28 Oct

flour girl: homemade croissants for the win!

I’ve been baking yeast bread on a weekly basis for at least three years now and yet I hadn’t even thought of making croissants before.

It’s not because Matt doesn’t like croissants (a fact that I didn’t discover until after I made them). It’s not because they’re loaded with butter either (that never stopped me from making pie crust or a million different types of cookies).

I think it’s because they’re so hard to make. Or at least that’s the widespread belief. But there’s also widespread belief that artisan breads are hard to make, and I make them all the time.

Who is spreading this propaganda anyway? I should start my own “Breadmaking is Easy!” campaign. I’ll design wartime propaganda-style art deco posters and they’ll be famous. People the world over will frame them and put them in their kitchens. They’ll be like the “keep calm and carry on” posters but obviously cooler and more upbeat because we’re talking about bread here.

Where was I going with this?

Oh yes, “Breadmaking is Easy!” and you should try making your own croissants.

I spent Saturday morning watching this old time The French Chef video, giggling at Julia Child’s loveable awkwardness, and following her process for making croissants. (side note: Julia Child would have totally put a “Breadmaking is Easy!” poster in her kitchen.)

It’s quite a bit easier than you might expect. It takes a long time to make the croissants and they require a bit more hands-on work than regular yeast bread but they’re doable and definitely worth making. I started the inital dough on Friday night, proofed it in the fridge overnight, and by Saturday afternoon I had fresh delicious croissants.

I liked Julia’s recipe because the croissants:

-weren’t too flaky. I like flaky, but it’s still bread, not pastry and I want to be able to eat it without a huge crumbly mess all around me

-weren’t too buttery. The butter adds great flavour and of course creates the flakiness, but I find a lot of croissants are greasy and way too buttery for my preference.

-were a reasonable size. They’re about 5″ in length which is perfect for breakfast or a light snack. Think Pilsbury Crescent Roll sized, not Costco sized.

I’m not going to write out the whole recipe and the process. I think it’s easier to get the idea of what to do by just watching the video.

But I will give you some tips that I learned in the process:

roll out your dough on floured parchment instead of the counter. It’s less messy and sticky that way. When the dough required refrigerating I just wrapped it in the parchment that I rolled it on and put it in the fridge. I used the same parchment to roll it out on the next time around.

do this on a cold day in a cold house. The butter will stay cold and you don’t have to worry about overworking the dough with your warm hands. And it’s always fun to be able to see your breath indoors, isn’t it?

let the dough rest. When the dough feels elastic and shrinks back as you try to roll it out, walk away for 10 minutes and let it relax on the counter. It’s not ready for you to roll it, why you gotta pressure it like that?

don’t put chocolate chips in it. If you want a pain au chocolat, fill the croissant with shavings of baker’s chocolate instead. Chocolate chips won’t get hot enough to melt inside the croissant. You’ll just end up biting into the thing and having a bunch of whole chocolate chips tumble out and you’ll be like, “…the fuck?”

Anyway, chances are good that you are saying to yourself “Oooh I should make these croissants!” or maybe you’re actually saying “Who the fuck makes their own croissants?”. Either way, you probably won’t end up baking them because you still think they’re too hard/too time consuming/too insert-excuse-here.

But if you do happen to be inspired by a half-pound of butter, a desire to nibble like a French woman, and a poster that says “Breadmaking is easy!” then let me know how your baking experience goes. These croissants do not disappoint.

P.S. My husband, the self-proclaimed croissant hater, actually liked these. Homemade Croissants for the WIN!

This post was submitted to Yeastspotting.
01 Sep

Triticale Seed Bread

Triticale Bread

Every time I go to my favourite place in the world, Bulk Barn, I scan the flour section. They have the most diverse variety of flour there that can be purchased in bulk and they carry all the flour that I can’t find at the grocery store: light and whole rye, whole wheat bread flour, and high protein flour just to name a few.

