Saturday, 30 March 2013

Einkorn Soda Crackers

I really enjoy the Herbed Flatbread Crackers made by the Keebler Elves. They are crispy and herby and wonderful, but every time I buy them, I think I really should try making these myself. So I started down the road to discovery to try and make some homemade herb crackers that I like as much as the flatbread crackers. I don’t think the Elves need to worry about competition just yet, but I am beginning to build my cracker repertoire with these Einkorn Soda Crackers.


I started with the recipe for the basic soda crackers, but instead of using all-purpose flour, I used a 50/50 blend of whole grain Einkorn flour and all-purpose flour. I eventually plan to make an all Einkorn version, but I only wanted to change one variable at-a-time. I have a tendency to try to change too many things at once which is not always the best way to do things (in project management or baking) so I’m learning to work with the data to find out how each change affects the way the dough performs and tastes.

If I’m sounding more like a project manager right now rather than a baker, it’s because I had an ‘aha’ moment last weekend that I should be combining my project management expertise and baking to develop the best result rather than trying to separate the two disciplines. I mean ‘duh’, right?  


Einkorn Soda Crackers

Inspired by: The Keebler Elves and King Arthur Flour’s Soda Bread Recipe

Makes: About 45 crackers, depending on how small you cut the crackers

If you prefer, you can use regular whole wheat or white whole wheat or another flour and mix it with the all-purpose rather than using Einkorn. The total flour should be 1 1/2 cups or 163 g.


  • 83 g (~ 3/4 cup) all-purpose flour
  • 80 g (scant 3/4 cup) Einkorn flour
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 tsps. instant yeast
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp. cream of tartar
  • 1 Tbsp. dough enhancer (optional)
  • 1 tsp. sugar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 Tbsp. butter
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • Kosher salt, Italian seasoning (for the tops of the crackers)



1) Mix the Dough and let it rest in refrigerator overnight

All you do is whisk together the dry ingredients; mix the liquid ingredients into the dry ingredients using a stand mixer (or by hand), then form the dough into a ball, place it in a clean bowl and put it in the refrigerator overnight (or for up to 18 hours). The dough probably won’t rise very much so you can use a small bowl.



2) Remove dough from refrigerator

The next day, take the dough out of the refrigerator about 15 minutes before you plan to make the crackers. Let it rest on the counter before beginning to roll it out. I loved this dough. It’s buttery smooth due to the Einkorn, butter and olive oil.



3) Shape the dough into a rough block

Sprinkle your work surface with flour. You can use a silicon baking mat or your counter. I used a bread board.

Before rolling out the dough, shape it into a rough rectangle, about 3x5 inches. Let it rest for a couple of minutes. This helps with the rolling process.



4) Roll the dough into a rectangle

Roll it out into a rectangle, about 13 x 15 inches. I rolled out the dough onto greased parchment paper. Unless you use Italian-type flour, the rolling process will take a little while. You’ll just need to be patient. Since I used Einkorn/all-purpose flour blend, I had to let the dough rest every so often, then I kept rolling it until it reached the appropriate rectangle shape. I also sprinkled the board with flour several times to keep the dough from sticking.



5) Fold the dough like a letter

Start with the shorter side and fold the dough like a letter-shape. I was focusing too much on taking photos and not paying attention to the instructions so I folded mine from the long end. I had to fold it again to make it easier to roll out. I did this the last time I made the crackers as well.  I guess I keep thinking I’m rolling the dough into a log. It’s a forgiving dough so it doesn’t mind which end you start on.



6) Roll and cut the dough into squares

Roll the dough out again into a rectangle, about 11 x 19 inches. It will snap back so you should end up with a 10 x 18-inch rectangle.

Before I sprinkled the seasonings over the dough, I drizzled olive oil over it and spread it with my fingers.  I tried using a pastry brush but fingers work much better on this dough.

Sprinkle the dough with the salt or flavoring of your choice, then cut it into 2-inch squares. I used Italian seasoning, kosher salt and a little bit of garlic powder.


I used a pizza wheel to cut the crackers. It made things really easy. I rolled out the dough on a wooden bread board so it didn’t matter what tool I used to cut the squares, but if you decide to use a silicon baking mat, you’ll need to be very careful when you cut the squares.


7) Place the crackers onto baking sheets

Place the crackers onto greased, parchment-lined baking sheets. You can place the crackers close together because they won’t spread. Prick each cracker one or two times with the tines of a fork. This will keep them from puffing up in the oven.



A dough scraper works really well for this part. It acts like a mini pizza peel and keep the crackers from getting squished while you’re moving them onto the parchment and it allows you to move several at-a-time.



