Thursday, July 9, 2009
I decided to make a sourdough bread and it took all but about 12 grams of Baby Bobby. Not only that, but I'd decided to clean Baby Bobby's crock, so what little I had to go into a clean, fresh container. That was the smallest amount of reserve I'd ever had. It was scary.
I added 20 grams each of flour and water, and let it work for a while. That evening, without discarding, I added 50 grams more each of water and flour, then refrigerated as usual.
When I checked it the next day, it didn't look so good. And instead of its usual clean, sour smell, it smelled like old gym socks.
I decided Baby Bobby needed to be placed in sourdough ICU. I brought it out on the counter and fed it twice daily. The kitchen, for a change, was fairly warm. Then I got REALLY worried when it made lots of fine little bubbles (like soap suds) instead of its usual big bubbles that stay in the sourdough instead of floating on top. It was much more liquid than usual--not billowy marshmellowy like usual.
I thought it must be infected, and considered abandoning it in favor of my dried or frozen insurance starters. How could I have Baby Bobby's bread blog without the "real" Baby Bobby????
Fortunately, the people on The Fresh Loaf encouraged me to stick with Baby Bobby. And I'm glad I did! I kept feeding and it started to smell better. Gradually, I began to realize that Baby Bobby was simply being more active than I'd ever seen before, perhaps because of the warmer temperatures and the fact that it is no longer a baby starter. It was doubling quicker and rising higher.
Baby Bobby has become a teenager.
Now I understand the gym sock smell!
Next thing you know he'll want me to call im Bob and ask to borrow the car!
Wednesday, June 17, 2009
Buying hundreds or thousands of sheets of pre-cut parchment from KA or some other source is not in the budget right now, so I'm stuck with what I can find locally for a few dollars at a time.
At Whole Foods (fondly known as "Whole Paycheck" in our family) I found a roll of parchment I like better than the supermarket brand (Reynolds) AND it's more economical.
It's called "If You Care" Silicone Parchment Baking Paper.
What I like:
It's rated to 450 degrees F and doesn't get as "crispy" as the Reynolds brand (which is rated to only 420 degrees). This means 1) i can reuse the sheets a few times, and 2) it's not being noticeably aerosolized so less chance I'm breathing in microparticles of the paper.
It's not as wide as the Reynolds, so there is less wasted paper when I only want a small square to go under a boule or oval shaped loaf. While there are fewer square feet of paper in this package than the Reynolds, there is more length and less width. I'll get more useable parchment than the wider roll. The box claims you will get 50 to 70 sheets. Not bad for around $3.50 a roll.
It can be recycled.
What I don't like:
The cardboard box is flimsy and lacks a cutter. The box is already falling apart and it's hard to tear sheets off.
The box states that silicone used in this paper is non-toxic (still not sure about BREATHING it) but Quillon, used in some other parchment papers, contains the heavy metal chromium which is somewhat toxic when incinerated (baked at too high temps?). I was thinking of splurging on a box of precut Quillon sheets and I'm glad I didn't do that.
Even though we jokingly call the store "Whole Paycheck", I actually find some frugal bargains for bread baking there. They have flours, grains, seeds, and nuts in bulk so that I can buy just what I need and it's quite fresh. Their store brand flour is priced competitively with national supermarket brands.
Tuesday, June 2, 2009
I was measuring ingredients into the mixing bowl when Wine Guy came home from Trader Joe's with a loaf of Milton's. Grrrrr! The whole idea here is to save money by NOT buying commercial bread! He said he thought I was busy with other breads and wouldn't have time to make his bread.
I also put in a bit of time peeling two large cloves of garlic, pan roasting, and then mashing them on Saturday night. No vampires will be coming to our house!
I was surprised (never having made a levain) how dry it was. I was a bit worried it would not mix well in my dough the next day, but it did.
The next surprise was how WET the final dough was. The recipe promises that it becomes more easy to handle after the stretch and folds at 30, 60, and 90 minutes, but "easy" is a relative term. That dough wobbled around like a bowl full of jello!
The bulk fermentation is 4 hours, but you are kept busy the first 90 minutes with stretching and folding every 30 minutes. Kind of ties up your schedule. Fortunately, I didn't have anything else going on, except for cleaning house.
Wine Guy and the kids went to a music performance, but I stayed home with Baby Bobby (and had more fun). Truthfully, during the 1 1/2 hour rest after the stretch and folds I snuck out and went to the library where I scored with The Bread Baker's Apprentice. I plan to pick out 5 recipes to do allong with the BBA challenge people--I don't think I would make it through the whole book this year (and I've already missed about 4, anyway).
