Archive for the ‘Breadmaking’ Category

Sourdough Starter from Scratch, Day Six

November 23, 2012 @ 9:47 am | Filed under:

We had so little activity on days 4 and 5 that I was starting to worry this batch of starter wasn’t going to take off. But this morning we’ve got lots of bubbles and froth. Very pleased.


Day 4—transferred to another container, cleaned the crock. Returned 1/2 cup of starter to crock, added 1/2 cup water, 1/2 cup whole wheat flour.

Day 5—in the morning, same as day 5 (except the transfer/clean step). In evening, activity had been so flat all day, I decided to feed again. This time I added a tablespoon of pineapple juice along with the flour and water, just to help discourage the growth of undesirable bacteria while the good ones are getting established.

Day 6—a.m., removed almost a cup of starter, added 1/2 c water, 1/2 c whole wheat flour.

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Sourdough Starter Day 3 (and Other Stuff)

November 20, 2012 @ 3:52 pm | Filed under: ,

This isn’t a great photo because I’d already stirred the starter before I remembered to take a picture. It was wonderfully bubbly this morning–lots of activity happening in there. The light here is reflecting off the little bubbles left after I stirred. Is developing a nice sour aroma already. We have high hopes.

Day 3 notes: Stirred, discarded half the starter, added 1/2 cup distilled water, 1/4 cup whole wheat flour, 1/4 all purpose flour.

Other tidbits from this day:

Rose sewed a quilt top this morning and we backed it with some nice rich brown fleece, no batting, no quilting—the superquick “snuggleblanket” method we used a while back for our favorite sofa throw. The fleece backing gave us fits, there was so much stretch in it, but Rose wound up with an extremely cozy little lap quilt and we’re all preparing to fight over it now. We found the precut quilt squares in our stash yesterday—a Moda Layer Cake set I’d picked up who knows when—and that meant this was a no-fuss project that could be accomplished in one morning: so satisfying.

Beanie discovered our copy of Material World and spent the morning poring over that, entranced.

On our walk yesterday we spotted a full-grown amaryllis in a neighbor’s front yard. San Diego never ceases to amaze me.

Sourdough starter from scratch, day two

November 19, 2012 @ 2:00 pm | Filed under:

Got a few bubbles…a good sign!

Notes: Different methods give different advice for the first few days. The sites recommending the pineapple-juice method (see yesterday’s comments) say to do nothing but stir a few times on the second day. The King Arthur site suggests discarding half the starter on Day 2 and adding more flour and water. I did something in between: split the starter into two batches and added small amounts of juice and flour to each. I figure this gives me a backup in case one of them doesn’t take off. The second batch is in a small plastic container and it’s sitting on a minor heat source, which may give it a slight advantage over the other. My kitchen is a bit too cool for optimum starter-starting right now, which means progress will likely be slow. But so far, so good…

I’m on my sourdough kick again.

November 18, 2012 @ 2:54 pm | Filed under:

Been a while since my last go-round. This photo is day one, hour one. One cup whole wheat flour, half cup distilled water, per the instructions at the King Arthur Flour site (and lots of other places). However, after revisiting my old favorite sourdough site, Northwest Sourdough, I’ve decided to add a bit of pineapple juice. The acid in the juice (apple cider also works) encourages the growth of the right microorganisms and discourages the nasty ones.

Last time I tried starter from scratch, it bubbled along nicely at first and then fizzled on me. Before that, I’ve had great success with starters purchased from Northwest Sourdough and a King Arthur one given to me for Christmas by a friend (along with my beloved blue-and-white crock).

In between bouts of sourdough-ing, I had a good long run of regular breadmaking using the Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day method. (Many posts and pictures here.) We fell out of the habit when summer rolled around and none of us could bear the thought of turning on the stove. But the ABi5 recipes worked wonderfully for us, and it’s certainly a more economical path than storebought bread. I might resume the practice after Thanksgiving; right now the fridge is too full.

Lookie here, my old (way old) bread blog is still kicking around! I really should import those posts to this site one of these days.


March 27, 2010 @ 7:31 am | Filed under:

People are sharing some good tips about the artisan-bread-in-five baking in the comments. I especially like the tip about doing the rising and baking steps on parchment instead of using cornmeal on a bread peel. (Or cookie sheet, in my case.)

I’m getting the hang of this. We haven’t bought bread in two weeks!


March 25, 2010 @ 12:09 pm | Filed under: ,

I’m getting into the groove. Baking every day, or every other day (two loaves) if tomorrow’s going to be busy. So far, only one tomorrow has been too busy.

