Monday, October 31, 2016

Sourdough, Part 2

A couple weeks ago, I shared about my newest baby - sourdough starter from scratch!

If you missed that post, go here to read all about it, then come back for part 2.

My starter is still going strong. I feed it every day - 1 Tablespoon flour and 1 Tablespoon water.  About every four or five days, I sterilize a new jar and transfer half of my starter to the new jar, along with 1/2 cup flour and 1/2 cup water.

The other half? It's time to make bread!

I've tried two recipes so far. The sandwich loaf is still in the experimental stage.

The flavor is wonderful! But the texture, rising and appearance? Well, we're still working on it.

The other recipe I tried was an artisan type bread, similar to the one Mary Jane made a few weeks ago. You can read that post here.

My recipe is a little different, and so is my method.

The lesson behind that? Baking bread is a personal thing. Very right brain. Try both of our methods and see which one you like better!

Artisan-Style Sourdough Bread

First of all, early in the morning or even the night before, feed about 2 cups of starter with an additional 1/2 cup flour and 1/2 cup water. Set the jar in a warm place and let it work for at least six hours. You can see that my 2 cups increased to about 3 1/2 cups. The amount the starter increases depends on so many factors - temperature, humidity, how active your wild yeast beasties are... So don't sweat it if you have more or less starter than what the picture shows.

Next, get out a big mixing bowl. Put in three cups flour and 1 teaspoon salt, and stir until blended.

Add the starter and 1 Tablespoon honey (yes, the wild yeast loves sweets!) and mix it together. Add additional water as need  - up to 1/2 cup or so - until all of the flour is worked in and the dough is the consistency of biscuit dough.

Cover the bowl (I use the plastic lid that came with the bowl), and leave it on your counter.

OR, if the house is chilly, heat your oven slightly - just enough to take the chill off - then turn your oven off and set the bowl inside with the door ajar.

Let the dough rise 30 minutes, then knead gently and envelope.

What does that mean?

First of all, you have to treat your wild yeast dough very gently. It won't stand for a lot of punching, pommeling, pulling, or anything else you might do to another kind of bread dough. Gently pat and coax it into a rectangle shape on your bread board.

The dough will be sticky, so go ahead and use extra flour to keep it from sticking. I also use a spatula to lift and fold it.

Next, fold the rectangle in thirds, like a letter, and then fold it in half.

Spray your mixing bowl with cooking spray, lay your dough in the bowl, and spray the top of the dough (to keep it from drying out).

Let the dough rise for about 45 minutes, then repeat the envelope procedure.

Let the dough rise for another hour, and turn it out onto your bread board again.

By this time, you should notice a change in the texture of the dough.

Now is the fun part. Line a colander with a floured towel. Shape the dough into a boule (turn the dough in on itself to form a ball with a bit of a belly-button) and place it gently into the colander.

Let it rise for two hours.

Doesn't it look sweet?

And now it's finally time to bake the bread!!!! Preheat your oven to 400°.

But wait - we don't want to cause the beautifully risen loaf to flatten!

Here's how I transferred the loaf to my baking sheet.

First, I covered the colander with a piece of baking parchment.

Then I put a baking sheet upside down over the parchment.

Turned the whole thing over...

...then removed the colander and towel.

Ready for the oven! Put the pan in the oven with some moisture. You can put a pan with water in it on the lowest rack of your oven, or you can spray the loaf with water.

If you have a baking stone, preheat the stone in the oven, and slide the baking parchment and bread off the baking sheet and onto the stone when the oven reaches the right temperature.

Bake the loaf for about 40-45 minutes, or until the internal temperature reaches between 200° and 210°.

Of course, the hardest part is waiting for the bread to cool enough to slice it! But wait at least 10 minutes. The longer, the better. If you can stand it, wait until the bread is completely cool.

I couldn't wait until it was cool, but that's okay. It was fabulous. And without that chemical "tang" of commercial sourdough breads. Yes, you can taste the sour part, but it isn't unpleasant or overwhelming. Just what I was hoping for!

And this recipe came together just in time for cold winter evenings. Even the buffalo know our sunny days are numbered. This guy has on his winter coat!

Once I get the sandwich loaf recipe the way I like it, I'll share that one here at the Cafe, too!

What about it? Do you think you'll try making sourdough from scratch?

Jan Drexler loves her family, her home, cooking and just about anything made by hand. But she loves her Lord most of all.

Stop by Jan's website to learn more about her books:

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Jane Austen's Lemon Cake revisted

Hello, everybody! The Fresh Pioneer is back and I was getting ready to post one of our favorite lemon cakes when I decided to check to see if I'd posted it before.... YEP. So, I'll just paste it here. It's a fun peek at two years ago, anyway! 

