This week’s Tuesdays with Dorie: Baking With Julia recipe is Irish Soda Bread (which I’m sure many of us baked last week as part of a St. Patrick’s Day menu). I baked mine while I was simmering corned beef inside and smoking another brisket to make pastrami outside. I didn’t take a lot of pictures of the bread, unfortunately, but it’s such a simple bread – only four ingredients – there really wasn’t a whole lot to take pictures of.
I’m so glad to be baking with the whole Tuesdays with Dorie group again! After finishing Dorie Greenspan’s Baking, From My Home to Yours in 2011, they decided to keep baking, and what better book to tackle next than the fabulous Dorie Greenspan/Julia Child collaboration, Baking with Julia.
I cleaned a whole bunch of bags of chicken and turkey carcasses, beef bones, pork bones, and assorted meat trimmings out of the freezer earlier this week. We need to make room in there, at least, we hope we do. We may or may not have a really good reason to need space. So, in case all goes as planned (I’ll tell you after – don’t want to jinx it), we’ve been eating from the freezer as much as we can.
A while back (a long while, possibly a whole year back) I decided I wanted to do more cooking and baking of English and Scottish foods. I am mostly English, a quarter Scottish, and a pinch German. We already have some German traditional recipes in our repertoire, because Bill’s mom was German. I thought it was time to bring in more of my side.
Of course, that was a year or so ago, and what did I accomplish? Not much. Well, there were the two crumpet recipes I tried out…but that was in 2008.
So – new year, new try.
While I was up tending the smoking pork butt recently, I baked some bread, made some mozzarella, and made this bread.
It’s kind of cake more than bread, but since it was baked in a loaf pan, I guess that allows the “bread” designation.
My recipe is based on a lemon bread recipe I found in the King Arthur Flour 200th Anniversary Cookbook. I made a few changes, and next time I make it I have a few other changes to make as well.
But here’s what I did this first time around:
Okay, not completely pink. I used a blend of all-purpose and whole wheat flour, and I believe the whole wheat contributed to the browner color.
The bread came out very moist and soft, though. And, thanks to beets, it’s a better-than-before source of Dietary Fiber, Vitamin C, Magnesium and Potassium, Folate and Manganese! Woo hoo!
And better than all that – my kids like it.
I made corned beef for St. Patrick’s Day dinner last week. Actually, I’d started making the corned beef the week before, making a brine and soaking the brisket in the fridge for a week before finally boiling (simmering, really) it and the requisite potatoes and cabbage and carrots. (Turnips and other root vegetables would also be traditional, but I didn’t want a TON of leftovers.
What I did want was the left over corned beef. I used some of it make corned beef hash over the weekend, and used some more of it last night when I made a Reuben for my husband for dinner.
He loves a good Reuben.
Well, we plowed through that Cranberry Sandwich Bread I made recently, so I thought I’d try a variation on a theme. I thought that it would probably be even better if the bread itself tasted like stuffing.
And guess what. I’m right.
Every year around this time, the Thomas’ Cranberry English Muffins make their appearance in the grocery stores. I love these. So does Julia. No matter how hard I resist, my hand just reaches out and grabs a package whenever I’m within a 40 foot radius of the display. I’m not kidding. You can imagine the looks I get.
So the other day, when I was baking bread for the week (it sounds like I do this regularly, and I should, but I am not as organized as I wish. Can you get an organizational skills transplant?), I thought I should throw some cranberries into one of the loaves, just to see how the loaf would turn out.
I’m here to tell you it turned out pretty darn yummy.
Since then I've made several batches of bread with leftover whey, either from goat's milk or cow's milk, and I've had great results every time.
The main thing to remember, I've learned, is that if you're going to make bread with whey, it needs to be whey from cheeses made with a bacterial culture, not an acid. That's right - not all whey is the same.
No, that's not a misspelled street address, though wouldn't that be a great name for my future goat farm and bakery? You know, some day when I'm rich and I can buy a chunk of land, raise dairy goats (and cows, too, because I love cows) and make all sorts of cheeses? And breads? And other stuff? Sigh.......
The book I used, by the way, is The Book of Bread, by Judith and Evan Jones, and was originally published in 1982. I've got a paperback copy, and I think I probably bought it in the very late eighties/early nineties, which is when I was starting to really build my cookbook library. I have a bunch of bread books, in particular, that I bought in those years.