We like the 100% whole wheat recipe best for everyday bread (sandwiches and toast). Yesterday I played with the light whole wheat recipe a bit—added some honey, and added more whole wheat flour, less white. Baked a loaf this morning and it’s lovely: light and fluffy, quite nice in sandwiches. But the crust was too, er, crusty. We ran into this yesterday with a round of the master boule recipe. It’s that step where they have you add steam to a pan on the bottom rack of your oven; that step is supposed to ensure a nice crispy crust and by golly it does! Too crunchy. Hard to cut. Tomorrow I’ll try omitting the steam and see how it turns out. I love the crusty bread with soups and sauces, but for sandwiches I’d rather a bit less crunch.

Also had my first real failure—due to a boneheaded oversight. I had a bit of dough left (whole wheat) from Sunday’s batch and stored it in a mini-loaf pan. It rose (in the fridge) to fill the pan exactly, so I just went ahead and baked it in that, after a rise on the counter. And totally forgot that meant the pan hadn’t been greased. It stuck terribly, and didn’t rise properly anyway. Lesson learned!

I’m seeing small buds and large leaves on the milkweed, so I expect the butterflies will be along any day. None sighted yet—but the Journey North monarch migration map tells me there have been a few sightings in coastal towns not far north of us, so there must surely be some monarchs here as well (since they move north from Mexico).

We had an Amazon gift card to spend, and here’s what we ordered—

The Gammage Cup by Carol Kendall, author of The Firelings

Skating Shoes, one of the Noel Streatfeild Shoes books we didn’t have

The Perilous Gard by Elizabeth Marie Pope, author of The Sherwood Ring

Other recent arrivals—

Flyaway: How A Wild Bird Rehabber Sought Adventure and Found Her Wings by Susie Gilbert (review copy sent by the author, whose perusal of my archives suggested to her we might be interested, as indeed we are; Mental Multivitamin mentioned it as well)

The Year of Plenty, a middle-grade novel by Rebecca LeeAnne Brammer (review copy sent by the author)


Dough Business

March 20, 2010 @ 12:50 pm | Filed under:

I know, I know, another bread post! They’ll taper off soon, I’m sure, or morph into notes on the other blog. But since breadmaking was the dominant theme of our week, I want to wrap up the week with my notes.

I can see the 100% Whole Wheat Sandwich Bread recipe being our go-to bread for daily use: it has been delicious as toast and sammiches—when we managed to save some instead of devouring it hot from the oven. I’ve been cutting the salt way down and the flavor is perfect. Our whole wheat comes out moist and dense, almost cakelike. Which is to say: perfect. I like an airier crumb for things like rye and sourdough, but for whole wheat I prefer it quite dense.

I am consistently getting one less loaf out of a batch than the recipe says I should. I don’t think that’s because I’m making my loaves bigger than I ought—I’m baking the whole wheat in a standard size loaf pan and using the amount of dough the recipe suggests. Weird.

I mixed up a batch of the brioche dough this morning to try as cinnamon rolls tomorrow. I will probably freeze the rest in one-pound batches, as suggested.

If you’re itching to give the method a try, the authors have generously shared some recipes on the Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day website. Here’s the Basic Master Recipe (with a photo walk-through).

Here’s a whole wheat brioche from their second book.

I really liked this older post from the blog of Zoë François, one of the two authors of ABin5. She answers loads of questions in the comments about specific problems people are having with their baking—kind of like “Car Talk” for bread. Actually, many of the posts on her blog and the main ABin5 blog are like that—excellent advice in the comments.

Our week in bread:

Monday—Scott gave me the book.

Tuesday—We tried the “light wheat bread” recipe.

Wednesday—Mixed up the 100% whole wheat recipe for the next day’s baking.

Thursday—It was to die for.

Friday—too busy eating bread to post. Dinner was bread and cheese and fruit. Heaven.

Today—turkey and Swiss on whole wheat for lunch; brioche dough in fridge.

Next batch of dough: I gotta try that olive oil bread for pizza crust. My friend Joann was tantalizing me with her posts yesterday; her family is “roadschooling,” traveling the country in an RV. They bought the ABin5 book for their Kindle this week and have made focaccia, bagels, and cinnamon rolls so far. In the RV. How cool is that?

How Rose Is Feeling

March 17, 2010 @ 11:58 am | Filed under:

…about this whole bread thing.

Today’s notes so far: Our Henry’s is closed for remodeling! I had no idea. Totally threw off my plans. No rye flour at the big supermarket, so today we went with the whole wheat sandwich bread recipe, which I was eager to try anyway. Has honey & oil, so: rich and sweet? Yum? The dough is rising now. Might bake a loaf this afternoon to eat with dinner, or may wait until tomorrow morning. We polished off the last of yesterday’s baking at lunch.

Midafternoon update: Aha! I think yesterday’s yeast must have been old. Or my water was a tad too hot (I was worried about that) and zapped some of the yeast. Because today, using a new jar of yeast, WOW. This batch of dough (a different recipe) has risen considerably higher than yesterday’s, and is indeed filling a 5-quart container.