archives: cooking

sourdough garlic bread

What better use for a loaf of sourdough than garlic bread? This was quick and easy and oh so delicious, on both the plain sourdough and the sun-dried tomato mentioned in the previous post.

sourdough garlic bread | pepperknit

Sourdough Garlic Bread

1 stick butter, soft
4 large cloves garlic, smashed
1 handful parsley
1 tablespoon or so olive oil
1 loaf sourdough bread

In a food processor, combine the butter, garlic, parsley, and olive oil until the garlic and parsley are small and incorporated. Refrigerate the garlic butter overnight for the flavors to meld.

Preheat the broiler. Slice the bread into half-inch-thick slices and place on a foil-lined baking sheet in a single layer (photograph shows it when set out for serving; dont overlap them like shown!). Spread a generous amount of garlic butter on each slice, going to the edges. Broil until golden brown, taking care not to let the bread burn.

sourdough mania continues

I decided to make a slew of loaves to bring on our family beach week vacation, so in the week preceding vacation I baked up a storm. Some were made to become garlic bread, and others will be offered up for slicing to go with cheese and meats in our traditional appetizers.

Since baking the last two loaves, I’ve gone to the Container Store and bought a pretty glass container for Constance to live in and a combo cooker by Lodge to partner with my Dutch oven. It’s round, so it will more easily accommodate the round loaves I’ve been making, and I decided it was just that bit more useful than a round Dutch oven. I’m still bummed that Broadway Panhandler in Manhattan closed (and the space is still empty! It’s been years!), because their annual Le Creuset sale was amazing.

sourdough starter | pepperknit

All this to say that I only felt confident making 2 loaves at a time. On Sunday I fed Constance almost straight out of the fridge and 5 hours later the starter had risen significantly but not entirely doubled. I was antsy so I forged ahead with my scaled-down Hobb’s House Baker No-Knead Bread recipe, but in the future I’ll either be sure to let Constance sit out for at least 1 hour at room temp before feeding or I’ll give it an additional hour to double. (Either way, it needs just about 1 more hour, so guess it just depends on how my morning is going.)

I had inexplicable trouble forming these into loaves. The first one gave me so much trouble that I left the second in the bowl for an additional round of stretch and fold. It was better after that but not as easy as it had been in the past. One thing that I’m not sure makes a difference: I used water straight from the tap, because I wanted it to be warm, instead of the room-temp filtered water we have out. They say NYC water is some of the best tap water around, so I thought it wouldn’t hurt too much.

sourdough bread | pepperknit

sourdough bread | pepperknit

Based on some descriptions I read online, I decided not to take the dough out of the fridge in advance, taking it instead directly from the fridge to the parchment paper (this time, I cut the parchment to match the vessels it’d bake in, and I still crumpled it up a few times). I debated how to cut and went with this zig-zag with wheat stalk for both, based on a design I’d seen on Instagram. Immediately after scoring the round one I remembered I was supposed to dust it with flour first. Oh well!

sourdough bread | pepperknit

sourdough bread | pepperknit

I baked these for 25 minutes with the lid on, then 20 minutes with it off. They got nice and dark and had okay oven spring. It’s clear I’m not scoring deep enough where I want the deep cuts, but it’s not terrible. I sliced into the round one because it’s my bread for the week here at home, and again the crumb felt kind of “wet” to me. I resolved to give more time in the covered DO the next day.

sourdough bread | pepperknit

While the oven was preheating on Monday, I mixed up more starter to make two more loaves. Again I mixed the loaves separately, and this time I used filtered water. After the autolyse, I added diced dry sun-dried tomatoes (the kind not packed in oil) to one of the bowls. I say “dry” sun-dried tomatoes, but these were very pliable and moist; maybe if they’d once been completely dry they were now more like “rehydrated.” (I found them in the fancy meats, olives, etc. area of my grocery store.) I guessed at how much to dice, chopping them up pretty small until the pile looked right to me. Because I wanted to be able to re-create this in the future, I measured my pile: It was a generous 1/2 cup. After folding the salt in, I dumped the tomatoes on the dough and folded them for a bit, too.

