Author: Admin

Sourdough starter

15,118 Comments

A sourdough starter is the key to give a sourdough bread its distinct taste, its unique chewiness and crispiness as well as its long shelf-life. As the oldest leavening agent, it’s only made out of two ingredients: flour and water. This makes the sourdough starter to a natural and very simple leavening agent. Although it is simple in composition, it is extremely difficult to buy: the easiest solution to that is to make it yourself!

Sourdough starters can be made out of any type of flour. I myself started with wheat and recently added a rye starter to my collection. The process is the same for any type of flour: therefore even if I use wheat for this recipe, it is adaptable to any other type of flour. Every type comes with a distinct flavour profile, so you should try out different flours!

left: rye right: wheat

Step one: starting the starter

In the sourdough starter, lactic bacteria becomes active. If you feed your starter with fresh flour, the bacteria will feed on it and create gas. This gas will allow the dough to rise.

In order to produce these bacteria, there needs to be a fermentation process. This works best with whole meal organic flour. Organic flour is less processed, so you have a higher chance of it containing the right elements to feed the bacteria. This goes the same with whole meal compared to plain white flour.

Day 1
  • 20 g whole meal wheat flour (organic)
  • 20 ml water (you should use water without chlorine. If the tap water where you live has a high chlorine content, you should consider using mineral water. The chlorine kills bacteria, which is definitely not good for a sourdough starter.)

How it works: in a jar or tupperbox, mix both flour and water thoroughly. cover it loosely and put it in a dark and warm place to ferment for 1 to 3 days.

day 2-4

When small bubbles start to appear on the surface, you can proceed to the next step:

  • 40 g whole meal wheat flour
  • 40 ml water

Mix this with the existing starter. After a day or so the starter should have risen and fallen again.

The next day
  • 80 g whole meal wheat flour
  • 80 ml water

Mix everything together again. After less than a day your starter should have made a cycle of rise and fall.

If your starter doesn’t smell funky and has risen and fallen again, you can proceed to step 2: stabilizing your starter.

Step 2: stabilizing (1 week)

In order to stabilize your starter, you should get into a routine and repeat these steps everyday at roughly the same time:

  • discard everything except for 2-3 tablespoons of starter
  • add 1 tblsp whole meal wheat flour, 1 Tblsp plain white wheat flour and 2 Tbsps water to the remaining starter.
  • after a week, your starter should seem stable: it rises and falls at roughly the same height and time in the day and it does not smell weird or looks bad.
  • After a week you have successfully stabilized your starter, you can now use it for baking bread!

Step 3: taking care of your starter

In order to keep your starter healthy, active and alive, you should feed it regularly, ideally everyday at around the same time. The easiest way is to integrate it into your daily routine: I feed mine after breakfast for example. You should follow these three points:

  • Every day, add 1-2 Tbsps of a mixture of whole meal and plain white flour as well as the same amount of water. (the balance of the two flours keeps the balance between nutriments (whole meal) and the sugars (plain white).
  • You should regularly discard some of your starter. If you keep too much, it won’t get enough to eat and will get weak.
  • If a skin forms on the surface, don’t panic! just discard it before refreshing your starter. It just means your starter hasn’t been used for baking in a while.

Now you have made it, congratulations! This starter is now ready to be used for your very own sourdough bread 🙂

If you want to watch a good video on sourdough, I recommend you the youtuber Alex. He did a very interesting series on sourdough, from which this article is very largely inspired.

Categories: Bread

Sourdough bread

39,708 Comments

For an amateur home bread-baker, sourdough bread is next level: it tastes and smells and feels just like a loaf fresh out of the bakery oven, but you also get the satisfaction of having made everything from scratch with only three ingredients: flour, water and salt.

What is sourdough?

In the world of bread-baking, there are two different factions: yeast and sourdough starter. Both are leavening agents, it means that the bacteria they contain feed on the sugars in the flour and produce gas that leavens the dough. baker’s yeast, fresh or dried, can be found in any supermarket. Since it makes the dough rise fast and strongly, you can make good loaf within two or three hours only.