From 2014:
So, I have a fun little recipe to share, but first... I got my husband a Ninja Prep Master for Father's Day. That's not as weird as it sounds. Or maybe it is. But he got me a blender for my birthday when we were dating so I say turnabout is fair play!
 It was neat to hear all the recipes on Julie's Confessions of a Half-hearted Juicer and Jan's Trim Healthy Mama smoothie recipes. With all these excellent fruit/veggie ideas, I was primed to buy this as soon as I saw it in Walmart...
OK, they wouldn't sell it if it wasn't good, right?? At least, that was my theory.
 Looks a little weird. Sort of like chicken pot pie before the crust and without any chicken.
 Ahhhhh, okay. Looks like slimy mulch. But it's not slimy and it's like a green slushy. Husband declared it delicious. Score!
 I also bought this bag because it looked good. Definitely can't go wrong here.
 Mr. Ninja doesn't even blink at this kind of job. SUPER blender!
 And the result? I added some Greek yogurt and it looks a bit like chunky ice cream.
 Sooooo good. I made this in the 48 ounce pitcher and between all the kids, it was almost gone! This is a much better set up than the old blender.
 I don't like to sip anything cold unless I have a straw (hurt my teeth) so I decided to blend blueberries, two bananas and some yogurt. Ummmm... Looked and smelled good. VERY SLIMY. I think it was blending the bananas.
 So, I mixed a bit of the fruit slushy into mine and it was just right!
Now, just as we were being so healthy, something came in the mail. Someone (who just might be named TINA) knows that I have a soft spot for Miss Jane Austen.
She'd seen a book called 'So Jane' by Hollie Keith and thought I might want to try the Lemon Drizzle Cake. Well, of COURSE!
 I was up to my eyeballs in tasks that day, so my dear 12 year old decided to try her hand at making the cake.
Since she'd already made rhubarb pie and some other deliciousness, I thought it would be fine to let her try the Austen cake. And from then on, I knew nothing until it came out of the oven. I didn't even know she took pictures! Pretty soon, I'll just turn over the blog posts to her. You'll never even know I'm gone...
So, ingredients are thus:
1 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup butter
1 cup sugar
4 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/3 cup powdered sugar
1/3 cup lemon juice

 Preheat oven to 350F. Butter a loaf pan and set it aside. Combine the dry ingredients in a bowl.
 Combine the butter and sugar, add the eggs one at a time, mixing well.
 Hm. This pictures gives me pause. But the finished product was good, so I won't worry about it now.
 Add dry ingredients alternately with lemon juice to the butter/egg/sugar mix.
 Mix until smooth.
 Aha, this must be the glaze.
 As we brought the cake out of the oven, we all exclaimed about how it looked so much like the art from one of our favorite fantasy series, Here There Be Dragons.
James Artemis Owen is an incredible human being, along with being a stellar artist and writer. When I ordered a set of his books, he'd signed and drawn in each one. My kids were thrilled to pieces!
By the way, James took our lemon cake comparison very graciously and didn't point out the fact that it looks hardly anything like his noble dragons. That's the kind of guy he is. :)
 After the cake had come out of the oven (around 50 minutes later) we let it cool for 15 minutes, then turned it out onto a plate. Then the drizzling happened. YUM. I decided to chop it into little pieces and put it under a cute cake dome I found at our local thrift store. I'm pretty sure these two pieces don't actually go together, but they looked pretty good with lemon cake inside.
 I do believe Jane would be pleased...
 These are the vintage milk glass that my friend Christalee sent me for my birthday. I LOVE THEM SO MUCH.
 Another reason I love milk glass... It glows in the light. Fabulous!
So, that's the tale of the Jane Austen lemon cake that arrived in my mailbox. It was perfectly delicious and lasted approximately 10 seconds.
 I have another project or two coming up and I'll post a few pictures here. I found this old coffee table for a few dollars at a yard sale. I really wanted a coffee table but HATE sharp edges. We always have had little babies around, and so for the longest time I didn't even have a coffee table since I couldn't find one with rounded edges. Ta-dah! But it's all banged up.


It's a light cream color and I really, really want to stencil some Jane Austen quotes in pale gray around the edges. I know, sounds weird. But I've seen something on Pinterest and it's calling to me! I'll let you know if it's a total fail... Here are some images of stenciled tables and I think they're just adorable!
  I also got this old dresser a few weeks ago and it's been raining too much to work on it. It's pretty beat up, but I have high hopes!
Projects, projects! And just a few more photos... the very best of all. 
 Emma, Mr. Knightley and Chili-Slaw Dogs is coming out in a few weeks and I got my author copies! Hooray!! Now I'm  busy throwing them at anyone who stands still long enough...
AND the uncorrected proofs of the last of the trilogy, Persuasion, Captain Wentworth and Carcklin' Cornbread!  It will be out in November and it was such a thrill to hold this book in my hands. I had a wonderful editor (Beth Adams) and assistant editor (Katie Sandell) who helped make this book something special! 
Ok, so THAT, my friends, is life as we know it here at the Munoz household. I hope your summer is just as full of sweetness, projects, and excitement!

OK, back to 2016 and I have to say, as many times as we've made this lemon cake, it has NEVER FAILED US. 
The kitties are doing well and wish you all a very happy weekend!!