So what happens when you take an active sourdough starter, stick it in the fridge and ignore it for 6 months or more? Apparently nothing bad. This is exactly what I did. Actually, I have 4 starters in the fridge. Last week I decided to try and revive the Italian starter and attempt a batch of bread.
How did I do it? I pulled the starter out, stirred the hooch in (the liquid on top) and put it on the counter in a new bowl. Leaving it on the counter, I fed it with half a cup of flour and half a cup of water twice a day. At each feeding , I poured off about half the starter into a container of excess. But I’ll get to that later.
Friday night I began the Vermont Sourdough from Hamelman’s Bread. Saturday morning I worked through the shaping and then retarded the two loaves in the fridge overnight. Then Sunday morning I baked them off one at a time on my pizza stone. The first loaf I steamed once with ice cubes. The 2nd loaf I added a second steaming. The second steaming seemed to give the 2nd loaf a little more spring. The taste was mild but clearly the starter did its job. Nice rise, good crumb. Chewy crust. Sourdough bread is such a process that it’s even more satisfying when it all goes well.
So there have been sammichs, bread slice snacks, bread with salad, etc. And I haven’t cut into the second loaf yet! So what to do with the cast-off starter created when feeding? There are a bunch of things you can do with it, but this time I chose scones. (Obviously, I veganized that recipe.) It really doesn’t act to rise the scones, but flavors them a little and keeps you from having to throw the excess in the garbage.
tempeh salad sammich
apple pie sourdough scones
It’s been a while, so I’m going to submit this post to WildYeast’s Yeastspotting. Head over there every Friday for a collection of baking porn from around the internets.
I don’t feel very writey right now, but here are a few food pics that have been piling up.
The Cajun Tofu from Yellow Rose Recipes has turned out to be a great quick week night dinner star. Once you have the spice mixture around, the rest can be made up of staples I keep around. This time we had it with some of the collards that are filling my freezer and some hash browns that cooked up quicker because I diced ’em smaller. Oh, and that’s a little bowl of home made apple sauce.
When I saw this fairly quick recipe for bread bowls, I knew I’d eventually be dumping come Cholent from Veganomicon into them. I was right! The dry milk powder was replaced with soy milk powder.
Trying to keep the healthy cruise diet going, I baked up some Asian tofu and ate it on a salad of raw kale and bok choy seasoned with sesame oil.
And finally, this Peanut Butter Quick Bread recipe looked interesting. I thought it would be even more interesting as Peanut Butter and Jelly Bread. So that’s what I did. The bread itself is not all that sweet like a lot of quick breads, so the jelly does not make it too sweet. I veganized by using a flax egg and soy milk as replacements. The recipe worked in both bread and muffin form.
When I saw this recipe while cruising VeganMoFo blogs, I knew I’d be making it soon. I mean, I had JUST cooked up a big batch of chickpeas. How could I not? Plus I’m apparently obsessed with pumpkin right now. I even bought one at the farmer’s market this weekend to bake up for myself. But for the hummus, I used the lazy canned kind. But I made up for that laziness by making my own pita.
For the pita, I used the recipe in The Bread Bible. It’s pretty simple and the dough can rest in the fridge for up to three days. So it’s easy to make them on your timetable rather than letting the yeast rule you.
resting pita dough
all rolled out
Oh yeah, I almost forgot the really fun part about the pita. I mixed up the dough Sunday evening. I was a little tired. When I was getting the water, I just filled a measuring cup with water, then checked the temperature to make sure it was okay. The next step would have been to poor off the excess and pour the amount the recipe called for into the bowl. But I just dumped the whole thing into the bowl. Crap! So I added a little more yeast and flour until it felt right. Apparently I am learning what “feels right” means because they came out just fine. All but one even puffed like it should. And that one half puffed.
puffy fresh baked pita balls
So, what about that hummus & chard? I gave you the link to the pumpkin hummus at the beginning. I don’t know if my garlic was super strong, but if you’re garlic shy, you should start with half the amount and see how you like it. I liked it just fine! It’s also a wee bit spicy. It mixes up really nice and smooth in the food processor. Sometimes hummus recipes don’t behave as well. The chard is Tunisian Braised Chard from Olive Trees and Honey. Flavorful and juicy. The pot liquor was so good that I’ve been drinking it after I finish the veggies.
pumpkin hummus, tunisian braised chard, pita
This post brought to you by: Kevin’s old powerbook! Which is really cute and small and sort of makes me wish the new MacBooks had a little bitty version. Bad news: someone broke into my house and took my shit. Good news: I’ll get a new computer a little sooner than I was planning. Bad news: probably not replacing camera.
