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Pascale’s Kitchen: Start up your sourdough

SC 30/09/2021 1


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There’s nothing better than taking a big bite of soft, freshly baked bread that has been smothered with butter, jam or cheese. A symphony of flavors swirls around inside your mouth.
I really can’t think of anything more enticing than bread that recently came out of the oven. So many of our senses are activated simultaneously. It starts with a wonderful aroma wafting throughout the entire house. Then, when the bread starts to brown, the smell of the crispy, hard outer layer – a deeper smell – is added to the air.
After the loaf has cooled down, the sound of a slice of bread being cut, or a chunk being broken off, reaches our ears. And of course, our eyes see the gorgeous bread in front of us. Then, finally, comes the moment of truth when we finally take our first bite.

Bread is such a basic food, so full of nutrients, and is eaten by people all over the world. We say a blessing over bread before eating, and we invite guests into our homes to join us in breaking bread.
To prepare bread, we only need four simple ingredients: flour, water, salt and a raising agent. The number of different ways we can come up with to combine these ingredients enables us to create lots of types of breads. There are also so many distinct types of flours, and an endless number of toppings and additions we can add to dough.
Another way to make your bread distinct is by shaping the dough before baking. You can place the dough in a pan without shaping it at all, or you can create the most intricate shapes. However you shape your dough, homemade bread always comes out awesome.
When I was a young girl, we would make white bread, dark bread or bread with caraway seeds. I remember from my childhood the wonderful smell of the challot my mother would bake every Friday for Shabbat.
Nowadays, people bake a huge range of types of breads, from a large variety of flours to chose from, which enables you to create a whole host of different bread.
Sourdough bread is one of the most unique types, since it is made using sourdough starter, and requires more extensive kneading, shaping and cutting. Moreover, people are now adding new flavors to their bread, such as herbs, or using gluten-free flour.
I recently discovered Udi Galili, a sourdough guru. I invited Udi to join me for a morning of baking and discovery in my kitchen, and he not only agreed, but he brought with him a variety of pots that were all filled with dough in various stages of preparation.
I was surprised to learn that Udi had no cooking or baking training, and that his last job was working as an insurance risk manager. Udi is a sourdough autodidact. Four years ago, he was exposed for the first time to the world of sourdough bread after his wife had to make dietary changes, and so the whole family changed their diet, especially with bread. Udi began watching how-to videos, and that’s how over time he learned how to make sourdough bread.
He quickly learned that sourdough starter is quite different from yeast. Udi began uploading sourdough preparation videos to Instagram, and has now acquired a nice fan base. At some point, he quit his day job and now devotes all his time to baking sourdough bread and conducting workshops in his home.
Udi generously agreed to share three of his recipes with us. The first one is for Japanese milk bread called Hokkaido, which is prepared very differently from regular bread. The second recipe is for hamburger buns that is also based on the Japanese bread concept. The buns come out soft and fluffy like clouds. The third recipe is for sourdough bread with seeds, which is the recipe that first attracted Udi to the world of baking, and led to the complete overhaul of his world.

Terminology that will help novice bakers: 

Autolyse – The process in bread-making which involves mixing flour and water together one hour before adding other ingredients.
Hydration – The ratio of water to flour in the dough.
Fermentolyse – Autolyse with sourdough starter.
Stretch and pull – Stretching and pulling the dough during the kneading process.
Free shape – Shaping the dough as one large ball.
Final shape – Shaping the dough before placing in the basket.
Tips for working with sourdough:
Kneading by hand: it’s extremely important to knead the dough by hand, especially if you don’t have much bread-making experience. 
Temperature of dough: dough behaves differently in different temperatures. Regardless whether you are kneading by hand or with an electric mixer, you need to be aware of the temperature in the room.
Different types of flour: the type of flour affects the dough. Each flour is unique. Even different types of wheat flours are different from each other, and contain different types of gluten.
Oils: Oils in the dough interfere with the development of gluten, therefore it is best to incorporate them after partially developing the gluten.
Yeast / sourdough starter: it’s important to use fresh yeast or sourdough starter, since they are the most important raising agent in the dough.
Hokkaido – Japanese milk bread
Use a 30cm x 10cm x 10cm pan.
550g flour, sifted
150g cold tangzhong (made from 125 ml water and 25 g flour)
5g dry yeast
350g cold milk
40g butter, softened
1 beaten egg mixed with 1 Tbsp. milk
Prepare the tangzhong at least two hours ahead of time (or the night before) and keep in the fridge. To prepare the tangzhong, add the 125ml water and 25g flour to a small pan. Heat over a low flame, mixing all the time until it is completely mixed. Let it cool and store in the fridge.
Add all the ingredients – except the butter – to the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a dough attachment and mix well. Add the butter and mix well.
Cover the dough and let it rise for 90 minutes at 28°, until the dough doubles or triples in volume.
Separate the dough into four equal sections and form balls. Place them on a greased work surface with plenty of space between each one, and let them rise another 20 minutes.
Flatten each ball into a flat circle using a greased rolling pin until they are ½cm thick with a diameter of 10cm. Roll the circles into cylinders starting from the side closest to you, with the seam facing down.
Place the dough cylinders in the loaf pans in a row so that they are all touching each other. Cover and let the dough rise another 60-90 minutes until the dough doubles in volume.
Brush dough with egg wash and bake in an oven that has been preheated to 200° for 30 minutes. Remove the bread from the pan and place on a flat tray and bake for a few more minutes so the sides can brown a little.
Level of difficulty: Easy–medium.
Time: Five hours.
Status: Dairy.

