• Making Sourdough (From Scratch!)

    Hello my friends, I hope your Thanksgivings were full of pie and that the work week hasn’t gotten you down too much already. I am here today about a very special topic already revealed in the title of this post: SOURDOUGH! Remember when I said I was making my starter from scratch? Well, this weekend at my parents house, with a dutch oven at my disposal, I finally used it to make bread. AND IT WORKED! And now, I will pass everything I have learned on to you, in case you too are crazy enough to make your own bread. Please keep in mind before we begin, it takes a few weeks and some determination, plus many a cell phone alarm reminding you to feed your starter!! But with that being said, let’s get to work!

    First thing’s first, I’m going to share with you the resources that I used along the way. I will type up the steps that I took as well, but in case you want the unabbreviated version, I will include it here.

    Step One: Making Your Starter

    To make sourdough starter from scratch, you’re essentially growing your own yeast in a container. So cool, right? This way, no dried yeast is necessary, and the process of mixing the flour and water over a period of days produces lactobacilli (friendly bacteria!) and wild yeast which give the sourdough its classic tangy flavor.

    To adequately give the yeast and bacteria time to grow, you will need at least 5 days of routine feeding. After those initial 5 days, you can put unused starter in the fridge and feed it once a week, but once you intend to use it, it will need to be fed daily again for at least 3 days.

    For creating my sourdough starter, I used this step by step guide from King Arthur Flour. For extra info on sourdough, you ca also read this beginners guide here! I found this to be the simplest but also most extensive set of instructions, which basically guarantees results.

    INGREDIENTS TO START:

    1 cup whole wheat flour (it must be whole wheat!)
    1/2 cup cool water

    INGREDIENTS TO FEED:

    Scant 1 cup all purpose flour
    1/2 cup cool water (adjust temperature based on the temp of your kitchen)

    STEPS:

    1. In a 1-quart non-reactive container (glass, food-safe plastic, ceramic, or stainless steel), mix together the initial amount of flour and water. There should be no dry flour left and the mixture should be the consistency of pancake batter, I found that I needed to add a tiny bit more water initially to hydrate all the flour. Cover the container loosely and allow to sit at room temperature for 24 hours.

    2. After the first 24 hours, regardless of whether or not you see any activity, discard all but 4 ounces (a 1/2 cup) of the starter. (Here’s a hint, make this cake with it!) Feed the remaining starter with a scant 1 cup of all purpose flour and the half cup of water. Stir so that there is no dry flour left. Cover and let sit for 24 hours.

    3. By day 3, you should be seeing some bubbling and it should have a fresh, fruity smell. Once this happens, it’s time to begin a twice daily feeding schedule, spacing the feedings as far apart as you can. For example, I would feed my starter at 6:30am before I left for work, then again at 6:30pm when I came home. Continue feeding as usual, discarding all but 4 ounces and replacing it with the scant 1 cup of flour and 1/2 cup of water, twice a day.

    4. Repeat step 3 for days 4 and 5. By the end of day 5, the starter should be doubled in volume, with many bubbles and a tangy, slightly acidic smell. If your starter doesn’t look like this, continue a twice a day feeding scheduling for another day or two until you get there. At this point, give it once final routine feeding, and let it sit for 6-8 hours. You have grown mature starter, congratulations!! From here, you have 2 choices: you can take the starter you need for a loaf of bread immediately, (skip down to the bread making section for this), or you could transfer it to its permanent home if you’re not quite ready.

    5. To transfer it to its permanent home, transfer 4 ounces and feed as normal, leaving out overnight to rest before covering it. This starter can now be kept in the fridge, but will need to be fed as usual once a week.

    Required Viewing!

    Right here we’re taking a quick break to watch an important video about making sourdough. From the Bon Appetit Test Kitchen, Brad Leone and Claire Saffitz show us how to make fancy loaves of sourdough bread, and how much work goes into it. We won’t be making a loaf with a process this extensive, but the technique and science behind it is certainly worth knowing! Plus it’s hilarious and exactly what you deserve right now.