Um, hello?...yoo hoo...'scuse me...but you can take your nose off the monitor. No matter how hard you press, you're not going to be able to smell that loaf of bread.
At least, not that way. You'd be able to smell it really well if you make it, though, and if you are a fan of rosemary and garlic, then you really should.
At the beginning of December I said I was going to cut back on processed white stuff and other unhealthy food, and try to get myself in shape, since we're going skiing in February and I would like to at least give the illusion that I'm all healthy and athletic.
Hahahahahaha. Anyway, I tried, but certainly wasn't perfect about it. I did, however, pay more attention to what I was eating, and I think, for the most part, I ate less of the bad stuff.
Ooooh, are these addictive!
I first made these about fifteen years ago, and I think it was then that I "discovered" black pepper. I know. Sounds goofy. But until then, to me, pepper was just...salt's straight man. Salt was the star, Pepper was the supporting actor. They were always together, but Salt had the top billing, you know?
Anyway, I don't make pepper biscuits all that often, for the simple reason that I lack self control and I tend to eat these like other people eat potato chips. I can't stop. Just make a batch, and you'll see what I mean.
Speaking, as we were recently , of Portuguese food, I figured it was about time to put up this post.
Not really a recipe here. More of a suggestion. A thought. A "here's what I did, maybe you'd like to try it, too" kind of thing.
I was making bread - a large batch of 6 loaves. I'd planned to make 4 regular bread for sandwiches and so forth, and two loaves of raisin bread.
So I made enough dough for all the loaves, then divided it into two bowls - 1/3 into one bowl for the raisin breads, 2/3 into the other bowl for the sandwich bread.
I rolled and formed the raisin bread first, and then I was thinking...hmmm...we have 800 tons of blueberries...wonder how blueberry raisin bread would be?
Blueberry Jonnycake-in-the-Oven is a recipe I found in America's Bread Book, a book I referenced before when I tried out the recipe for Indiana Basic White Bread.
This past Friday I came home with plenty of goodies from the Farmers' Market. With my haul, I planned to make mozzarella, ricotta, jam, and pie, at the very least.
Since I was going to make mozzarella, I figured I should make pizza for dinner. So I'd also need to make pizza dough.
And we were out of bread, so I needed (or kneaded, ho ho ho) to make a couple of loaves of bread, too.
That, plus whatever sanding/applying joint compound stuff I did in the bedrooms.
My problem was I didn't really start any of this - the baking/cheesemaking part - until after I'd picked up Alex from school. I felt like I had PLENTY of time.
Several (or more - I've lost track) weeks ago I got it into my head that it would be fun to make braided rugs. I've got all sorts of fabric stockpiled from when I used to quilt a lot, and I "inherited" fabric from my late maternal grandmother, who also quilted and sewed clothes for us when we were little and appreciated home-made clothing. She also knitted and crocheted and drew and painted and played piano. Oh - and she also made some rugs. There was a great big braided rug under the kitchen table, for one...and I remember she also dabbled in rag rugs - the knotted kind that are shaggy on top and bumpy on the bottom.
Anyway, I thought - hey! I know how to braid! I'll braid some rugs!
I made a double batch of my favorite home-made pizza dough the other day, just because of this contest and all the different approaches take when making pizza at home.
I got this recipe from the Providence Journal ages ago, when Chef Brian Kingsford - either a former or current chef at the time - at Al Forno Restaurant was interviewed about grilled pizzas. He shared this recipe with the paper and I am sharing it with you.
A couple of weeks ago I wrote about this savory Sweet Potato Bread that I'd experimented with.
Well, yesterday I was baking bread - made one rather rustic batch and I knew I needed to make something soft and squishy for my husband's sandwiches. I had sweet potatoes, so I thought I'd make another batch of bread with them. But I wanted to play with it again, and so I left out the herbs and spices, and added the remaining half cup of ricotta cheese I had in the fridge from the Easter Pies I'd made over the weekend.
I'm happy to report, the bread is EVEN SOFTER AND SQUISHIER THAN BEFORE! I also remembered to brush the tops of the loaves with melted butter right after they came out of the oven, cover them and let them sit for half an hour like that, to soften the top crust.
