Weekly sourdough bread recipe

We love sourdough bread. And there is nothing quite like the smell of fresh baked bread. This bread recipe is adapted from the clever carrot blog. The creator of the clever carrot blog, Emilie, has great information on making a sourdough starter and how to feed and maintain it.

Adapted from: The Clever Carrot
Serves: 1 large loaf or 2 small loaves

This is a low-hydration recipe (bread has “tight” crumb aka small holes) and is great for peanut butter on top of toast and for sandwiches.

200 g active, fed starter
250 g warm water
25 g olive oil
10 g (2 tsp) Himalayan salt, ground finely
2.5 g (½ tsp) granulated sugar
5 g (1 tsp) baking soda
5 g (1 tsp) instant yeast
500-600 g bread flour*
fine ground cornmeal, for dusting Dutch oven

*Use bread flour, not all purpose flour. The amount of flour used will depend on the humidity of your environment.

Mix: Using a fork or whisk, combine the starter, water, and olive oil in a large bowl. Add the salt, sugar, baking soda, and yeast then stir to combine. Add the flour, only 100 g at a time. At around 300 g of flour, you’ll need to switch from using your fork or whisk to using your hands to mix. Combine by squishing and kneading until all of the flour is absorbed. The dough will look rough and shaggy at this point. And you’ll doubt your bread baking abilities and this recipe. Please don’t do either. Just roll with it. Cover the bowl with saran wrap and a kitchen towel.

Autolyze: Let the dough rest for 30 minutes. Then, work the dough around the bowl into a tight ball (about 15-20 seconds).

Bulk fermentation: Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and a clean kitchen towel. Leave it in a warm spot to rise for 3-12 hours. The bulk fermentation is done when the dough has doubled in its original size.

Optional stretching and folding during bulk fermentation: After at least an hour of rising (or up to 10 hours of rising), stretch and fold the dough. To do this, stretch the dough upwards, then fold it in half over itself. Rotate the bowl 45°, repeat the stretch and fold. Do this until you’ve gone in a full 360° circle. Recover with the saran wrap and kitchen towel, and allow the dough to rise again.

After 1 hour of rising, stretch and fold again as described above. Recover again and allow the dough to continue rising for another hour.

Note: You can make this into two small loaves of bread or one larger sized loaf of bread. We like a larger loaf. If making two loaves, split into two before shaping (below) for the second rise.

Shaping: Lightly flour your clean counter (I also dust my hands with some flour) while keeping some counter space clean from flour. Transfer the dough from the bowl to your floured spot on the counter. If making two loaves, split the dough into two equal parts. Then transfer the dough (or one of the portions of dough) to the clean section of the counter. Starting at the top (the 12 o’clock position on a clock), fold the dough over toward the center. Rotate the dough 45° and fold the dough over toward the center. Continue rotating and folding until you’ve gone in a full 360° circle. Flip the dough over, so the seams are “face down”. Using your hands, cup the sides of the dough and rotate it in a circular motion. Repeat this until you’re happy with the dough’s circular appearance. Repeat for the other portion if making two loaves of bread.

Second rise: Sprinkle a thin, even layer of fine cornmeal on the bottom of your Dutch oven (no need to preheat your Dutch oven). Place the dough into the Dutch oven, seam side down. Cover your Dutch oven with plastic wrap. Allow the dough to rise again for about 1-2 hours.

Baking: Preheat your oven to 450°F (232°C) when you’re ready to bake. Make a shallow slash about 2 inches long in the center of the dough using a very sharp knife. Remove the plastic wrap, place the lid on the Dutch oven, then place it in the oven. Reduce the temperature to 400°F (205°C). Bake for 20 minutes with the lid on. Remove the lid and continue to bake (uncovered) for 30-40 minutes (until the bread has a deep, golden brown crust).

Note: We’ve noticed that if the oven just barely reaches 450°F and we’re Johnny on the spot (err…quick for all of my foreign friends) about putting in the bread to bake, then it takes a bit longer for the bread to bake. However, if the oven is up to temperature for awhile (say 10 minutes while you’re wrestling with an alligator a baby during a diaper change), then you’ll need less bake time overall.