On my last venture to the Bulk Barn I found a new kind of flour: triticale. I had read about triticale before but never tried baking with it until this week.

What is Triticale?

Triticale Grain crop(source)

Triticale is a hybrid of the grains wheat and rye. It has a higher protein content than wheat but because of the lower ratio of glutenin to gliadin proteins it has less gluten strength than wheat and, therefore, a denser crumb, like a rye bread. It also imparts a bit of a nutty flavour to bread.

How to use Triticale?

Triticale is used in bread, cookies, pasta, and cereals. It is often mixed with wheat and used in international flat breads such as chapatti or paratha along with other Indian dishes such as samosas.

Making German-Style Bread with Triticale

German-style bread traditionally is made with rye flour. It has a dense crumb, a rich flavour, and is sliced very thin.

With triticale’s protein and flavour properties, I figured that the best type of bread to make with it was a dense German-style bread with lots of seeds to complement the flour’s nutty flavour and the high protein content.

I used an overnight soaker and starter for this bread to create even more depth of flavour.

Triticale Bread

Triticale Seed Bread

Adapted from Peter Reinhart
(makes one large loaf)


6 ounces hard whole wheat bread flour
2 ounces triticale flour
1/4 ounce chia seeds
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
6 ounces water

Combine until the ingredients form a ball. Transfer to a bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Leave at room temperature for 24 hours.


8 ounces triticale flour
1/4 teaspoon yeast
6 ounces water

Combine until the ingredients form a ball. Transfer to a bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 24 hours. Remove from the fridge a couple hours before making the final bread to bring it to room temperature.

Final Dough

2 ounces triticale flour
2 ounces sesame seeds
2 ounces toasted unsalted sunflower seeds
2 ounces toasted pepitas
3/4 t salt
2 1/4 teaspoons (one packet) instant yeast
3 ounces date molasses

Chop the soaker and starter into several pieces. Combine the pieces in a bowl with all the final dough ingredients in a stand mixer on low speed with the dough hook to form a ball.

Increase the speed to medium-low speed, for 8-10 minutes, adding flour or water to get a soft dough that clears the sides of the bowl. (Alternately you can need by hand for about 15 minutes)

Form the dough into a ball and place it in a lightly oiled bowl. Cover and let proof at room temperature for about 60 minutes or until one and a half times it’s original size.

Form the dough into a boule and transfer the proofed dough to a cloth-lined and floured bannetton (or form into a loaf and transfer into an oiled 8-1/4” x 4” loaf pan). Cover and let proof again for 60 minutes or until one and a half times it’s original size.

For the free-standing loaf, preheat the oven with a baking stone and a steam pan to 425 degrees. Score the bread and place it in on the hot stone. Pour 1 cup of water into the steam pan, lower the temperature to 375 degrees and bake for 15 minutes. Rotate the bread and bake another 20 to 30 minutes (the dough should sound hollow when thumped on the bottom).

(If you are baking it in a loaf pan, heat the oven to 350 degrees. Bake the loaf on the middle rack for 45 minutes)

06 Jul

flour girl: Whole Wheat Santa Lucia Buns

I’d prefer to call these `S` buns. I’m ‘S’; they’re ‘S’. They’re my buns.

Kinda like ‘S’ cookies that I loved as a kid (and that I still love now because they are amazing with coffee or tea). I deemed them mine and mine alone because they bore my initial.


These buns have a soft crust and crumb that makes them great for sandwiches and they`re good toasted after a few days as well. The flavour is hearty and slightly sweet, but more subdued than sprouted grain bread.

Santa Lucia Buns

Whole Wheat Santa Lucia Buns

From the book Whole Grain Breads


1 3/4c. whole wheat flour
1/2 t. salt
3/4 c. soy milk

Day 1:
In a bowl stir together the soaker ingredients until they form a ball of dough. Cover and leave at room temperature overnight.


