Friday, June 04, 2010

Soured Dough...

I know you've all been waiting for this post. But I'm not actually going to start with the sourdough adventure. First order of business this morning is actually going to be the knish failure that I experienced yesterday.

Truth be told I'm not sure where I went wrong - cause I followed the recipe to a 'T' - until of course it wasn't working, so then I started deviating. Suffice it to say - after getting the dough to form and letting it rest for 1/2 an hour it still refused to be rolled out. (I just don't have the koach in my arms to fight with such stubborn dough) so I rolled it out as best as I could and made it into a log. End of the story - it tastes pretty good overall - but wasn't exactly what I was going for. I found a new recipe that I'll have to try (probably on Sunday - cause I still have 1/2 of the kasha/potato filling in the fridge.) Doesn't he look happy to have thwarted me? I hate it when my food mocks me.
Now on to the sourdough adventure...

As you may recall this crazy plan was started last Sunday. I put the starter up on my counter and 'baby-ed' it - checking in on it every couple of hours, giving it a shake, staring at it, spending time with it, feeding it, talking to it. (Ok, so the talking to it was a little weird, but I do spend a lot of time alone...)

On Tuesday I decided that it was time to take the starter for a test run. However, I didn't want to spend 4 hours on the dough and not wind up with anything to show for my efforts (especially considering dinner was going to be the results of the baking spree with soup.) Ya see, the whole concept is that (like they did many many years ago - waaaaay before 1963...) they used to harness wild yeast straight from the air and cultivate it in a 'starter' of water and flour. It was like a special kitchen pet. (Though I wonder sort of whether they used to name their starters the way we're wont to today.) Then they'd use the starter to bake bread - and the yeast in the starter would actually give the bread it's 'rise' - meaning - it's what made the bread fluffy! However - I was worried that my starter wasn't up to the task so I decided to cheat. I made 2 batches of dough. The only ingredients in the first batch were; starter, flour, water and salt. For insurance I added about 3/4 tsp of instant dry yeast to the 2nd batch.

2 hours later - after the first 'rise' - I was amazed to see that both batches of dough had risen the same amount. (The only difference being that the batch with added yeast rose slightly more quickly than the one without.)

So, I punched it down - shaped it into loaves - put it into the pans. (I baked in loaf tins because that was what the recipe called for. I guess it makes a little easier to slice evenly for sandwiches - but truth of the matter is - it would be nice to make 'peasant loaves' - you know, those round ones that look all fancy and rustic at the same time.)

I was still a little nervous and waited apprehensively to see whether the dough would actually rise a second time. Lo and behold - an hour and a half later both loaves had risen beautifully. (Again, the loaf with added yeast seemed to rise a tad faster and in this second rise I think it rose a tiny drop more than the loaf without added yeast - but it could've been the pan, or a trick of the light.)

I popped them into the oven and waited some more. After 40 minutes the loaves were finished. The apartment was filled with the aroma of freshly baked bread and I was ready to dig in. Only problem - Z wasn't home from school yet. So I waited some more.

Finally at 7:30ish he waltzed in. So I handed him soup bowl and eagerly cut into my loaves. (Yes both of them. For the sake of science!) Truth of the matter - they tasted identical.

Moral of the story - after only 3 days of souring, have a little bit of faith in your starter.
Meanwhile - I've still got my starter on the counter. I'm trying desperately to keep it alive. I've decided to use the 'discard' method (that's where you scoop off some of the starter, throw it out and replace it with fresh flour and water.) This method is supposed to help keep the starter that you've got at a manageable amount. (I mean, who wants to have to bake every single day?! Hehe, don't answer that.) Sometimes I think it's doing fine and other times it looks super duper 'shvach' which means - I wonder very seriously whether I've murdered my little colony of yeasty-beasties. Still, it has a good smell and hasn't grown any fuzz or changed colors - so I'll keep trying to care for it.

If you've got time and patience then feel free to try this experiment at home. The fact of the matter is that the recipe I used really only requires a 24 hour 'souring' period for the starter (and that's pretty simple. I mean, her starter is a 'cheaters starter' so it starts with some yeast in it - and if you've only got to make it through 24 hours - basically you make the starter, feed it once - if it looks hungry, and then bake the next day. Really not so bad.) Even 2 or 3 days isn't too hard to manage.

The trick is keeping it alive longer. (In the recipe the author mentions that she never manages to succeed to keep her starters alive after baking. So I don't feel sooo bad if mine fails-to-thrive.)

If you want to see the photos 'embiggened' then you can check out my album on Facebook. It's 13 pictures total and Facebook has the easiest upload application - that's why they're there. It's a whole lot easier than cluttering up a post with 13 photos - which would have to be uploaded in 3 separate batches, backwards so that they'd be in the right order - (cause sometimes I'm just too lazy to read through the HTML and sort it all out.)

Alrighty - now it's time for me to go wake Z. He's got to photocopy a whole lotta stuff (for finals) at the library this morning and then we're going to go to town. Not too much left to do for Shabbos. The shnitzels are marinating in their honey-mustard heaven, so I just have to coat and fry them, the chicken has to get cooked and the seudah shilishit lasagna has to go into the oven. But it's all ready and waiting to go. Aside from that we've got to clean the apartment - and that's that.

Have a wonderful, peaceful, enjoyable, restful Shabbos! See ya next week!

No comments: