Thursday, March 3, 2016


Went middle eastern today with a batch of Pita Bread and eight Challah.


Used a New York Times recipe for Homemade Pita Bread. Begins with a sponge of water, yeast, sugar, and whole wheat flour. After about 15 minutes when the sponge is nice and active the olive oil, salt and all but 1/2 cup of flour are mixed in to create a shaggy soft dough. Using just enough of the remaining flour to stop the dough from sticking to the bench, two stretch and folds were done, 10 minutes apart. Then proofed for about 1 hour until the dough was doubled.

After proofing, the dough was punched down and divided into eight balls (each was about 80g). After rolling the balls they were left for about 10 minutes under a tea towel. 

The oven was set at 475o with the pizza stone at the bottom rack. Working in pairs, balls were rolled out to 6 inch diameter circles. When picking up the circle take care to keep the shape and drop it on the stone, followed by the second one. Cook 3 minutes, then turn with a spatula or tongs and cook a further 2 minutes. Remove and allow to cool. Repeat with the other pairs.

Still puffed up, straight out of the oven
The finished product


For some reason, every so often I get a challah bake where the bread is dense and next to no oven spring. Those loaves become croutons or the basis for bread pudding or breakfast strata. I make the dough in a bread machine and I wondered if the yeast was not fully developing with the eggs and oil in the recipe.

Today was an experiment. With the use of a sponge in the pita recipe, I wondered if a sponge would work for the challah as well. Could not see any reason why not, so off I went.

I first took all the water, a tablespoon of sugar and all the yeast together in the bread machine bowl and left for about 15 minutes to get the yeast nice and active. Then added the remaining ingredients and processed the dough as usual.

First thing I noticed was that the dough seemed lighter and was easy to braid. Proofed for the usual 1 12 hours and into the oven. When they came out, the difference was noticeable - great oven spring, good color. Success!!

Eight challah
In the middle of all this I checked my levain in the fridge. It was threatening to spill out of the container! A quick internet search found Vannessa's Sourdough Scones. The recipe calls for unrefreshed sourdough so I figured the levain would work just as well.

And so a batch of raisin scones was born and half the levain was used up. A busy day in the Farmhouse Bakery.

Sourdough Raisin Scones


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