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Sourdough: Recipes for Rustic Fermented Breads, Sweets, Savories, and More Hardcover – November 3, 2015
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“If you’ve been mystified by sourdough, allow Sarah Owens to be your guide. This creative and immensely talented baker incorporates it into everything—from cookies and biscuits to cakes and, of course, glorious breads. You will want to eat every recipe in this stunningly photographed book.”—Maria Speck, award-winning author of Simply Ancient Grains and Ancient Grains for Modern Meals
"If you love baking bread and are fascinated by the mysteries of sourdough, Owens' new book is a way in for novices and a fun read for those who already know their way around natural levain. This is also a great book for gardeners, as Owens give primers on things like making your own lilac sugar and elder flower cordial."-Los Angeles Times
"Sourdough has a new champion with some unusual moves . . . so intriguing."-Minneapolis Star Tribune
"In addition to a wide range of creative and versatile recipes, Sourdough highlights the joy of working in season with the power of microbes in one of our most loved foods: bread. Sarah’s tasty creations and intimate interactions with the natural world inspire us to trust the life forces that contribute to the health of our inner and outer ecosystems—she inspires a more thoughtful experience with food."—Tara Whitsitt, Founder of Fermentation on Wheels
"It's an attractive book and intriguing read . . . [Sourdough's] another big boy on the book front, as gardener/artisan baker Owen's book shares here journey toward fresh food and healthy grains and the role sourdough played."-The Clarion Ledger
About the Author
SARAH OWENS is the head steward of the internationally celebrated rose collection and gardens at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, and the founder of BK17 Bakery, an artisan microbakery in Brooklyn. BK17 specializes in baking with sourdough. Sarah's customers get fresh baked goods delivered through a subscription serving Brooklyn and Manhattan. She has been featured in Edible Manhattan, on Gardenista, and on 66 Square Feet and has appeared on The Martha Stewart Show.
Top customer reviews
So far, I have tried 6 of the recipes from the book. One was a complete and total disaster, 2 were bland and just "meh", and 2 were excellent. Here's the breakdown:
1. Beet bread: I love beets, so was excited to try this recipe. The photo is so beautiful that I had intended to make these loaves to put in Mother's Day gift baskets I was making. Thank goodness I decided to test the recipe first. I followed the recipe to a tee. When it called for puréeing the beets with a LOT of water, I was worried, but went ahead with the instructions because I have made dough before that was wet but came together after several stretch and folds over the course of a course of hours. This dough, unfortunately, did NOT come together. It was the consistency of a thick batter and no manner of stretching and folding could change that. I still preservered and ended up retarding the dough in bannetons in my fridge as per the instructions. When it was time to bake them, the dough had formed up enough for me to at least plop it out of the banneton without it sticking too much. I had used lined and heavily floured bannetons, so I am sure that's the only reason they came out at all. I didn't want to risk the dough/batter sticking to my banneton and being impossible to clean. At this point, I had invested so much time and effort into these loaves that I held out hope as I put them into the oven. Of course, I was fooling myself. These came out dense with no trace of even the beet color in the bread. The taste was like cardboard -- no flavor at all. It was bad. I was embarrassed by these loaves. I hadn't made bread this bad since I first started, and even then I don't think it was THIS bad. I really believe there is some error in this recipe with the liquid. I will not be wasting my time on this one again.
2. Cherry tomato mini muffins: this one was fairly easy to put together and it made a LOT. I used fresh herbs out of my garden, fresh cherry tomatoes and followed the recipe exactly. These came out looking absolutely gorgeous, and baked up perfectly, so I was excited to serve them with soup and salad. Everything was great until we but into them. These were SO bland. The taste of the cornmeal overpowered everything else in these. I might as well have just made corn muffins and saved all the herbs, tomatoes and cheese for the salads. SIGH. The worst part was that the vast majority got thrown out to my chickens because no one would eat them.
3. Bleu cheese and walnut crackers: These were another item going into gift baskets, so when they turned out wonderfully, I was ecstatic. FINALLY a good recipe from this book! They were easy to whip up in the food processor and looked beautiful, as well as tasted savory and delicious. I got compliments on these and will be making them again!
4. Sun dried tomato shortbreads: again, these went into gift baskets and again, they were a huge hit. I used heart shaped cookie cutters to cut these out and they were adorable! I was even asked to make these again by my mom, who showed up at my house with sun dried tomatoes to "encourage" me to make them again.
5. Buttermilk biscuits: I'm a southerner. I know biscuits. These were not good. They were bland and didn't bake up into light and pillowy layers like a good biscuit should. Definitely won't use this recipe again.
6. Nut butter cookies: I loved the look of this recipe because it doesn't use any refined sugar, and it makes a lot of cookies. But the cookies are fairly bland, and I won't waste my time on these again. I used almond butter. Maybe a stronger but butter would make them better. The ingredients for these are too expensive to not make something that people want to eat. The book calls these cakey, but they really aren't. They're very soft, most mushy, but nothing like cake. I don't even know what's the point of adding the spices to these, because it's not enough to taste them other than faintly. Again, my chickens got these for treats because no one would eat more than a couple of them.
As for the book itself, the chapters are arranged interesting into seasons and the photographs are breathtaking! I just wish the recipes were as good as they look in the photos. I'll continue to try some more recipes before totally giving up on this book, so here's to hoping I just picked a few duds amongst some more stellar recipes (like the bleu cheese and walnut crackers and the sun dried tomato shortbreads). I'll update my review as I progress.
Fair warning: The recipes are given in metric weight, not cups and teaspoons. If you don't have a kitchen scale, you must get one for these recipes.
Newbies like me will take delight in making the Buttermilk Biscuits (p. 189) and Tomato And Basil Mini Muffins (p. 231). I will confess to omitting certain ingredients. For example, I used plain-old-honey in my Saffron Buns (p. 219) instead of lilac-infused honey.
Experienced bread bakers will enjoy the challenge of recipes like Chocolate, Currant, and Cinnamon Babka (p. 149).
This is NOT a book for beginners. The recipes are all measured by grams (so buy a kitchen scale too) and require some familiarity with sourdough bread baking. I have been making bread for years and sourdough for a few months. There are plenty of easy recipes and tutorials online for free to start you off in the world of sourdough but once you get a feel for it, pick up this book to expand your baking to a whole new level.
I only have two complaints (which were worth the loss of a star in my opinion). Number one, the recipes require so many different kinds of flours it can be overwhelming. I pick a new flour to buy every couple of weeks to try something new. Unfortunately I haven't even been able to find some of the flours and it can be a little annoying when one recipe uses several kinds.
Number 2, the biggest flaw of this book is the timing. There is no clear guide that states from the start of the recipe to the finish it will take "x" amount of time to complete. It is hard to read through an entire recipe to figure out when to start the dough in order to finish at a certain hour (or time frame). I have had to bake a loaf at 10 PM became I missed a step in my calculation. I have also had to let the dough sit too long because I timed it wrong. II assume over time it will get easier but a simple timing guide would save a lot of trouble for these already involved recipes.