1 3/4 c. whole wheat flour
1/4 t. quick rise yeast
1/2 c. water
1 egg, beaten

Day 1:
Combine all the starter ingredients together in a bowl. Knead the starter dough by hand for a few minutes. Place the dough to a clean bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate overnight. Remove from the fridge a few hours before needed for the final dough.

Final Dough

3/4 c. whole wheat flour
1/2 t. salt
2 1/4 t. (one packet) instant yeast
1/4 c. honey
1/4 c. vegetable oil

1 egg white, beaten with 1 T. water (for egg wash) and 1 t. honey
raisins for topping

Day 2:

Chop the starter up into 8-10 pieces and place in a large mixing bowl. Add all the remaining dough ingredients to the bowl.

Stir the ingredients together with a spoon until the mixture begins to form a ball.

Transfer the dough to a floured surface and knead for 5-10 minutes. Add extra flour as needed so the dough is firm and a bit tacky.

Let the dough rest for 5 minutes, then continue kneading for another few minutes until the dough passes the windowpane test so you know the gluten is developed.

Transfer the dough to an oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let rise at warm room temperature until almost doubled in size (about 1 hour).

Punch down the dough. Divide it into 12 pieces and roll each piece into a ball. Let the dough balls rest for 10 minutes. Roll each ball out into a 10” long snake.


Shape each snake into an ‘S’ by rolling the ends in toward each other on the same side, then flip one spiral over to get an ‘S’.


Place the shaped buns on a foiled lined baking sheet. Cover again with plastic wrap and let rise at room temperature again until 1.5x original size (~1 hour).

Brush the buns with the egg wash and place a raisin in the centre of each coil.

Bake in a 350F oven for 30 minutes rotating the pan 180 degrees after 15 minutes until it sounds hollow when thumped on the bottom and/or has an internal temperature of 195 degrees fahrenheit.

Cool on a rack before serving.

Santa Lucia Buns

Submitted to Yeastspotting

21 Jun

flour girl: Powerhouse Sprouted Grain Bread


You probably saw this bread on the blog last week and I promised a recipe for it, so here it is. I took the recipe for Power Bread from the book Whole Grain Breads and adapted it to be even more nutritious.

This bread is a total powerhouse. It is high in protein which makes it a good pre-workout snack. It’s also full of nutrition with the benefits of the enzymes from sprouted wheat kernels, the omega-3s from the walnut flour and flax seeds, and just one slice has 30% of your daily recommended intake of fibre. It’s pretty hardcore.


Make it. It’s good for you.

Nutrition per slice : 126 calories
Fat : 3.6g / 32.4 cals (24.4%), Carbs : 20.9g / 83.8 cals (63%), Protein : 4.2g / 16.9 cals (12.7%)

Powerhouse Sprouted Grain Bread


1/3 c. raisins
5 t. flax seeds
3/4 c. water

6 oz sprouted wheatberries food-processed into a paste (how to sprout wheat)
1 1/3 c. whole wheat flour
2 T. oat bran
1/2 t. sea salt

Day 1:
Combine the raisins, flax, and water in a bowl and leave at room temperature overnight.

Day 2:

Puree the raisin mixture in a food processor.
In a bowl stir together the puree and the remaining soaker ingredients to get a wet batter. Cover and leave at room temperature overnight.



1 1/3 c. whole wheat flour
1/4 t. quick rise yeast
1/2 c. soy milk

Day 2:
Combine all the starter ingredients together in a bowl. Knead the starter dough by hand for a few minutes. Place the dough to a clean bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate overnight.



2/3 c. walnut flour
1 1/3 c. whole wheat flour
3 T. sesame seeds
1/2 t. salt
2 1/4 t. (one packet) instant yeast
3 1/2 t. honey
1 T. date molasses

Day 3:
Chop the starter up into 8-10 pieces and place in a large mixing bowl. Add all the remaining dough ingredients to the bowl.


