Mushroom and blueberry crostini with anise

Crostini with mushroom, blueberries, and anise

Baking sourdough bread is one of the most satisfying things I know unless my starter is messing with me. That’s why I’m trying to bake on a regular basis, at least once a week. I try to avoid my starter getting into a deeper sleep. If they are allowed to fall into a coma they can be a bit grumpy when you try to wake them up. Trust me.

But if you bake often there will be a lot of bread. And quite often my family and I don’t manage to eat everything before it gets stale.
It’s not a big deal since there are lots of things you can do with stale bread like bread crumbs, croutons, etc.

But the easiest way to take care of stale bread is perhaps to make a grilled sandwich or crostini out of it. The result is often delicious. Much better than if you had used some junk bread from the grocery store. And the best thing is that you can put almost anything on a crostini. Search your refrigerator to see what you can find. With a little imagination, you can create a fantastic lunch, at almost no cost.

This week I found some leftover brown mushrooms in the fridge. That felt like a good start. Nothing can go completely wrong with mushrooms. Now I only had to find something that goes well with mushrooms. Butter and garlic are the obvious choices. But I also found some creme cheese. That should work as well.

Portabello

 

Star anise

 

Now it was time to be a little bit more adventurous. Instead of choosing mushroom-friendly herbs like thyme or oregano I went for star anise. I also wanted a hint of sweetness, and I had already grabbed the bottle with balsamic glaze when I changed my mind. Balsamic glaze is great, but not very adventurous. Besides, it was not long ago that I published a recipe with mushrooms and balsamic glaze. Another one would feel a bit boring. But what should I choose instead?

After a moment of thinking, I chose blueberries.

Now, before you leave, thinking that my ability to pair food can be compared to that of an ape, I want to point out that anise and blueberries work excellently together. Blueberry jam with star anise is a treat.
But would blueberries and mushrooms be a good pairing? I had no idea. I have to admit that I had never read any recipe with these two ingredients together.

So I decided to see if I could find anything on Google. And to my surprise, I found lots of recipes claiming that mushrooms and blueberries were an excellent combination. A bit unexpected, but yet excellent. And don’t forget the cream cheese. Cream cheese is a good pairing to everything, so I decided to give it try.

And to my surprise, it was just as good as everybody claimed. I thought it would work, but I never expected it to be that tasty. Anise is an exceptional spice for both mushrooms and blueberries. That was perhaps not so unexpected. But mushrooms and blueberries are also a good pairing. I promise. Next time I make this crostini I will reduce the amount of creme cheese though because I think it softens the flavors a bit to much. And perhaps I will also add some muscovado sugar to enhance the taste of blueberries.

Cooking is an eternal process of experimentation. That’s what makes it so fun.

Mushroom and blueberry crostini with anise

Print Recipe
Mushroom and blueberry crostini with anise
This mushroom crostini provides a lot of exciting flavors. A slice of fried sourdough bread topped with cream cheese, mushrooms, and blueberries with a hint of licorice from star anise.
Servings
crostini
Ingredients
Servings
crostini
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Start by grinding star anise to a coarse powder in a mortar and pestle. Grind the whole stars (both seed and pod) Mince the garlic clove
  2. Cut the mushrooms into quarters and fry on high temperature with half of the butter. Lower the heat and add garlic and a pinch of anise the last minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  3. Fry the bread slice with the rest of the butter in a skillet until golden brown.
  4. Spread cream cheese on the bread slice and add the mushrooms.
  5. Mash half of the bluberries togheter wit a pinch of anise. Spread on top of the mushrooms.
  6. Garnish with the rest of the blueberries and sprinkle the rest of the anise over the crostini.
Share this...
Share on FacebookPin on PinterestShare on Yummly
Continue Reading

Sourdough baguettes

Sourdough Baguettes

Look at the picture above. What is wrong with the three sourdough baguettes you see? Not much, some of you will probably think. And I agree. There is nothing wrong with them. They have a nice golden brown crunchy crust, and they tasted just great.


But if you are an experienced baker you may point out that there is not much oven spring to theses baguettes. And that is the problem.

Let’ face it. Oven spring adds an aesthetic touch that is hard to ignore. Compare my baguettes with these ones.

Baguettespixabay

We both know which ones you had chosen, right?
But what happened to my baguettes? I think they fell victim of the gruesome sickness called over-proofing, caused by a sloppy baker (aka me).
But I was not so sloppy this time. I made the finger poke test several times. Still, I did not get the result I wanted. Most of you probably know what the finger poke test is, but for those who don’t, here’s a brief description.
You make a little imprint on the top of the loaf by pressing your finger on it.

If the imprint springs back and fills up quickly, the loaf is probably under-proofed.
If the imprint springs back partly, the loaf is ready to be baked.
But If the imprint doesn’t recover at all, you probably have an over-proofed loaf.

The imprint on my sourdough baguettes bounced back halfways, indicating that the timing for putting them into the oven was perfect. I won’t claim that the test failed me completely. There was some oven spring. But not enough.

This problem has occurred before, especially when I’m trying to bake sourdough baguettes. I realized that I had got a mission. The mission to crack the code about baking baguettes (with lots of oven spring).

