Saturday, January 31, 2009

potato leek soup

Had some leeks in the fridge from the farmer's market, so decided to make some potato/leek soup last night. I roughly followed the ATK recipe.

1 tbsp butter
1 tbsp olive oil
3 leeks, white sections only, cut into 1/2" half-moons and well rinsed.
4 gold potatoes, peeled and cut into 1" pieces
1/2 tsp fresh thyme
1 bay leaf
1 box of low sodium chicken stock + 1 cup + more as necessay
Salt & pepper to taste

In a large pot or dutch oven, heat butter and olive oil. Sweat leeks over medium-low heat for 20 minutes until very soft, but not brown. Add potatoes, thyme, bayleaf and stock. Bring to a simmer and cook for 15-20 minutes, or until potatoes are soft.

Remove bay leaf. Now, you can leave the soup chunky (totally delicious) or transfer it in 2 sections into a blender and puree until smooth. You can also do 1/2-and-1/2; puree some, and recombine it with the chunky, which is really good too. Add more hot chicken stock to the puree if you need to make a thinner soup.

Now season with salt & pepper to taste, and enjoy with some homemade bread. Very hearty, pretty damn healthy and totally delicious.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Bread notes

Baked off "grandma's 2009 bread", as well as 1st loaf of "5-minute artisan" bread.

5-Minute artisan:
  • Crumb: very tender, not wet at all, nice holes, fluffy!
  • Flavor: very clean, like fresh French bread
  • Crust: closer to French bread: golden, a bit chewy, thin
  • To change: add more salt! Seemed to not be salty enough
Grandma's 2009 bread
  • 95%! Hit the jackpot with this one. Perfect crumb, perfect crust, cooked through/not gummy at all; but could use a bit more rye/sour flavor.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Grandma's Bread 2009 (#9?)

Trying a totally revised recipe. I spent a bunch of time building a spreadsheet based on what I learned from "The Baking Bible" by Rose Levy Berenbaum.

This new recipe is based on 18% rye flour ratio (i.e., 18% of flour weight). I read that 20% of more of rye makes bread gummy/sticky. This of course is contrary to the amount of rye flour my grandma suggested (closer to 23%)

1-1/4 cups water
2 cups buttermilk
1-1/3 cup rye flour

6-1/4 cup AP wheat flour
2 tsp yeast
1/2 cup honey
3-1/2 + 1/8 tsp table salt

1. Over medium-low heat, warm buttermilk and water, stirring occasionally, just until it curdles and remove from heat. Stir in all rye flour, cover tightly and leave at room temperature overnight (at least 12 hours).

2. Into dough mixture, add white flour, yeast, honey. Mix on speed "2" for 2 minutes, until the dough is somewhat uniform. Cover with plastic wrap and let rest for 20 minutes.

3. NOW ADD THE SALT ALL AT ONCE. Mix using dough hook set to "1" or "2" (low speed). You will need to clean the dough hook often (every 10 seconds or so), because the dough will bunch up a lot, over the top of the dough hook. After a couple of minutes, it MAY stop sticking. Total kneading time should be about 5-7 minutes.

6. Grease two bread pans with butter, and dust them with white flour. Cut dough into 2 equal pieces, shape dough into loaves (they will feel like ...) and place in bread pans. Cover with plastic wrap and towel, and leave in warm place to rise for 1 hour. Refrigerate covered for 7-8 hours; you can leave it up to (but not more than) 24 hours.

7. Remove loaves from fridge, remove plastic wrap. They were still pretty wet & sticky but with good bubbles, and soft. Re-shaped loaves: remove, dust with flour, and use the letterfold (tri-fold) technique to reshape as a loaf. Cover with towel, and let rise again in warm place for 3.5 hours. Preheat oven to 450, adjust racks to put bread on 2nd to lowest rack, and put an empty broiler pan at the bottom. Slash loaves down the center; brush tops with butter, and place bread pans on rack in the oven. Add 1 cup hot water to pan to steam and close door. Bake at 450 for 40 minutes or until loaves sound hollow when tapped. Alternately, should be done somewhere around 190-210 degrees.