    Making the Sourdough!

    To prepare our sourdough loaf, I followed Cooks Illustrated’s “Almost No-Knead Sourdough”. While still a two day process, it cuts out some of the longer steps and yet still produces a perfectly tangy, crisp loaf of bread.

    To start, you will need the following:

    INGREDIENTS:

    3 ⅔ cups All-Purpose Flour
    1 ½ cups plus 4 teaspoons room temperature water
    1 ¾ teaspoons salt
    ⅓ cup mature sourdough starter

    TOOLS:

    A large Dutch Oven
    Parchment Paper
    A sharp pairing knife or bread lame

    STEPS:

    1. To begin, make sure you are using mature sourdough starter. If your five days of feeding have just finished, you are set to go. If your starter has been in the fridge, you must feed it once a day for at least 3 days before it’s ready to use.

    2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour and salt until combined. In a larger bowl (this will be the bowl that holds the rising dough), whisk together the starter and the water until the starter is dissolved. Add the flour mixture to this mixture, and stir with a wooden spoon until there is no dry flour left and a ball of dough forms. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and allow to rise at room temperature for 12 to 18 hours.


    3. After the initial rise, spray a large piece of parchment paper with vegetable oil and set on the counter. Transfer the risen dough to a lightly floured surface, and knead 10 to 15 times until smooth. Pinch the edges into one middle seam at the bottom so that the top is smooth and rounded. Place this dough seam side down onto the greased sheet of parchment paper, then lift the paper carefully and transfer into the dutch oven.

    4. Wrap the top of the dutch oven in plastic wrap and place on the middle rack of your OFF oven. Place a cake pan on the bottom rack of the oven and fill with 3 cups of boiling water. Close the oven door and let the dough rise here for another 2 to 3 hours, until it has doubled in size. To test that it’s ready, the dough should not readily spring back when you poke it with your finger.

    5. Once the rising is complete, take the pot and pan of water out of the oven. Remove the plastic wrap and, using a sharp knife or lame, make one long cut down the center of the loaf, as smoothly as possible.Place the top on the pot and return to the middle rack of the oven. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees with the pot inside and start a timer for 30 minutes immediately. Do not wait for the oven to reach 425 before you start the timer, as the bread will burn.

    6. After the first 30 minutes, remove the top of the dutch oven and bake for an additional 20 to 30 minutes, until the top of the bread is golden and crisp, and the internal temperature is 210 degrees. Remove the bread from the pot and transfer to a wire rack to cool completely before serving.

    YOU MADE BREAD! I’m so proud of you!!


  • BA’s Pecan Pumpkin Pie

    Welcome back to Sweet D, two weeks in a row, are you impressed?? The bar is really low, I am aware, but this was the first weekend in ages that I had literally no plans. Who knew that would be such a satisfying thing to say, you know? That’s how I know I’m a grandma in a 24 year old’s body, I have to actively reserve weekends to do nothing so I can actually get some sleep. And, after sleeping until 11:30 on both Saturday and Sunday, I can tell you that I am, in fact, STILL TIRED lol. BUT in addition to sleeping forever, I caught up on all 7 episodes of Bon Appetit’s “Making Perfect” Thanksgiving addition. To me, Thanksgiving is like the Olympics of cooking, so naturally I start preparing weeks in advance. I watched Brad Leone and Queen Claire Saffitz bake this remarkable marriage of two classic pies and you KNOW I had to try it out. So yes, that was my whole Saturday and now there’s a pie in my fridge, someone come help me eat it thanks.

    Since I was old enough to cook, I have taken responsibility for most of the pies at my family’s Thanksgiving. I would make 2 apple and 2 pumpkin, and my mom would take the pecan. I take the day before Thanksgiving off from work and my Mom and I are prepping LITERALLY from the moment I wake up, and I’m usually still making pie well past midnight. Now as anyone who cooks Thanksgiving knows, any time saving measures you can take, the better, so I made this pie with a frozen pie shell. It saves me over an hour of prep time, and can be baked straight from the freezer, plus it still tastes good! But, if you’d prefer to use a homemade crust, the one from the original recipe is never a bad idea.