Oh, and it might be too late, but I’m going to send this to Susan at Wild Yeast Blog for YeastSpotting. Even if it doesn’t make it, you should check out the YeastSpotting round-up every Friday. You’ll drool over all the bread yummies people have been making.
Half of a plain bagel with cream cheese, half eaten
Not the first bagels I’ve eaten, but the first ones I’ve ever made. Like most bread, there is a series of timed steps that each contribute to the yumminess. For this batch, I used Rose Levy Beranbaum’s recipe in The Bread Bible. I have some steps for you here in pictures. I skipped pics of the sponge and bulk rise parts though. Too bad, you could’ve seen the dough almost bust out of it’s container.
Shaping bagels is pretty easy. After you’ve separated the dough into pieces, you poke a finger in the center, pick it up, stretch until you can get both fingers in the hole (yeah, it’s pretty naughty) and either pull and rotate around until you’ve got a 2 1/2″ hole (it’ll snap back) or wind it around with your fingers as kind of spokes like Kevin did and it’ll go really fast. That last bit is hard to describe. Oh well, you’ll figure it out.
Bagels taking a boiling bath
You boil them up for about 2 minutes per side. Then let rest for a minute on a clean towel to drain before transferring to a baking sheet.
Boiled bagels ready for baking
Bagels baking in my crappy oven
Bagels just out of the oven
These are spongy and chewy crusted like bagels should be. We also made a few onion bagels. They were even more amazing. I was concerned because it looked like the onions were burninating while they were baking, but it all turned out fine.
In addition to this being a VeganMofo post, I’m submitting it to Wild Yeast Blog’s weekly Yeastspotting feature. Every week Susan rounds up yummy baking posts from around the ‘net. Check it out.
Okay, I haven’t been baking non-stop all weekend, but I did get a few things done. I couldn’t let the extra time go to waste. My choice of what to make often revolves around what is convenient ingredient and time wise. Apparently I’m all about jeffrey Hamelman’s Bread lately. So why fight it?
First thing I did was feed all my cultures. And I saved some cast-off to make sourdough waffles.
First bread up is the Golden Raisin Bread. This one calls for a culture plus a little bit of commercial yeast. I still have two cultures I haven’t used yet, so this made use of one, the Alaska. With a good % of whole wheat flour and some rolled oats thrown in for good measure, this turned out to be a pretty hearty and healthy bread. My slashing is definitely a problem. Nothing I’ve tried is sharp or thin enough to do the job properly. I have some proper lames on the way though.
golden raisin bread
golden raisin bread crumb
Those went off without any problems. But I do dumb stuff from time to time. Like, I’ve had a dough rising in then oven, forgot and turned on the oven to preheat. Der. This weekend my dumb thing was to have the olive levain dough on top of my stove while the oven was preheating for the raisin bread. Oh yeah, on the burner above the oven vent. So I ended up cutting a chunk of that dough off. See, here is the olive dough cooking away on the burner with the raisin dough next to it and my waffle batter.
So, I kind of thought I might have killed the olive levain, but I continued as planned anyway. After a couple of folds, I shaped it and put it in the fridge to retard for what ended up being about 24 hours. It came out of the fridge a little sloppy and flat, so I kind of pulled it back into an oblong loaf shape, slashed it, spritzed it with water and threw it in the oven to bake, a couple of ice cubes chucked in the bottom for steam. Sure enough, it started rising. I hadn’t killed all the yeast! Sure, I lost some oven spring, but it still turned out wonderful. It has received nothing but compliments so far. I can only imagine how good it’ll be if I don’t try to ruin it!
olive levain up close