Here I am. Lots has happened since I last posted. Travel. Life. A case of the lazies. I’ve missed blogging about recipes that I’ve completed what feels like months ago (I think six maybe) and well, I’m just behind. And maybe I need to rethink what this blog is about. Also, I’m tired of following the book one recipe at a time. There’s been a ton of bread and many recipes are similar with slight tweaks… and I think maybe that’s what this blog needs. Tweaks. Not to be confused with twerks. Just saying.
So, while I rethink this blog, I’m just going to go all “stream of consciousness” and talk about the baking I have done. And of course it’s bread, but it’s not a recipe from the book per se though interestingly it is very related.
Let me back up. My husband went to visit his bestie from New Hampshire sometime in April. I don’t remember when exactly. His buddy – who was his best man at our wedding – is a foodie but not the overly obnoxious foodie type. He just loves good food and he and his wife can really throw down a “bad ass meal.” He is also the type that likes to master whatever it is he’s learning about. And – he’s fun to hang out with to boot. Anyway, Eric’s recently started mastering sourdough. I mean, not just make sourdough in a bread maker from a mix. Oh no. I mean get a mill, grind your own shit from top quality grains, and capture wild yeast type of mastery. Admirable. If I had more time, I’d probably do that, too.
Eric knows I’ve been baking so he sent the hubs home with a starter batch from his “42 Highfelds” proprietary blend. My first thought was “what the hell am I going to do with this?” Eric texted me a picture of his bread that he’d made while my husband was there. They were amazing rounds. I mean, top quality. See for yourself.
He also sent me a link to some YouTube videos he referred to when he was getting started. (Here’s an example: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=Jdb63_3vMu0 ). I watched but nothing was clicking. I mean, I wasn’t to that chapter yet! (I need to be more flexible.) Turns out, he had a biz trip planned to Colorado and he was going to stay with us the following week.
Whenever this man comes to town, his friends come out in force. I swear they’d have a parade if they could. (I exaggerate.) This time was no exception – loads to do and he still wanted to bake bread. I wasn’t sure we’d (he’d) have the time, but we made it happen. I learned a few things along the way including you can use Alexa as a timer. Handy. Also, you can make a delicious bread yet another way that produces really delicious bread.
Here’s that result:
Was it perfect? Nope. My basket (brotform) is fairly new, unseasoned, and not made of plastic. The dough was wet, sticky, and aggressive. It was a warm day for the bake and the proof was large. It almost overflowed the basket. When we put it in the super hot ceramic pan (500 degrees), the dough stick stubbornly to the basket and the result was an uneven turn out of the basket. The dough just did not behave. Bad dough! It happens. I personally thought that bread tasted amazingly delicious – like bakery quality good. Chewy outside, soft and spongy inside. Perfection.
I decided to try it on my own a couple of weeks later. I was unsure how best to do it, so I just found several videos and followed them. I was confused. Nervous. Not sure my additions would hurt or hinder the end result. See for yourself
Not bad! I did forget to lower the temp halfway through so oops. Progress not perfection, right? It was still very delicious though perhaps a bit salty.
The last time I did this I decided not to follow a technique per se and instead just winged it. I guessed on salt, texture, proofing times…pretty much all of it. Here’s my result.
Although I lowered the temperature halfway through, I second guessed myself on whether the lid was on or off and I think I left it uncovered too long. I actually could smell the burning top so I took the bread out of the oven with about ten minutes left of baking per the timer I set. I knocked on the bottom of the round and heard the expected hollow thump sound and knew it was done so I took it out early. This bread had to travel from here to my step mom’s place in Florida the next day. I let it cool completely and then wrapped it the next morning in parchment paper. Then I put it in a paper bag which I folded and then slipped into my backpack. After traveling all day, the bread was still fresh when we got into Orlando about 9pm. I was so proud. I wish I’d had eaten it sooner but it was all things considered pretty great. I tried butter and jelly. A nice Brie would have been better. Yum. Anyway, I had her freeze it so she could enjoy it later. I hope she does.
There you have it. I just fed the starter today. I’ve been trying to do that at least once a week. I read that the active yeasts start to die off after about three weeks without a feeding so doing so weekly insures the active yeasts remain which you need for a good rise. Feeding just means you give it more flour and water which is pretty simple. Really simple. Ah science. Anyway, I encourage you to try it if you have the patience and commitment. If you want a bit of direction or some starter (live locally for the starter exchange), just send me a message and I can give you more details along with links.