Disclaimer: No husbands were seriously harmed in the consumption of this soup. This post is in honor of getting engaged three years ago today!
The farmer’s market has the most beautiful spring onions this time of year. They are displayed in lovely stacks of red onions and yellow onions with healthy green tops just begging to make their way home with your produce. So naturally, I bought some organic spring onions to take home. I’ve used these before for various things but had been ignoring them for weeks. I figured I’d think of something to do with them for a meal one night.
They sat on the counter for a few days until those vibrant green tops were threatening to become yellow tops and that’s when it came to me, Spring Onion Soup! Just like regular onion soup but with these guys. I’d been on a blended soup tear after buying myself an immersion blender (FAVORITE THING EVER, also, follow me on Instagram @alannaface for more pictures) so I thought I’d mix it up with a non-blended soup. I even took some great process images to share here.
Chopped up my onions with only a little of the green top, added butter and olive oil, deglazed with white wine, poured in chicken broth, salt, pepper and a few red pepper flakes and there you have it, soup! Looks good, smells good. I put it in bowls and topped with smoked gouda then broiled it for some bubbly cheese. On the side a little buttered toast with radishes and salt (my husband LOVES this combo). It looked good. And I was hungry, so even though the love of my life wasn’t home yet, I dug in.
Not very far into this bowl of soup I was feeling kind of full. I chalked it up to snacking on too much smoked gouda before getting to the soup. I ate my radish toast and figured since I hadn’t eaten much from this bowl I’d top it with another piece of cheese and my husband could have it when he got home with some fresh radish toast. I got up, cleared the table and put my dishes in the kitchen, and cleaned up a little. I even put the second bowl in a container and figured we’d have leftovers for later. But man, my stomach was not feeling right. I tried to go relax on the couch a little and officially entered stomach ache territory. I don’t have to tell you how this ends, right? Nonetheless, I figured I just was over full and it was my own darn fault I was feeling sick.
Enter husband after work and I present him with the rest of the soup and radish toast. He’s hungry so he digs in and devours his soup and toast in approximately 30 seconds. Then he cleans up his dishes and comes to tell me his stomach kind of hurts. Uh oh. His digestive tract follows the same course of events mine did but luckily I could assure him that it was just passing through and not there to stay! But he may never trust another soup I make him, again?
Naturally I threw away the leftovers that I had put away already because who knows what I did to this soup. I still can’t fathom why it wrecked both of our stomachs but I can only think it was the onions since everything were ingredients we use regularly. Luckily my husband (and I) lived through this experience to tell the story.
Have you ever made a meal that made someone sick (this sure isn’t my first rodeo with it!)?
If you’re lucky enough to have access to fresh artichokes now is the time to get these thistles. Spring is the official season for artichokes and with farmers’ markets full of them, it’s good to know how to quickly cook them for a weeknight dinner without having to boil a pot of water or turning on the oven.
How do you pick the best artichoke at the market? Look for ones with the petals (these are flower buds, you know) that haven’t opened much and listen for squeaking when you give them a gentle squeeze. This applies for any size of artichoke, the ones you see here would qualify as large. Medium to large artichokes are some of the best for steaming. With luck you will find artichokes with some stem like these which is great because the stem is edible and similar in texture to the artichoke heart.
Before starting, prepare a microwave-safe dish — I use a glass one– with about 1/2-inch of water with a dash of lemon juice or white vinegar. Artichokes will oxidize and the acid will prevent them from turning brown. Also don’t forget to give these flower buds a rinse! They are from the outdoors and it’s best to rinse them of any contaminants (mine obviously had a visit from a birdy…).
If you’ve ever worked with fresh artichokes you know they have little thorns so use a pair of kitchen scissors to cut the tips of the petals off. The top of the bud doesn’t need to be trimmed because you will be cutting off the top inch or so.
Don’t throw away that stem! Pull off any small leaves, slice off the old cut end and then use a pairing knife or vegetable peeler to peel the stem.
When you have peeled the stem, roll it around a bit in your prepared water to keep it from coloring. I’m only preparing two artichokes here but this method would apply to as many as you need to prepare (think bigger glass casserole dish!). Keep the water in the dish and cover with plastic wrap.
