I decided to make sourdough bread from my wild starter again this weekend. Last weekend the bread turned out fabulous, looking like this…
The wild yeast starter obsession continues …I recently discovered you can make crepes with the discarded starter! Crepes….I adore crepes….filled with pretty much anything I can think of. Nutella being the most obvious and the one I decided not to use this time around. Mostly because my jar of Nutella is almost empty and I’m too lazy to go to the store on a Saturday morning!
Here is where my obsession started.
The baker and author of this book also loves surfing so we are sympatico from the beginning. He makes artisan bread in San Francisco and tells you how to do it at home. Preferably from a “wild yeast starter” aka “sourdough leaven”. Well how could I possibly resist? Complicated? Dedication and obsession required? I’m all over it!
The process…from the book “A culture is created when flour & water are combined and the mocroorganisms – wild yeasts & bacteria present in the flour, in the air and on the baker’s hands – begin to ferment spontaneously.” I kinda feel like a microbiologist! Scientists are my heroes so this is great.
Basically you mix up half white and half wheat flour. This will be used for the starter and for later feedings. I mixed up the flour with warm water in a jar with my hand, until the consistency was like a thick batter. (He doesn’t give proportions, I had to discover that on my own) Cover with a kitchen towel and leave in a cool place for about 5 days. Smell it every day. Yes your nose is very involved in this process. Also start to look for bubbles forming. I was very anxious during these first few days. I was worried that it wasn’t working, that I did it wrong, that it would be rotten. Don’t worry. It is a natural process that should work regardless of your anxiety! The smell will be yeasty and then more sour as it gets closer to being ready. He describes the smell as stinky cheese, but I’ve smelled some very stinky cheese in France and this wasn’t even close!
My sourdough obsession is getting out of hand. Actually I suppose “wild yeast” is the correct term. I will be writing a more extensive post on this later on when I have more time….much more time. Here’s the quick version. To make a wild yeast starter, for making artisan bread, you must let flour and water sit and gather yeast, the yeast must grow and then the yeast must be fed. When you feed it you discard about half…at each feeding. Wasteful. There must be some use for this discarded yeast right? Of COURSE there is.
Make sourdough dog biscuits!!!! Brilliant! My dogs will love it. They, like me, love food. I suppose I should introduce the dogs now.
There’s Sikander , which is what the Persians called Alexander the Great…and that’s who he thinks he is.
I found a wonderful blog http://www.tarteletteblog.com She has the most delicio looking desserts on there, plus some good, what I call “regular” food recipes too. Anyway, I was intrigued by one called a Poached Pear Almond fallen Souffle Cake I believe. Since it’s fall and there are pears everywhere, I had to try it. Here is the recipe and then my results.
Poached Pear And Almond Fallen Souffle Cakes:
She did not remove the center, seeds etc so I didn’t either.
For the poached pears:
6 mini d’Anjou pears, peeled (I used 4 d”Anjou and 2 Bartlett)
1/2 cup sugar
2-3 cardamom pods (I used about /21 tsp ground cardamom)
1 stick cinnamon
5-6 allspice berries
1-2 star anise
4 cups (1 liter) water
For the cakes:
3 tablespoons (40gr) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup (100gr) sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3/4 cup (190ml) heavy cream
1 cup ground almonds
1/4 cup (40gr) sorghum flour (I used 1/4 cup all purpose flour)
1 teaspoon baking powder
Prepare the pears:
Place the pears, spices, lemon and water in tall saucepan and bring to a boil over medium high heat. Lower the heat and let them simmerfor 15-20 minutes or until the pears are just soft (poke with a toothpick to check).
Remove from the water using a slotted spoon and allow to cool on paper towel or baking rack.
Prepare the cakes:
Preheat the oven to 350F and position a rack in the middle.
Slightly butter or spray 6 ramekins and place them on a baking sheet. Set aside.
In the bowl if an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugar on medium speed until light and fluffly (about 3 minutes). Add the eggs, one a time and beat well in between each addition. Reduce the speed to low and add the vanilla, heavy cream, almonds, flour and baking powder and beat until incorporated. Fill each ramekins about 1/3 full with the batter and place a poached pear in the center.
Bake for 25-30 minutes.
I had no ramekins so I had to rush out and get these.
The pears smelled heavenly as they were poaching and I was so excited to finish this. I wonder if there are any uses for the leftover poaching liquid cause it seemed such a shame to throw it away. It smelled drinkable! I might try reducing it to a syrup and pouring it over these before serving. I made the batter, added it to the ramekin, popped a pear in each one and into the oven they went.
So the verdict: They taste wonderful, the insides seemed a little undercooked but the tops were too brown to allow more cooking. The texture reminded me of a type of halvah they make in Greece which is more like a cake than the paste that the Persians make. A bit grainy which might mean I need to process the almonds longer. I think next time (and there will be a next time) I will change the almond and flour mix to have more flour. I didn’t end up making a syrup because we couldn’t wait to try them. Jason would have eaten them all in one sitting if I didn’t restrain him!
I got a new mixer!!!! My old one was my two hands and the sometime help of a hand mixer. A 16 year old that I know commented the other day that the hand mixer was older than me. It’s avocado green so that tells you the time frame it came from. First things first…
And finally some French style bread.
I have BIG plans for this mixer. Lots of test runs and delicio things to come out of it. I forsee a long and happy future for us.
So yeah, I’ve been cooking and baking and it’s been delicious, except for that one fiasco. But have I blogged about it? Taken the right pictures? Nope. Nope Nope. I’ll start with the fiasco cause that’s the most fun anyway!
Have you ever heard of No-Knead Bread? The New York Times famous No-Knead Bread? Well neither had I until my boss gave me a cast iron Dutch oven for Christmas. That was awesome in so many ways. First that he even gave me a Christmas present. (He’s pretty hit or miss, sometimes you’ll get a present, sometimes he forgets important holidays. AND it’s never based on if you’re doing a good job or not. I think it’s based on the phases of the moon…or if he’s been drinking more than usual lately!) Second, that he put enough thought into getting me something he knew I’d appreciate! So, I’m looking up recipe for cast iron dutch ovens and lo and behold….NO KNEAD BREAD! You let it sit for 18 hours and you don’t have to knead one little bit. Now, if you’ve been reading my blog at ALL, you will realize that I can never just follow a recipe correctly. I don’t intend to deviate…it just happens.
So easy right? 3 cups flour, 1/4 tsp yeast, 1 tsp salt and 1 1/2 cup room temp water. Mix it all up, cover with plastic wrap and let it sit. (12-18 hours is what it said) Dammit and I don’t have pictures of that. Here’s a preview….