After my difficulty the night before I gave an extra half-hour to the bulk fermentation and an additional stretch and fold. The dough was MUCH stronger by the end, I could feel it—it felt as if the dough were pushing against me when I tried to do the fold, it was so leavened. Forming them into the loaves was not hard at all; I’d been wary of working with the dough with the sun-dried tomato bits but it gave me no trouble.

sourdough bread | pepperknit

sourdough bread | pepperknit

Because of a mid-morning dentist appointment and an extreme aversion to waking up much earlier than I have to, these got a longer proof in the fridge—probably around 17 hours, instead of the 14 the ones the day before had received. Like Monday, I took them straight from the fridge to my pre-cut pieces of crumpled parchment paper. This time, I went with a bold angled slash in order to get an ear (I think I’m obsessed with the ears), then some perpendicular wheat stalks, inspired by this source material. I did the same design on both; I’m enjoying seeing how the designs look on round versus banneton shapes.

sourdough bread | pepperknit

sourdough bread | pepperknit

I. Love. These. Loaves. SO MUCH. The ears are amazing, the design shows up so nicely, and it’s clear my slashing has gotten better. I baked these for 30 minutes with the lids on, then about 20 minutes for the sun-dried tomato and 22 for the round with the lid off. The moment they went into the oven I could smell the sun-dried tomatoes, and I was afraid they were burning, but it looks okay in the final loaf if you peer inside the ear. Later when I cut into it I was quite pleased:

sun-dried tomato sourdough bread | pepperknit

Again while the loaves were baking on Tuesday, I had starter proofing for another pair of loaves. Because this back-to-back-to-back breadmaking has been really good practice, I decided to mix all the dough together at once, then I’d divide the dough when shaping the loaves—might as well give that a whirl. After 3.5 hours of bulk fermentation WHOA was the dough a strong, resistant, puffball! I think I did a pretty terrible job halving it (one of them looks far smaller than the other!) but I didn’t have too much difficulty with the shaping.

These proofed in the fridge for about 17 hours, like the ones from the day before. I went more bold in the cuts, trying something different. (Seems I only photographed the round loaf.)

sourdough bread | pepperknit

With 5 minutes left in their bake times, Jason mentioned that they smelled more strongly than usual. I shrugged and said I wasn’t sure why. And then I realized and went screaming racing into the kitchen: “I FORGOT TO REDUCE THE TEMP WHEN I PUT THEM IN THE OVENNNNN!” So I yanked the loaves out of the oven and they were for sure more dark than I’d want. I let them cool, wrapped them up, and brought them to the beach—and when I cut into it later I found it was juuust fine on the inside. The crust had a lot more flavor, veering toward bitter, but it was great with cheeses.

sourdough bread | pepperknit

sourdough bread | pepperknit

A pretty successful six loaves of bread. Which was far far too much bread for even our family. My mom even took a whole loaf home with her!


sourdough loaves 2 and 3

Puffed with confidence after my first loaf, I decided to alter the recipe. I did some research about baker’s percentages and was able to scale the recipe down just a bit, so as to make an ever-so-slightly smaller loaf that might fit better in my Dutch oven. My new version of the Hobb’s House Bakery No-Knead Bread has the following ingredients:

240 g starter, at its peak
272 g water*
80 g King Arthur Flour Whole Wheat Flour
320 g King Arthur Flour Bread Flour
8 g salt

* I’ve since read Flour Water Salt Yeast, and that book details at length that final dough temperature is the most important thing; he alters the temperature of the water to achieve the right final temp. I used room-temp water and had great results. Then I tried using slightly hotter tap water to see what would happen, and the final dough temp was much higher than he detailed and the final loaves were, to my mind, not as great—perhaps because I used water straight from the tap?

I set out to make my second and third loaves because, so pumped up with my achievements as I was, I determined to make a loaf as a host gift for my friend’s parents, who were hosting us the coming weekend. While I know that the Tartine recipe calls for mixing up the dough and then splitting it into two loaves, and thus I knew that doubling it would have been straightforward, I was feeling tentative and decided to mix each loaf up separately. This meant I could do more stretch-and-folds, though, so I was not complaining; I love that part of the process!


I started the process around 9 am that day, feeding Constance a huge meal so that I would have at least 480 g of starter to use at the end. Around 2 she was more than doubled (I’d had an unexpected work call that meant I couldn’t check on her at 1), so I started the autolyse. I let bulk fermentation go for about 3 hours, and had no issues forming the loaves to put into the vessels for proofing.