Stir the ingredients together with a spoon until the mixture begins to form a ball.

Transfer the dough to a floured surface and knead with wet hands for 5-10 minutes. Add extra flour as needed so the dough is firm and a bit tacky. The dough should pass the windowpane test so you know the gluten is developed.

Transfer the dough to an oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let rise at warm room temperature until doubled in size (about 1 hour).


When the dough has doubled in size, form the dough into a loaf pan shape and place into an oiled 8×4” loaf pan. Cover again with plastic wrap and let rise at room temperature again until 1.5x it’s original size (~45minutes).


Bake in a 350F oven for 40 minutes rotating the pan 180 degrees after 20 minutes until it sounds hollow when thumped on the bottom and/or has an internal temperature of 195 degrees fahrenheit.

Cool on a rack before serving.


Submitted to Yeastspotting

30 Mar

flour girl: Best Chewy Bagels

Remember back in the summer when I went to Montreal and had those overrated bagels from Fairmount bakery?

Well these aren’t them.

Best Chewy Bagel

Best Chewy BagelBest Chewy Bagel

Best Chewy Bagel

I don’t get Montreal bagels and if that’s sacrilegious to admit then have me excommunicated.

Sure, they are a bit sweeter (thumbs up!) but they are too dense (thumbs down) and too dry (thumbs down) and the centre is too big (thumbs way down—I want more bread, not more air, thank you very much).

So, no, these aren’t Montreal style bagels.These are MY bagels: ever so slightly crispy crust, chewy crumb, and a hint of sweetness. They’re perfect.

At least I think so.

Best Chewy Bagel

The Best Chewy Bagels

Yields 10


18 oz bread flour
4-1/2 tsp yeast
3 Tbsp sugar
1 Tbsp salt
12 oz warm water

Water Bath
3 L water
2 Tbsp sugar

1 egg white
1/4 poppy or sesame seeds


In a large bowl, combine the dry ingredients then slowly add in the 12 oz water. Mix until the ingredients come together.

Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface and knead by hand for 10 minutes, adding flour as needed to created a firm, dense dough. The dough should pass the windowpane test for gluten development… if not, keep kneading!

Place the dough in an oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap and let sit in a warm place until the dough doubles in volume (~1hour)

Divide the dough into 10 equal pieces. Roll them into snakes about 25 cm long. If the dough wont roll out easily just let it rest for 5 minutes and try again.

Best Chewy Bagel

Wrap the snake around your palm to form a bagel shape and with your palm still in the centre, roll the bagel on the counter to seal the seams.

Best Chewy BagelBest Chewy Bagel

Best Chewy Bagel

Cover the bagels and let them rise for 10 – 15 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 400F, prepare a baking sheet with parchment paper, and bring the 3L of water to a boil on the stove. Once the water is boiling, add in the 2 Tbsp sugar.

Add the bagels to the water bath 3-4 at a time being careful not the overcrowd the pot. Keep them in the water for 30 seconds on one side and then 30 seconds on the other. Remove them with a large slotted spoon and place them on the baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining bagels.

Best Chewy BagelBest Chewy Bagel

Brush the bagels with the egg white and sprinkle with seeds of choice.

Best Chewy Bagel Best Chewy BagelBest Chewy Bagel

Bake at 400F for 25-30 minutes or until the bagels are golden brown. They will still be soft when you take them out of the oven but once they cool the the crust will firm up a bit.

Best Chewy Bagel

Best Chewy Bagel


This post was submitted to Yeastspotting.


Previous Posts in the Flour Girl Series:

All About Enzymes

Gluten and Its Role in Baking

Baking Tips and Tools

How to get a Crispy Crust

German Bread

Italian Bread – Ciabatta

How to Fix an Over-Risen Dough

Multigrain Wheat and Barley Bread

Sweet, sweet Stollen

17 Jan

flour girl: Stollen

I’m trying to just eat one dessert a week in my efforts to win the office Biggest Loser. And no, those handfuls of Jelly Belly’s from the Cost-Co sized tub on top of my fridge don’t count as dessert. What? They’re made with real fruit! 😉

While I may not be entirely successful in cutting out the sugar, I was entirely successful in baking my own dessert this week. In true Samantha fashion it came in the form of a yeast bread: Stollen.


Okay, let’s not kid ourselves here with the bread moniker, this is cake. Maybe I only put 2 tablespoons of sugar in it, but the with the richness from the butter, egg, milk, booze, and fruit the term bread just doesn’t do it justice.

This is my first time making stollen and, actually, the first time I’ve ever eaten it (the bonus to that being that I don’t know if I FUBAR’d the recipe). Stollen is a German holiday bread that is a lot like Italian panettone in theory, but not quite in practice. It’s much denser. heavier. Whereas I could eat half a loaf of panettone without second thought (and I may or may not have done this before… like, on Saturday afternoon), a small piece of stollen is substantial. Maybe it has a little something to do with all the dried fruit in it, or maybe the has a gooey marzipan filling (my favourite part)  :d


That’s marzipan mixed with butter.

Fold the dough over into an ‘S’ shape and then form into a crescent.


I left 1c. of Thompson raisins and 1c. candied citrus peel to soak in a few tablespoons of peach schnapps for 3 days to get really plump and absorb full flavour of the liqueur and that way they would keep the Stollen moist.


Did I mention that as soon as it comes out of the oven you slather it in butter and roll it in icing sugar? Oh yeah, that keeps it pretty moist too. …but don’t worry, you’ll probably eat it all before it has any chance of drying out.



Make a stollen for yourself. It’s a good foray into the wonderful world of yeast baking.

Here are some Stollen recipes online if you’re interested in making a loaf for yourself. After all those delicious pictures, you probably are.

Holiday Stollen (NY Times)
Stollen (David Lebovitz)
Peter Reinhart Stollen (The Cooking Route)

*This bread was submitted to Yeastspotting
11 Jan

flour girl: wheat & barley bread

I really love baking lean white breads, like ciabatta or pain a l’ancinne, because the only ingredients are flour, salt, yeast, and water. All the flavour then comes from the fermentation process. I find it to be pretty damn amazing that such bland ingredients can create such a flavourful dough.

. . . but then I also love to bake whole grain bread. Experimenting with endless possible combinations of whole grains to see which one gives the best flavour or texture. Wheat kernels, emmer, amaranth, barley, quinoa, millet, rice. . . there really is no limit to the amount of experimenting you can do.

This weekend I made an enriched whole grain bread, meaning in addition to the standard bread ingredients I also added some fat and some dairy which provide a soft, melt-in-your-mouth texture. It makes for a really delicious sandwich bread.

This bread contains wheat and barley (a grain I hadn’t yet worked with in bread) that came out fabulous. I also included a few top secret ingredients to make the bread sweet and soft.

All in all, this enriched wheat and barley bread was delicious! Now excuse me while I go make a sandwich. . .

30 Dec

flour girl: holiday wheat thins

Matt and I are hosting a wine and cheese party at our place on New Year’s Eve. I’m going to baking some bread for the event as well, but I decided to start with something easy that also complements the cheese: Crackers!

Don’t forget the crackers, Gromit!


Any other Wallace & Gromit fans out there?

The recipe called for milk and honey, but since I had some egg nog in the fridge I thought: It’s milky and sweet. Score! You can, of course, just sub in 3 oz. of milk + 1 T. honey for the nog and drop the ‘holiday’ moniker.

Holiday Wheat Thins

Adapted from Peter Reinhart


1 c. whole wheat flour (+ extra for adjustment)
1/2 tsp. salt
3 oz. egg nog
3 T. vegetable oil


Combine all ingredients in a bowl and form a ball. Place the ball on a floured surface and knead for 3-5 minutes adding extra flour as necessary to create a smooth, shiny dough that is neither tacky nor sticky.

