English Muffins

With this week’s fed sourdough starter, I thought I’d try making english muffins. I wanted to do something different, but don’t have a lot of extras to add to a loaf.

Fed it Friday night and mixed them up on Saturday, then put them in the fridge for 24 hours, wanting as much sourdough flavor to come through as possible without adding any citric acid to the dough.

Sunday, when I got home from church, I rolled them out and cut them, ending up with 13 instead of the 12 I was expecting, but I’m not complaining.

After they’d sat for two hours (since they’d been in the fridge so long), I put them on my large skillet and let them cook there for about 12 minutes, with a cookie sheet on top of them to keep them flat.

wpid-img_20140720_150748_106.jpg

After that time, I started checking the bottoms, the skillet doesn’t heat evenly, so some had to be turned before others. Tried to rotate them around and get them evenly browned.

When the first one was done, I was excited, for as you can see,

wpid-img_20140720_152442_789.jpg

it looks like an english muffin!

Finished them all off, which took about 45 minutes.

wpid-img_20140720_155151_960.jpg

Then, let myself eat the last one while it was still warm.

wpid-img_20140720_155331_054.jpg

The bottom was toasted and I must say that I enjoyed it far better than any store-bought one I’ve ever had, with a hint of sour flavor and moisture unlike any of them. *sigh* I am content.

Malt Syrup in Sourdough Bread

I got a book on baking artisan bread by the Culinary Institute of America from the library several weeks ago that has a different approach to making sourdough, so I was curious to try it out and since I’d recently acquired malt syrup and had Friday off from work, it seemed like a good time to give it that try.

(On a side note, malt syrup (if you’re curious, I know I was) is similar to molasses in appearance and behavior and not that far off from it in flavor too.)

Got my starter out of the fridge and followed the instructions for feeding it, which resulted in something that resembled a dough itself, then let it sit for close to 21 hours… I needed the time to match up so that after all the raising it would be ready to bake on Sunday morning in time to be done for church but not too early either!

Saturday afternoon, I took the fed starter and, again, following the very specific instructions in the recipe, turned it into dough. First mix was the starter, water, and malt syrup. Second was flour (it said to use about 1/3 a cup of wheat flour, which I didn’t have, so I made it all ‘unbleached, all-purpose white flour’ instead), then I left it sit for 15 minutes before adding in the kosher salt.

It rose for an hour in a lightly greased bowl (I followed the directed times more than growth), then turned it out on the table and let it sit for another hour, after which I divided it in half and let it sit for another 10 minutes. Shaped it and let it rise for another hour before sticking it in the fridge overnight.

Sunday morning, I was up at 6:15 to pull it out of the fridge and turn the oven on, then I went back to bed for another hour’s sleep. Put it in the oven at 7:30 and then set about getting ready for church while it baked, making sure to pull the parchment paper from under it at 12 minutes.

Out at 8:00, it looked good, nice and brown, though the slashes didn’t really seem to much. It had a firm crust, but wasn’t overly crunchy where you’d cut your mouth on it. The aroma was lovely as well, it sure made my fiancé hungry when he arrived to take me to church (I’d had plenty of time to get ready), and was still lingering when we got home…though we soon replaced it with aroma of roasting. Cutting into it revealed larger air bubbles then I normally have, but it holds together when we eat it, so no complaints there. The flavor isn’t all that different from my other recipe.

All in all, I’m happy with the results, but it’s quite a lengthy process! Maybe there’s a way to combine the two recipes?

Beautiful Bread and Italian Sandwiches

This weekend, I set out to make a large loaf of bread, at his request. T’was rather simple, I just didn’t divide it after the first rise. It rose quite nicely both times, as it was nice and warm here in PA yesterday (and got up over 75 degrees inside). Into the oven, it came out looking rather perfect, see?

wpid-img_20140412_144109_763.jpgwpid-img_20140412_144157_979.jpg

(The first one was to show the size of the bread…it wouldn’t fit in a gallon bag!)