8) Bake the Crackers

Bake the crackers for 10 minutes (at 425 degrees F.), then turn off the oven and let the crackers cool down while they are still in the oven. They should be golden brown in color and crispy. Letting them cool in the oven will preserve their crispness. If you’re oven doesn’t cool down quickly enough and the crackers continue to bake, you can pull the oven racks out a bit to keep them from getting too done.


9) Cool the crackers

Cool the crackers completely and wrap them tightly in plastic wrap or put them in an airtight container to keep them crisp.



10) Enjoy

I went a bit crazy with the herbs so when I tasted the crackers after they first came out of the oven, I thought “these taste nasty.”  The next day, I thought I would need to brush off some of the extra herbs but after resting on the counter (wrapped in plastic) the herbs had blended well with the rest of the cracker.  I enjoyed the flavor and the texture of the crackers.



These crackers seemed to rise a bit more than the all-white version, but I liked the texture.  Since I had spread the olive oil over them and then sprinkled the herbs, they had a nice crunch to them.


Serving suggestion. The combination of herbs in these crackers and the crunchiness makes them a great accompaniment to tomato soup. I enjoyed this for lunch the other day.


Happy Baking!


Thursday, 28 March 2013

Sing to me my bread & crackle sweetly in my ear

Every now and then you run across a gem. You know you’re onto something because it just resonates inside of you. It’s not something you can really explain, but you just know it when it happens. Well, it happened to me this past weekend.


I didn’t go to the Asheville Bread Festival and I was really bummed, but I had been pushing myself too hard recently, and I just had to rest. Instead of fighting it like I normally do, I took a break from everything and spent time catching up with myself. It rained most of the weekend so it was a good time to just hibernate.

While I was sitting there trying to relax (which if anyone knows me, is a feat in and of itself), I picked up a bread book that I had gotten recently. The book is called Flour Water Salt Yeast: The Fundamentals of Artisan Bread and Pizza by Ken Forkish. Note: They are not paying me to say this and they did not send me a free copy of the book. I bought it myself, and I just love it.


Mr. Forkish’s method is inspired by the processes of Jim Lahey (My Bread) and Chad Robertson (Tartine Bread). I think that’s one of the reasons I like this book so much. All of his formulas are based on 1000 grams of flour which makes it so easy to follow and adapt. In fact, he provides tips on how to adapt his recipes. Nothing is left to chance.  

I was so inspired by the book that of course I had to bake some bread. I chose a bread that utilized an overnight poolish so it didn’t require much hands-on time the first day. I finished it Sunday afternoon and it totally lifted my spirits.

I fell in love with this bread the minute I took it out of the oven. I placed it on the wire rack to cool and as I was taking photos, it started to sing. It was a delightful melody. It crackled ever so lightly like a lover whispering in my ear.  I don’t know if I was just so spacey from exhaustion or what, but all I could think at the time was “I’m in love.”



White Bread with overnight Poolish

Adapted from: Flour Water Salt Yeast: The Fundamentals of Artisan Bread and Pizza by Ken Forkish

Makes: One Loaf


Ingredient Quantity  
White bread flour 250 g 1 7/8 cups +1 tbsp.
Water 250 g 80 degrees F. 1 1/8 cups
Instant dried yeast 0.4 g scant 1/8 tsp.


Final Dough:

Ingredient Final Dough Mix Quantity  
White bread flour 250 g 1 7/8 cups + 1 tbsp.
Water 125 g 105 degrees F. 1/2 cup
Fine sea salt 10 g ~1 3/4 tsp.
Instant dried yeast 1.6 g 1/2 tsp.
Poolish 500 g all of the above


Baker’s Formula:

Ingredient Quantity in Poolish Total Recipe Quantity Baker’s Percentage
Bread flour 250 g 500 g 100%
Water 250 g 375 g 75%
Sea salt 0 10 g 2.0 %
Yeast 0.4 g 2 g 0.40 %
Poolish     50%



1) Make the Poolish

The night before you plan to bake the bread, whisk the flour and yeast together in a large bowl and add the 80 degrees F. water. Mix by hand or with a wooden spoon until it is thoroughly blended. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let it sit at room temperature (65 to 70 degrees F.) for 12 to 14 hours.  When the poolish is ready, it should be bubbly and almost tripled in volume.



2)  Mix the Final Dough

The next day, after the poolish is fully mature, whisk together the flour, salt and instant yeast in a large bowl.  Pour the water (105 degrees F.) around the edges of the poolish to loosen it from the bowl. Then using a wooden spoon, pour the water/poolish mixture into the flour mixture.