For two large artichokes, start with 10 minutes in the microwave and then check them for doneness. Time should be about 10-13 minutes depending on your microwave. Add time for more artichokes. CAREFULLY pull back the plastic wrap (there’s hot steam under there!) and use a fork or paring knife to poke gently, if it easily slides into the flesh, it’s done. If there’s resistance, recover and return to the microwave for a few minutes.
To clean the thistle out of the artichoke, turn them on their base and remember there’s still steam in there so they are HOT. Be careful. Let them cool a little if possible. Then 1) gently “open” the choke, 2) pull out the center smallest petals which still have spikes at which point 3) you should see purple petals which you 4) should use a spoon to gently scrape out including the little hairy bits.
If you’re feeling fancy these can be filled with a dipping sauce (like aioli or mayonnaise if you’re feeling lazy) or at this point you can put them on the grill, petal side down, for some extra flavor and char.
My husband and I enjoyed them as is with dipping sauce on the side. I mixed crushed garlic, fresh lemon juice, mayonnaise, kosher salt and harissa infused olive oil to make a dipping sauce. Melted salted butter, plain olive oil or a vinaigrette would also be great as a dipping sauce.
For those unacquainted with eating these, you simply pull off a petal and use your bottom teeth to scrape off some of the soft flesh. As you make your way to the more tender petals there’s more and more of the soft flesh to enjoy before you get the always wonderful artichoke heart.
This recipe is perfect for using up any sort of leftover meat (or tofu!). Really, even the vegetables could be switched up or added to depending on what you have available. The only things you absolutely need on hand are Sriracha, soy sauce, eggs, garlic and rice. Pantry staples. Otherwise, any meat and vegetables (frozen is great here) can be used. Everything on the plate below can be switched up depending on what you have on hand.
In our house there was a lot of leftover Easter ham (still is in the freezer!) so every year when I have more ham than I know what to do with this fried rice comes into play. This recipe is based on a recipe from The Sriracha Cookbook posted on Serious Eats, Sriracha and SPAM Fried Rice. While the canned pork product generally gives me the heebie jeebies (unless it’s SPAM masubi) it’s easy to use another protein in its place. I also had some yellow rice I had saved in the freezer– it’s yellow from Goya seasoning, regular white or brown rice is fine– and simply used some leftover onion and frozen peas as my vegetables. Corn, carrots, even green beans or broccoli would also be welcome additions. The only thing that’s not easily identifiable above would be the sesame oil on the far right but even that could be replaced with coconut oil, canola oil or another oil with a high smoking point.
Add the oil to the wok on high until it’s shimmering then throw in the protein and vegetables to get them a little brown. If your vegetables release liquid, just wait until it’s boiled off and cook, stirring constantly, until you get some charred spots.
Once the char is going on, add the rice and mix it in letting it get some char. Then smoosh everything to the sides of the pan forming a little “well” in the center, add the eggs and garlic to the little “well” and stir vigorously to scramble the egg. Once the eggs are mostly cooked you stir the rice into the eggs and add the Sriracha/soy sauce mixture and stir.
That’s it, done. All your prep work is done before cooking and it’s only a matter of throwing everything in and stirring until it’s done. You can garnish with a little extra Sriracha and green onions if you have them on hand (which if you keep them on your windowsill you should!)
Using less than 10 ingredients, and all of which are pantry staples or leftovers, you can have a very quick meal that’s better than takeout! Can you picture this with shrimp and asparagus instead? What about chicken and broccoli? I might have to try some other combinations so I don’t have to wait for ham next year to make this again!
Sriracha and Ham Fried Rice (Adapted from here)
1/8 – 1/4 cup Sriracha (depending on your heat tolerance)
1/8 cup soy sauce
3 tablespoons toasted sesame oil (or another high smoking point oil like peanut oil, coconut oil, etc.)
1 1/2 cup ham
1/2 onion, diced
1 cup frozen peas
3 – 4 cups cooked rice, cooled (preferably day-old)
1 clove garlic, minced
Sliced green onions, green part only, for garnish
- In small bowl, stir together Sriracha and soy sauce. Set aside. Make sure all ingredients are prepared before moving on (mise en place!).