    So let’s get down to what makes this pie special. The filling is perfectly smooth thanks to the eggs and heavy cream, with every fall spice you could ever hope for. But the real showstopper? The gorgeous pecan topping!! Toasted pecans tossed with butter, cinnamon, maple syrup, and egg white, then baked until crisp, you’ll have to restrain yourself from eating them all off the top of the pie. I had some left over that I baked separately, and I’m keeping them in a tupperware exclusively for snacking!

    Before we go full Thanksgiving, here are five things to be happy about today:
    ONE. Eating too many cheese and crackers before dinner.
    TWO. Coming inside after being out in the cold.
    THREE. Running errands on a Sunday and rewarding yourself with coffee.
    FOUR. Pie for breakfast.
    FIVE. Hot drinks in clear mugs.

    Let’s bake!

    BA’s Pecan Pumpkin Pie

    This impeccable dessert is the marriage of two Thanksgiving classics, the pecan pie and the pumpkin pie. A smooth, custardy pumpkin filling with ALL the warm Autumn spices, topped with toasty, maple-caramelized pecans, it's the best of both worlds!!
    Prep Time20 mins
    Cook Time50 mins
    Total Time1 hr 10 mins
    Course: Dessert
    Servings: 8 people

    Ingredients

    • 3 large eggs
    • 1 additional egg; yolk and white separated
    • 1 15 oz. can pumpkin
    • ¾ cup whole milk
    • ¼ cup granulated sugar
    • 2 Tbsp whiskey
    • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
    • 1 tsp ground ginger
    • ¼ tsp nutmeg
    • ¼ tsp ground cardamom
    • Pinch ground cloves
    • 8 Tbsp brown sugar; separated
    • 3 Tbsp melted butter; divided
    • 1 tsp salt; divided
    • cups whole pecans
    • 1 Tbsp Maple Syrup
    • Frozen pie shell; or see link to original recipe for homemade crust!

    Preparation

    Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F and place the still frozen pie shell into a small sheet pan. In a large bowl, combine the eggs, extra yolk, canned pumpkin, heavy cream, sugar, whiskey, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, cardamom, cloves, 6 tablespoons of the brown sugar, 2 tablespoons of the melted butter, and a pinch of salt. Whisk thoroughly until evenly mixed. If you prefer a completely homogenous mixture, you can use an immersion blender or regular blender in batches, making sure not to incorporated too much air.

    Pour the filling into the pie shell and carefully transfer the whole sheet pan to the oven so that the filling doesn’t spill, it’s very runny. Bake until the filling has puffed and the center is a little wobbly when shaken. This should be about 40 minutes.

    What happens when you pour filling into a pie shell on a lopsided oven rack!

    About 15 minutes before the pie is done, spread the pecans in one even layer on a second sheet pan and toast, tossing once, until they are fragrant and slightly darkened in color.

    In a bowl large enough for the pecans, whisk the reserved egg white, remaining 2 tablespoons of brown sugar, a dash of cinnamon, and remaining salt until foamy. Add the syrup and remaining 1 tablespoon of butter and whisk until combined. Add in the toasted pecans and toss until they are all evenly coated.

    Remove the pie from the oven and arrange the pecans on top as you’d like, making sure the extra egg white mixture drips back into the bowl. Return the pie to the oven and bake for another 8-10 minutes, until the filling is totally set and the pecans are dry to the touch. Allow the pie to cool for at least 2 hours before serving.

    Looking for more pie? check out classic apple, banana cream, cheesecake pudding, and pear!

  • Kimchi Fried Rice with Bacon and Mushrooms

    I’M HERE! I’M HERE AND I’M READY TO COOK KIMCHI FRIED RICE! I would first like to apologize for this extended hiatus, my weekends have been absolutely jam packed and it’s been out! of! control! I ordered Seamless for dinner 3 times last week!! Three!! Unacceptable. So, this weekend, after meeting my baking hero Claire Saffitz (more on that later), I was fully in a Bon Appetit mood. When I moved, I never got around to bringing my stack of cookbooks with me, so the last time I went home, I grabbed one from the stack, Where Cooking Begins, by Carla Lalli Music. I love this cookbook specifically because of how versatile it is. This book not only contains recipes, but also ways to “spin” each one, PLUS detailed pages of some basic cooking techniques. So you see why, if I had to grab one book, it’s this one.

