Sourdough Bread Baking: Sourdough Baker’s Percentages

January has been a crazy month. My baby boy celebrated his first birthday on the 18th.

Mom giving Jack his first cake

Mom giving Jack his first cake

Laura made him a fun shark themed cake that matched the wrapping paper on his presents. He made a huge mess of it.

Messy Boy!

Cake Destroyed!

I also got in a car accident which rendered my vehicle useless. That sure has made the weekends more difficult, since I can’t even leave the place to get groceries unless Laura is home from work. At work we’ve gone through four separate change of responsibility ceremonies, starting at the company level and going all the way up to theater. Plus I’ve been preparing for two missions that I’m slotted for, one starting tomorrow and the other at the end of March. It sure has been busy.

So we last left off with making a starter and letting it mature into a levain by feeding it and keeping it healthy. If you followed those instructions and have been taking care of it, you should have quite nice mature liquid levain. It should be very active and smell nice and sour when it’s at its peak. Maybe you’ve even found a bread recipe to try it out with.

Well, now it’s time to learn how to formulate a sourdough recipe with your levain using bread formulas. Hopefully, at this point, you are well versed in basic baker’s percentages and have used pre-ferments before. Sourdough formulas can seem a little more complex at first, as there are extra steps and math involved. You’ll remember from using pre-ferments that you have to start with your total dough recipe. Then you select a percentage of your flour that you want to pre-ferment a day before. That requires you to subtract the flour and water that you used in your pre-ferment from the total dough recipe, which gives you your final recipe. Baker’s formulas using levains use that same basic concept. Read the rest of this entry »


Posted by on February 2, 2013 in Army, Baking, Bread, Food, Pizza


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Sourdough Bread Baking: The Levain

It’s no secret that I love bread, which is why I often come back to it. We’ve covered some pretty good information on bread in the past in my Bread Baking Basics run of posts. Having gone over the twelve steps of baking, baker’s formulas, and how to use pre-ferments, we are armed with enough knowledge to make some pretty impressive bread. The next natural step would be to learn how to make sourdough breads.

But what exactly is a sourdough bread? In simple terms, it is a bread that is completely leavened without the use of commercial yeast. Instead, it is leavened with the natural yeasts that exist in our environment. This is achieved with the use of a sourdough starter, also known as a levain. Read the rest of this entry »


Posted by on January 9, 2013 in Baking, Food


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Holidays are Over!

Holidays are Over!

It’s a bittersweet time of the year. The excitement of the Holidays have come and gone. The anticipation of opening presents and eating Christmas dinner has passed. A year has passed, the ball has dropped, and we go back to the daily grind.

I absolutely love putting up Christmas decorations. We had two fake trees this year, one in the living room and one in the dining room. That doesn’t count the two small potted trees that sit near the tv. It was a little sad taking it all down.

Having said that, I am so glad the Holidays are over! What a busy mess it was. Laura worked extra hours, I had two weeks off of taking care of Jack, planning a Christmas Eve party and executing said party with enough food to feed 30 people (although only half showed up.) We celebrated Jack’s first Christmas on the day of, and it was a blast watching him open all his presents and playing with everything except his toys. Thanks to our awesome baby sitter, Laura and I were actually willing and able to spend New Year’s Eve out and have a nice night in Waikiki.

Nice Hat

Jack’s First Christmas!

Despite my desire to post some awesome Holiday inspired recipes, I just couldn’t find the time to execute the recipes while taking pictures and documenting my steps all while taking care of a very mobile baby and keeping the place clean. But, hopefully as things wind down and go back to normal, I’ll be able to post a little more regularly. Good thing I’m not trying to make money off this 😉

New Year's Eve

New Year’s Eve

2012 brought us many great things. A beautiful child, great new friends, a little prosperity, and opportunities that many don’t get. Hopefully 2013 will be good to us as well.

Happy New Year!

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Posted by on January 6, 2013 in Food


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Holiday Egg Nog (adult kine ya)

Egg nog holds a special place in my heart. I always know the Holidays are coming when it becomes available. You can bet your tiny hiney that the moment I see it appear, it’s going in the grocery cart.