For sourdough, it’s a whole other story: the dough needs a lot more time to rise and requires much more resting time. The lactic bacteria active in the sourdough starter are obtained by the fermentation of flour mixed with water, which makes sourdough a natural leavening agent and very simple in its composition. It takes time to make a sourdough bread, but it is definitely worth it! The taste is more intense, the crust crispy and the inside very chewy. It also has a longer shelf-life than yeast bread.

The idea is quite simple: instead of yeast you mix sourdough starter with water, flour and salt, and after much waiting and kneading it bakes in a very hot oven.

Time management

To successfully bake a fluffy and tasty sourdough bread, patience is key. It is possible however to bake a loaf within a day, but you have to start early! Here is a diagram showing the different steps start to finish:

I usually start around 7 or 8 in the morning, and I take my bread out of the oven around 8 or 9 in th evening. Therefore it takes around 12-14 hours minimum for a good loaf.

Ingredients

For the sourdough starter:

  • about 100 g of your own sourdough starter (fed the day before)
    *you can find the recipe for the sourdough starter here.
  • 75 g whole meal wheat flour
  • 75 g plain wheat flour type 550
  • 150 ml water

For the dough:

  • about 250 g of the sourdough starter of the day
  • 400 ml water
  • 100 g whole meal wheat flour
  • 500 g wheat flour type 550
  • 15 g salt

Recipe

Step 1: the starter
  • Put all your sourdough starter (you should have refreshed it the day before) in a measuring cup.
  • Add 75 g of whole meal wheat flour, 75 g of white wheat flour and 150 ml water. Mix well.
  • cover loosely and put it in a warm and dark place to proof.
  • After an hour or so small bubbles should start to appear. The starter should double in size before you continue with the recipe, otherwise your dough won’t rise properly. In my case it takes around 4 to 6 hours, but it all depends on the temperature and the activeness of your starter.
  • A good test is to drop a bit of your starter in water: if it floats, it’s ready.
The starter floats on the surface, it’s ready to use!
Step 2: the dough
  • mix around 250 g of your starter with 400 ml of water. You can put the rest of the starter back in a jar, mix it with a bit of flour and water again and use it as your starter base for the next loaf!
  • And the flour and mix roughly until there are no big lumps of dry flour left. Let the dough rest for 30-4 5 minutes. This step is important, the flour and water are getting acquainted, it takes some getting used to :).
  • Now add the salt: you can first sprinkle the salt on the dough, then add a bit of water to dissolve the salt. It hen becomes easier to incorporate the salt to the dough.
  • Drop the dough onto a flat surface and knead it for around 10 to 15 minutes. A good technique goes as follows:
    1. pull the dough towards you.
    2. fold the pulled part of the dough onto the other part.
    3. grab the dough on the right side.
    4. rotate the dough 90°, so that the fold faces towards you and lift the dough up. Then slightly slump it down on the surface again.
    5. repeat the process.
  • The dough will be sticky at first but if you work fast it shouldn’t stick to your fingers to much.
  • After a while the dough will get more elastic and homogenous: now you can put the dough back in the bowl, cover and let it proof for 3 to 4 hours.
Step 3: the loaf
  • After 3-4 hours the dough got a bit looser, and it might have risen a little. The dough is probably stickier as well. Now you should form the loaf: put the dough onto a floured surface.
  • fold the four sides of the dough towards the middle, so that each side covers a bit of another.
  • flip the dough so that the folds stay under the dough.
  • cautiously hold the dough with open palms and roll the dough towards you. The seam should always stay at the bottom. By rolling the dough you should be able to create some tension on the surface: this helps to trap the air inside the loaf for a better rise and gives the dough strength to keep its shape.
  • sprinkle the dough-ball with a bit of flour and put the bowl upside-down on top of it. Let the dough rest for 20 to 30 minutes. The ball will flatten a bit.
  • You can repeat the process 2 to 4 times, always making sure to always fold the same side and keep the seam down. The dough will get stronger each time and will flatten less.
Step 4: baking!
  • At this point you have two options:
    1. put the dough in a bowl to rest in the fridge overnight and bake it in the morning.
    2. Or let the dough rest another hour after the last fold and bake it now.
  • While the dough rests one last time, preheat your oven to 220°C. If you have a dutchoven, you can preheat it in the oven as well. Baking the bread in the dutchoven will help keep the moisture around the loaf, giving it a better crust.
  • Alternatively you can preheat a simple tray and put a bowl with water underneath it to create steam in your oven.
  • When the oven and the dutchoven are hot, place the dough quickly in the dutchoven, scorch the dough generously and spray some water onto the dough. Close the lid and put the dutchoven back in the oven.
  • After 25-30 minutes your loaf should have risen quite a lot. You can now take off the lid or remove the bowl with water, so that your loaf can get crispy.
  • Bake it for another 25 minutes and it’s done!

