Well, things have been hectic, but I think I can finally call one loaf a success!

My sourdough starters have their own corner of the fridge, and once a week, I pull them out and feed them. I hate to throw out the starter I remove, since I worked so hard to get it to happen, so I bake when I feed. This helps keep my bread consumption down (I’ve now lost 30 pounds, and don’t want to lose momentum!) and makes the feeding a bit more special.

Having finally bought some Rye, I’ve now split my starters into “Barry White,” with AP flour and either some semolina or wheat farina (1 oz to 3 oz AP), and “Barry Rye,” who is 1 oz. Rye flour to 3 oz AP. Barry Rye definitely has a bit more tang than Barry White, but they are both yummy!

Now to get better about photographing…

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Published in: on June 17, 2009 at 1:51 pm  Leave a Comment  


Wow…I never imagined how addicting seeing fermented flour in a jar could be…

This is Pinto. Pinto was a “spur of the moment,” Dr. Science-type of experiment, as I was putting together Ribs and Beans in my slow cooker. I had put the beans in water to soak overnight on Friday afternoon, but forgot to make them on Saturday, so they sat in water for about 36 hours. The water had some bubbles on the top, and I recalled reading somewhere on the ‘Net that “Udal” water, which is a type of lentil bean eaten in India, is used to make a type of sourdough for Indian breads.
I thought, “beans is beans,” and what works with one type of bean, should, theoretically, work with ANY type of bean. So I put a cup of the bean water in a jar, and whisked in a “fluffy” (not packed at all) cup of bread flour, with a tablespoon of Semolina flour (for the less-processed wild yeasts it may have), and 2 tablespoons of soy flour (because it might have “bean” yeasts that the pinto water might like to eat) into it. It was REALLY watery, and the flour kept settling to the bottom, leaving about 1/4″ of water on top, so every 3 hours or so, I would stir the whole mess up again…I didn’t feed it, because nothing much seemed to be happening…Or so I thought until I got up this morning, and saw the above image…It has no sour odor at all, just a pleasant “bean-y” smell, with a mild flour smell mixed in…So, this may not be “true” fermentation. I don’t know.

I threw out everything but 1/2 cup, and since it was still so watery (just a bit of gluten “stringiness” when I stirred), I just added in about 2-3 tablespoons of flour, with a teaspoon of semolina and a teaspoon of soy flour. Now it’s like pancake batter. It should be interesting to see what develops from it today…

Published in: on May 25, 2009 at 6:41 am  Leave a Comment  

The Great Sourdough Starter Challenge

It’s been an interesting bread week. My phobia is still well justified, as I am able to screw up breads in ways unthought of…

While doing the Circuit with my Beloved Hubby Unit (BHU), I found a copy of Better Homes and Gardens’ Homemade Bread Cook Book, so I bought it and am going through the recipes, when I come across their Sourdough Breads section, and I see that they STILL use yeast, along with a cup of sourdough starter per loaf of bread! Wow. I’ve read how Michael Suas (he, the Guru of Artisan Bread, and author of “Advanced Bread and Pastry”) uses yeast with his sourdough, to varying degrees of shock/disbelief/dispute among Sourdough bakers. This encourages me greatly, as I have a pound (yes, a full pound) of Instant Yeast from Sam’s Club that I don’t want to waste, but that the use of sourdough would negate the need for.

So, I have decided to try and grow a sourdough culture to add my own “unique flavor” to my semi-inedible lumps of baked dough…Today is day 4, and things appear to be “doing something…” I will be updating this as the day goes by…

Published in: on May 22, 2009 at 7:28 am  Leave a Comment  

Becoming bread-obsessive is not necessarily a bad thing…I find that I don’t worry about my diet quite as much, becuase by the time I DO bake a loaf, I’ve de-constructed and re-constructed it in my head so many times, I’ve eaten it at least 3 times…

Not that this has helped me overcome my questions and confusions. Only actual practice and experimentation help that, but BOY is it hard…

Bread science. I’m reading more and more about it, and the more I know, the more confused I get…the Wild Yeast blog has a wonderful giveaway of the book titled “Bread Science” by Emily Buehler…I entered, although I don’t have much hope of winning, but this book was worth the effort, and I may just buy it anyway…

In the actual Baking of Bread dept., I have baked another 3-4 loaves since my last post, but have been more and more unhappy with them. The crust is too chewy, and the damn crumb too moist, although the bubbles are just right, and the taste is GOOOOOOOD. Further reading and reading and reading has convinced me that the chewy crust is from too high a temperature, and the moist crumb from too short a baking time, although I am at an hour for a 1.5 pound loaf now…I even did a batch of rolls, which I baked along with a loaf and a mini-loaf, all at the same time…They came out cute as the dickens, but the crust was almost 1/4″ thick, and too chewy to enjoy…

The squirrels in our yard are excellent disposals, though. They are QUITE well fed and plump…lol!

The last loaf was better, because I lowered the temperature to 450, but after an hour, although the crust was very nice, the interior was beyond soggy…STILL need to bake it longer…I know it’s not the stupid oven, because the oven thermometer shows the temperature pretty close to what I set it (after all these years, I can guess the numbers between the notches pretty well!).

I LOVE my covered casserole dish for baking, but want to play with my roll pans some more. First I have to get a consistently good loaf. Well, actually, I first need to get a SUCCESSFUL loaf, with the right combo of crust, crumb, and flavor. So far, 2 out of 3 is the best I can get, with soggy crumb being my bane…

I think I MAY have finally solved the issue and question of time and gluten development…The crust is chewier the less time the dough has to rise and rest before baking. The tenderer crust seems to be the result of the long time for the no-kneads that rise over many hours. The ever-dreaded kneading probably performs this for short rising periods, but I’m just not ready to face that prospect. It’s a big enough thrill at present for me to even fold my dough, letter style…so, for the present, I am abandoning the “cassarole” bread recipes. They are just too under-developed. Back to Bittman’s recipe, again. But with a bit of CI added…

Published in: on May 14, 2009 at 9:30 am  Leave a Comment