• 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!!


  • Spiced Apple Cake

    T minus 2 days until Thanksgiving, WHO IS READY? Not me, that’s who. I’m spending too much time going over my notes from previous years and trying to come up with a reasonable schedule that won’t end with me making pie at 2 am. And yet, I will probably still be baking pies at 2 am. Because things just never go according to plan, as I’m sure you know. But before I worry about all this, let’s briefly talk about cake. This cake, in particular. Originally from Giada De Laurentiis, this spiced apple cake is perfectly light and moist thanks to AP and almond flours, plus it’s sandwiched on both sides by lil cinnamon apples so what’s not to love!

    Do you know someone who doesn’t like pie? Then this is the Thanksgiving dessert for them! Although, if you don’t like pie, probably don’t tell me, because I can’t handle that kind of negativity. Other than that, a warm slice of this would be perfect for breakfast with a cup of coffee in your pjs, because cake for breakfast is never the wrong idea. Did I mention that it also takes literally 30 minutes to throw together? It’s a win-win!

    Here are 5 things to be happy about today!! (Thanksgiving addition)
    ONE. Sneaking some crispy turkey skin when no one is looking.
    TWO. Cranberry sauce holding the shape from its can.
    THREE. Eating Thanksgiving leftovers for three days straight.
    FOUR. Having a slice of each pie because why NOT.
    FIVE. Waiting until midnight after Thanksgiving to go into full Christmas mode.

    Have a Happy Thanksgiving all! Let’s bake!!

    Spiced Apple Cake

    If for some reason you're not a pie person, or you're looking for a quick but impressive dessert, look no further than this cake! A beautifully light cake sandwiched on both sides by spiced apples, there's literally no time of day that this isn't appropriate.
    Prep Time30 mins
    Cook Time1 hr
    Total Time1 hr 30 mins
    Course: Dessert
    Keyword: apple, cake, fall baking, Thanksgiving
    Servings: 15 servings

    Ingredients

    • Softened butter; for greasing the pan
    • 6 granny smith apples; peeled and sliced
    • 1 tsp ground cinnamon; divided
    • sticks butter; at room temperature
    • 1⅓ cup white sugar; divided
    • 4 large eggs
    • 2 cups All Purpose Flour
    • 1 cup Almond Flour
    • tsp baking powder
    • ½ tsp baking soda
    • A pinch ground cloves
    • ½ tsp kosher salt
    • cups buttermilk
    • Powdered sugar; for serving
    • Whipped Cream; for serving

    Instructions

    • Preheat your oven to 350°F. Generously butter the baking dish.
    • In a medium bowl, toss the apples with ⅓ cup white sugar and ½ tsp of cinnamon. Set aside while you prepare the cake batter.
    • In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat together the 1½ sticks of softened butter and the remaining 1 cup of sugar until fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time and mix each one until incorporated before adding the next.
    • Turn the mixer down and carefully add both flours, baking powder, baking soda, ½ tsp cinnamon, pinch of cloves, salt, and buttermilk. At this point, fold the batter with a rubber spatula so that you do not overmix.
    • Take half of the apples and spread them evenly over the bottom of the prepared baking dish, then pour the batter on top. Arrange the remaining apples on top in any pattern that you feel like!
    • Bake the cake for 1 hour, rotating halfway through baking, testing with a toothpick or cake tester to make sure it's fully done before removing from the oven. Allow to cool at least slightly before sprinkling with powdered sugar and/ or whipped cream. YUM!

    Need more Thanksgiving inspo? Look no further than here, here, here, and here!

  • 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!