For the next part, you’ll need to get your hands wet. Using wet hands, mix the dough by folding it to thoroughly incorporate all of the ingredients (refer to my post on making Tartine Country Bread) The dough should be around 74 - 75 degrees F.



3) Bulk Fermentation

Let the dough rest for 2 to 3 hours after mixing.  During this time, do two or three folds during the first hour after mixing the dough. I forgot to use 105 degrees F. water when I mixed the dough so I extended the bulk fermentation another hour to compensate for the overall temperature of the dough being lower.  I did several folds and turns during the first hour, then I let the dough rest for the remainder of the proof.



4) Shaping the loaf

Mr. Forkish has a slightly different process because he bakes his loaf in a Dutch oven and he shaped his loaves into a fendue shape. I shaped my loaf differently and baked it in my combo baker so this is the process I used.  If you choose to use a different baker, you might need to adjust the shaping/scoring part so you don’t burn yourself when inverting the dough into the pot.

I only made one loaf so I didn’t need to divide the dough. I removed the dough to a lightly floured surface.



Then I shaped it into a medium-tight ball and placed it seam-side up in a floured banneton basket.



5) Proof the loaf

I lightly floured the top of the loaf and covered it with a kitchen towel.  Then I let the loaf proof in the basket for an hour.  Use the finger-dent test to know when the dough is fully-proofed and ready to bake. This just means you press your index finger lightly into the dough and if the indention remains, the dough is ready.



6) Prepare the oven for Hearth baking

While the loaf is proofing, at least 45 minutes before it’s time to bake, preheat the oven to 475 degrees F. with the combo baker or Dutch oven or other bread baker on the bottom rack.  There’s no need to place a steam pan underneath because the covered pot will provide it’s on steam.


7) Scoring the loaf

For this part, be very careful that you don’t burn yourself because you’ll be working with a very hot pan. Keep your fingers, forearms and anything else away from the hot pot. I large heat-resistant oven mitt works great for this.

Carefully remove the preheated combo baker (using gloves) and invert the proofed loaf onto the bottom of the baker.  My loaf didn’t plop exactly centered in the pan so I shook the pot a little bit to even it out but it was still a bit uneven.



Then I carefully scored the loaf using a lame.  Even though the rings of flour were a bit off in the pan, I thought the scoring turned out pretty well.



8)  Bake the loaf

Cover the combo baker with the lid and place it on the bottom rack to bake. Bake the loaf for 30 minutes, then uncover the baker and bake the loaf for an additional 20 to 30 minutes. This is what the loaf looked like when I removed the lid.



The finished loaf should be at least medium dark brown all around the loaf. This has always been the hard part for me because I don’t like to burn my bread, but I was a good girl and left the loaf in for the suggested amount of time. However, if your oven is hot like mine, you might want to check the loaf sooner.


9) Cool the Loaf

Carefully remove the combo baker from the oven and gently tilt it to remove the loaf. I just reached in using my oven mitt and lifted it out. Place the loaf on a wire rack and let the loaf rest for at least 20 minutes before slicing.



After I let the loaf cool, I just couldn’t bring myself to slice it just yet. I wanted to look at it a bit longer. It’s very photogenic don’t you think?  I placed the cooled loaf in a paper grocery bag and let it sit overnight.



10) Slice and Enjoy!

The next day, I sliced the loaf and sampled it.  I was not disappointed.  It tastes great with butter or dipped in oil and particularly good toasted with sharp cheddar cheese. It also makes a great sandwich bread.  I’ve been enjoying it all week.



And so, my love affair with bread begins anew with this White Bread with Poolish.

I hope you enjoy this bread as much as I did.


This bread has been YeastSpotted in the weekly bread roundup hosted by Susan of Wild Yeast.


Happy Baking!


Wednesday, 20 March 2013

Celebrate Spring with Sourdough Coffeecake

It’s Spring!  I’ve been anticipating this day for weeks. I was so ready for warm weather, beautiful flowers, going hiking and planting my garden, but then on the first day of Spring, it turned cold again. What’s up with that! 

Well, we have a saying in Atlanta, “if you don’t like the weather, wait a day.” We’ve had ice storms in late March before so you just never know around here. That’s what I love about this city.

The first day of Spring also happened to fall on the day of the month that we reveal our sourdough surprise. The Sourdough Surprises challenge for March was to make a cake using our sourdough cultures. I almost made a chocolate cake or cupcakes, but since this is a blog about bread and not cake, I decided to make a sourdough coffeecake which has a consistency that is more like bread than cake. 



