out a circle
- Spoon some of the cooled mushroom filling into the centre of the pastry
- Brush around the edge of the circle with water, carefully fold the pastry over into a semi-circle - keeping the filling away from the edge
- Gently press the edges of pastry together before crimping
- Repeat this process until you have used all the pastry and filling
- Put the pasties on to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and brush the tops with a little beaten egg
- Bake for 30 minutes until the tops are golden brown
- Remove from the oven and allow to cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes before eating
Are you a biscuit dunker? I’ve never been one for dipping my biscuits into hot liquid. However, these cranberry almond biscotti have made me change my ways!
I’ve seen biscotti being produced on the Great British Bake Off but I’ve never tried my hand at making a batch.
Biscotti are Italian, twice-baked almond biscuits usually served with Vin Santo – a dessert wine from the same region of Tuscany. It’s this liquid that you dip your biscuit into before eating – I’ve only tried it with coffee so far – but give me time!
The traditional recipe is flour, sugar, eggs, pine nuts and almonds. However, there are updated versions that include an array of ingredients such as dried fruit, hazelnuts, pistachios, spices, lemon, coffee and chocolate.
Biscotti is the plural of biscotto but I’ve never heard that term in my life. Perhaps it’s because it’s impossible to eat just one!
Researching recipes, I discovered that there is such a thing as a biscotti tin. I don’t think I’ll be making biscotti often enough to warrant getting one – I used my 18cm/7-inch square brownie tin and it was more than adequate at tackling the job.
For its second bake, I sliced and transferred the cranberry almond biscotti on to a baking sheet and used stainless steel knives (don’t use knives with wood or plastic handles) to prop them up on their sides.
- 70g/2½oz butter, melted
- 135g/4¾oz granulated sugar
- ½tsp salt
- 2tsp baking powder
- 2tsp vanilla extract
- 2 eggs
- 120g/4oz plain flour
- 120g/4oz semolina flour
- 115g/4oz dried cranberries
- 115g/4oz chopped almonds
- Preheat the oven to 175ºC/350°F/ Gas mark 4
- Grease a biscotti pan or large baking sheet
- Stir together the melted butter, sugar, salt and baking powder
- Beat in the vanilla extract and then the eggs
- Blend in the flours, cranberries and almonds
- Place into the prepared biscotti pan, leaving a 2cm/¾-inch margin free on each side of the pan, to allow for expansion. If you're using a baking sheet, form the dough into a flattened log about 28 x 10cm (10½ x 4 inches).
- Bake for 30-35 minutes, remove from the oven and allow to cool for an hour
- Slice on the diagonal into 4cm/½-inch thick pieces. Place them back on the baking sheet, standing them on edge if you can; this will ensure they bake evenly
- Reduce the oven temperature to 160ºC/325°F/Gas mark 3 and bake for 20-25 minutes, until golden
- Remove from the oven, and allow to cool on a wire rack
- They can be stored in an airtight container for several weeks
We’ve got a wonderful recipe for you this week – delicious peanut butter brownies. And there’s a bonus for some of our readers who have certain dietary requirements.
This peanut butter brownie recipe is taken from a cook book of low FODMAP dishes. FODMAP is an acronym for “fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides and polyols”. It’s a diet recommended for people suffering from Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), Crohn’s Disease, functional bowel disorder, Inflammatory Bowel Disease and Coeliac Disease. Don’t let the fact that you’ve got a healthy digestive tract make you think that this brownie’s not for you – it’s amazing!
Slightly crispy on the outside… soft, sweet, chewy and gooey on the inside. Eat it hot or cold… on its own, with a scoop of vanilla ice cream or thick pouring cream.
- 175g/6oz of unsalted butter
- 200g/7oz dark chocolate
- 75g/3oz crunchy peanut butter
- 125g/4½oz smooth peanut butter
- 3 eggs
- 175g/6oz of caster sugar
- ¼tsp of salt
- 50g/1¾oz self-raising flour
- Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F/Gas Mark 6
- Grease a 30 x 20cm (12 x 8 inch) brownie tin and line it with parchment paper
- Put the butter, chocolate and crunchy peanut butter into a heat-proof bowl on a saucepan of simmering water over low heat and warm until just melted
- In a separate, small saucepan, gently warm through the smooth peanut butter
- Put the eggs, sugar and salt into a large bowl and whisk until the sugar has dissolved
- Using a rubber spatula, stir in the melted chocolate mixture and self-raising flour
- Scrape the mixture into the prepared tin
- Drizzle over the smooth peanut butter in 3-4 straight lines, then 'drag' through the peanut butter with a skewer or toothpick to create a marbled effect
- Bake for 20 minutes, until the cake is just firm to the touch, but has a slightly fudgy texture
- Allow to cool in the tin for a couple of minutes then lift out the block onto a board using the lining paper and cut it into 6-9 squares
- Serve warm or cold, on its own or with a scoop of ice cream or pouring cream
Recently, we’ve been challenging ourselves to get by on a weekly food budget of £30.00 for two. We’ve been managing very well to date; buying carefully, preparing sauces in bulk (some which we freeze for future meals) – and using up tinned foods that have been half-forgotten in the cupboard.
One of those tins were these Baldji’s Kalamata fresh figs in syrup. I think I bought them over a year ago with the intention of making some sort of dessert. After looking for a little online inspiration, I found a River Cottage recipe for fig, almond and walnut loaf.
Their recipe included dried figs and water so I simply used the equivalent weight of the tinned figs and their syrup. I also needed to double the cook time from 20 to 40 minutes.
Once the mixture was ready to put into the tin and on to the oven, I must admit, it didn’t look promising. It had the colour and consistency of refried beans. A bit of a grey, purple, sludgy slop!
Luckily, looks were deceiving as it turned out very well – delicious in fact. A few people have tried it – some would prefer it a little sweeter, so sugar, Stevia or agave could be added. We found that a drizzle of honey on the top of a slice was the perfect addition. The flavour works really well with the figs and gives that extra sweetness too.
- 100g/3½oz dried figs
- 100ml/3½ fl oz water
- 60g/2oz walnuts
- 175g/6oz ground almonds
- 3 large eggs
- 80g/3oz melted coconut oil or unsalted butter
- 1tsp bicarbonate of soda
- 1tsp cider vinegar
- Pinch of salt
- Pre-heat the oven to 150°C/300ºF/Gas mark 2
- Line a 500g/1lb loaf tin with baking parchment
- Roughly chop the figs and add them with the water to a small saucepan over a medium heat. Simmer gently until most of the water is absorbed
- Blitz the figs in a food processor until they form a coarse paste
- Add the ground almonds and process again until damp crumbs form
- Add the walnuts and salt and process again briefly until they're coarsely chopped. Set aside.
- In a medium-sized mixing bowl, beat eggs and bicarbonate of soda with an electric hand whisk until frothy
- Whilst still beating, slowly drizzle in the coconut oil/butter in a thin stream and continue beating until the eggs are pale, thick and doubled in volume
- Sprinkle vinegar over the eggs and beat briefly to distribute evenly. Work quickly as the vinegar will activate the bicarbonate of soda
- Tip the nut mixture onto the eggs and fold in thoroughly with a metal spoon until the nuts are evenly distributed
- Scrape into the prepared tin and bake for 20 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes away clean. Give the loaf more time to bake and perhaps turn the temperature down if it browns too fast
- Cool on a wire rack before eating
- You can store the loaf in an air-tight container in a cool place for up to 3 days - or slice & freeze for up to 2 weeks