I’ve been working with my sourdough starter for the last few months and trying to bake at least one loaf a week. Usually I tweak at least one thing every time I make a loaf. Sometimes more than one thing, so the results haven’t been very consistent. But I thought it would be good to come up with a solid baseline loaf and document that so I have something to use as a comparison for future experiments.
I like the flavor from adding some whole wheat to the dough, but it can make the dough a lot heavier. I’ve found that adding more 20% whole wheat flour (as a percentage of total flour) makes it denser than I care for, making it difficult for the nooks and crannies to develop that are found in any decent sourdough loaf. Adding a bit of gluten seems to help.
The main difficulties I’ve had in producing a consistent loaf are a decent rise in the oven, getting those nooks and crannies to form, and getting a deep brown and crispy crust to form. So I’ve been implementing some techniques that seem to be helping in these areas. [click to continue…]
I’m adding a Works in Progress page to the blog. I have quite a few things on my list to try that take weeks, if not months, to make. So rather than waiting until they’re completely finished, I thought I’d make updates along the way to track their progress.
I made limoncello a few years ago with vodka as the alcohol base and enjoyed it, although the end product turned out a bit more cloudy than I wanted it. The goal this time is to try a few different filtration techniques and see what works best. Also, I want to see if it’s possible to extract more flavor from the fruit zest by using a stronger alcohol. It doesn’t really get any stronger than Everclear. [click to continue…]
A few months ago I started an experiment in bread baking. I had been using the basic bread ratio in Michael Ruhlman’s Ratio cookbook. It gave consistent results, but it was never quite what I wanted from bread. The texture was a bit too dense, it was low on flavor and it didn’t have any of those nooks and crannies that an artisan loaf should have. No matter how I tweaked the rising times, baking times and oven temperatures I couldn’t get what I was looking for.
So I decided to strike out on my own and see what I could come up with using no recipes and a homemade sourdough starter. The first hurdle was getting the starter. I read quite a few articles saying that it was just mixing flour and water, feeding it every day, and in 3-5 days the starter should be ready to make bread. The first attempt resulted in a pile of paste after 5 days. A few weeks later I tried again, feeding every day and monitoring the temperature where it was sitting. After 3 or 4 days I saw a few bubbles and thought it was on the right track, but after a week it settled down and I assumed whatever had been living there briefly had died. So I went back to the Ruhlman ratio. [click to continue…]
I’m not an Italian grandmother. I haven’t spent years making the same pasta shapes over and over, developing a feel for the pasta and how to work with it. Which is why I generally avoid making ravioli, let alone any other more complicated stuffed pasta shape. It usually goes fine up until it’s time to put the first scoop of filling onto the pasta, which is when I get lost. How much filling? How far apart should the filling be spaced? How should they be folded? Why are they falling apart?
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