If you can resist the temptation, you should definitely wait another hour at least to let it cool down before you slice it. Otherwise it will loose all its moisture and it will loose its structure.

Alternatives – Variations

This recipe is just one prototype: you can play around with different ratios of whole meal and white flour, and you can also try different types of flour, not only for the loaf itself but also for the sourdough starter! For example, rye is a good alternative (Although for the loaf you should start with a mix of wheat or spelt and rye flour, since rye gets very very sticky and is very difficult to work with.) You will get a different loaf and a different taste with each new try!

The golden rule is: just try it out! Even if you fail and your dough doesn’t rise properly, it will still always taste good, and with each time you will get better, improve your technique and knowledge.

Categories: Bread

Käsekuchen

20,030 Comments

the German cheesecake – better than the american version?

In Germany, whenever you proudly announce that you made a Käsekuchen, you are usually met with the question: ” A Käsekuchen or a cheesecake?”. When you confirm it actually is a German cheesecake, you will highly unlikely get a disappointed reaction. In Germany, the Käsekuchen overwhelmingly beats the cheesecake in popularity.
But why? What’s the difference. Surely, the crust is a bit different: a shortcrust for the German, a biscuit crust for the American version, but this does not cut quite enough. The secret is in the heart of the Käsekuchen: the rich, creamy and unique quark is the secret. Between cottage cheese and yogurt, the quark gives your Käsekuchen a fluffy but rich texture. Once you’ve tried it, there’s no going back!

Ingredients

For the crust:

  • 240 g flour
  • 80 g butter
  • 100 g sugar
  • one egg
  • one pack of vanilla sugar (8g)
  • half a pack of baking powder (8g)

For the filling

  • 1 kg Quark (you can use fatty yogurt instead)
  • 250 g sugar
  • 1 pack of vanilla sugar
  • 1 pack of vanilla pudding mix
  • 5 eggs

The recipe

The crust

Melt the butter and add the rest of the ingredients. The dough should not be too sticky.

Spread the crust in a springform tin (26 cm in diameter). A good way to do it is to form small balls of dough and push them down in the tin. The dough should be thin, otherwise you won’t get enough for the sides!

The filling

Separate the egg-whites and the egg-yolks, put them into separate bowls. Add the sugars to the yolks and mix well.

Add the pudding powder and the the quark, mix until smooth.

Add a bit of salt to the egg-whites and beat them until firm. You can finally add them carefully to the rest of the filling. The best is to fold them in with a spatula.

Pour the filling in the crust. In order to get rid of air bubbles, tap the tin a few times on a hard surface. The surface of the cake will get smooth at the same time.

Bake your cake at 180°C for 50 minutes. Open the oven door after that and bake it for another 15 minutes. After that turn the oven off and let te cake cool off in the oven before you take it out.

Personally, I feel the cake is even better if it has spent a night in the fridge! That is, if you can wait that long 😉

Categories: Cake

Carrot cake

31,589 Comments

Fluffy, nutty and never dry!

This carrot cake is super easy, there is no way you can fail it! Even after three or four days it stays nice and moist. And last but not least: it’s animal friendly: it’s 100% plant-based. You can make it even better with a frosting of your choice.