- Heat a wok (or nonstick or cast iron skillet) over high heat with 2 tablespoons of oil is shimmering. Add the vegetables and protein and stir occasionally until charring begins. This could be 3-5 minutes if your vegetables are not wet, otherwise, wait until the water boils off and then charring should begin.
- When the vegetables and protein have some browning/charring add the rice and stir to coat rice in oil and combine ingredients. Continue stirring to get char on all ingredients, no more than 3 minutes.
- Once all ingredients have a bit of char, move everything to the sides of the pan to make a “well” then add the last tablespoon of oil and heat for about 15 seconds. Add the eggs and garlic, stirring vigorously. Cook the eggs until cooked through then combine with the rice mixture.
- Add the Sriracha and soy sauce mixture and stir to combine while heating for another 30 seconds or so.
- Serve and garnish as desired. Enjoy!
Sometimes when you make pizza at home you have to go all out with a high hydration, 24+ hour rise dough and homemade sauce (from your own tomatoes) and the fancy pepperoni from Whole Foods and pull out all the stops for a resulting pan pizza that will make you wonder if you should probably open your own pizza joint because, gosh darn it, the pan pizza (recipe here) you just made should not be kept from the world. And sometimes you just want to use a little leftover sourdough starter up, a little leftover canned Trader Joe’s marinara, and you happened to remember to buy shredded mozzarella and pepperoni.
This is that pizza. The recipe I used was from King Arthur Flour but with more water so I have listed the updated recipe below. The crust doesn’t get super brown because sourdough changes the pH of the dough but if possible, you should bake on a stone or in cast iron because it will help the bottom brown. This post showed the difference between baking in cast iron and a standard cake pan which makes all the difference in the world here.
If you don’t have a 12-inch cast iron pan in your arsenal? A pizza stone or a pan placed directly on the pizza stone may work. Or parchment paper on a pizza stone if you use the higher hydration. Or go get yourself a 12-inch cast iron pan already.
I did not use the preheat the pan then try and plop a pizza in a blazing hot pan method. I stretched the dough in an unheated pan with plenty of olive oil, topped it and then put it in the oven waiting for the top to brown a little. I probably could have left it in there for even longer but I got hungry. It smelled so darn good.
One of my favorite parts of the recipe is that it makes enough for two 12-inch pies (my second ball of dough went in the freezer with the rest of the shredded mozzarella, pepperoni and some sauce!) or you can make one larger square pizza with all of the dough. If I’m making pizza dough these days, I like to make enough to freeze some for the next time my husband suggests pizza for dinner which is at least every other week! In our house, pizza gets served with a simple green salad with chickpeas and an Anchor Steam on the side.The best part about this recipe is that you can use unfed sourdough starter which is great for those of you who might have starter but forgot to feed it however many hours in advance you need to. Or even for those of you who have “discarded” starter after feedings. See the King Arthur recipe for way more details than I give you below which only tells you how I made my pizza.
Recipe: Sourdough Pizza Crust (originally from King Arthur Flour)
1 cup sourdough starter, unfed (straight from the fridge is fine)
3/4 cup hot tap water (do not overheat water as it will kill the yeast)
2 1/2 cups All-Purpose Flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon instant yeast
1. Stir sourdough starter and measure 1 cup into mixing bowl. A stand mixer with a dough hook works great for this soft dough.
2. Add ½ cup of the hot water and the rest of the ingredients. Mix to combine, then knead, adding the additional water (and more as needed) until dough is smooth and slightly sticky, about 7 minutes at medium speed using a stand mixer. Dough should easily come away from the side of the bowl. If it’s still sticking to the bowl, you may have too much liquid and may want to sprinkle in a little flour and continue kneading.
3. Pick up dough and oil the bowl then return to the bowl for a rise. The dough should double in bulk, about 2 to 4 hours. If your starter is not used often, this rise will take longer and if you regularly use your starter it should take less time.
