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Thursday, September 30, 2010

The Great Sourdough Experiment - Part II


I have done better. But here is the next stage.

Last time we had the started just, ahem, starting.

After five days of feeding, watering and talking to the jug of yeasty batter it was pretty much ready to use.

So this happened next -

Pretty active stuff...

Once it was like this I measured out about 300g as I wanted a big loaf, and make up the same amount of bread flour. Add a bit of salt and add any watere needed to make a shaggy, decent-feeling dough.

Next knead the hell out of it for a few minutes.

Once that lovely elastic feeling comes to the dough, put it in an oiled bowl, cover with clingfilm and put somewhere warm overnight to prove.

The next day punch it down, knead it for a couple more minutes and press out into the desired loaf pan. The white one is on the left, the malted one on the right was the leftover started I had and decided to finish it off with this loaf.

Leave somewhere warm (I put mine next to the TV..) for two hours. Or until it has filled out a bit more.

Bung in the oven for 45 mins - 1 hr depending on the size of the loaf. Basically until it sounds hollow. High heat, mines a fan oven and it goes in at 200 degrees, a conventional one will be around 220, which I think is gas mark 7ish.

Ta Dah!

It hasnt risen as much as I would have liked, but Im still learning with this. So far my bread is very hitty-missy, and although this one was a tad flat, it tastes good! V tangy and full.

Have fun!

Monday, September 27, 2010

Baking Withdrawal

I thought after a flurry of recipes and foodie reports I should have a look at the reasons behind why we do this. After all there are some aspects to being in the kitchen that arent nice - the cleaning up for one.

But the main reason to do all of this is to feel connected to what we need to survive. Food is obviously the fuel that we need to live, and in a basic human kind of way, what we need to thrive and ultimatley once thriving, continue the species.

So in that respect, food, cooking and baking become something primal. Something necessary. Vital.

Maybe that is why baking appeals and can trigger, emotional reactions. There is always the reminder that not only we need this action in order to survive, but with baking in particular, there is a connection to memory and to home.

Most people learn to bake from their parents or grandparents. Usually its from a Mother. The emotional connections with baking encompass the relationship you have with (one of) the most important people in your life, and certainly (for the majority of us) the most important person in our childhoods.

I was taught to bake by my Mam, who was taught by her Mam...And on it goes. That being said, my Dad was a professional cook, and worked for many years in an industrial bakery - but he didn't teach me cooking, in fact I never witnessed him cooking anything other than cheese on toast (that was what I needed to get better when I was ill) as in retrospect, he would have been pig sick of cooking for people by the time he got home form work.

Still the emotional connections of baking take me back to being a child - so maybe thats a trigger for me, and no doubt, many others, as to why it is such a calming, soothing, warm activity.

As an adult the activity of baking is something I find to be meditative. There is a specific action and reaction with baking, exacting measurements, solid process that is completed in order to produce something valuable and beautiful all at once. Meditation is the same way. With this concentration, focus and determination, you achieve a higher awareness of self.

Im sure I will ponder more on my own (and others) emotional connection to baking, but for right now the baby needs some porridge.

After the ecstacy....The laundry.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Today's Dabbling

I love Malteasers. And I love Malteaser cake. So I adapted the recipe and made Malteaser cupcakes! Bize sized loveliness..

I made a batch of traditional gingernuts too as we were out of biscuits. These are so easy to do, take about twenty mintutes to make - and that includes baking time.

The Sunday roast is about to do in - but that is the hubby's duristiction and then I will be reporting on the Grand Sourdough experiment - part deux. The starter is ready!

If anyone would like one of my recipes, please feel free to ask!

Saturday, September 25, 2010

I was supposed to do something today


That was it.

Im going to do it tomorrow. Ive just been knackered today. Thanks to my four month old Baboo with a slight dicky belly.

Vanilla ice cream.

Thats the other one.

And I might just have to chop up the brownie and mix it in with the ice cream.

Im going to bed before I drop.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

A Baking List

So much to do today, and Im not too sure I can be bothered to do it all.

I have a list in the kitchen of things that need making - just because. So far we have..

Blueberry muffins - Im not great with muffins. I cant seem to get that Starbucks-style massive top on them no matter how hard I try. The ones I do make tend to come out tasty, they just dont look right. Anyway, I also have frozen the blueberries from our two blueberry bushes as and when they have been ripening, so now have a bunch big enough to make a decent batch of muffins. I also have a glut of milk for some reason (I think it was because I made batches of ice cream last week and had leftovers) so that will come in handy too.

