Spiced Pumpkin Sourdough Bundt Bread

Have you ever tried to transform a cake into a bread? Well this is what I've done with this experiment. I took a bunt cake recipe, where the rising agent was baking powder and baking soda and do some adaptations to rise it exclusively with sourdough.

The first, I baked the no sourdough version to see if I like it. As it resulted in a delicious cake, I adapted the recipe so I give up on baking powder and baking soda and introduce only sourdough. The result was absolutely impressive and I know for sure that I'll do this more often in the future.

Before launching myself into such an experiment, I did a bit of research on google to see how others have done it. Unfortunately, most of the recipes I found had sourdough in the title but actually it was not the main rising agent of the cake because they were adding baking powder. In this case, the sourdough mentioning looked faked to me because sourdough was used just like an extra ingredient without having any significant importance in the rise of the cake.

I had some experience with rising sweet bread in the past, see Romanian Sourdough Sweet Bread (Cozonac cu maia) but not with bundt cakes/bread where the dough is more hydrated, being in fact a batter.

My first concern when adapting the recipe was the preservation of the ingredients during the rising time. For a classical bread, a dough made from flour and water can stay at room temperature during 1 day without any problem, but when we are talking about adding ingredients like puree, eggs, things are changing as their perishable property needs to be considered. What I did to avoid this was to let the mixed butter (already put in the pan) in the fridge overnight. This benefitted from a cooling time (reduced unwanted bacteria development) while increasing the flavours. There is another aspect that balance this. The introduction of the sourdough adds a level of acidity in the batter that contributes to a better preservation of the ingredients. That's why, let's say that for this version I was extra cautious because in the case of the Cozonac cu maia the rise was at room temperature with no risk of altering the healthiness of the ingredients.

Taking into account the above considerations, I think that there is no risk if the rise is done at a room temperature over the day without needing to retard the batter in the fridge.

For this recipe I used stiff starter, at 50% hydration. Why? Simply because stiff starter has low acid taste and is more appropriate for sweet breads rather than 100% hydration starter.

I am sure you ask yourself which one was was better? With sourdough or without?

I found the sourdough version more soft, moist and flavoured than the one without sourdough. However the differences in taste I think they were minor, they were more just nuances. As for healthiness, I think there is no doubt which one is better.

There are differences in the methods of doing the 2 versions. The sourdough one takes longer and cannot be done in one shot like the no sourdough version can be. If you are a sourdough geek like me, most probably you'll find worthy to spend more time and make the sourdough version. If you are not, go for the no sourdough version.

Please also note that the temperature of baking is different between the versions and I can tell you that if you increase the temperature of the oven for the one with baking powder you might experienced cracklings. Otherwise, in the aspect they look almost identical. Maybe just the version with sourdough is lighter as colour due to the sourdough addition. I didn't photograph the no sourdough version but they are very similar as aspect.

Bellow are the 2 versions, which one are you tempted to try?

La Marguerite d’Ardèche Sourdough Bread

I am a big fan of French regional bread because they are fantastic and so diverse. There is no chase on open crumb for them and I know a lot of people who would not choose an open crumb bread over a French one. Open crumb bread is a baker's pride (as it is hard to achieve) but it is not so popular between consumers. I've received a lot of comments indicating that they would choose a loaf without an ear and with a denser crumb so they can spread butter on it. It sounds ridiculous for a baker who always dreams about an open crumb, but there are a lot of people who love other types of bread.
French regional bread loaves are not open crumb with the exception of the famous baguettes. The rest are medium to close crumb and still no wonder they are so famous. They excel with other things like shape and flavour.

The dough of the French bread is usually denser with a low hydration. They count on a denser dough to get a natural structure without multiple sets of lamination, coil folds or stretch and folds. The shapes of regional French bread are super creative and they never cease to impress me. I plan to try more French regional bread shapes in the future.

Pumpkin Soup

This year I made my first own grown pumpkins. Such an excitement! What a pleasure to check them every day to see if they became bigger. They filled my garden with life and colour.  When the autumn came, the leaves faded away and their beautiful orange aligned with the season colours. What to do with them? Oh, what to start with. First of all, we love pumpkins roasted in the oven and this is what we tried first. Then, I reserved a part for cakes and from another uncooked part I made a soup. This is the one. It is the food of the season and possibilities to cook with pumpkins are endless.

Here is a simple recipe but, oh..., this soup is so so delicious.

Feta Tomato Tart with Sourdough Discard Crust


Too much sourdough discard? Make a simple and delicious pie crust with it and fill it with feta and cherry tomatoes.