4. When dough is doubled, divide in half if using a 12-inch pan. Reserve half the dough or wrap in plastic wrap and freeze. With the other dough fold it in half to deflate then coat the bottom of a baking pan liberally with olive oil, and place dough in the pan. Gently stretch the dough to the edges of the pan.
5. Preheat the oven to the highest setting, for me this is 525-Farenheit. Let the stretched dough rest for 15 minutes while the oven preheats.
6. Top the rested dough and pop the whole thing in the oven. Bake until the edges are browned and the cheese is brown and bubbly, 10-15 minutes. Enjoy!
Every holiday, whether fabricated or not (I’m looking at you, Valentine’s Day), is a good excuse to make sure your cherished ones know how important they are to you. Not that we need an excuse, but hey, if it includes an excuse to eat candy– which we do need an excuse for– then it’s just frosting on my cake. Which brings us to Easter, a day that meant a lot more to me as a child when I took pleasure in Easter egg hunts and wearing a new spring dress than it does as an adult when I don’t even get a day off from work for it.
If memory serves, since I’m not seeing that I wrote about it on the blog at all, I’ve hosted maybe two or three Easter brunches in years past. Family and some friends have convened over ham, brunch food and chocolate eggs because it somehow seems strange to ignore Easter. Which is exactly what I wad going to do this year. Our dishwasher (you know, the one that is only two years old from our kitchen remodel!?) is broken so I said, “No hosting since we can’t do dishes.” But then everyone kept asking, “Sooooo…. are you hosting Easter?” And I finally gave in with my husband’s permission. But, you all get paper plates and plastic utensils!
And since of course it’s me, we didn’t just end up with a small Easter gathering but a group of 10 to be hosted. That’s about the size of a Thanksgiving for us which I spend weeks thinking about. However, we decided to do this gathering with only about three days notice! Luckily, everyone volunteered to bring brunch dishes and I simply made a ham, a chicken in the slow cooker (thanks, Pinterest!) and baked some bread the day before. Easy peasy.
One Polish tradition that I have been forgetting to do for a while is breaking the “Christmas wafer” or in Polish, “oplatki,” before our meal. I distinctly remember doing this before dinner at my grandma’s house and at my great uncle’s home for Christmas and Easter each year. Everyone gets a small piece of the wafer and then goes around and breaks it with everyone else. Then we say a prayer and eat it. From Wikipedia:
Breaking off and exchanging part of opłatek with someone is symbol of forgiveness between two people and is meant to remind participants of the importance of Christmas, God, and family.
In our family we did it for the big holidays (Thanksgiving too? I can’t remember!) and it was a nice way to mingle with family. I haven’t done this in years and years and though this stuff is a big mouthful of cardboard (flour and water) it brought back memories of when I was little as soon as I tasted it on Sunday. I may have to hunt down more and keep this tradition.
Hosting a sit-down meal on the fly for 10 makes me think I’m going to have challenge myself to a bigger gathering for the next Thanksgiving! I’m glad we were able to have everyone join us and we had a beautiful meal with ones who I’m happy are part of our lives. I was also happy my sister and I were able to introduce everyone to a Polish tradition we value.
Do you have any holiday traditions that you celebrate on Easter or another holiday?
Instead of traveling over the long weekend my husband and I stuck around while I did some of my favorite things: spent time in the kitchen, time in the garden, built something, and took a little drive. I can be very predictable. I took some phone pictures along the way and thought I would share some of my sunny weekend with those of you who had snowy long weekends, instead!
While I was initially intimidated by making my own yogurt (any recipe that requires over an hour of waiting scares me off at first pass) I finally got around to it using this recipe. It’s exactly like the store bought stuff and it so much cheaper that I will definitely be doing this again. Using four cups of milk and four tablespoons of yogurt yielded two pint jars and a not-quite-full half-pint jar. This method can be used for ANY type of yogurt (soy, coconut, goat milk, etc.) by using the “milk” and yogurt of matching types.
I strained my yogurt to get thicker yogurt like the Greek stuff. I save my whey as I’ve mentioned before to add to beans, bread, soups, and anything else I can think of. It still has vitamins and nutrients in it so I either freeze it to use later or in this case, I made a big pot of soup last night and it all went into the pot!