My husband made a sandwich with the bread last night and paid the questionably ultimate compliment:
"It's almost as good as Wonder Bread!"
Well then. I can sleep at night now.
One of the suggested accompaniments to the "Rockin' Moroccan Salsa" I posted the other day was fresh pita bread. I didn't have any in the house, and I didn't want to go back out to the store, and as I thought about what I could use instead, the outraged voice inside my head told me not to DARE substitute something else, but to just go on and MAKE my own pita bread already!
So, of course, I did.
I had a few of these.
It was this past Saturday, and I was spending pretty much the whole day in the kitchen. I baked potato bread, prepped the blueberry crumb cake ingredients for this past week's Tuesdays with Dorie, and baked the coconut butter thins for NEXT week's Tuesdays with Dorie (it's my turn to pick a recipe, so I figured I should have my post ready in PLENTY of time for a change), and since I was in such a baking mood, I found myself looking around the kitchen for other innocent bystanding foods to throw into my stand mixer and pop in the oven.
I was looking through various bread books yesterday. I wasn't sure what I wanted to make, but we were out of bread, or almost out, so I needed to bake something.
I actually found two recipes, in two different books, that I decided to make. The first one I found will be posted another time (because it's not done yet - it's a two-day process), so today I give you the second one.
I love this recipe.
As you can see by the photo above, I didn't make muffins. I am just not that nuts about muffins. And since this is really at heart a cornbread recipe (to me, anyway), I figured I'd bake it in a cast iron skillet, as cornbread should be baked.
But first things first.
I whisked my dry ingredients.
And, while my ground beef was becoming taco filling (with my own seasonings, not a pre-packaged blend, thankyouverymuch) on the stove, I assembled the wet ingredients and the corn and peppers and cilantro.
OH - and the shredded cheddar. No - don't feel obligated to re-check your notes. That's MY version of "Playing Around" with this recipe. The cheese belongs with the rest of the ingredients, and it also adds some additional moisture. (And of course it's that additional moisture that's the REAL reason for my adding it in...it couldn't possibly be my belief that nearly everything should be topped with a layer of melted cheddar...or filled with oozing brie. No, couldn't be that at all.)
Anyway, I combined...
And I spread the mixture in my cast iron skillet...and sprinkled on some more cheese. For cosmetic purposes only.
And then I slid the pan in the oven to bake while I cooked some Goya rice (with green chiles and tomatoes) and assembled the other ingredients for our taco dinner.
Twenty-five minutes later the rice and the cornbread were done.
Here's the cornbread:
Last night's pictures don't do it justice, so I took a few more this morning (better lighting).
Predictably, I loved it, Bill loved it, Julia liked it well enough last night but REALLY liked it earlier this morning as part of an early lunch, and Alex didn't like it at all. He apologized for not liking it, "but I just don't like all the stuff in it."
Ah well. It's still a good average.
I think this cornbread (as cornbread, not as a muffin) would be BEST along a long-simmered bowl of chili. But since I didn't have the ingredients or the time for the long-simmering yesterday, I figured some fast tacos would work out okay.
And they did.
In fact, I didn't have tacos at all - I just split open a piece of the cornbread and topped it with the taco fillings.
I did almost the same thing a little while ago, both for me and (once she saw what I had and wanted me to share it with her) for Julia.
Julia ate two helpings (they were smaller than the one pictured above) and I had one. The one in the picture. Okay, one and a half.
Good thing I sent some in to work with Bill today, because I don't think the remaining quarter of cornbread will last the day. It's really, really good.
Thanks to Rebecca of Ezra Pound Cake (one of my favorite blog names out there - I love cleverness) for choosing this week's recipe - you can find the recipe on her site or on page 6 in Dorie Greenspan's Baking: From My Home to Yours.
And if you want to salivate some more, go to the TWD home page and work your way through the blogroll of other bakers.
And then, of course, go make a batch of Savory Corn and Pepper Muffins (or cornbread) for yourself.
I made these little rolls to go along with my Curry Ginger Carrot Bisque last night. It was probably a mistake. I love bread. Too much. These are yummy. And therefore, dangerous.
But I digress.
So, were you wondering what became of the garlic? Here's your answer!