Very simple and super delicious.

Chocolate Chip Mascarpone Bundt Cake

 Sugar, sugar, sugar... 

Is there a dedicated cake book somewhere with recipes that do not require tons of sugar? 

This is a large cake I know, but the recipe that I chose as an inspiration indicates 560g sugar. This is more than craziness. I love her book, it is very well presented but there is no way that I would put that amount of sugar in my cakes.

There are recipes where sugar is the base of the cake because it provides the structure (like meringues, Pavlova, sponge cakes etc) but in the rest, please..... please cut the sugar. It is not good for health.

I stopped eating sugar some time ago and the effects are absolutely incredible. I do bake cakes for my children and a cake like this can serve well as a sweet treat during a school break. Baking the cake at home gives me control over the amount of sugar I put inside. It has to be sweet but not that super sweet.

And this is not all. The original recipe proposes adding a glaze. Can you guess from what all glazes are made? Exactly, sugar. 

Then, most of the chocolate chips are also sweetened, so another extra quantity of sugar.

Seriously, control the amount of sugar that you eat. You can still enjoy sweets that are not having that much amount of sugar.

What did I do with this recipe? Well, you guessed right, I cut the sugar from 560g to 100g. I chose dark chocolate chips that have less sugar. And yes, my children loved it. I did not taste it, but as they enjoyed it, the cake passed successfully the quality test.

Here is the adapted recipe in which I had to change some of the ingredients/quantity compared to the original one.

Sourdough Bread Rolls

I grew up in a country during communist times. I remember coming back from school by myself, because at that time it was safe for children to walk alone on the streets even in a town. My family brought me from school only during the first year but after that, I was coming back from school by myself. That means that after 7-8 years I was on my own to commute from school to home for a distance of ~1km in the town. Unimaginable these days. Those were other times....

It happened many times that I was returning from school with a colleague who was living nearby. We both had a few coins as pocket money from our parents to buy some food/snack if we would desire. But remember, we were during communist times were food shops were almost empty...there was no crackers, no chocolates or no sweet things to buy. On our way back home, in a small corner under a big tall building there was a little bread shop. Inside, one seller and empty shelves behind her. Not because of the hour but because bread was sold immediately after the truck transporting it was arriving. During the rest of the time, those shelves were empty. The only remaining pieces of bread on the counter were some bread rolls and some bread without salt (for people with health issues). They were super cheap (I remember even the price, 0.5 lei), with a straight line scoring in the middle. For 2 kids, hungry after one day of school, those rolls were heaven. When we were finding them because sometimes they were missing too.  We were buying one for each and before arriving home we were devouring every single bite. Just the bear naked bread rolls...
These are my memories with bread rolls and that is why they have a special meaning for me.
Yes, these ones in this recipe have seeds over. I couldn't have dreamed of bread rolls with seeds back then. They were simple with no attractive look on top though they were the best for me back then.

I tried to keep this recipe simple. I understand that for people not being obsessed with bread like me, doing stretch and folds, lamination and coil folds over a day it can be complicated. It can be also messy and requires a bit of space and organisation. But it should not be that complicated to have some gorgeous rolls, while still enjoying sourdough, on the table in 8 hours of proofing.

Calamari Tomato Stew

 The relationship between me and the Mediterranean diet started 6 month ago and it was a love at first sight. I always liked the Greek, Italian and Spanish food. Not needed to mention the French one also. 

I never believed in diets but rather in cooking yourself at home with good ingredients. This is what I saw as a child, this is what shaped my taste over time. Romania is not in the Mediterranean part but we have a lot of similarities with the Greek cuisine. I have also some Greek roots from 3 generations ago in my family so no wonder that I enjoy so much this type of food.

But I want to tell you something about me. When I moved to Belgium I had no knowledge or skills of cooking. I only new to do basic things like fried eggs or fries. I was a catastrophe. I remember calling my mother in Romania from the supermarket from Belgium asking her how a celery looks like. And yes, I grew up since then... and I discovered a pleasure in cooking what you like and picking the ingredients that brings the pleasure of eating to another level.

This is the Mediterranean diet for me... it is a style rather than a diet. The flavours, the aromas ... unbeatable!

This is a stew and I have to admit I have never been a fan of stews. I could have never categorise them ... between a soup or a main solid dish, or a sauce?. But I had to "grow up" to understand its value.

When I made this one.... it was a WOW moment. I chose to have green lentils as a side dish for them and they matched perfectly together.

Super healthy dish and sooooo delicious.