Thursday, December 27, 2012


A friend of the family gave me the lovely gift of one of the baby (7") Kindle Fires for Christmas. It is a lovely gift and I' m really enjoying it-- especially because I don' t have a smartphone so only now am I able to use my sparkpeople app.  I am checking whether I am able to post from the Fire. Happy belated Christmas everyone and happy New Year!

Friday, December 21, 2012

Holiday Cookies

One of my favorite things about the holidays is holiday baking. I get the excuse to make a lot of things that I don't need to eat in order to give them to friends and family (i.e. I can make things with lots of calories without feeling nearly as guilty).

Here are some pictures of my newest batch of cookies. Servia decorated them. I will post a recipe soon.

 I hope everyone is having a happy holiday season. I know that mine has been pretty hectic, but also a lot of fun. I just need to get my work done on top of all this...


Thursday, December 20, 2012

Sourdough Crumpets

So have you ever wondered what to do with your left over sourdough starter? If you're like me, you hate throwing out a whole bunch of sourdough starter every time you feed it. Also, I have trouble getting rid of starter to refresh my starter if it's sat for too many days (and therefore is overly sour [1]). However, this starter is not always the best for bread and it will make waffles or pancakes taste like vinegar. So, make crumpets.

I used very sour starter when I made these and they tasted great. This recipe is slightly modified from the recipe on Chocolate & Zucchini.

Whole Wheat Sourdough Crumpet

Sourdough Crumpets:
  • 270g sourdough starter (I used whole wheat, but you can use white or a mix)
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • vegetable oil for greasing pan and rings
Note: you don't have to use crumpet rings, but I tried this and the crumpets really don't look much like crumpets. I don't have crumpet rings, I have some kind of egg rings for making breakfast sandwiches or something. They seem to work fine. When I made yeasted crumpets in college I used a can with both the top and bottom cut off of it. This works too.

  • Grease the pan and the rings and then heat them to medium. Be very careful with temperature. It is easy to burn the bottom of the crumpets if you're not careful, so be ready to regulate.
  • When hot, fill each ring with batter so that you can see half a centimeter of ring over the top. They will puff up.
  • Then, wait until they bubble. When you see that the edges are cooked, extract them from the rings and flip them over.
Mixture bubbling
Mixture bubbling with cooked edges

  • Wait until they finished cooking (there should be some brown among the bubble as shown in the picture at the top), take them off, and repeat the process with the rest of the dough.
  • Crumpets can be eaten hot plain or with butter or jam. After fully cooled, they can be saved in an airtight container for a few days and toasted or frozen in an airtight container (preferably a baggie) and then toasted.
These are delicious. They have that wonderful honey-wheat flavor. They're only very slightly sour, even when using very sour starter.

This post is a prelude to my post on English Muffins which will be coming soon. I plan on making sourdough English Muffins with a friend of the family who is going to make a version with commercial yeast so we can compare and contrast.

  1. Keep in mind that sourdough that smells really weird or is crusty or moldy should be discarded. Unless it's molded all the way through, you don't need to discard the whole thing. Just make sure you carefully discard anything around/under/touching the mold and then feed the starter a bunch. If it smells bad, you can try taking a single tablespoon of it out and creating a "new" starter out of that with plenty of flour and water. If it still seems off, throw it out and start over. In order to prevent issues like this, if you need to leave it for long periods of time, freeze it in an airtight container.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

The "au Levain" experiment

The boule bloomed nicely, allaying my fears about it being overproofed
So I spent the last quarter hardly making bread at all. It's been a rough time. It's been really nice to be able to start baking bread again. I still have a lot of work to do, but I'm taking breaks to bake some bread and do some Christmas things. I started off by baking a version of my Sourdough Imitation Prophet Bread. It was good, but not quite as fluffy as the last time. The house has been really cold lately so maybe I underproofed  it.

One of the other things that I've been meaning to try is this bread mix I got: Bob's Redmill 10-Grain bread mix. Usually, I would not use a bread mix. I like picking out my own ingredients for recipes. However, I was excited because it contained "7 grain cereal, whole wheat flour, rolled oats,...dark rye flour, brown rice flour, corn flour, millet flour, oat flour, barley flour, white bean flour, triticale flour, corn grits, millet grits, dry yeast, and soy lecithin" (Bob's Redmill). I had seen a post on Au Levain about using a bread mix that had lost of interesting grains but no additives. However, I didn't realize that in contrast to her mix which was basically just flour with added gluten, mine contained dry milk, salt, and evaporated cane juice. The salt was unfortunate, only because I didn't know how much was in their. More importantly, the milk and sugar would soften the crust and change the texture of the bread.

However, since I had bought the mix, I made it anyway. Like in the Au Levain's version, I added 30% sourdough starter by weight (whole grain, 161g), and 4 grams of salt which seemed like it would get it to approximately 2% salt content. Then I used the following method:
  1. Mix starter, flour, and 350g of water (making the hydration about 70% because of my 100% hydration starter). I mixed it in my kitchen aid. I realized the bread was basically the consistency of thick batter so I started adding in bread flour until it turned back into the consistancy of bread. It must have been 6 or so ounces of flour.
  2. I let it autolyse for 40 minutes.
  3. Then I added the 4g salt and needed the bread for about 2 minutes on low. It didn't seem to help in the least in developing the gluten.
  4. As such, I did a set of stretch-and-folds, 2 every 10 minutes for an hour. It finally, grudgingly, passed the windowpane test.
  5. My house was cold...maybe 65 degrees or so. I let it sit out for 2 hours before I put it in the refrigerator overnight.
  6. In the morning, I let it sit out for 2 hours.
  7. Then I shaped it, but it in a banneton, and let it sit for 3 hours.
  8. I baked it for 50 minutes at 425 degrees F, the first 30 minutes under steam.
  9. The bread registered at 210 degrees F and I took it out. I let it cool for an hour before slicing.
Ultimately, while the bread seemed like it was going to be a failure  plenty of times throughout the process, it turned out ok. I added a huge amount of flour so the bread turned out to have a really closed crumb. However, it was still nice and crusty, despite the milk, and the flavor was good. It wasn't overwhelmingly dense either. There was one funny flavor that I couldn't quite pick out in there that I didn't like, but with so many grains I had no idea which one was responsible.
It had a very tight crumb, probably because much of the dough had non-gluten flours.

The experiment was interesting certainly, and tasty, but I'm going to check the ingredients more carefully before I buy another bread mix.
The texture was nice, even though the crumb was tight
 An interesting experiment.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Closing In on Freedom

Finals week is finally here. Its been a really long and arduous quarter. I still have work to do over break, but I have many things to look forward to as well. Holiday baking, especially bread baking, will be one of the highlights. I shall post my backlog of breads plus plenty of new stuff.

However, about 50 pages of Latin and 30 pages of Greek stands between me and bread. More this weekend.