This is the other basic sourdough recipe in Ruth Allman's book Alaska Sourdough. While the first recipe I used - the "Quick and Easy" one - contains additional yeast and baking soda to aid in the rise, this recipe does not. In this batch we rely completely on the power of our starter.
And, if you've been feeding and caring for your sourdough, you should have no problem with that.
First thing you'll need to do, if you want to make this entire (4 loaf) batch, is to build up your starter so that you'll have enough to donate 4 cups of it to the bread and have some left over to keep in your sourdough pot. You can either build the starter up gradually over several days by adding maybe a cup of flour and a cup of water to the starter each day until you have enough, or you can do it all at once, with several cups of flour and several of water. You can also add a pinch of sugar with the feeding, if you want to give the sourdough a slightly bigger boost.
Here's what you'll need, according to Ruth Allman (the recipe can be found on page 90 of her book):
4 cups Sourdough
2 cups potato water
1/2 cup sugar
6 tbsp cooking oil
1 tsp salt
10 cups flour - approximately
I didn't have any potatoes (forget to get them at the store), so I just used plain ol' warm water. I would also increase the salt maybe by another teaspoon - for a bit more flavor, but that's just me.
I would also advise that if you are planning to make this whole recipe, you make sure you have several REALLY BIG bowls on hand.
Okay, once you have all the ingredients assembled, you're ready to go.
Make soft sponge mixing the Sourdough, sugar, water and oil. Add half the flour.
Set in warm place to double in bulk.
Add remainder of flour (and the salt - this is left out of the book, but this is when I'd make the addition) to make dough that is easy to handle, smooth and elastic.
(here's where extremely big bowls come in handy)
(I stirred the flour in with a wooden spoon until it became too difficult to maneuver. Then I dumped and scraped it all out onto the counter and finished working it by hand.)
* If you would like to see a slideshow of how to knead dough, you can go here.
(The magic of breadmaking - transforming the ingredients from this shaggy, lumpy mess into this...)
Before you continue with the recipe, if you have any doubt about the life of your sourdough (which you shouldn't, but we're all human), here's how you can check on it. Poke the dough with your finger or fingers, up to or just past the first knuckle.
When you take your hand away, the dent will remain...
but as you watch, the dough will push back...
and the dent will almost disappear.
Pretty cool, no? You can also use this little trick to see if your dough had finished rising. If the dent fills in, as it did above, then the dough isn't finished. But if the dent remains a dent, then the dough has risen all it can and you're ready to go on to the next step.
Place in greased bowl. Cover. Let raise in warm place until double in bulk.
Knead down. Let raise to double bulk.
Form into loaves
or roll out 1/4" thick. Roll lengthwise and place on cookie sheet. Slash.
Bake 500 for 10 minutes, then 400 for 45 minutes.
Sorry about the poor picture quality on these last two. It was getting dark and the lighting wasn't great.
One thing to keep in mind also, if you're mentally deficient like I am, is that when you decide to separate the loaves, you should probably put the pan down on the counter, rather than leaving it on the top of your 4-layer cooling rack. Know why? Because when you're (foolishly) picking up the two left-hand loaves to separate them, the balance on the pan will shift to the right in dramatic fashion, and the nice loaves on the right that you'd just separated will FLY INTO THE AIR! One will do a few Olympic dive style flips before landing on the floor. (Fortunately your floor will be scrupulously clean and, five-second-rule in effect, you can safely put the loaf back on the counter.) The other loaf will drop into your sink, where there will be a couple of large bowls soaking, and the loaf will land RIGHT IN THE WATER. With your almost-lightning reflexes, you will snatch the loaf out of the bowl before it becomes entirely soggy, and you will trim off the wet half. And you will curse your ineptitude, and you will opt not to take pictures of this latest fiasco, because really, why torture yourself over an over with the memory?
Just like the very first sourdough batch I made, the texture is soft with a tight, firm crumb. Perfect for sandwiches, toast, french toast, and whatever else you can think of. The flavor is nice - it still doesn't have a really noticeable sourdough tang, but that's okay - it's still a young sourdough.
And...because it's me...here's a not-very-great-but-still-kinda-cool shot of the starter, and water and oil, before I added the sugar and mixed it all together. See how much fun it is to make bread? You get to see cool science-class stuff like this!