Back when our starters were just wee babes, I bought Caro and me matching cane bannetons. I liked the longer shape and figured it would fit more nicely in my oval Dutch oven. After my shall-not-be-named disaster with a loaf sticking to the banneton, I did some research and settled on using a tea towel dusted with a 50/50 mix of bread flour and rice flour to prevent sticking. That has definitely done the trick; I’ve had no issues peeling the tea towel off after inverting. With two loaves in the mix and only one banneton, I employed just a normal ceramic bowl from Ikea for the second loaf. I’d give a round one in the DO a try.

I spent the evening once the loaves were in the fridge (they went in around 7) debating on my cutting patterns. I scanned Instagram and decided leafy shapes, rather than the stalks of wheat, would be what I’d try. The next morning I got one loaf out of the fridge around 8 and let it sit for 2 hours; for the last half hour I preheated the oven with my DO inside. Using a technique that was detailed in a cookbook I recently edited, I balled up my parchment paper 5 times or so in order to soften it a bit. This helped a lot for the parchment not interfering with the bread’s shape. Once I put the loaf in the oven I took out the second to come to room temp. For both, I remembered to sprinkle with flour before cutting. Cutting was not very easy; the lame dragged. But I persisted.

And I was decently pleased.

sourdough bread | pepperknit

sourdough bread | pepperknit

The long one was baked first, and the moment it came out I realized I needed to score more deeply, so I attempted that on the second. I love the rich dark color they got. The crumb was generally nice but maybe slightly “wet” feeling? And whoa talk about a big bubble. It was in the DO for 25, uncovered for 20 or 25.

sourdough bread | pepperknit

Cutting the loaf straight out of the oven is like cutting down a tree with a switchblade—my serrated knife is clearly not up to the task. The next day the crust has softened enough that it’s not such an aerobic effort. We gave the round loaf away and it was much appreciated!

post-script: Jason helped me document the whole process, and Google later made me a video of it! It’s too big to upload, sadly, but you can see it here.


sourdough adventures

A while back, I was browsing the “Explore” tab of Instagram and happened upon a bunch of gorgeous loaves of bread. I followed the account and started swooning over the beautiful slashing and enticing crumb shots I saw. Turns out that IG account is by a woman who wrote a James Beard-award winning book on sourdough. She lives in Brooklyn and in April mentioned workshops, so I took a look to see if I should try it out. Well, the 3-day intensive was $950 without lodging, and I thought, hmm, I could try it myself first, invest in a few $5 bags of flour instead, and see what happens.

I mentioned this to Caro, who has baked a lot of Jim Lahey’s no-knead bread. I said, “I think I’m going to try starting my own sourdough starter this week.” I included a link to the King Arthur Flour guide. She replied, “If you start one, I will too”; turned out she’d been reading up on this on her own. And so the #breadalong was born. Once we posted our initial shots, a friend revealed she, too, had started a sourdough starter that day!

And then we waited.

sourdough starter | pepperknit

And waited.

sourdough starter | pepperknit

And waited.

sourdough starter | pepperknit

I went through at least 2 whole bags of KAF All-Purpose Flour. I named my starter Constance Stein, after a woman who continues to get mail here even though I’ve lived in this apartment for 9 years. After 3+ weeks I broke down and called the King Arthur Flour hotline. I felt sheepish, and it was certainly one of the sillier things I’ve ever done, but I figured, they’re there for this, they’re the experts. (Cut to Jed Bartlet calling the Butterball Hotline.) Constance wasn’t doubling at all, and they’d indicated it would happen after 1 week. My apartment is generally warm, but it was April and the temp outside was fluctuating quite a bit. The mildly amused woman on the KAF hotline suggested I put the starter in the fridge and feed every 3 days, and promised doubling would happen in due time. I followed her advice.

I continued to feed Constance, and I continued to experiment with sourdough english muffins, sourdough waffles, sourdough sandwich bread (that also uses commercial yeast), sourdough pretzels, sourdough pizzas, and sourdough crackers. I put the discard to many delicious uses.

sourdough discard | pepperknit

And then one day in early June I left Constance on the counter all day as a test, and she doubled, or nearly did. I had my suspicions that she was not ready but I forged ahead. I made a mess. The loaf stuck in the banneton and was just so, so ugly. It will not be shown; I do not count this loaf as an actual loaf in my bread-making journey. I continued to babble to Caro about the starter’s progress. On June 14 I declared, “Constance doubled in 7 hours today!” and then there is silence until on June 18 I follow up with, “Constance doubled in 6 hours today!!!”