    Me trying to keep my cool in front of my idol NDB

    Before we get into this weeks recipe, let’s quick re-cap the last few weeks since I’ve been here. First, I went to Seattle! And ooooooh I loved it. My sister and I stayed with my brother, who recently moved there, and wow what a wonderful city! I couldn’t get over how perfectly Fall it felt, the trees were changing, it was nice and chilly, and we ate so much food. Highlights include: a hike up Rattlesnake Ledge (I am horribly out of shape), the Chihuly Glass Museum, and an entire bar dedicated to PIE and PIE THEMED DRINKS! Insanity. Then, this weekend, I attended a cake decorating class with none other than Claire Saffitz of BA’s “Gourmet Makes” and I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t incredibly starstruck. She is so sweet and talented and told me my cake was perfect and I’m still emotional. Also she signed a pastry brush for me and it will hang in every kitchen I ever have, the end.

    Okay so now that we’ve covered what I’ve been up to, let’s talk food. So on Sunday, after sleeping until noon and doing not much besides watching Parks and Rec on the couch (it was raining, what else could I do?) I cracked open Carla’s book and found this life changing kimchi fried rice recipe. I am a huge fan of having eggs for dinner, so any time I find a recipe that includes that, I’m already interested. What’s more, this recipe has crispy bacon, mushrooms cooked in said bacon, and KIMCHI. It’s a perfect combination of salty, tangy, spicy, fresh and I want to eat it forever. I’m getting too excited, let’s start.

    But of course, before we do, here are 5 things to be happy about today!
    ONE. Your at-home comfy clothes.
    TWO. Doing a week’s worth of grocery shopping in one day.
    THREE. A basket full of blankets in your living room.
    FOUR. Visiting a new city.
    FIVE. “I’m on vacation” as an attitude for decision making.

    Let’s cook!!

    Ingredients

    7 Tbs vegetable oil
    4 strips bacon, cut crosswise into ¾ inch pieces
    8oz. mushrooms, washed, stems removed, and caps torn
    2 cups cooked brown rice
    1 cup kimchi, liquid reserved and roughly chopped
    Handful of chopped cilantro
    2 eggs
    Salt and pepper
    Sesame oil, hot sauce, for serving

    Steps

    ONE. In a large skillet, heat a tablespoon of vegetable oil until warm, then add the bacon. Cook for about 6 minutes, or until the bacon is crispy and the fat is rendered. Scoop out the bacon with a slotted spoon and transfer to a plate.

    TWO. In the same pan, add the mushrooms to the bacon fat, seasoning with salt. Cook undisturbed for approximately 5 minutes, until some liquid is released and they get slightly browned. Stir with a wooden spoon and cook for another 2 minutes, then transfer to the same plate as your bacon.

    THREE. Add another tablespoon of oil to the same pan, then add your cooked rice, allowing to heat for 2 minutes undisturbed. Toss with a wooden spoon and then cook for another 2 minutes, until the rice is warmed and a little crisp, but not dried out. If you need, more oil can be added during this process.

    FOUR. Add the kimchi to the rice, and cook for about 1 minute. Off the heat, add back the mushrooms and the bacon, plus the reserved kimchi juice and cilantro. Mix to combine and transfer to a serving platter.

    FIVE. In the skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of oil over medium high, and add the two eggs, seasoning with salt and pepper. Cook until the eggs whites are set, but the yolks remain runny, for proper yolk-breaking satisfaction. Spoon a generous portion of the rice onto eat plate, then top with an egg and a drizzle of sesame oil and/ or hot sauce.

    Yum!! Xoxoxoxox

    Want more dinners? Look here, here, here, and here!