Sourdough Focaccia

I love sourdough! There are so many things that you can do with it. I’ve made focaccia bread before on the blog, and loved it! It’s a really incredible bread with tons of olive oil in it, but a beautiful, crisp exterior.

You can top it with tons of different things. I’ve heard of peppers, olives, cheese, garlic, herbs, or just plain sea salt. That’s the great thing about focaccia. It’s completely customizable.

I originally found the recipe for this sourdough focaccia here. I didn’t change the base recipe, but I put my own spin on the toppings. I kept it simple with a little bit of olive oil, some sea salt, thyme, and a little sprinkle of parmesan.

We all know I’m a carb lover at heart, and this bread is no exception. It is absolutely phenomenal. I love how each time you make it, it can be different. You can change the toppings to match what you are craving, or making for dinner. It goes well on its own, as a side, and as a base for a kick-butt sandwich.

This is a bread that takes some time to make, but the payoff is so worth it.

Ingredients

Yield: 1 – 11×17 pan or 2 – 9×13 pans

For the sponge:

1½ c. sourdough starter
1 c. warm water
¼ c. olive oil
1 tbsp. honey
1 c. flour

For the dough:

½ c. olive oil
2 tsp. sea salt
4 c. flour
Herbs, salt, olives, etc. for toppings.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the sourdough starter, warm water, honey, olive oil, and flour. Leave in a warm spot to rise for 1-2 hours, until the surface is bubbly.

To continue making the dough, add the olive oil, salt, and flour (a cup at a time). Stir with a wooden spoon, until you get to the last cup of flour. For the last cup of flour, sprinkle it across your work surface. Turn out the dough onto the flour, and knead until the last cup of flour is incorporated. Dough should be smooth and supple, and slightly moist because of the oil.

Lightly oil a large mixing bowl, and place the dough inside, turning once to coat. Cover with plastic wrap, and leave in a warm spot to double in size, about 2 hours.

Oil a large 11×17 pan, or two 9×13 pans, with ¼ – ½ cup of olive oil, spreading oil over the pan evenly.

Punch down dough, gently, and press into the oiled pan, into the corners. If the dough is pulling away, leave for 5 minutes to relax, and try again.

Cover with a kitchen towel, and leave to rise and double in size, about 1 hour. If there is excess oil, do not pour it out! Allow it to cover the top of the dough.

Preheat oven to 450°F.

When dough is ready, and oven is heated, press fingers over the dough to create dimples. If the dough is a little dry on top, brush with extra olive oil. Sprinkle desired toppings (I used sea salt, parmesan, and thyme) across dough, and bake for 20 minutes, or until golden brown. Remove from oven and allow to cool in the pan on a wire rack.

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Hamburger Buns

Summer means barbecue season, barbecue season means burgers, and burgers means an excuse to make homemade burger buns! See what I did there? Chain of thinking. It’s a beautiful thing.

Despite the fact that I don’t really need a reason to bake anything, because Paul just accepts it and loves me anyways, one of his specialties is burgers. I’ve been playing around with recipes for hamburger buns for years, but none of them have ever been great. I’ve turned my soft pretzel recipe into buns, but as good as they are, they never seem to rise enough for me. I’ve used other recipes, but they also seem to fall flat. (Hah! I’m on fire today! My pun game is strong! Sorry…)

I came across this recipe, and I had to check it out. It’s originally from Allrecipes, but when a recipe says that almost a thousand people have tried it, and the review counter is a few hundred in the positives, AND every picture included from people who have also made these buns look incredible, I figured I was on to something.

Sure enough, I was. These buns are awesome, and can hold up well to a homemade hamburger. Give these buns a shot!

Ingredients

Yield: 8 buns

2¼ tsp. active dry yeast
3½ c. flour, divided
1 c. water, at 105°F
1 egg
3 tbsp. butter, melted
3 tbsp. sugar
1¼ tsp. salt
1 egg beaten with 1 tbsp. milk, for garnish
Sesame seed, for garnish (optional)

In the bowl of a mixer, place the yeast. Whisk in ½ c. flour and the water, and let sit 10-15 minutes until foamy.

Whisk in the egg, butter, sugar, and salt until evenly incorporated. Switch to a dough hook, and add the remaining flour. Knead the dough on low speed 5-6 minutes, until soft, sticky, and cohesive.