While I didn’t take any pictures of the finished product, I built a simple trellis for one of my grape vines over the weekend. The first step was to do a little digging and put in the posts but as is true in our backyard, before digging we always run into a few cinder blocks. Luckily I only found one and it came out of the ground pretty easily. Digging out the grape vine to transfer it to this new location was not as easy and I’m hoping it makes it after all the cutting I did. Oops. At least it won’t have to share the arbor with a rose, wisteria and another grape anymore.
So I guess it’s spring-ish around here? Came across the first (and always tiny) asparagus shoot in the garden. For size comparison, that’s one of my Digz gloves you see it on. While small, it was delicious fresh from the garden.For my grand finale, I give you my new favorite tile: glass and travertine. Let me explain how I came across this: The husband and I like to take Sunday drives occasionally and explore the area. There is a really, really, fancy, expensive neighborhood a short drive away and as we found ourselves purposefully getting lost, we saw a sign for an open house. The conversation in the car went like this:
Wife: “Ooooooo, open house. Let’s go!”
Husband: “What? Why? That house is going to be sooo expensive.”
Wife: “I know, I just want to see it, it’s an open house. Look, there’s another sign, we’re already here, let’s just go!”
Husband: *Begrudgingly drives to house*
As soon as we pulled up out front we knew we were soooo way out of our league. Someone had bought a house here, razed it, and built a brand-new fancier (exponentially more expensive) new construction home with all the premium finishes throughout. After we both embarrassed ourselves with the real estate agent showing the house (we were the only ones there since the house was so darn expensive so we had to chat and expose our out-of-league-ness) a neighbor showed up to see the house and we snuck off to see the place. And the highlight was this tile. I love it. Maybe it’s not too late to put a backsplash in our kitchen?
How was your weekend? Any cooking going on? Have you started gardening yet or is it still too cold? Are you an open house crasher, too?
In honor of Valentine’s Day, America’s most hated holiday, I would like to share five little things that make my life better somehow. You know, things that you can’t get enough of and give you the happy butterflies because, let’s be honest, they are crush worthy. And while I obviously have a crush on my husband, I’m focusing on things that are garden, cooking and DIY related today. If you have anything to add, let me know in the comments!
This is not a sponsored post, I just love these products.
1. Digz Women’s Signature Series Work Gloves
If you’re a gardener, you know that the big, clunky leather work gloves that you can get cheaply at the home improvement store aren’t that great for more detailed garden work like pulling small weeds or planting seeds. I have a crush on these because they make it easier to garden and are great for protecting my hands on other home improvement projects, too. They keep my hands warm when it’s cool outside plus they’re cute. Digz gloves are sold at Home Depot and a few other stores for about $10 per pair and they have several different types besides this all-around work glove so you can find a pair that work best for your activities.
2. Best Pan Pizza Ever (from Serious Eats)
My husband may have a bigger crush on this pizza than I do but it still changed my pizza-world. While this recipe takes time, if you’re going to make a pizza to impress folks (or your significant other) this is the one. I recently used the dough I had frozen from my first attempt at this to make a pizza when my father-in-law was in town and it turned out just as good as the one that never was frozen. Sounds like I’ll be making a bigger batch next time to have this stuff on hand for whenever we get a pizza craving because this pizza is so much better than delivery! Plus I can justify it by calling it healthier since I make it from scratch and use some wheat flour in the dough. Bam, health food.
3. Muck Boots
Don’t tell my husband, but his big surprise Christmas gift to me this year confused me at first. Then prompted jokes from me of, “Are you trying to turn me into a grandma!?!” (No offense grandma, I don’t mean you.) Then I tried on my new gardening shoes for the first time. Pretty comfy. Then I used them on a chilly day in the garden for the first time and realized, “These are like wetsuits for my FEET.” These. Are. Awesome. They keep my feet warm and dry but are breathable for when it gets hot. They’re easy to clean so I don’t mind tromping through mud. And did I mention that they are super comfortable? I might be slowly turning into an old lady, but these are so great for gardening I slip into them even if I’m just walking outside for a second to take the garbage out. Thanks, husband, you done good.
