Monday, 25 June 2012

Sourdough sandwich buns

I've been working on these for a couple of weeks. I made about fifty hamburger rolls for our street's Jubilee picnic on Monday 4th June, but was in such a hurry that there are no photos. Still, they went over pretty well. Only a few things needed some work, I felt.

The recipe was originally from Ed Woods's book World Sourdoughs From Antiquity, which I find very useful for the basics. I found an identical recipe on, but both recipes needed some tailoring. First, like most American recipes, they contain sugar. I just don't like putting sugar in my bread, on the whole. Honey, certainly, and if I'm using a Carol Field recipe, malt syrup. Maybe that's a bit odd of me, but if it's not a sweet bread, why add sugar? Second, everything is in cups. I'm trying to be more precise these days. If you're just doing these recipes at home for fun (which is what I do, so far), cups are fine as a measurement, but today's cup of flour on a warm dry afternoon probably won't be the same on a damp wet day, or if you pack it a bit harder or use a different cup. It still won't make too much difference; bread is mostly about feel.

Anyway, this is what I did:

Sourdough Sandwich Rolls


- 450 grams sourdough starter, proofed and active
- 50 grams butter
- 115 grams milk, lukewarm
- 2 eggs, beaten
- 5 grams salt
- 400 grams bread flour (may be up to half wholemeal; in this case, I use 100g wholemeal and 100g spelt wholemeal)


Stir together all ingredients except flour.

Add flour, mixing until it comes together enough to be turned out and kneaded.

Knead until dough is smooth and satiny (this can be done on a mixer or bread machine, if preferred). You can add some more flour, if you feel it's right.

Divide into portions of about 125g. Roll these using your cupped palm, resting your fingers against the work surface. It may help to form them into balls first, by folding the outer edges into the centre.

Lay them on greased trays. Cover and let rise until doubled in bulk, about an hour or more.  If you want, you can brush the tops with water or milk and cover with sesame or poppy seeds.  I also used about a third of the dough to make a sandwich loaf:

Preheat the oven to 180C, and bake for 20 minutes until lightly browned. They may need slightly more, if they are large.

Cool on wire rack.

They look pretty good, and the texture is just right for our lunchbox sandwiches.

The only slight problem with these is that I'm finding the wholemeal spelt flour stales a bit faster than I like, but the taste can't really be faulted.

I'm going to try submitting these to YeastSpotting.

Thursday, 14 June 2012

Panmarino - sourdough with rosemary

After my last post, I've decided not to show the loaves that didn't work out. Fortunately, since then, everything has gone well.

We were working in the front garden last weekend, making things neat. My job, as usual, is to cut things off, or down, while my wife makes things grow and blossom. I was trimming some box hedge and some euonymus bushes into ball shapes, because they were getting a bit shaggy. That went well. Maybe I'll take up hairdressing; as long as the customer has a perfectly round head, I'll be okay!

At the end of the garden, near the door, are a few herbs that, much to my surprise, have been flourishing. The sage in particular is trying to take over the garden, and the rosemary bush is pretty lush. My dream is to have a hedge of rosemary, like one we saw in Tuscany one memorable holiday. It wouldn't be a bad thing to have sun like that, too. Anyway, I decided to trim the rosemary a bit rounder, so it would fit in with the general theme.

That worked, but I now had a lot of fresh rosemary, and my hands smelled great. We love fresh herbs, but this was probably more than I could use in any one dish, and I didn't want it to get too dry. I already had a branch that broke off another bush:

I didn't photograph the fresh rosemary, which is rather too bad. It was fragrant, with that piney scent that stimulates the appetite and lifts the spirit. Instead, I chopped it up very small. 

I looked through my books, and decided that I wanted a softer bread. The recipe on page 161 of The Italian Baker by Carol Field looked perfect, but I needed to adapt it for sourdough. Also, all her recipes are in US measures with cups and tablespoons. I used to work that way, and it's fine, but now I need more precision, so I changed everything to grams. I may have changed some of the proportions along the way, but the result was great.

First, I took the starter out of the fridge and prepared it. I usually do this last thing at night, so this is where I do use cups. I add one cup of flour and 2/3 cups water to the starter, and mix. Then it's left, covered, overnight.

In the morning, I put 400g each of the starter, warm water and bread flour in a bowl, mix well and cover with cling film. This part depends on many factors: the weather, how warm is the kitchen, what is my mood  . . . I let it rise for about three or four hours.

Then I start the main recipe.

Panmarino - Rosemary Bread


- 800 g Sourdough starter, 100%
- 235 g water, warm
- 235 g milk, room temperature
- 60 6 olive oil
- 4 tbsp rosemary, fresh, finely chopped
- 20 g salt
- 900 g bread flour
- sea salt, as required


1. Pour the starter into a large bowl, and add the milk, water, oil and chopped rosemary. Stir well to combine. Add the flour, about 200g at a time, and work into the liquids. With the last addition of the flour, add the salt. The dough should be coming together by this time, so turn it out onto your work surface. It's a wet dough; as usual, I use Bertinet's method to knead it.

After ten or fifteen minutes, it will reach the right consistency, and you'l probably be able to do the windowpane test. It will be soft, but pliable and smooth. Put it in an oiled bowl and allow it to rise until doubled. This took me about two and a half hours.

It makes a nice smooth dough. I pulled and turned it until it started to clean my hands a bit. Of course, they ever seem to clean right up. Maybe someday I will get the hang of that, but somehow I doubt it. Until then, my sink will have bits of dough that I've cleaned off my hands, and then need to be scraped up and put in the compost.
2. Once risen, turn the dough out and divide it into three equal pieces. Don't knead it. Form it into three balls and put them on oiled baking sheets. Cover with a towel (I use my apron, generally) and allow to rise for 45 minutes to an your, until less than doubled.

Preheat the oven to 230C

3. Slask an asterisk into the tops of the loaves and sprinkle the sea salt into the slashes. Put in the oven for 10 minutes at 230C, spraying with water from a mister three times in that period. 

Lower the temperature to 200C and bake for 25 - 30 minutes. Turn the trays to make sure the loaves brown evenly.

These worked out just as I'd hoped. The salt crystals sparkle, the crust is thin and not too chewy.

The oil and milk soften the crumb, so it would be a perfect sandwich loaf. The rosemary comes through, adding a wonderful herbal fragrance and tang. It also toasts really well, and the toasting accentuates the rosemary. A bit of butter and some honey, and it's practically addictive.

As usual, I froze one loaf, and the others are keeping well in the bread box. Well, I say keeping well; actually, they are shrinking rapidly as we eat them.