The dough should be sticky and elastic, but not stick to your fingers. Once the dough has reached this consistency, take the dough out of the mixer bowl, oil the bowl, and form the dough into a smooth, round ball, kneading a bit more if necessary. Place the dough back into the oiled bowl, and turn to coat evenly. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and leave in a warm place to double in size, about 2 hours.

Transfer dough to a lightly floured work surface and pat out to deflate. Cut dough into 8 equal pieces, then form into a round ball, tucking the ends underneath.

Pat the dough balls into rounds about a ½ inch thick. Line a baking tray with parchment paper. Place the dough balls a ½ inch apart on the baking tray. Dust buns very lightly with flour, and cover lightly with plastic wrap (this does not need to be a tight seal). Let buns rise until doubled in size, about 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 375°F.

Beat the egg and milk together. Very gently, brush the egg wash over the buns, being careful not to deflate them. Sprinkle each bun with sesame seeds, if using.

Bake in the preheated oven until light golden brown on top, about 15-17 minutes. Buns will have stuck together if they were touching. This is fine. Let the buns cool completely, then tear apart and cut in half to serve.

Sourdough Biscuits

Who doesn’t love a biscuit warm from the oven slathered in butter? This girl right here has a huge soft spot for warm biscuits and butter. Because I’m not from the South, I love just butter, not gravy on my biscuits.

My faithful readers also know that I’m always on the hunt for a new sourdough recipe, and especially ones that use the discard starter, instead of fed, active starter. I’m a busy lady! I can’t always remember to take out my starter the night before and feed it!

I found this recipe, and it looked perfect. It was extremely easy to whip together, and took me less than 10 minutes until I had biscuits in the oven. All in all, a biscuit recipe that takes less than half an hour to come out of the oven? Yes, please!

Now, you can taste the sourdough flavour in this recipe, so if you like a little bit of sweetness in your biscuits, I recommend drizzling on some honey or covering your biscuits in jam. Still, they are tall, fluffy and light, and a perfect way to welcome the day!

Ingredients

Yield: 8 biscuits, approx. 3 inches wide

1 c. flour
½ tsp. salt
½ tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. baking powder
6 tbsp. butter, cold and sliced into cubes
1 c. unfed sourdough starter, straight from the fridge
2 tbsp. butter, melted, for finishing

Preheat oven to 425°F. Line a baking tray with parchment paper, set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, baking powder, and baking soda. Cut in the cold butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs.

Add the sourdough starter, and mix using a wooden spoon until mixture comes together. Knead in the bowl a few times until cohesive, then turn out onto a work surface and pat down, until the dough is in an even layer.

Using a biscuit cutter, or a glass with the rim dipped in flour, cut out biscuits, as many as you can, from the dough. Don’t turn the cutter, as that seals off the edges and your biscuits may not rise as much.

Reform the dough, working with it as little as possible, and re-cut the dough, placing the cut biscuits on the prepared baking tray. With the last scraps, hand form the last biscuit.

Bake in the preheated oven for 12-15 minutes, or until biscuits begin to brown on the edges. When the biscuits come out of the oven, brush the tops with the reserved melted butter, and sprinkle kosher salt on top, if desired.

Serve warm.

Copycat Red Lobster Cheddar Bay Biscuits

Unless you live under a rock, I’m sure you’ve heard of Red Lobster. It’s a popular seafood restaurant that is known for events like Lobster Fest, Shrimp Fest, and of course, the biscuits.

I’m not the biggest seafood fan, so I’ve only been to Red Lobster a handful of times, and usually for people I love that are celebrating, like my mom, or for Paul’s birthday. Every time I go, I usually order something salmon. It’s safe, and it’s not shellfish. (I just have an aversion to shellfish. Too fishy. Don’t judge. I know it’s an odd trait.)

The one thing I do love from Red Lobster is those freakin’ amazing Cheddar Bay biscuits. The fact that they never stop coming to the table is heaven for a carb-fiend like me. You can’t have Red Lobster without the biscuits, am I right?

Either way, I always see the Cheddar Bay biscuits box mix in Costco, and I’m always tempted to buy it. (Still haven’t though. Willpower.) I also have a hard time buying mixed for things that I know I can recreate with a little bit of Googling and a trip to my pantry.