Set the dough aside for 10 minutes to rest. Meanwhile preheat the oven to 350F and line a baking sheet with parchment or silpat and sprinkle with cornmeal.

Roll the dough out as thin as possible on a large floured cutting board. Cut into squares with a pizza cutter or a sharp knife.

Using a spatula, transfer the crackers to the baking sheet. They can be close, but should not touch.

Bake for 10 minutes, rotate the pan if necessary, and then bake for 5-10 minutes more.

I baked the first batch on my industrial baking sheet and the second on a standard baking sheet. The second batch burned 🙁

Make sure you keep an eye on the crackers in the last 10 minutes of baking because every oven and every baking sheet is different.

15 Dec

flour girl: falling flat

Sunday evening I was caught up in a baking frenzy. Frenzy.

It was mostly to bring down my blood pressure after driving all across the city on terribly snowy roads to get all my Christmas shopping done. When you hate driving in snow, detest shopping, and loathe the mall at Christmas it makes for a stress-inducing afternoon.

So I set to whipping up 2 different types of cookies and my favourite sprouted grain bread. Maybe it was the cloud of flour in the air that hindered my awareness, or possibly the fact that the oven was working overtime and the kitchen was heating up like a sauna but before I knew it my lovely rising dough fell flat 🙁

Flat as a pancake.

Normally this wouldn’t worry me all that much, but Matt was bringing this bread to a staff party and I was hoping to impress with my baking skills. An over-risen dough bakes to be tough and gummy– not very impressive.

So if you ever get yourself in the situation where you forget about your dough and come back to find it looking like it was steamrolled, never fear it can be saved.

How to fix an over-risen dough:

1. Punch down the dough.
2. Knead the dough by hand for ~2 minutes to remove all air bubbles.
3. Shape the dough into the desired form, spray with oil, and cover with a clean tea towel.
4. Place the dough into a oven warm oven to proof. (Pre-heat the oven to the lowest temperature setting you have and then turn it off before placing the dough inside. I like to keep the oven door open a crack so that the bread doesn’t get too warm.)
5. Depending on the warmth of the environment, the dough should rise again within 1-2 hours.
If the dough doesn’t rise then the yeast is dead and it probably can’t be salvaged. Roll out the dough thinly onto a floured surfaced, cut into squares, and bake. Congratulations you have made crackers.

Luckily I was able to salvage this dough. After only 20 minutes in a warm oven it rose beautifully once again:

And after 45 minutes of baking voila, a beautiful loaf of sprouted grain sandwich bread.

Ezekiel, eat your heart out.

01 Dec

Flour Girl: Ciabatta

Ciabatta is probably one of my favourite white breads. It has a crust that is soft but toothsome and a crumb that is moist and chewy.

It makes a perfect bread for a panino. These loaves didn’t quite make it that far. Matt brought one to share with his staff and the other two we gobbled up over the course of 2 days : /

That’s usually how it goes with the homemade bread at my house.

I’ve made ciabatta a few times in the past. This is the first time I think I really got the hang of the shaping method, so they actually do look like ciabatta.

The basic dough is traditional, made with the basic 4: flour, yeast, water, and salt. It starts with a pre-ferment made of the same ingredients (minus salt) a day in advance. The preferment gets the yeast working and helps to really develop the flavours of the final dough. When a dough is made with only the basic 4 the fermentation process is crucial to imparting flavour on the final loaf.

The ratio of water to flour of ciabatta dough is very high, so the dough itself is quite wet and sticky. It’s best to knead it right in the bowl.

The dough is both proofed and shaped through a series of stretching, folding, and resting. I let the dough proof for extra long this time (about 5 hours) before baking. In my cold house that was entirely necessary.

And voila, my best ciabatta yet.