Ingredients

  • 2 big handful of nuts (walnuts, hazelnuts, anything you like)
  • 200 g carrots
  • half a lemon
  • 80 ml neutral oil
  • 200 g whole grain flour (wheat or spelt)
  • half a pack of baking powder (8g)
  • 1 pack of vanilla sugar (8g)
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ginger powder
  • salt

recipe

Roughly chop the nuts into small bits and roast them in a pan until they are golden brown. Let them cool in a bowl.

Finely grate the carrots and mix them with the juice and zest of the lemon. Add the oil and the sugars and mix well.

Add the rest of the ingredients (don’t forget the nuts!).

If the batter is too dry, you can add a bit of water. It has to be thick and sticky but shouldn’t have any dry spots.

Put the batter in a floured cake-tin and bake the cake for 45-60 minutes at 180°C.

Frosting (optional)

To make your cake even better, you can add some frosting. Fro a cream cheese frosting you will need:

  • 150 g cream cheese
  • a bit of juice and zest of a lemon or lime
  • 50 g of powdered sugar

Just mix everything well!
If you want to keep the cake for several days, I suggest you keep the frosting in a separate bowl in the fridge. You can put the frosting only on the part you’ll eat immediately: it will keep longer.

Enjoy 🙂

Categories: Cake

Quatre-quarts

14,615 Comments

The success is guaranteed!

Want to eat some cake, but you don’t have much time and motivation? Then you are in the right place! Quatre-quarts is a child’s play! Quatre-quarts stands for four quarters: 1/4 sugar, 1/4 flour, 1/4 butter and 1/4 eggs. You simply need to weight the desired amout of eggs (with shell) and put the same amount of all the other ingredients (for example, 3 eggs weight around 125g).

The ingredients :

  • 125g flour
  • 125g sugar
  • 125g melted butter
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 sachet baking powder

The recipe :

  1. Pre-heat the oven up to 180°C.
  2. Mix all the ingredients together in a bowl and stir with a whisk until until smooth.
  3. Pour the dough in a greased cake pan.
  4. Bake the cake for around 25 minutes.
  5. And here we are! Enjoy! 🙂

Categories: Cake

Chocolate cake

4,541 Comments

The classic!

Not much to say, it’s a chocolate cake! For me, it tastes best when the outside is a bit crusty and the inside still moist and compact. To make it happened, your best bet is a kugelhopf pan.

The ingredients :

  • 250g chocolate
  • 225g sugar
  • 125g melted butter
  • 40g flour
  • 5 eggs

The recipe :

  1. Pre-heat the oven up to 180°C.
  2. Melt the chocolate and the butter seperately, then add them together in a big bowl.
  3. Add the sugar and the flour.
  4. Separate the egg whites from the egg yolks: Mix the egg yolks with the rest and put the egg whites in a new bowl.
  5. Stir the mixture with a whisk until until smooth.
  6. Whisk the egg whites until stiff with a pinch of salt.
  7. Add them delicately to the mixture with a rubber spatula.
  8. Pour the mixture in a greased kugelhopf pan and put it in the oven.
  9. Bake the cake for around 25 minutes. Stick a knife in the cake to know if it’s ready (if there’s some dough on the knife, it’s not ready yet!).
  10. Let it rest a bit and then…enjoy it! 🙂

Categories: Cake

Homemade chili oil

11,357 Comments

I finally did my own chili oil with my dried chili! And it’s very easy. For that you’ll need:

  • fresh or dried chilis
  • olive oil (or other type of oil/mix, depends on your taste)
  • Garlic
  • A sterilized glas bottle

After washing the chilis, I cut them in half to collect the seeds for future sowings. I only kept a little bit (there was a lot of seeds) and put the rest with the chilis in the bottles. Added the garlic and the oil, and there it is! After a few weeks, the oil begins to be hot, just taste it regularly. Keep the oil away from sunny and warm places. After using a bit, you can refill the bottle with olive oil, or take the chilis out of the bottle and reuse them for something else, whatever you prefer!

Categories: Chili pepper

Brioche

249 Comments

Patience is the key to success!

I found this recipe on the internet (you can find it when you search for “brioche tressée de mon enfance”), and after a few successful tries I added a bit more butter, it’s even better! And I always add a bit more yeast, the dough rises better.

