I’ll admit it, I”m still stuck on breads and other doughs. Much to my surprise, my sourdough mother culture is still alive after several weeks. I’ve become a bit more lax about feeding her, and can go about a day and a half between feeding with out any ill effects. Anyone who has read Anthony Bourdain’s Kitchen Confidential likely remembers his friend “Adam Last-Name-Unknown”, the chronic absentee baker who makes remarkable breads but can’t seem to keep himself together otherwise. Arguably the best story in the book, Adam calls in begging Anthony to “feed the bitch” (which is the name given to his monstrous yeasted dough starter). Read about Adam’s “Feed the bitch” saga. Having shared this story with Alexir, and given the longevity my starter has shown, he has taken to referring to her as the “queen bitch”.
From this mother, I have broken off “children” cultures. They seem to survive while in my care, but the one I gave away didn’t fare so well. I know it can be a pain to feed her so often.
I also have expanded from a simple loaf of San Francisco style sourdough, to a plethora of other culinary delights. I must admit that many of them were prepared at home, and then proofed in my kitchen at Frank’s. You can’t beat the heat and moisture levels of a commercial kitchen versus home; and finding 6 uninterrupted hours to work through some of these recipes is near impossible unless I woke up and had my coffee well before 9am. The results of this situation mean very few opportunities to take photographs, and almost never having leftovers. My favorites include cinnamon rolls, that turned out pillowy and with ever so slight a hint of tang. I used a garam masala blend for the filling and made a ginger-cinnamon icing. I may just have to post the recipe for those in the future.
Here are some of the things I WAS able to photograph:
Alexir surprised me when I picked him up from work a few weeks ago with a pair of bannetons. I could not ask for someone more loving and supportive of all my endeavors, culinary or otherwise. This basket is used in place of an oiled boil or pan to give loaves a particular shape. While I’m still slowly growing accustomed to the process of using them (seeing as I’ve had no formal training in the matter), they are fun. Here’s my first decent looking pair of loaves made with them to accompany some chowder for family meal last week:
The crumb in these is very fine, mostly due to the addition of whole wheat flour. I’ve been constantly amazed how little changes can make a simple sourdough base into so many differently flavored breads and pastries. The wheat toned down the sour almost to the point of it disappearing.
Sourdough coffee cake. I know, right?! Is there anything this stuff CANNOT do?? This was the first recipe where I took some liberties and made modifications based on my basic pastry knowledge. The folks at work approved this one, and it requires NO proofing. Definitely a candidate for future replication.
So much yes. This recipe relies solely on the starter for the depth of flavor, and gives you a massive amount of play with how long to allow it to proof (in the fridge overnight, or not at all), and you can par-bake crusts for reuse later. I like the prospect of minimal prep work before enjoying the fruits of your labor. Minus the chicken, this baby was a vegetarian dream. Rosemary/garlic olive oil base, mixed leafy greens and asparagus, feta, mozz, and aged balsamin. Yum! The crust gets prebaked to hold up to toppings, but bubbles up some so you’re not just crunching a giant cracker.
I fed the bitch yesterday, and will be feeding her double this afternoon so I can share a jar with a coworker tomorrow or later this week. Seeing that little ecosystem burping all those little carbon dioxide bubbles never gets old. I know, I’m weird. The food nerds get it tough.
Can’t wait to try some other tricks and techniques. More to come soon.