I forgot to mention yesterday that I've settled on "Stinky" as a name for my sourdough. After all that smelly excitement during the first days of fermentation, it seems fitting.
Anyway, after giving Stinky a good feeding Saturday afternoon, he was all set to go on Sunday.
I went with a simple recipe from Ruth Allman's Alaska Sourdough book. Since I'd used one of her starters, I figured I'd give a few of her recipes a whirl also. The recipe is described as "Quick and Easy" - and it was, mainly because of the addition of both yeast and baking soda, both of which gave the sourdough a boost.
First I put 2 1/2 tsp dry yeast in a bowl and added a cup and a half of warm water.
To that I added a cup of the sourdough starter, 2 T of sugar, half a teaspoon of salt, and about 4 cups of the flour.
After that was combined well, I scraped it into a large, greased bowl,
covered it with a lightweight, no-lint towel (I love those)
and let it rise until it had doubled.
Then I whisked together another cup of flour and a half teaspoon of baking soda and started to mix that into the dough (which, at this point, was more like a thick batter than a dough).
I ended up just dumping the whole thing onto the (floured) counter and kneading it for a while.
It was sticky and floppy and goopy at first, but as I worked in that cup of flour/baking soda, and then some of the remaining cup called for in the recipe, it began to transform into a nice, soft, elastic, workable dough.
At that point I divided the dough in half,
shaped it into two balls, and let it rest, covered, on a parchment-lined baking sheet.
My only concern about this book is that Mrs. Allman doesn't tell you to let the dough rise after you've shaped it into loaves. In reading the directions, it seems like you just shape it and pop it right in the oven. I was skeptical, so I compromised - I only let it rise for about fifteen minutes. Then I slashed them across the top three times each with a very sharp knife and into the oven they went.
The resulting loaves looked kind of like baby mushrooms
because of the rapid "oven spring" once they went from about 80 degrees (room temp in my kitchen in the afternoon) to 400 degrees.
The bread, however, is a dream.
It's got a soft, tight crumb - almost like pound cake.
And there's a very faint (desirable) sour aroma, which, as Stinky ages, will become more pronounced.
The kids had grilled cheese and tuna sandwiches with the first slices, and Alex in particular REALLY liked the bread. Even though I'd DOZED OFF (which I've never done before and I'm still sort of in shock about it) and slept through the timer going off, so the loaves stayed in the oven a tad longer than I would have liked. The resulting crust is thicker than I'd planned, but that also gave it an old world kind of feel, and while Julia didn't eat her crusts, Alex crunched away with great gusto.
I'll use Ruth Allman's other basic sourdough recipe next - it's an all-sourdough/no additional leavening recipe, and I'm really looking forward to seeing how that one behaves. I'll probably make that tomorrow or the next day, I'm thinking. The two loaves I made yesterday will very likely be gone by then!
Yesterday afternoon, after the glorious discovery that it smelled - at last - like sourdough, I thought I'd better go ahead and set it up for baking.
In sourdough parlance, I had to "set the starter," which you do by feeding it the night before you plan to bake so that it's all bubbly and activated.
So the first thing I did was to stir it down until it was a smooth, creamy consistency. And then I scraped it out of this bowl (above) and into a tall, wide, wide-mouthed jar (below) and added two cups of flour.
Then I poured in a cup of warm water.
And then I stirred it all together until it was smooth and creamy again.
Here's a better view of the jar:
I figure it's plenty big enough no matter what size batches of bread or hotcakes I decide to make.
A few notes -
I've read that you shouldn't use metal when you're working with sourdough. So I've been using glass vessels and a big wooden spoon. So far.
When you're setting the sourdough, the amount of flour and water you add will depend on what you're making. Some recipes I've seen will tell you how much to add, others will just say to set the starter. A good starting point is a cup of flour and a cup of water. That way you're not really changing the consistency of the starter. If, however, your starter is too think or too thick for your liking, then you can change the flour to water ratio to balance things out. That's why I added two cups of flour but only one cup of water.
So what texture starter do you want? Thick but pourable. Maybe like...yogurt or sour cream that you've stirred well with a spoon, but a bit thinner. It's actually up to you (imagine that!). You just might need to tinker with the fluids and flour when you use it in a recipe.