4. DIY wine rack above our refrigerator
My crush on the DIY wine rack my dad built is an ongoing one because it makes it easy to see at a glance if we are ready for entertaining! My husband and I don’t drink much when it’s just us but we almost always open a bottle of wine for guests. Our wine rack has bottles of red on the left and whites on the right so we can tell when it’s time to stock up on one or the other. Over the weekend we were looking a little empty in the wine department so we knew we could stock up during a trip to the winery we are members of. Easy access to all the bottles, storage and looking organized make this priceless.
The cast iron pan my grandma gave me a few months ago has become a regular fixture in our kitchen. It’s one of those things I never missed before I had it, but now that I do I use it almost weekly. Aside from cooking bacon in it, most things I use it for aren’t even meaty (we don’t eat much meat). I’ve used it for pumpkin cornbread, cheeserolls, pan pizza, toasting bread, and anything that needs a surface that browns evenly. I’d like to try cooking pancakes in it soon to see how that goes. I like that it is a huge pan (a typical cast iron pan is 9-10″) and have learned that adding 50% to a recipe will fill my pan if I’m using a recipe for a smaller pan.
Anything in your life that you’re crushin’ on big time lately that makes things easier for you? Maybe your favorite health product or your favorite bacon product? You know, whatever.
My husband is an East Coaster. Specifically, he grew up in Massachusetts and went to school in Downtown Boston. Needless to say, he’s had his fair share (and then some of pizza). Good, East Coast, legit pizza. Now we live on the West Coast. And while I– the West Coaster– would argue it’s not all bad here, there are less pizza options in general and more crappy ones in California. My disclaimer is that there are some really superior ones in Northern California that sort of balance things out.
When it boils down to it, it really depends on what your ideal pizza is. If you prefer greasy chain pizza, well then you are in luck, you can find that most anywhere. If you’re after an authentic Italian Neapolitan, then your average delivery place isn’t going to cut it. Deep dish? That’s a smaller cut of the pizza market but depending where you live, it’s out there (and we have some really excellent versions of it in this area). However, a true pizza lover probably has a wide appreciation for several different types of pizza, right? And trumping all the restaurants is a really good homemade pizza if you ask me.
This is by far, the BEST pizza I’ve ever made at home. It’s baked in a cast iron skillet –that I used earlier in the day for a batch of bacon– so it’s really a “pan pizza” similar to what you might get from Pizza Hut. I got the recipe from Serious Eats for this Foolproof Pan Pizza. It’s no-knead, no-stretch. And while it certainly takes a lot longer than any pizza recipe I’ve used before (with an 8-24 hr. first rise) if you start the day before and give it that full rise time the dough becomes a beautifully yeasty, bubbly, wet thing. Dare I say that it’s a downright sexy dough? I do dare. Yes, I do.
We topped ours with the recommended New York Style Pizza Sauce using my own canned Roma tomatoes. Then a dry grated mozzarella (the recipe says using fresh mozzarella would be too wet) and the only pepperoni we could find at the market– aka Whole Foods, but I’m embarrassed to mention I shop there sometimes– with a sprinkle of parmesan when it came out of the oven. And you know what my husband, the ultimate pizza critic, told me? “This is the best pizza I’ve ever had in California.” And I’ll take it.
The recipe makes enough for two pizzas and for my 12″ cast iron pan (thanks, Grandma for the hand-me-down!) the recipe has 50% added for each measurement. But this also means that in the freezer there is another ball of this lovely dough waiting to be defrosted and baked into some pizza magic next time my husband tells me, “I feel like pizza.” Or, you know, every night.
Does anyone have any go-to pizza recipes that they swear by?
Sourdough starter came up a few months ago as it relates to my quest for the perfect cheese roll I ended up borrowing my aunt’s Cheese Board Collective Cookbook (a local place in Berkeley, CA) so that I could follow their recipe for a sourdough starter of my own. This particular starter only calls for rye flour, bread flour, water and 11 days of constant feedings and patience before you have a sour smelling culture of bacteria ready to be added to bread. Right away I went to work creating my sourdough bread with just the starter, flour, water and salt. And my first two attempts weren’t so good producing flat, dense, white bread. I learned that adding some yeast (as in my new favorite sourdough cheese roll recipe) helps the whole bread along.