8. Take bread from oven, remove from pans, and brush tops with remaining butter. Let cool on rack, uncovered, for at least 30 min; will still be warm 2 hours later.

9. Store in large Ziploc freezer bags when cool; this will help promote a soft crust.



JACKPOT! I think I hit it 95% on the money
  • Crust color, evenness and flavor: perfectly dark brown and toasty!!
  • Salt/honey amount: perfect
  • Texture/crumb: perfectly tender, perfectly chewy, with perfect size crumb, cooked perfectly through, not gummy in the middle!
  • Rye flavor: good, but mild
  • Dough was formed by Beckey; it was pretty wet and unshapely after I removed it from the fridge. So I punched it down and reformed it, then let it rise for 1 hour. So it didn't rise as much as it might have, but is still awesome!!
  • Could use a bit more rye flavor, but it's a toss up; it doesn't overwhelm with rye, but it's there. A bit more rye/sour would be better to balance the slight sweetness of this recpe.
  • There were 2-3 small uneven "parts" in the texture at the bottom of the 2nd loaf, perhaps where a flour "blob" had not been kneaded/incorporated enough, where the texture was tight and did not have bubbles. This was very, very minor however.
Next time:
  • Maybe no punch down/reform? That was accidental, because Beckey shaped 'em ugly. Might need a tiny bit more flour when shaping the loaf; should lead to larger holes.
  • Maybe try slightly higher rye percentage (20%)?

Friday, January 09, 2009

sourdough starter - daily feeding

Feed your starter 3 times daily as follows:

1. Reserve 1/2 cup of your starter; pour the rest in the garbage
2. To the reserved starter, add 1 cup flour and 1 cup water. Mix to just combined (lumps are OK)
3. Cover tightly and store at room temperature.

Repeat steps 1-3 above 3 times a day: 8am, noon, and about 5pm.

3x per day is optimal, but if you can't manage that, then do 2x: once in the morning, and once in the evening.

After 3 days of feedings, starter will be ready to use in bread recipes. Best time to use starter (i.e., start your bread recipe) is in the morning, assuming you have been feeding it for at least 3 days, and fed it the night before. Starting in the evening will work fine too, just adjust your schedule as necessary.

If you can't feed it for a few days, put it in the fridge. You can keep it there, without feeding, for up to 2 weeks. When ready to bake again, take it out of the fridge, feed it for 3 days, and you're ready to bake again.

sourdough starter - how to begin

Here's a very quick and easy way to make your own sourdough starter. The idea of a starter is that it is an acidic environment in which natural yeasts from the air can thrive and multiply. It's a fun "science experiment" to watch it bubble and grow.

The process will take 4 days or so.

To begin:

  1. In a large, non-metallic bowl or container, stir together:
    1.5 cups of white flour
    1/2 cup rye flour
    2 cups water
  2. Cover tightly with plastic wrap, and let it sit at room temp (70-72deg F) for 3 days. Take a quick look at it once a day, then re-cover tightly. It will start to smell funky, get bubbly, and might even separate liquid from solid. Don't worry, as long as you don't see any black/green/fuzzy mold on the surface, you're in good shape. If you see mold/fuzz, scoop it off immediately; as long as it doesn't keep coming back, you should be fine. If it does, throw your starter out and start again.
  3. On day 4, pour off all but 1/2 cup of the "starter" into the garbage, or give it to a friend.

Now you are ready to start feeding your starter on a regular schedule (next blog post)

I've seen other recipes for using pineapple juice instead of water; also, the LBB sourdough starter recipe uses organic grapes. This should work just fine; the rye flour creates a nice sour environment for yeasts to live in at the beginning.

Next post: care & feeding of your starter.