Ingredients :

  • 500g flour (wheat or spelt )
  • 12g dry yeast or 30g fresh yeast
  • 200ml whole milk
  • 2 eggs
  • 100g butter
  • 80g sugar
  • A pinch of salt
  • An egg yolk for the brushing
  • Optional : coar sugar and poppy seeds for the sprinkling (or similar)

The recipe :

  1. Mix the milk, the eggs, the salt and the sugar in a large bowl.
  2. Mix in the flour and the yeast (in small bits) and work the dough with a dough scraper first, then with both hands during at least 20 minutes.
  3. Add the pieces of butter and work the dough until it is even.
  4. Cover the bowl and leave it 2 hours for rising at 25°C. At best, put it in the fridge after 30 minutes and leave it for the night.
  5. Work the dough a little bit and put it in a baking pan, brush the top with water or the egg yolk and sprinkle with coar sugar and poppy seeds.
  6. Cover the baking pan with a dishcloth and let the dough rise for 45 minutes at 25°C.
  7. Set the oven to 180°C and bake the brioche for at least 30 minutes in the oven. Check the brioche at the end of the baking time with a knife! If nothing sticks to the knife anymore, it’s ready!
  8. Take the brioche out of the oven and let it cool for a while before taking it out of the baking pan. Enjoy!
  9. Try the brioche with some butter 😉

Categories: Bread

Bread loaf for beginners

9,351 Comments

a safe and delicious first step into the world of bread!

Are you tired of the boring loaf pumped with additives from the next supermarket? Are you tired of running to the organic bakery to buy a decent loaf that will cost you half of your daily budget, but at the same time you really don’t want to spent an eternity in the kitchen getting your hands all sticky with bread dough? Then you’ve come to the right place! This loaf is super easy, very tasty and gives you a lot of room for your very own variations and ideas, discovering the world of baking. Once you’ve started you won’t be able to stop, and soon the taste of industrial bread will become merely a faint memory.

Ingredients

  • 650 g flour
  • 450 ml lukewarm water
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 42 g fresh yeast or 2 packs of dry yeast
  • 2 tsp salt
  • some seeds to sprinkle over (sesame, sunflower, pumpkin, poppy, etc.)

Flour, flour, flour

Flour is of course the most important ingredient, and that’s where you can be the most creative: follow your taste and test out different combinations! Let me just give you a few recommendations:

  • Wholewheat or not wholewheat? both is the answer. Wholewheat gives you more nutrients and a deeper flavor, but the plain flour will allow your loaf to rise properly!
  • Concerning wheat flour, I would never go lower than the type 550, the finer the flour the less fitted it is to bread making.
  • Rye flour is delicious, but be careful: if you put more than one third rye flour in, your dough will get extremely sticky.
  • Spelt flour is really nice, especially if you can find the type 1050: a good compromise between plain and wholewheat.

Recipe

  1. crumble the yeast in the water, pour in the sugar and mix. It is best to let it rest for 2-3 minutes.
  2. In the meantime mix the flour with the salt in a big bowl.
  3. Form a well in the flour, pour in the liquid and mix everything well. If you don’t want to get your hands dirty, you can use a spatula. Knead the dough for about 5 minutes.
  4. Cover the bowl with a lid or a kitchen towel and let the dough rise until it has roughly doubled in size. It takes around 45 minutes.
  5. Knead the dough briefly and form a loaf. You can either put it in a loaf pan or on a baking paper covered tray.
  6. Brush the dough with a wet brush and sprinkle the dough with seeds. Then brush it again so that the seeds get well incorporated in the dough.
  7. here you have two options:
    – You can either put the dough in the cold oven directly, turn on the oven to 180°C and bake it for around 50 minutes.(It is possible that your dough won’t rise properly, but it is quicker that way!)
    – Or you can cover the dough again for 20-30 minutes, than put it in the preheated oven (180°C) for around 40-45 minutes.
  8. You can check if your bread is done by tapping the underside of the loaf: if it sounds hollow, it’s done!

Categories: Bread