I spent all my time not making bread watching bread videos on YouTube, reading blogs, and scrolling hashtags on Instagram. And on June 19, one month and 5 days after I mixed up the first portion of flour and water, I started the process, having picked for no discernable reason to follow the Hobbs House Bakery No-Knead Recipe. The recipe uses a large amount of starter, which seemed odd, but I figured, let’s give it all the help it can get for rising. It turned out a beaut, though perhaps a bit lumpy.

sourdough bread | pepperknit

I followed the recipe with the exception of leaving out the sesame seeds and placing the proofed loaf on a piece of parchment to make slashing as well as putting into the Dutch oven easier. I was using my Le Creuset oval 6-quart. I don’t recall now the timing, but I used the video as my guide. The parchment paper bunched up in the DO and that’s why there’s those large indentations along the bottom edge.

Next up, more loaves.

adventures in juicing

A few years ago at Vogue Knitting LIVE Chicago, I started trying green juices from a breakfast and lunch spot off the entrance, Freshii. I loved the taste, yes, but I also loved how it gave me a little zing—and while you’re working an event as intense as VK LIVE, well, you need a little zing. This year for the show in NYC, we found a breakfast and lunch spot to deliver that also had juices, and I went overboard: sometimes 3 juices in a day! How was I to go back to my juiceless lifestyle once I was back home? I debated for a few days but bit the bullet and bought a juicer.

I got the most basic Breville (which Bon Appetit recommended in the January issue), even though the next step up is only about $50 more. It arrived yesterday, and I gave it its inaugural spin last night. My favorite juice from Freshii and the place in NYC, Al Horno, is one that’s just kale, celery, cucumber, lemon, green apple, and spinach. I didn’t buy spinach so I did it without. Not really knowing anything about anything, I dropped a whole peeled lemon into the chute and went from there. And oh boy was it too much lemon! It was drinkable, but it was quite tart. This morning I set about fixing that.


This is exactly what I put into my juice this morning, and the quantity was pretty spot-on. Not quite a giant glassful, but a filling amount. That’s just half a lemon—perhaps still slightly high in lemon, but not puckering, and I’m probably too lazy to cut a lemon any further. In the future  I will up the kale, for sure, and perhaps up all the green veggies a bit.

my first homemade green juice

I obviously didn’t measure anything precisely, but taking the picture of the quantities will hopefully help me tomorrow morning when I make another juice. I won’t turn this into a juicing blog, I promise—but bear with me as I include a few successes so that I can recreate them for myself! And maybe this will help someone else. With that in mind, a few notes:

  • I found some sites that said “always peel citrus” and others that said “you could get away with about half a lemon’s worth of peel still on.” I asked a friend who loves juice and she immediately told me to peel it. Given how strong the lemon comes through, I’d hate to add a stronger lemon component—and I definitely don’t want the bitterness of the peel. What to do with all the lemon peels? Make candied peels!
  • The Breville product tag has a photograph of a woman holding an apple over the feed chute as if to drop it in whole. I used a whole apple for the photo because it was prettier, but in truth I had cut out the core before putting it in the chute. I don’t know if the core would be too tough for it—some sites I’ve read say to always core apples. Maybe Breville took that picture because it’s pretty.
  • Speaking of apple, this morning one of my apple pieces turned onto its flat side and couldn’t be pushed down into the blades any further—it was the last thing I juiced so I couldn’t push it with something else. In the future I’ll take care to keep it vertical if possible.
  • I bought organic celery, kale, etc., and hope that Fresh Direct continues to have them on sale in the future!
  • In general the juice seems more juice than particles, which I’m used to when I get juice from a shop. This is nice, in that it is a touch easier to drink, but is odd, because I’d really gotten used to that mouthfeel. Eh, it is what it is.
  • As to cleanup: honestly, not that bad. It has more parts than the Cuisinart but isn’t any more annoying to clean, and in fact seems to have fewer nooks and crannies. However, scrubbing the mesh strainer with the brush does take some time. Including emptying the full dishdrain before starting to wash, the process took ten minutes this morning. I’m kind of shocked it took so long, but that isn’t terrible. Because I live in petrifying fear that if the waste sits on the machine for any length of time I’ll never get it clean, I had the filter soaking within moments and had washed it all upon finishing my juice.

Next up, once I get to the store, will be a beet-carrot-apple-ginger recreation of another favorite juice from Al Horno. But for now, one of these in the morning is going to be quite fine.