Here the entire way through the process, my fiancé could barely stand the wait till it was done and cool enough to slice into. Once it came out of the oven, he was struck with an inspiration and knew exactly what we should have for dinner. He set off for the store to get the things he’d need to make Italian sandwiches.

Cut into the bread and found that the texture was exactly what we’d need. It has a nice, light, and chewy crust, with the inside being soft and not too crumbly.

wpid-img_20140412_191217_128.jpgwpid-img_20140412_191231_804.jpg

(He also made a potato salad) Next time though, I could do without the raw onions, this batch seems especially burny.

I hereby declare this weekend’s bread making a success!

Crumpets – Who Knew?

A short entry to share a pleasant surprise. This Saturday morning, I was trying to find something to do with my unfed sourdough starter and had nearly consigned myself to having to throw it away, when I found a recipe for Sourdough Crumpets from King Arthur Flour that seemed to solve the problem. It also gave me something to eat for breakfast!

It looked (and was) simple enough, add 1 t. of sugar, and 1/2 t. of salt and baking soda to 1 C. of the starter, stir and cook like pancakes. ‘Twas neat to see how it grew and bubbled.

Melted a little butter on mine and ate them while they were still warm. I was amazed at their flavor. Best ‘pancakes’ ever! I had no idea, but this is definitely my new favorite way to use up that unfed starter each week.

Meanwhile, the fed is being turned into bread bowls….

My First Sourdough Boule, the Olypmics and Snow Shoveling

Yesterday, I made my first sourdough boule. Also a first, this bread has things in it! Sunflower seeds and oatmeal, up till now the only thing I’ve ever put in my bread was raisins. But I found the recipe at http://www.kingarthurflour.com/recipes/sourdough-boule-recipe, where I’ve been spending a lot of time since receiving some of their sourdough starter for Christmas (which is another story for another time) and they haven’t been wrong yet. I’m now feeding it every weekend and baking every weekend. I enjoy plotting my next bread adventure throughout the proceeding week.

This week, it was a boule, but I had to shovel all the snow from the driveway first. Since it took me two hours to shovel the 8+ inches we had fall on Thursday, I waited till I was back inside to even mix the boule, as I didn’t want it to rise for too long if I was out later than I expected.

Good thinking on my end, as I was outside for about 2 hours. I went a bit gung-ho and shoveled everything that needed it at all, more than I ever have before. Once I was warmed up, I got the dough mixed, which was easy enough. As the directions say to “mix and knead … until you’ve made a soft dough”, I didn’t leave it in the stand mixer any longer than that.

Tucked it into the bed to rise (we have a water bed that runs around 75º under all the covers and as we’ve been keeping it around 55° inside this works best to accomplish rising in any semblance of a ‘normal’ amount of time) and watched the Olympics on NBC until the time came to shape it.

I was stuck for what to bake it in (having only a very large Dutch oven) until my fiancé remembered a Pampered Chef Stoneware Baking Bowl his mother had given me, it seemed the perfect size, but I wasn’t certain as the recipe simply said ‘One large loaf’, which is relative.

Put it in the baking bowl after shaping and back into bed it went.

Time came to bake it and the method given in the recipe seemed a bit odd to me. Put it in a cold oven?! I know that I didn’t want to crack the bowl, but it still felt odd. Then, there was the added complication of baking it covered, so I couldn’t see it and watch it bake, which I consider part of the fun.

45 minutes later, it came out and easily flipped onto a rack to cool. The baking bowl ended up being the perfect size. Wanted to let it cool entirely, so…

Fast forward to this afternoon, when we finally (after returning from church) finally sliced it open and had a taste. It could have baked a little longer, but was still done. He toasted it and we ate it with some butter and honey spread on top. It tasted far better than I expected, as I feared a case of too many things in my bread. I’m not a fan of having to floss after eating bread, but I loved the nuttiness that this had. He thinks with a bit more practice and it will taste as good as any rustic loaf one can get from a bakery.

All in all, not bad for my first time baking a boule in a bowl.