So, I was in the mood for something a little savoury, and a little salty, but not too difficult or time-consuming. Cue these biscuits! I had pinned this recipe on Pinterest ages ago, but hadn’t actually got around to making them yet. So glad I did!

It’s been long enough that I can’t really remember the exact taste of Red Lobster biscuits (just the memory of the taste… garlicky, salty, cheese, buttery goodness), so these were perfect. Crisp on the outside, tender and soft on the inside, and of course, garlicky, salty, cheesy, and buttery. Copycat win! I got the recipe here, and holy were they ever easy to make! It took me less than an hour from start to finish (finish as in cramming these beauties into my mouth). The only thing I “changed” in the recipe is that I added a pinch (or less) of the Italian seasoning into the biscuit, and I also sprinkled a teensy bit of kosher salt onto the tops of the biscuits to really make the flavours pop. I’ve reflected these minuscule changes below.

Go make these! You will not be disappointed!

Ingredients

Yield: 8-12 biscuits, depending on size preference

For the biscuit:

1¾ c. flour
¾ tsp. salt
1½ tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. garlic powder
Pinch of Italian seasoning
5 tbsp. butter, softened
1 c. milk
1 c. shredded Cheddar cheese

For the garnish:

2 tbsp. butter, melted
½ tsp. Italian seasoning
½ tsp. (or 1 clove) minced garlic
Kosher or sea salt, for finishing

Preheat oven to 450°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, add the flour, salt, baking powder, garlic powder, and Italian seasoning. Cut in the butter, either by mixing everything in a food processor, or with a pastry blender. The mixture should be pea-sized chunks.

Add in the milk and cheese, and stir to combine. The dough will be sticky.

With a large spoon, drop the batter onto the prepared baking sheet about 2 inches apart. If you want larger biscuits, like I did, make 8 fairly large dough balls. The original recipe makes 12 smaller biscuits.

Bake in the preheated oven for 15 minutes, or until the tops of the biscuits turn golden brown. (Mine took about 18-20 minutes.)

While the biscuits are baking, combine the topping ingredients by whisking together the melted butter, garlic, and Italian seasoning in a small bowl.

Remove from the oven, and brush with the butter topping. Lightly sprinkle the buttered biscuits with salt, and cool slightly before serving.

These biscuits are best when warm.

Sweet Cornbread

I’m from Canada, not the Southern States, but I still appreciate some good, classic Southern recipes. Cornbread is one of those items. I first realized how much I liked cornbread when I worked for a Canadian restaurant chain years ago.

Cornbread was a staple for many of the dishes served at this restaurant, and because my mother had never made it when I was younger, I was unaware how awesome it is.

I know there is a debate between the sweet and savoury cornbread lovers, and I have to say, as controversial as this statement may be, I am firmly in the sweet cornbread camp. Corn pieces in my cornbread? I can take them or leave them. But give me sweet cornbread over savoury. If you have a savoury recipe that you prefer, please, let me know, and I’ll try it. I’m all for fair chances!

The cornbread recipe I used I found here, and it makes A LOT of cornbread – a full 9 x 13 pan, so make some Southern staples, like chili or ribs, and prepare to feast!

Ingredients

Yield: 1 9 x 13 pan

1 c. butter, melted
1 c. sugar
4 eggs
2 c. buttermilk (or milk with 1 tbsp. vinegar or lemon juice)
½ tsp. vanilla
2 c. fine ground corn meal
2 c. flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. salt

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a 9 x 13 pan with parchment paper or lightly grease with cooking spray.

In a large bowl, whisk together the melted butter and sugar until combined. Add eggs and mix well. Whisk in the buttermilk and vanilla, and combine until smooth.

In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the corn meal, flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Pour dry ingredients into the buttermilk mixture, and fold together until all flour is moistened (it’s okay if the batter is a bit lumpy).

Pour the batter into the prepared pan, and bake in the preheated oven for 25-30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the pan comes out clean.

Let cool 10 minutes before slicing and serving. Store in an airtight container, and reheat for 10-15 seconds in the microwave.

**If you like your cornbread a little sweeter, you can add up to a ½ cup more of sugar. Any more than that, and the cornbread becomes more of a corn cake instead of cornbread.**