When I came across another King Arthur Flour recipe using sourdough and yeast to produce a multi-grain boule (a round of bread) I got to work. The recipe below is based on the King Arthur recipe and I will try and note where I have made changes. Most importantly, I’ve tried to make it so you can swap out the specialized ingredients and make good bread with just starter, yeast, salt and flour. If you don’t have your own starter, you can easily make your own, buy some from King Arthur’s website, or contact me and I will send you some if you cover the cost. Sharing is caring! This recipe has now taken the place of buying weekly bread from the store and I’ve made it every weekend for the past three weeks so I’m confident it’s a good one.
Before you even start baking you should make sure you have at least two cups of active starter (with enough extra to feed and continue the starter). Your starter should have large bubbles around the size of the tip of your pinky. If your starter needs to be fed and made active (like if you just took it out of the refrigerator) you should feed it 3-12 hours before baking with it.
The first thing we make is a “soaker” with 1 cup of boiling water and about 2/3 up to 1 cup of grain. If you don’t have any grain (ex. cornmeal, flax seed, bulgur, millet, etc.) then you can use the water only and omit the grain. King Arthur uses a “Harvest Grain Blend” with whole oat berries, millet, rye flakes, wheat flakes, flax, poppy, sesame, and sunflower seeds so feel free to use any of those in your own blend. I use multi-grain cornmeal and bulgur for 2/3 cup total soaker. Add it to your water and let it sit until the grains have softened, at minimum 15 minutes but up to an hour.
While the soaker is doing its thing, prepare your other ingredients. The below image does not include everything in the dough but I wanted to let you see the different flours clearly and the bubbles in an active starter. See them all over that gloopy starter? That’s a good thing. For my recipe I use some rye flour for extra flavor but feel free to swap it out for wheat flour.
What’s the difference between “instant” or “rapid rise” yeast and “active” yeast? Technically the first two don’t have to be “activated” while the latter should be “activated” before adding to the recipe with a little sugar in water. I’ve tried both in this recipe and either one will work.
Dump all the dough ingredients into a mixing bowl. If you don’t want to add the two tablespoons of olive oil, you can omit it with no problem. I like the flavor so I leave it in.
Can you use a mixer? Sure. Can you use a food processor? Sure. Bread machine? Yes. But if you are able to do this by hand I recommend it to save on things you have to dirty. Use a spoon to mix everything as best you can and then use your hands to bring the rest of the flour that’s stuck on the bottom of the bowl into the dough. I also prefer to do my kneading in the bowl so I don’t have to worry about another surface to clean up afterwards because this is a pretty soft, tacky dough. It only takes five minutes of kneading (yup, only 5!) but feel free to do a little more if you want. It’s hard to over knead when you’re doing it by hand. Below is a shot right before I removed the spoon and switched to my hands.
Once it’s kneaded, pick up the dough, spray or drizzle a little olive oil in there, spread it around and plop the dough back in. Cover it with a towel or plastic wrap and let rise 1 – 1.5 hours. You can also put the dough in the refrigerator overnight at this point then continue the next morning.
Once the dough has risen, prepare a cast iron baker (like a Le Creuset). You can use a 5-quart baker here but mine happens to be 7-quarts. If you have one of the oval ones, that works, too. Liberally brush or spray the bottom of the baker with olive oil and sprinkle with cornmeal. I say “liberally” because I had some sticking issues the first two times I made this, but the pot below released the bread with no issues. If you don’t have a baker, you can also use a sheet pan but will need to slightly adjust baking times.
The next step is to turn your dough out onto a greased surface. Unless you don’t mind oil on your countertop, use a baking sheet brushed or sprayed with olive oil. I set mine on a kitchen towel so it stays in place. Fold the dough over a few times to deflate, then shape into a boule.
Never shaped a boule before? Use your hands to create surface tension by gently pulling down as you turn the bread and tuck under. Ideally while wearing a sweater that matches your baker. Yes, it’s my favorite color. Duh. Anyhow, to demonstrate, this is how the bottom of my dough looks once I’ve mushed the dough under gently. Kind of like a brain.