I knew I couldn’t blame my starter this time. My starter can be an obnoxious creature that doesn’t want to cooperate far too often. But this time it had been extremely bubbly and lively. It was also something I noticed during the bulk fermentation as the dough was rising very quickly. So I could only assume that I had over-proofed a little during the final rise.
But believing is not enough. I wanted to know.

Starter

I remembered that I used to use the double size test before I learned about the finger poke test. You try to measure the size of the loaf with your eyes. When it has doubled in size, it’s time to put it in the oven. This method is very unreliable as it’s very hard to tell when a loaf has doubled in size if you let it ferment in a banneton. It’s easier if you have it in a bread pan, but that’s not an option if you want to bake baguettes.

But there is another way. You can place a small piece of dough in a straight glass. If you mark the initial level of the dough with a rubber band, it’s easy to measure when it has doubled in size. This test is far more reliable because the dough can only expand in one direction and that is upwards.

I decided to use both tests for my next trial.

SECOND BAKING SESSION

My second attempt didn’t start that well. From being very lively and active, my starter returned to a grumpy, sleepy behavior. Everything looked good the day before when I mixed the poolish. But I also used some amount of the starter to a batch of sourdough breakfast rolls that we were going to eat for breakfast the next morning. Obviously, my starter thought that was enough. It was not in a mood for any more baking adventures, and all I could see was some tiny bubbles on the surface. But after feeding it and placing it warm, it was in a better mood again after an hour or two.

I followed the same procedure as last time except that I placed a small piece of dough in a high straight glass for both the bulk fermentation and the final rise. I marked the starting level with a rubber band and placed it next to the main dough.

The poolish had already developed a lot of taste and sourness, so I didn’t want long fermentation times. This is, of course, a matter of taste. Personally, I don’t want my sourdough baguettes to be too sour. So I let the dough and formed loaf ferment in a warm environment, about 77ºF /25ºC. Total fermentation time was 4.5 hour. 3 hours for the bulk fermentation and 1.5 hours for the final rise. After that, both the finger poke test and the dough-in-glass-test indicated that it was time to place the baguette loaves in the oven. Besides, I want to point out that I agree with all that thinks that dough-in-glass-test is a ridiculous word. Feel free to come up with a better suggestion.

Poolish

Bulk fermentation

 

I studied the baguettes through the window in the oven door. But after a few minutes, I realized that I wouldn’t get that profound, nice oven spring I sought for this time either. I have to admit that I was disappointed. Everything looked so good when I shuffled the loaves into the oven. But I have to realize that I haven’t cracked the Baguette code yet. When it comes to oven spring, that will say. Because what these Baguettes lacked in oven spring they made up for in taste. They turned out to be exactly how I want my sourdough baguettes. A soft an airy crumb with lots of taste and a hint of sourness. The crust was a dream of cracker-like crunchiness. So I suppose I should be satisfied after all.

 

If I could only get a little better oven spring.

Next time, maybe.

Sourdough Baguettes

Share this...
Share on FacebookPin on PinterestShare on Yummly
Print Recipe
Sourdough baguettes
Sourdough baguettes with a soft an airy crumb and cracker-like crunchy crust. A lot of taste with a hint of sourness makes these baguettes on of my most baked bread.
Servings
Ingredients
Poolish
Baguette
Servings
Ingredients
Poolish
Baguette
Instructions
Poolish
  1. Mix all ingredients thoroughly. Make sure that all flour is hydrated. Cover the dough with cling film and let it ferment for 10-12 hours.
Baguette
  1. Mix all ingredients including the poolish, but except the salt in a dough mixer until the dough is elastic. Use windowpane test. Add the salt the last minutes.
  2. If you prefer to knead by hand you can use a stretch and fold technique. You will find a link to a description of the technique in the recipe notes. There's also a link to a video. Start by letting the mixed dough autolyze for an hour, and then run a stretch and fold session every half hour, 3-4 times in total. Add the salt during the first stretch and fold session.
  3. Let the dough ferment until doubled in size. Use the dough-in-the-glass test described above.
  4. Lightly flour your work surface and dump out the dough. Divide it into three pieces with your bench knife. Flatten the dough gently with your hands. Fold one side against the other and repeat with the other. Form the dough to a baguette by rolling it gently against the work surface. There's a link to an excellent video showing how to form a baguette in the recipe notes.
  5. Preheat your oven to 480ºF / 250ºC with two oven plates. One to bake the bread on and one just below.
  6. Let the baguette loaves rise until doubled in size according to the dough-in-glass-test, in combination with the finger poke test.
  7. Score each loaf 3 or 4 times and place them in the oven. Pour some water on the plate below and bake each loaf in 15-25 minutes, or until the loaves has got a nice, golden brown color.
  8. Let the baguettes cool on wire racks.
Recipe Notes

For those who prefer to use a stretch and fold technique instead of running the dough into a dough mixer, you may find this video helpful. You can also look at one of my previous recipes.

This video shows how to form a baguette loaf. It also shows how to use a kitchen towel for the final rise if you don't have a baguette pan.

Continue Reading