Cooling: Remove the bread from the oven and from the Dutch oven. Cool the bread on a wire rack for at least an hour before slicing into it (resist the urge to cut into it right away!)

Westy Blonde Clone

Westvleteren 12 is said to be one of the best trappist beers in the world. It is produced by the Trappist Abbey of Saint Sixtus in Vleteren, Belgium. On our last European adventure (and second adventure with Oliver), we visited the abbey-owned cafe and visitor centre called In de Vrede, which is across the street from the monastery.
We have tried all three of the beers: the blonde (5.6% ABV), the Westvleteren 8 (formerly called Extra; 8% ABV), and the Westvleteren 12 (formerly called Abc; 10.2% ABV). I personally love the Westvleteren Blonde the best. Due to my preference and because both the Westvleteren 8 and Westvleteren 12 are bottle conditioned (something we have yet to attempt), our next beer on the docket was to attempt to clone the Westvleteren Blonde.

This brew was adapted from The Mad Fermentationist and BeerSmith recipes.

 

Westvleteren Blonde Clone

Recipe:
6 lbs Belgium Pale Ale
3 lbs Weyermann Floor Malted Bohemian Pilsner Malt
½ lb Weyermann Acidulated Malt
1 oz German Northern Brewer (5.3 aa)
1 oz German Hallertau (2.7 aa)
2 oz Styrian Goldings (5.7 aa)
¾ lb granulated sugar
Yeast: Safale BE-134 Belgian (dry)
1 tablet whirlflock
Gypsum, if needed

Total grain bill: 9.5 lbs (10.25 lbs with sugar)

Process:

  1. Heat 4 gallons of water at 147°F (63.9°C)
  2. Mash for 60 minutes
  3. Check pH during mash, adjust pH to 5.2-5.5 using acidulated malt and gypsum
  4. Mashout at 165°F (73.9°C) for 20 minutes
  5. Sparge 3.5 gallons (13.25 L) to 6.5 gallons (24.6 L).
    Target SG=1.053
    If SG is a bit lower (1.047), add sugar to increase the SG.
    In our experience, 0.25 lbs of sugar increased SG by ~0.0025
  6. Boil for 75 minutes
    Hop 1 @ 60 minutes: 1 oz German Northern Brewer
    Hop 2 @ 20 minutes: 1 oz German Hallertau
    Hop 3 @ 12 minutes: 2 oz Styrian Goldings
    Target OG=1.063
  7. Rehydrate 1 sachet of yeast in 1 cup (250 mL) room temperature water
  8. Oxygenate wort in fermentation vessel as much as possible
  9. Pitch yeast at 68°F (20°C). Target volume = 5.5 gallons (20.8 L)
  10. Allow fermentation vessel to warm up to 76°F (24.4°C)
  11. Primary for 1 week, secondary for 2 weeks

BrewDay Notes:
We accidentally added 1 lb of acidulated malt to the water (good thing it was the first thing we put in the tank). We scooped out what we thought was half of the malt.
We therefore ended up with a pH of 3.2.
We sparged with 2¾ gallons (10.4 L) because we were concerned about hitting a specific SG. We sparged to 5.5 gallons (21 L) with a SG=1.054.
We transferred 4.25 gallons (17 L) of wort into the fermentation vessel with an OG=1.063.
After 5 days in fermentation vessel, we transferred beer into a corny keg and force carbonated to 7 psi. We then placed the keg into the kegerator for its secondary.