Sometimes, I like my egg nog to be an adult beverage. But for me, adding rum or brandy or what have you to grocery store nog just doesn’t do it for me. A few years ago, a friend that I worked with suggested that I just make my own.

So, I set out to do just that. I had tried a few different recipes. One required me to separate the eggs, combine the yolks with the milk and cream, whip the whites with sugar into a meringue, and fold the meringue into the yolk mixture. It was a bit time consuming, and considering I let my egg nog sit in the fridge to let the alcohol mellow for a few weeks, all that work ended up being for naught. That frothiness from all that folding and such just dissipated after a day or two. I found another recipe, which I didn’t try at the time, that required a pasteurization process. Essentially, it was a crème anglaise with nutmeg and added booze to it. Like I said, I didn’t try it because it wasn’t for me at the time. Read the rest of this entry »

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Posted by on December 2, 2012 in Beverage, Food


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Maple Brine for Thanksgiving Turkey

Holy crap, it has been a while! I finished classes for the time being a while back, but I still haven’t found the time to update and provide recipes for tasty morsels. Jack has been keeping me busy, for sure. He’s in the crawling phase, and he races around the whole place in his walker, getting in to things, knocking stuff over, and sometimes breaking stuff. But the boy and I have fun 😉

So, I didn’t even have the intention to write up a post today. However, I was trying to do some internet searching for good information on brining. The food industry standard for making a brine is one cup of salt and one cup of sugar for every gallon of water. Then you can add whatever additional herbs and flavorings you’d like, such as peppercorns, bay leaves, and spices. Imagination can take off from there.

However, I’ve never particularly enjoyed that ratio of salt to water. I’ve always thought it produced a very salty brine, especially when brining for a full 24 hours, which I feel like most people do. So, while looking for information on different brines, I noticed that there was a real lack of consistency of how much salt is called for from one recipe to another. Some recipes stuck with the idea of using one cup of salt for one gallon of water, but many were suggesting that a cup of salt could be used for only half that amount of water. That’s a salty brine. In addition, almost every recipe called for kosher salt. This is another huge inconsistency, as different brands of kosher salt are ground differently, and can have a significant weight difference in a cup. Not to mention kosher salt is no different from regular table salt, unless it is iodized. Salt is salt is salt. I’m talking to you, sea salt snobs. I digress. Read the rest of this entry »


Posted by on November 18, 2012 in Entree/Main Dish, Food


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The Cuban Sandwich (El Cubano)

The Cuban Sandwich (El Cubano)

It’s been a minute since my last post. Things were getting a little overwhelming for a while with papers due for school, Laura working extra hours which left me to keep Jack on his nightly schedule while simultaneously trying to get dinner ready. And the construction they’ve been doing in town has messed up traffic, so on top of all of that, it’s been hard to even get home on time to get it all done. But, it should all lighten up soon when the construction dies down and Laura’s busy season tapers off.

With all of that, I’ve still had ideas swimming in my head for things I feel like cooking or would like to try. I talk about food at work a lot (go figure), and one of the things that seems to resurface is making Cuban sandwiches. They’re really very simple to make, but when done properly, they can be incredibly satisfying. Read the rest of this entry »

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Posted by on September 29, 2012 in Entree/Main Dish, Food, Pork


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Puff Pastry

Puff Pastry

Laura had to make a puff pastry recipe about a month ago for work. The chef there wanted to make a beef wellington for family meal, so it seemed natural to ask the pastry chef to make puff pastry dough. Unfortunately, she hadn’t made puff pastry since the days of culinary school, seeing as almost every company in the food industry buys it in frozen sheets. So, we found our old college recipe, and, being the laminated dough king that I am, I explained how to make the dough, make the beurrage (a butter and flour mixture), fold the beurrage into the dough, and make all the subsequent folds and turns to make that layered deliciousness.

Well, Laura made it at work. It came out fine and they used it for the wellington, but she wasn’t overly confident that she did all the folds and turns correctly. So, she’s been bugging me to show her how to do it at home. I saw it as a perfect opportunity to make some homemade turnovers, which I had been craving lately for whatever reason. A win-win situation!

However . . . Read the rest of this entry »

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Posted by on September 16, 2012 in Baking, Dessert, Food


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