Quiche - its easy, its healthy and when you have four mad hens in your back garden who lay like there is no tomorrow, you end up with so many eggs that you give them away (we are SO popular with the Jehovahs Witnesses that come around door to door - not only do with treat them like human beings, but we keep them in free eggs, as much as they have tried to pay us. They end up leaving egg boxes along with copies of the Watchtower for us. Whatever floats the boat). And the toms from next doors plants are ripening, so they can be used too. Another giftie for giving away eggs - three large, and almost ripened tomato plants from Walter and Maureen next door. Not bad going. To think all we have had to do is put up with Miranda - the insane white chicken who went crazy, and now thinks she is a cockeral after hanging herself between two garden chairs.

Lemon cake - I have lemons in. Thats the only real reason. Maybe because the one I made for my daughters Naming Day last week I didnt get a sniff of let alone a bite. Im not complaining. Honest.

Biscuits - maybe gingersnaps because they are so all-purpose, works as a pudding with a dollop of lemon and ginger ice cream as much as dunking into tea.

Horseradish gifties - I dug up the horseradish plant that has been making a pitch for world domination as its ready for harvesting anyway, and half of it can go to the allotment for next years crop. I planted ONE thong. I dug up over THIRTY. One thong keeps a family of four in horseradish for a year. What the hell am I going to do with all this bloody horseradish? Horseradish mustard/mayo/creamed sauces as Christmas pressies. Thats what Im thinking.

What do you mean you dont like horseradish?

Sourdough - still ongoing. At least another day for the starter to establish.

I called our local college the other day to check out the food courses. The hubby and I can go and do our basic food hygiene for £45 a pop, and only one of us would need the licensing cert. This is for the future. When we open the cafe. Oh its SO gonna happen.

I also found an artisan baking school a couple of hours from here - next march they are running Italian baking on one day and French baking on the next. I might be having a trip away...

You know considering I was only going to write a quick list and then log off, this has turned into a mighty long post.

And the final thing - Im writing for posterity - I need to write down the thinking behind Tea Vs Coffee - the eternal struggle to find the Truth... (thanks to my friend Julia)...;)

Have a good day, folks

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

The Grand Sourdough Experiment

So heres the deal - everything I have read about bread baking all points to Sourdough. Capital letter. And from my tries in the past, it has always been difficult to get a really good loaf.

That is until I got a random packet of Doves Organic Rye flour with an easy sourdough recipe on the side.

After six days of painstaking waiting, building up the started and finally baking it it turned out...OK.

Im not giving up on sourdough, and have started a starter two days ago, in a basic strong, white bread flour.

Its alive. ALLLIIIIIVVEE! The yeast is doing its thing and making the whole mess of starter dough move, bubble and spit. It looks amazing, in a really primordial way.

As soon as I figure out how to stick a  photo in a post, then I will prove it (no pun intended..)

The first time I ever tasted sourdough was in San Francisco when me and my (now hubby) were dating. And lets face it, thats the best place in the world to taste your first sourdough. I fell in love with it (and with the guy) and bought cultures to bring home and create myself. Unfortunatley I didnt realise that in order to keep the starter from dying on you, you NEVER freeze it. Well after two loaves made, and the novelty of the sheer amount of attention the process takes, I thought I would freeze the starter to make more loaves at a later date.

The starter keeled over and died.

I will get around to sending for some more from teh home of sourdough, but until then I will be using my cheaty methods and adding a pinch of yeast and letting it develop over a few days.

So anyway - here is how you make a sourdough starter -

200g of flour (rye is traditional, but any bread flour will work)
a pinch of yeast
mix in enough hand-hot water to make a sticky, shaggy mess of dough. Sloppy is the word, here, folks
cover with cling film and put somewhere warm
feed with a little more (like 50g) of flour and enough water to keep the same consistency every day over the next four days.

With any luck you will have a big, bubbly mess by the end of it that smells very strongly of beer. Fermented bread. Wonderful.

Next post will have how to make the actual loaf ;)

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

The Alchemy of Baking.

So I thought I would start this up as over the years I have become ever so slightly obsessed with baking. Not just the recipes and the better tastes that you get with home cooked food,  but moreover with the effect that it has on people. Why does baking give that warm fuzzy feeling? Why does it cause people to talk more freely, laugh louder and be more relaxed.

The experience of creating something from diverse ingredients to somehow add an emotional value and resulting in that effect is something that intrigues me. And I guess I would like to find out how that comes about.

The Alchemy of Baking...

This mixture of food and emotions to create better (best?) flavours and sensory experiences is encapsulated in this act. And there are two sides to the story as well, because the creation of the food is an all out experience for the baker too - a moment of meditation, a realisation of sustenance and somehow because of that, survival. It speaks to the core of us all.

A truely holistic experience for all involved. So here we go - I will babble on like this throughout this blog, no doubt, and will throw in the recipes and emotional results of the baking.

Thats the plan, anyway - see where we go from here.