Tasting Notes:
Nose: banana, wheat, almond, hint of footy
Palate: pleasant sweetness, hint of clove, orchard fruit (apple, pear)
Finish: fairly dry, bit of “funk” though not unpleasant, no lingering flavors
7% ABV

Final Thoughts:
We love this beer. It is not exactly Westvleteren Blonde, but it is a great tribute and has a nice Belgian flavor to it. 
The ABV is a bit on the high side, but the beer is still an easy-drinker. 
We’d love another go at this. Next time, we would sparge with 3.75 gallons 

DIY Kombucha

I love kombucha. I was introduced to it (and hated it) when I was an undergrad. My friend John re-introduced me to it several years ago in graduate school. That’s when I fell in love with ‘buch and discovered two things:
1) you can get a small discount at Whole Foods if you buy a case of it at a time and
2) I love kombucha with chia seeds floating around in it. I’m kind of a weirdo that likes that texture.
Drinking the probiotic elixir daily didn’t last long; it was an expensive habit that took up a lot of fridge space. 

Skip ahead to the DIY Kombucha Recipe below.

Fast forward to the end of September. My in-laws were in town visiting us Oliver. And I somehow convinced my mother-in-law and one of my sister-in-laws to go to the kombucha class with me at Grain to Glass in North Kansas City. Grain to Glass is a fun little homebrew shop that has a little bit of everything: supplies for brewing (beer, cider, wine), a bar with rotating beers on tap, and a few fridges with bottled beer. It also hosts brewing competitions, beer tastings, and classes for all things related to brewing.

Both my mother-in-law and sister-in-law already make their own kombucha, but their interests were still peaked to learn more from a guy named Keith who has been making kombucha for years and teaching others to do the same. The bonus features of this class were that you had the opportunity to try his homemade kombucha, receive a SCOBY (more below on this), see his “SCOBY Hotel”, and acquire some of his kombucha knowledge. Grain to Glass also had kombucha kits available for purchase (for $12, I believe) that included everything you needed (minus the SCOBY) to get started. 

Now that I’ve successfully made three batches of kombucha at home and feel a bit more comfortable with the process, here’s some knowledge that I learned from Keith, the internet, and making my own kombucha.


 

What is kombucha?

Kombucha is a delicious, slightly effervescent drink that all begins as sweet tea. It can be flavored and can range from sweet to slightly tangy to overly tart – it all depends on how it was made! The tea in kombucha can be black, green, white, rooibos, or jasmine (or a mixture of any of these). Herbal and flavored teas do not work well with the fermentation process – I’m still not sure why (yet). The fermentation happens due to the presence of a SCOBY (Symbiotic Colony Of Bacteria and Yeast). You might hear people refer to it as a mother or as a mushroom. Regardless of what you call it, a SCOBY is flat, beige-brown, and feels a bit rubbery. For those of you that can relate, it reminds me of a thin layer of agar or agarose. It’s shape is completely dependent on the container you use to brew kombucha. And it can have brown spot or marks on it and stringy bits hanging from it. The appearance of a SCOBY is definitely not appetizing.

 

Why drink kombucha?

In addition to being a tasty and slightly fizzy drink that has been made for 100s of years, kombucha is said to have a lot of beneficial properties. The SCOBY consumes sugar and produces vitamins, antioxidants, enzymes, and amino acids. Some say that all of their aches and pains go away when they drink it. Others drink it because their diet may be lacking in B vitamins. For me, it helps my digestive tract stay…regular, if you will.

I first started drinking the GT’s Guava Goddess Kombucha, which is pretty tart. I then found GT’s Synergy Raspberry Chia  and the Grape Chia flavors, which are a tiny bit more sweet. I used to drink the chia kombuchas in the lab when I was in grad school. Other grad students and postdocs would poke fun at me for my weird looking drink. I stuck up for my beloved Kombucha. Like I said above, I love the texture and the flavors. When I attended the September Grain to Glass kombucha class ran by Keith, I was surprised to learn that kombucha does not need to be tart. When you ferment kombucha at home, you get to be in control of the flavor.

 

Is it safe to make your own kombucha at home?

Yes! While I am a trained scientist, you don’t need laboratory equipment or fancy tools to make kombucha. However, you definitely do not need to be a scientist to make kombucha. The only necessity is that you need to make sure that your equipment and your hands are clean. Simple enough!