This coffeecake is really easy and versatile. You can use the dough to make crumb cake, cinnamon rolls, or sticky buns. You can make the dough with all-purpose flour or a mixture of flours as I did.  I used all-purpose and bread flour because I had a little bit of both but not enough of either for this recipe. I also included some white whole wheat flour for good measure.


Sourdough Coffeecake with Crumb Topping

Inspired by: Peter Reinhardt’s Coffee Crumb Cake from Artisan Breads Everyday

Makes: 1 Sheet Pan Coffeecake or three 9-inch round Coffeecakes



  • 1 cup (240 mL) fed sourdough starter (refer to this process)
  • ~3 1/2 cups (17.5 oz/490 g) all-purpose flour or bread flour (I used a mixture of both)
  • 1 cup (4 1/2 oz/3 g) white whole wheat flour
  • 1 tablespoon (.5 oz/14 g) kosher salt
  • 6 tablespoons (3 oz/85 g) sugar
  • 1 cup (240 mL) lukewarm milk (I used almond milk)
  • 1/2 cup (3 3/4 oz/110 g) olive oil
  • Zest of 1/2 lemon

Crumb Topping:

  • 1 cup (4.5 oz/128 g) all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup (8 oz/113 g) light brown sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 -1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/8 - 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg (or other spice of your choice such as allspice, cloves, ground ginger, or cardamom), optional
  • 1/2 cup walnuts, or other nuts, optional
  • 1/2 cup (4 oz/113 g) melted butter, unsalted



1) Activate (feed) your starter

I had fun experimenting with this one. I used my original sourdough starter which I’ve been keeping alive (sometimes barely) since 2007. I reactivated the starter using this process which takes about 12 to 16 hours, then it was ready to use in the recipe. My starter was quite bubbly and happy after being reactivated.



2) Make the dough

To make the dough, whisk together the dry ingredients, then add the starter, lukewarm milk, and oil and mix on the lowest speed on your mixer.  Switch to medium-low speed and continue mixing.  Add more flour or milk as needed.  Increase the speed to medium and mix until the dough is soft, supple and slightly tacky, but not sticky.  You can also do this with a wooden spoon if you prefer.  It will just take a little bit longer.



3) Let dough rest in refrigerator

Remove the dough to a lightly floured surface and knead it lightly for a minute.  Form it into a ball and place it in a clean, lightly oiled bowl big enough for the dough to double in size. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap, and place it in the refrigerator overnight or for up to 4 days.  Make sure the plastic is tight to keep the surface of the dough from getting hard.



4) Form the coffeecake

Remove the dough about 3 hours before you plan to bake the coffeecake.



Line your baking pan with lightly oiled parchment paper. Dip you fingers in some olive oil and use your fingers to dimple the dough and spread it evenly in the pan. Cover the pan as evenly as you can. If it starts to shrink back, let it rest for 20 minutes, then continue to dimple and spread again until the dough covers the pan completely. It may take a few tries to spread it fully.



5) Proof the coffeecake

Cover the pan loosely with plastic wrap and let the dough rise for about 2 hours, until it is doubled in size and about 1 inch to 1 1/2 inches in height.


6) Make the crumb topping

Whisk together the flour, sugar, salt, cinnamon, spice, and nuts then pour in the melted butter. Begin stirring with a large wooden spoon, then finish mixing with your fingers to form a streusel-like mixture.



Sprinkle the crumb topping over the dough.



7) Bake the coffeecake

About 15 minutes before you plan to bake, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Bake the coffeecake for 15 minutes, then rotate the pan and let it bake for another 10 to 20 minutes, until the crumb topping is golden brown and the dough underneath is springy.  The total baking time will vary based on the type of pan you use so you’ll need to watch it closely. I baked mine a bit too long so be careful.


8) Cool the coffeecake

Remove it from the oven to a wire rack and let it cool in the pan for 30 to 45 minutes before cutting it into squares and serving.



9) Slice and enjoy!

This sourdough coffeecake has an interesting flavor.  I liked it. It has just a bit of a sourdough tang to it but the crumb topping provides a good balance of flavor.



This was a nice treat for a chilly Spring day.  As the name suggest, this goes well with coffee, but it would also taste good with tea.

Happy Baking!

I enjoyed baking along with the Sourdough Surprises baking group. 

Monday, 18 March 2013

Making Soda Crackers because you can

Instead of making Irish Soda Bread on St. Patrick’s Day, I decided to do something totally out of the ordinary.  I made soda crackers. You might ask why anyone would want to make soda crackers when it’s so easy to just pick them up at the grocery store or specialty market.  Because you can, that’s why. 