Preheat your oven to 425°F and get your seed topping ready. You can skip the seed topping or just do one type like sesame seeds but I like to mix it up and use what I have on hand: 1/4 tsp. salt, 1/4 tsp. fresh cracked black pepper, 1/2 tsp. each of sesame, poppy and fennel seeds. Mix together with your fingers.
Next, spray, slash and seed. Spray with water (or use a brush again), slash with a lame, razor or sharp knife into a cross hatch pattern, then sprinkle your seed topping.
Bam, fresh bread. Great for everything you do with bread. Let it cool off (you know you’re not supposed to cut into fresh-out-of-the-oven bread just like you wouldn’t cut into a hot steak, right?) then dig in. The crust is crackly, the inside tender and hearty.
I recently read a great book, 52 Loaves, and learned that bread should be stored cut side down on a dish (we use an oval platter) to keep it fresh. Out on the counter. I couldn’t believe it but this bread stays out all week this way and never gets stale. Ready for the beauty shot?
This is hands-down the easiest bread recipe I’ve ever made and one of the best. We can actually make sandwiches and toast out of it so it has completely replaced store-bought bread in our house. Here’s the recipe, enjoy!
Multi-Grain Sourdough Boule
(Adapted from King Arthur Flour)
Hands-on time: 25 mins. to 35 mins.; Baking time: 38 mins. to 55 mins.; Total time: 2 hrs 3 mins. to 3 hrs
Yield: 1 large round loaf
• 1 cup boiling water
• 1/3 cup coarse whole-grain polenta or corn grits (like Bob’s Red Mill)
• 1/3 cup bulgur wheat (like Trader Joe’s or Bob’s Red Mill)
• 2 cups sourdough starter, fed and ready to use
• 3/4 cup rye flour (like Bob’s Red Mill; or use wheat flour here, too)
• 1 cup whole wheat flour
• 1 3/4 cups Artisan Bread Flour or Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
• 3 teaspoons salt
• 1 1/2 teaspoons instant yeast (or 1 packet)
• 2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon sesame seeds, or your favorite blend of seeds (1/4 tsp. salt, 1/4 tsp. fresh cracked black pepper, 1/2 tsp. each of sesame, poppy and fennel seeds)
1. Add the corn polenta and bulgur to the boiling water and soak for 15 minutes to an hour to soften grains. Allow water to cool to lukewarm.
2. When cooled, add the water/grain mix and the remaining dough ingredients (through oil) to a large mixing bowl. Combine ingredients and knead – by hand, mixer, bread machine or food processor – until you’ve made a soft dough, adding additional water or flour as needed. With any method, you only need to knead for about 5 minutes, less if using a mixer or food processor.
3. Cover the dough in the bowl, and let it rise until it’s almost doubled, about 1 to 1.5 hours.
4. Turn the dough out onto a lightly greased work surface, and gently fold it over a few times to deflate it. Shape it into a large round by gently pulling sides toward the bottom of the round to create surface tension.
5. Cover the round with lightly greased plastic wrap or place in a round covered baker that’s been sprayed with non-stick baking spray or brushed with olive oil and sprinkled with sesame seeds or cornmeal, and put on the cover. Let the loaf rise until it’s very puffy, about 1 to 1.5 hours. Towards the end of the rising time, preheat the oven to 425°F.
6. Just before baking, brush or spray with water, and sprinkle with seed topping. Use a lame or a very sharp knife to make four slashes across the top of the loaf, in a crosshatch pattern.
7. Bake the bread for 40 minutes. Uncover the loaf if in a covered baker, and continue to bake 10 to 15 minutes, until the loaf is golden brown and an instant-read thermometer inserted into the center registers 190°F. (A loaf baked on a baking sheet will need to bake for 38 to 45 minutes total.)
8. Remove the bread from the oven, let sit in the baker for 5 minutes, then turn out and cool on a rack. (Note: If you use a baker, the bread may slightly stick on the bottom if there wasn’t enough oil/cornmeal. Use a silicon spatula to loosen the loaf before gently removing.)