 

How do I know that I’ve converted tea into kombucha?

If your tea ferments even a teeny-tiny bit, then you’ve done it! You’ve turned tea into kombucha. There should be bubbles. The drink should smell vinegary. Your SCOBY will have generated a new layer. A SCOBY really is the gift that keeps on giving!
Your kombucha should NOT smell musty or moldy. If you see green or black mold growing on the surface of the SCOBY or if the tea smells anything but a bit vinegary, discard the SCOBY and the batch of kombucha. And just start over again with fresh ingredients. 

 

How can I flavor my kombucha?

You can use herbal teas, juice (no more than 1/5 of the total volume), fruit, fruit puree, herbs, and spices. Keith recommended the following: mint, strawberries, peaches, blackberries, pomegranate, hibiscus, ginger, turmeric, lime, lemon, basil, or combinations.

 

DIY Kombucha
Serves 14
1 serving of kombucha is 1 cup (~250 mL)
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Prep Time
5 min
Cook Time
1 hr
Total Time
1 hr 5 min
Prep Time
5 min
Cook Time
1 hr
Total Time
1 hr 5 min
56 calories
14 g
0 g
0 g
0 g
0 g
277 g
10 g
14 g
0 g
0 g
Nutrition Facts
Serving Size
277g
Servings
14
Amount Per Serving
Calories 56
Calories from Fat 0
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 0g
0%
Saturated Fat 0g
0%
Trans Fat 0g
Polyunsaturated Fat 0g
Monounsaturated Fat 0g
Cholesterol 0mg
0%
Sodium 10mg
0%
Total Carbohydrates 14g
5%
Dietary Fiber 0g
0%
Sugars 14g
Protein 0g
Vitamin A
0%
Vitamin C
0%
Calcium
1%
Iron
0%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your Daily Values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
Ingredients
  1. 14 cups (3.5 L) water
  2. 1 cup (200 g) sugar
  3. 8 tea bags
  4. 1 SCOBY
  5. 1-2 cups (250-500 mL) kombucha (starter tea)
  6. Coffee filter or muslin cloth
  7. 1 thick rubber band
  8. 1 gallon glass jar (4 L glass jar)
  9. Soda straw
  10. Tongs
  11. Plate
Instructions
  1. 1. Bring 2 cups (500 mL) of water to boil.
  2. 2. Remove water from heat and add sugar, stirring to dissolve.
  3. 3. Bring another 12 cups (3 L) of water to a boil. Remove from heat and add 6-8 tea bags. Allow them to steep*
  4. 4. Let the tea and sugar water to cool to room temperature (at least 1 hour, but up to overnight).
  5. 5. Add the room temperature sugar water and tea to the 1 gallon glass jar.
  6. 6. Add the 1-2 cups (250-500 mL) of kombucha (starter tea from the previous batch of finished kombucha**) to the jar.
  7. 7. Add 1 SCOBY to the jar.
  8. 8. Cover the jar with a coffee filter. Secure filter with the rubber band. Set the lid aside as it is unneeded.
  9. 9. Let the sweetened tea + SCOBY sit at room temperature in normal lighting*** for at least 5 days and up to 1 month.
  10. 10. At the 5 day point, draw up a sample of the freshly fermented kombucha using the straw. Taste for desired sweetness/tartness. Fermentation may take longer than 5 days (or up to 4 weeks), depending on desired taste. The longer you allow the tea to ferment, the more tart and tangy it becomes.
  11. 11. When brewed to you desired taste, remove the original SCOBY and the newly generated SCOBY with a pair of tongs and place them on a clean plate.
  12. 12. Check the SCOBYs for green or black mold. If you find mold, discard the SCOBY and the kombucha/tea - start over with fresh ingredients!
  13. Remember that brown or stringy bits are totally normal as are shades of brown.
  14. 13. Set aside 2 cups (500 mL) of newly finished kombucha and one SCOBY to begin you next batch of kombucha.
  15. 14. Pour the remaining kombucha into bottles. If you'd like to carbonate or flavor your kombucha, then now is the time. To flavor your kombucha, add fruit, juice, herbs, or additional tea. If you'd like to carbonate your kombucha, cap the bottles and set on the counter for 1-3 additional days.
  16. 15. Chill the bottles before opening.
  17. 16. Take care when first opening your kombucha as the contents will be under pressure.
Notes
  1. *I usually allow my tea to steep for 5-10 minutes. You can steep the tea bags overnight.
  2. **You can use unfiltered, unsweetened, commercial kombucha as the starter tea.
  3. ***Keep the solution out of direct sunlight, but don't keep in a cupboard or out of the sun.
Adapted from from Keith Krieger
beta
calories
56
fat
0g
protein
0g
carbs
14g
more
Adapted from from Keith Krieger
The Adventures of El and Jen http://www.elandjen.com/