 Hokkaido – Japanese milk bread (credit: Courtesy) Hokkaido – Japanese milk bread (credit: Courtesy)

Hamburger buns

Makes 10 buns.
550g flour, sifted
120g cold tangzhong (made from 100 ml water and 20g flour)
10g dry yeast
250ml very cold water or milk
30g cold butter, cubed, or 25ml oil
Egg wash: 
1 beaten egg with 1 Tbsp. milk or oil
2-3 Tbsp. sesame seeds
Prepare the tangzhong at least two hours ahead of time (or night before) and keep in the fridge. To prepare the tangzhong, add the 100ml water and 20g flour to a small pan. Heat over a low flame, mixing all the time until it is completely mixed. Let it cool and store in the fridge.
Add all the ingredients – except the butter or oil – to the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a dough attachment and mix slowly until well-mixed. Add the butter or oil.
Increase the speed slightly and mix for another 12 minutes until the dough is smooth and shiny. The dough should be 24.1° when it’s been kneaded enough. Take the dough out of the bowl and knead it for a minute. Lightly grease the dough and let it rise another 60-90 minutes until the dough doubles in volume. Separate the dough into 10 balls of 100g each.
Place the dough on two trays covered with baking paper and let the balls rise another 45-60 minutes. Brush with egg wash and sprinkle sesame seeds on top. Bake in an oven that has been preheated to 190° (not on turbo) for 20 minutes.
Level of difficulty: Easy–medium.
Time: Five hours.
Status: Pareve (or dairy if including milk and butter).

 hamburger buns (credit: Courtesy) hamburger buns (credit: Courtesy)

Sourdough bread with seeds

Makes one loaf.
250g flour, sifted
100g whole wheat flour
255g water
20g sourdough starter, plus 30g water and 30g flour, then let it rest on the counter for five hours
30g seeds (pumpkin, sunflower, flax, poppy)
To carry out the fermentolyse process, mix the flours, water and sourdough starter using an electric mixer. Let the mixture rest, covered, for an hour inside the mixer bowl. Then, add the salt and mix with the mixer for another seven minutes. Add the seeds and mix for another minute or two. Let it sit, covered, for another 30 minutes.
Get your hands wet and then use the stretch and fold technique to knead the dough. What you do is stretch out the dough from the side farther away from you and fold it into the center of the dough. Next, stretch out the right side of the dough and fold it into the center of the dough, then the left and fold it into the center of the dough, then the side closest to you and fold it into the center of the dough.
Form the dough into a ball and cover bowl. Let the dough rise for 40 minutes and then use the stretch and fold technique to knead the dough again. Repeat this process another three times. After you’ve completed the last cycle, form the dough into an oval shape and let it rest for 60-90 minutes.
Lastly, to form the bread’s final shape, flour the dough and then turn it upside down. Pull the side farthest from you and bring it into the center. Next, using both hands, pull from the left and right sides at the same time and bring toward the center. Form a cylindrical shape by pulling the dough from the side closest to you and pushing it to the side farthest from you. Let the dough rest for 15 minutes and then transfer to a rising basket. Cover and place in the fridge for 12 hours.
Heat a cast-iron pot in an oven that has been preheated to 250°. Transfer the dough to the pot and make one long incision across the top of the dough. Cover the pot and bake for 18 minutes. Remove the cover of the pot, reduce the temperature to 230° and bake for another 22 minutes. Remove and let cool for two hours before cutting.
Level of difficulty: Medium-difficult.
Time: Two days.
Status: Pareve.

 SOURDOUGH BREAD WITH SEEDS (credit: Courtesy) SOURDOUGH BREAD WITH SEEDS (credit: Courtesy)

Translated by Hannah Hochner.

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Co-Host for Coffee Mouth Scarecrow Show. Retired NAVY Chief/Flag Writer Psalms 118:24 This is the day which the LORD hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it.

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