Awhile back, one of my visitors asked me if I would add a crackers’ section to my site. Since then, I’ve had soda crackers on my list to bake every month. After months and months of adding crackers to my list and then moving them to the next month, I finally got around to making some. Now that I’ve made this basic version, I plan to try different flours and flavor combinations.

These soda crackers are not your everyday run of the mill crackers, mind you. They are made with soda, but also include yeast, which is something you don’t usually find in soda crackers.  In addition, the dough requires an overnight rest in the refrigerator. This overnight rest enhances the flavor and the texture of the crackers.



Although on most any given day, you can find shelves filled with all types of crackers at the grocery store and specialty markets, there’s just something about homemade. Not only is it fun to make your own crackers, but you can feel good about eating them because you know what’s in them. 

These crackers are really easy to make. You can use a variety of salts. I wanted to start with the basics so I used kosher salt to top my crackers, but you can use your favorite fancy salt or other seasoning if you prefer. I put a bit too much salt on mine so next time, I’ll use a lighter hand when I’m sprinkling on the salt.



These soda crackers make a great snack, but they can be addictive. It’s easy to keep popping them in your mouth. Since you know what’s in them, that’s not such a bad thing, but do try to share some.


When wrapped tightly, the crackers will keep for a while if you don’t eat them all at once.


To make these crackers, refer to the recipe and instructions for King Arthur Flour’s Gourmet Soda Crackers. 

For a variation on a theme, refer to my post on Einkorn Soda Crackers.


Happy Baking!



Saturday, 9 March 2013

Cheesy Scones taste great as an afterthought

As I mentioned in my previous post, I attended an Irish Potluck last weekend.  I wish I could say I went to great lengths to make these Cheesy Scones, but they were sort of an afterthought.

The chocolate chip scones were so easy and tasted so good, but I only made one batch. I decided I should bring some savory scones to balance things out. The recipe for the cheesy scones happened to be right underneath the Buttermilk Scones recipe so nothing magical about how I came to make these, but the flavor, oh the flavor… that’s the special part. Maybe not magical, but delicious nonetheless.

These scones remind me of the cheese biscuits you get at some restaurants. The flavor is exceptional!  Although I think almost anything with cheese tastes great, there is a special ingredient in these scones that adds to the flavor and makes them delightful. For an afterthought, I was quite pleased with these scones.


The main problem I have with these scones is it’s hard to eat just one. Of course I had to try one (or two) to make sure they tasted okay before I brought them to the luncheon. They were so good. I had to stop myself from taste testing too many or there wouldn’t have been any left for the luncheon.


Cheesy Scones with spelt

Makes: 8-10 Large Scones or 16 Small Scones

Adapted from: The Best of Irish Breads & Baking from Georgina Campbell

These scones have a higher fat content (cheese and butter) so you’ll need a little more baking powder to make sure you get a good rise out of them.  I used all-purpose Spelt flour, but you can use regular all-purpose flour if you prefer.


  • 2 cups (8 oz/225g) all-purpose Spelt flour
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 stick (2oz/50g) butter
  • 1 1/2 cups – 1 3/4 cups grated cheddar cheese or other hard cheese
  • 1 1/4 teaspoon mustard powder or crushed mustard seeds
  • a little salt
  • grinding of fresh black pepper
  • 1/2 cup (4oz/100mL) almond milk, approx.



Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Grease a baking sheet.

1) Sift the flour and baking powder in a mixing bowl.  Cut in the butter and rub it until the mixture is crumbly.



2) Add the grated cheese, ground mustard and seasoning and mix with a whisk or wooden spoon.



3) Make a well in the center of the mixture and add the milk. Mix to form a soft dough. You may need to add more or less milk.



4) Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead it gently.



5) Roll the dough out into 3/4” thick circle and mark into triangles. You can make 8-10 large triangles or smaller triangles.  Or, if you prefer, cut the dough into rounds and make cheese biscuits.  I rolled my dough out a little thinner than 3/4” so I ended up with more wedges.



6) Brush the wedges lightly with milk and place them on the greased baking sheet.



7) Bake the scones in the preheated oven for 10-15 minutes, until they are well-risen and golden-brown in color. Remove to a wire rack to cool slightly before serving.



These scones were received really well at the luncheon.  They were gone in a flash.  They are best eaten the day you make them, but they are still good the next day. I don’t know about after that because they didn’t last that long. I’ve been fighting the urge to make more all week. I may have to give in soon.


Happy Baking!