Brenda’s Muesli

We learned to appreciate oats to their fullest when we lived in the UK. Those close to me might think this is funny because “granola” definitely comes to mind as a word people use to describe me. Yes, I love granola and all that hippy stuff. But I never truly diverged from granola until I ate Bircher Muesli whilst traveling around Australia in 2015. After that trip, I had a slight obsession with Bircher Muesli, overnight oats, and chia pudding.

Fast forward to 2 years later. My mother-in-law, Brenda, was visiting for the second time in 6 months. One of her first stops in England is to Tesco; she had previously purchased a bag of their muesli and fell in love with it. The other thing she fell in love with was sticky toffee pudding (but that’s another story for another time). But now that she was visiting with my mom to meet Oliver, she had the opportunity to grab another bag of it to take home for recreation purposes. And for those not in the know, Tesco is a British grocery store. And their muesli is pretty darn perfect. Not too sweet, a bit of crunch, and a lot of flavors for a breakfast, brunch, or snack. I love it with greek-style yogurt and berries. El loves it topped with almond milk.

Brenda figured out a close recipe, and I thought I’d share it with you. And to be honest, I’m sharing it for El to find later. Because Lord knows he’d rather look up a recipe online than in a cookbook or recipe box.

 

Brenda's Fruit and Nut Muesli
Serves 20
Delicious adaptation of the Tesco-brand muesli. Great topped with fruit and yogurt or milk.
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Prep Time
10 min
Total Time
10 min
Prep Time
10 min
Total Time
10 min
204 calories
28 g
0 g
9 g
6 g
2 g
48 g
3 g
7 g
0 g
6 g
Nutrition Facts
Serving Size
48g
Servings
20
Amount Per Serving
Calories 204
Calories from Fat 75
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 9g
14%
Saturated Fat 2g
12%
Trans Fat 0g
Polyunsaturated Fat 3g
Monounsaturated Fat 3g
Cholesterol 0mg
0%
Sodium 3mg
0%
Total Carbohydrates 28g
9%
Dietary Fiber 4g
17%
Sugars 7g
Protein 6g
Vitamin A
13%
Vitamin C
1%
Calcium
3%
Iron
11%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your Daily Values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
Ingredients
  1. 400 g old-fashioned oats, raw
  2. 100 g raisins
  3. 100 g dates, chopped
  4. 100 g dried apricots, chopped
  5. 100 g raw sunflower seeds
  6. 100 g raw hazelnuts
  7. 60 g unsweetened coconut flakes
Instructions
  1. Chop the dates and dried apricots into the approximate size of the raisins.
  2. Combine ingredients.
  3. Stored in a sealed container.
  4. Enjoy with your choice of dairy or non-dairy yogurt or milk.
Tips
  1. Use unsweetened dried fruit.
  2. Pecans or other nuts can be used in place of hazelnuts.
  3. Add each of the dried fruits separately and toss in the oats.
  4. Tossing the fruit in the oats leaves a layer of "oat dust" on the outside to prevent clumping.
beta
calories
204
fat
9g
protein
6g
carbs
28g
more
The Adventures of El and Jen http://www.elandjen.com/