Okay now, so if all that setting up was done yesterday...then that should mean I used it...today, right?
And I'll tell you all about that tomorrow. It's getting late, and the new school year gets underway early in the morning.
After the olefactory stress I've been experiencing for the past several days, as I described in yesterday's post (the crossed-out parts, heh heh), I am VERY happy to report that as of this morning
MY SOURDOUGH STARTER SMELLS LIKE SOURDOUGH!!!!!!!!!!!
It really, really does. Woo hoo!!!!
And I think I know the secret now, and I'll share it with you all because I know some of you have expressed an interest in starting up your own sourdough starters, and I want you to experience this same feeling of joy and elation for yourselves.
To back up a teeny bit...
My starter is in a glass bowl covered with some of that press'n'seal covering it. You don't want it completely airtight, but you don't want fruit flies or any other little critters getting in. The press'n'seal stuff works nicely for this, plus it's kind of see-through, unlike aluminum foil, which works well but ISN'T so see-through.
Anyway, the bowl of starter has been sitting on a large plate (just in case it bubbles up TOO much) on the small counter to the right of my stove. It's away from open windows (drafts) and since the stove top or the oven or both are used pretty much daily, it's a fairly warm and cozy place to hang out.
This morning I came downstairs, got my coffee going, and was defragmenting my laptop and talking on the phone to my sister when I noticed that something was amiss with my bowl of starter.
It looked very much like a small foot (or paw) had stepped on the press'n'seal, dead center, and then, realizing that despite its appearance it was NOT a solid flat surface, the paw was withdrawn, but the press'n'seal had kind of stuck to the surface of the starter and did not spring back up again. Not that press'n'seal is known for springing back up. But anyway.
That was the state of sourdough affairs this morning. I carefully lifted the press'n'seal up from the starter and noticed two things.
Number 1: The sourdough had separated a bit - liquid on top and thicker stuff below - it wasn't bubbling, and therefore I need to feed it today.
Number 2: It smelled...GOOD.
I proceeded to babble on and on to my sister about this, and she tolerated it for a bit, because she knows I'm like this and because I'll listen to her babble on about HER exciting stuff when appropriate. It's nice to have that in a sibling.
Then for some reason, she had to - very suddenly and with no explanation - get off the phone. I don't THINK it has anything to do with my starter smelling LIKE SOURDOUGH. Nah. It wouldn't be that....
So ANYWAY - there you have it.
If you decide to make a sourdough and use this cooked potato method, don't get in a panic if it seems to be REALLY foul-smelling in the first several days of fermentation. (I've already done the panic for you.)
Be patient, and above all else - make sure you have a kitten in the house who will step on the press'n'seal stuff for you in the middle of the night.
Trust me - it makes all the difference.
And there's one more important thing which, in my panic, I had forgotten about. Barbara asked me, in a comment to yesterday's post, if I had named the starter yet, or was I going to wait until it settled down a bit.
Well, I hadn't named it yet, because of THE PANIC, and because, frankly, I'd forgotten all about that important element of sourdough starter custodianship.
So now I'm trying to decide on a name. Like I told my kids when they got the kittens (sorry, no picture of them at the moment - I'm on a different computer with no access to my kitten shots), you don't HAVE to name them right away - you can wait to get to know their little personalities first. And of course the named the kittens right away, as we all know.
My first inclination is to name the starter "Stinky." Never mind whatever other benign and fragrant personality it takes on going forward...for several days it was, indeed, stinky, and so to me that name is perfectly appropriate.
But I'll continue to think about it a bit before I fill out all the official Sourdough Naming documents.
And in the meantime, what would YOU suggest?
Just wanted to let you know (especially those of you who were planning to start up a sourdough like the one I started) that I'm not SURE if mine is good or not. It's been fermenting like it should, however, it doesn't smell the way any sourdough I've ever made in the past has smelled.
Granted, I've never made one with potato before, so that could be what's doing it.
Just in case all is not right with this one, I wanted to let you know that I'm not really sure about the prognosis.
It doesn't smell tangy...like sour cream or sourdough.
I don't even want to type this so early in the day, so if you're eating breakfast or have a weak stomach, come back later.
It smells like
There. I said it. I need to do some research to see if this is an acceptable smell. I sort of hope it's not, because frankly I don't want to bake with something that smells like this.