After 4 hours of bulk fermentation, it was time to shape my roasted garlic loaves. That was a challenge with the soft, wet dough, but not too different from handling AB in 5 dough. I did use lots of flour to help.
Four hours of proofing in the bannetons. The oval shaped loaf was a bit of a challenge. It was so soft that when I picked it up to put it in the banneton it twisted a bit. That's why I'm only showing the final product on the round loaf:
OK, so it's not as beautiful as the original, but I'm OK with it for a first effort.
The crust--not so much :o(
It was tough and chewy instead of tender and crisp. I'm not sure why--I followed the directions. The round loaf went in my clay baker, and the oval on the stone, covered with my enamel roasting pan. I wasn't impressed with the rise or the oven spring, either.
The flavor bread was "intense" --to put it nicely--with the layer of roasted garlic instead of chunks dispersed throughout.
A lot of work with a fair result. I think it will be just as happy (perhaps more) with chunks of garlic dispersed in some AB in 5 dough.
That's the next experiment . . .
Wednesday, May 27, 2009
Monday, May 25, 2009
I know what you're thinking. Only weird and totally obsessed people name their sourdough starter. And write a blog about baking bread.
Yes, that would be me.
Welcome to my blog.
Baby Bobby is about a month old. Two months ago, I was rekindling my bread baking hobby after many years in hiatus (attending post graduate school while working two jobs and having kids--one born in the middle of grad school--will slow down your hobbies, you know?). If you told me two months ago that I would be making a sourdough starter from scratch and lavishing more attention on it than I do on my kids (according to them), I'd have laughed. I don't even like sourdough except on very rare occasions.
But one of my goals in baking bread was to save money and stop putting out maybe $35 or more dollars per month on the various breads my family eats. Wine guy likes multi-grain bread for sandwiches & healthy english muffins for weekend breakfasts. Our kids like fluffy white nutritional disaster bread for toast and sandwiches. I'm not a big bread eater, but I enjoy an artisan style loaf with certain dinner menus. On Friday nights we have challah, which has climbed to almost $5 a loaf these days--if you want a good one.
So I set about making the breads my family eats. The artisan style breads were actually the easiest because Artisan Bread in Five Minutes per day was the catalyst that touched off my reunion with breadbaking. And I'm an experienced and skilled challah baker.
Next, I tackled the multi-grain bread my husband prefers. I thought that would be the hardest to duplicate, but to my surprise, it wasn't too hard. I tasted his Milton's Multi-grain bread to see what it was like (way too sweet for my tastes!). I searched around and found a recipe that seemed close on King Arthur's Recipe site: http://www.kingarthurflour.com/recipes/multi-grain-loaf-recipe . BINGO! It was delicious and even Wine Guy agreed it was better than the commercial bread.
The day after I baked it, I noticed it was pretty dry and stale already. I learned why when I picked up the loaf in it's plastic storage bag the next day and it fell naked to the floor--a big hole in the bag.
But the next loaf I baked staled pretty quickly, too. I sliced the third loaf and froze the individual slices to reduce that problem, but it just seemed very solid and dry after cooling on the counter overnight.
I started researching. Was it the way I was storing the loaves? Was there something I could add or subtract from the recipe?
My reading led me to two theories that are supposed to help. First, the longer it takes to develop the dough, the longer the finished bread lasts. Second, adding sourdough starter to dough lightens the crumb and lengthens the life of the finished bread--even when the sourdough starter is not used for flavor or leavening.
OK, so I guess I needed a starter.
I followed the excellent directions here: http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/233
It was cold in our house, so it took a full 10 days, but eventually what is now known as Little Baby Bobby was born. A 2 oz. bubbling baby starter.
Why Baby Bobby? My kids have an obsession with the name "Bob". When a deer hit my husband's car and almost killed him (yes, the deer hit his car, not the other way around), my kids named the deer "Bob". And when they don't know the name of a male, it's always "Bob". So when I asked for suggestions for a name for my starter, of course, the suggestion was "Bob".
But this is a baby, and Bob didn't seem to fit. Maybe the starter will grow into that name, but not now. What stuck in my head was the name of the title character from one of my little one's books--Little Baby Bobby: http://www.amazon.com/Little-Baby-Bobby-Dragonfly-Books/dp/0375800522/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1243317203&sr=1-1
It's a great, bubbly, and rhythmic story about Little Baby Bobby in a runaway buggy running through the town. And when the breads don't work out, I can use one of my favorite expressions in the book. "Oopsa, oopsa."
So far, no oopsa, oopsa. It works beautifully (after some recipe tweaking).
That's Little Baby Bobby.