And I'm not squeamish, ordinarily, about smelly food.
But, since I'm not sure if this is a GOOD thing, I wanted to let you know.
I'll be back when I have more info.
Never mind. I had Bill smell it. He knows a lot more than I do about fermentation, being a kick-ass beer brewin' man as he is, and he said it didn't smell bad - it smells sour, and strong.
Forgive me. I had a moment of panic.
The sourdough starter, I mean. Look at the bubbles! Less than 24 hours after I set it out, there it is, starting to bubble and ferment. This shot was taken around 3:00 this afternoon. I'm not entirely sure why the two tones of color there - one grayish, one off-white. Maybe some is the potato, some is the flour? I don't know. I stirred it all together, partly just so see what it looked like on the inside. The starter was a creamy off-white color, speckled with little air bubble holes, kind of shaggy when I pulled the wooden spoon up and out of the batter.
It looked lovely.
I checked on it again a few hours later, and it had risen higher in the glass bowl, and still looked nice and creamy and bubbly on top.
Isn't it pretty?
I could use it tomorrow, if I wanted to, and believe me, the impatient part of me WANTS to. But I'm going to let it go a little longer, maybe a few more days, in order for the flavor to develop.
I also need to find a permanent home for my starter, rather than this bowl. Something sturdier and taller. Hmmm. I'll have to look around and see what we've got tucked away in the cupboards.
And, of course, I'll keep you updated.
I've made sourdough starters in the past, and have kept them alive for varying lengths (and shortnesses) of time.
With the chill of autumn in the early morning air now, I thought it was a good time to start a new starter and try to keep it going for, well, forever, if I can.
I bought a book called Alaska Sourdough by a woman named Ruth Allman. I've had this for years, but I haven't tried any of her recipes for some reason. So, for that reason, and because the book is handwritten throughout, which gives it some personality, I figured I'd try one of her starters.
Ruth Allman was born in Boston but raised in Alaska, and, over the years until her death in 1989, one of the foremost Alaskan sourdough historians. Her writing is conversational and rather exuberant, with the frequent exclamation points, and fascinating. She had never used sourdough until she married her husband, so everything she learned, she learned firsthand.
There are two starter recipes - both use potatoes. One uses cooked, the other uses raw. I've made mine with the cooked potatoes.
Here's the recipe -
Dump into the Sourdough Pot
2 cups thick potato water
2 tbsp sugar
2 cups flour (more or less)
1/2 tsp yeast (optional)*
Boil potatoes with jackets on until they fall to pieces. Lift skins out; mash potatoes making a puree. Cool. Add more water to make a suffieient liquid, if necessary. richer the potato water, richer the Starter. Put all ingredients in Pot. Beat until smooth creamy batter. Cover. Set aside in warm place to start fermentation. * Use yeast only to speed action.
And that's exactly what I did yesterday.
I cooked my potatoes, jackets on
until they fell apart.
I removed the skins and mashed the potatoes to make a puree and let that cool.
And when it was cooled, I added the sugar and flour...
I should have thinned the puree more - it was pretty thick, so I ended up adding water to this mixture in order to end up with something creamy. THICK and creamy.
And that, hopefully, will become my starter.
I covered the bowl lightly with foil - to allow air in and keep unwanted stuff out.
I put the bowl up on top of the pie safe in my kitchen, which is a relatively warm place, and crossed my fingers.
This morning it looks pretty much the same, with a little bit of water separating from the rest of the mixture.
This starter - as I made it - is dependent on wild yeast to start the fermentation process, and I'm hoping that will be enough. I'd really like to make this without adding "store-boughten" yeast to it. So we'll see.
I figure a baby sourdough is just what I need right now, along with my kids, a cat, two kittens, lizard, and various fish. And husband. Just one more thing to nurture and feed and keep warm enough so it doesn't become dormant but not so hot that I kill the yeast. Of course, I need to actually HAVE some yeast in there, so my worries are a bit premature. I just figured I'd add them to the queue (did I spell that right? I could have gone on and on with the "ue" parts. queueueueue.) so when the time was right, I'd be all set to worry about them.
Anyway, that's what's newest and excitingest in my house this morning! What's new with you?
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