Beka To Basics

Real Food Cooking

Archive for the tag “Bread”

Sour Beginnings

So, I think I’ve neglected to introduce you all to Wally.

Wally is a friend that I neglect. A lot. Well, maybe he’s more of a pet. In any case, I get the worst friend/pet owner award. Ever.

The last time I saw Wally was when I attempted this. And before that, was this. That was in March. It’s December.

I think I remembered to feed him in April, but like I said before. It’s December.

He has been sitting in the back corner of my fridge, alone, cold, unused. For Months.

I really thought I had killed him. I mean nothing can live without eating for eight months. I decided it was time to find out and…

Wally - the sourdough starter

Wally – the sourdough starter

Bam! HE’S ALIVE!!!!

Wally, the sourdough starter made it. That’s him a few hours after being fed, all happy and bubbly.

And yes, I named him.  He IS like a pet – you feed him, change his water, take him out, put him in a crate (jar) and in return you get to make sourdough bread, or muffins, or pancakes, or cinnamon rolls. Why Wally?  It just felt right. 😉

If you’re not sure about sourdough, it works something like this.  You “catch” yeast from the air by leaving out a flour and water mixture until it starts to bubble.  When it starts bubbling, add more water and flour to feed the yeast.  When you’re ready to make bread, or whatever you’re making with it, use the starter instead of store bought yeast. There are a lot of recipes to make a sourdough starter, but you can also buy one from plenty of online stores. Or just ask me, I can give you a Wally Jr.

IMG_0796Some people use enough of their starter to leave it out and feed it twice a day.  Well, when I started mine, I knew that wasn’t going to be for me.  Luckily, you can store the starter in the fridge and pull it out once a week or so to feed and/or use some.  That sounds more like me. And I was really good about it for a while. Until I wasn’t.  So he sat, and sat for a long time. Probably plotting his revenge.

I pulled him out of the fridge late last week because I was inspired by a Sourdough PancakeIMG_0797 recipe that was posted to my facebook news feed. I read it thinking, this is so easy.  There’s no waiting.  Usually sourdough takes overnight or at least a few hours. I know, I know, all bread takes time, but sourdough is different.  And by different, I mean much slower.  Wally has taught me a lot of patience.

Well, when I saw this recipe for sourdough pancakes, I really had to make them.  Saturday Morning, I mixed all the ingredients, fried some pancakes and sat down to eat.  They. Were. Sour.  I think the amount of sour in the starter is directly related to how angry he is for all the neglect you’ve put him through.

It’s ok though.  Wally and I? We made up and I made the same sourdough pancake recipe on Sunday.  He was MUCH happier on Sunday and the pancakes had the perfect touch of sourdough taste to complement the cinnamon and syrup topping.

Since then, I’ve made Sourdough Crepes and Pan Cubano.  The latter isn’t fully sourdough, because the second rise uses added yeast.  The recipe doesn’t even call for true sourdough starter, but I used mine instead of making a mini starter like the recipe instruct.  What to do with Pan Cubano?  Well, Cuban Sandwiches of course!

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Linked to Freaky Friday.

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Happy Birthday Bread!

So, it’s official.  I haven’t purchased bread for a whole year!

I suppose it’s technically not really bread’s birthday, since people have been making bread long before I started, but it is a milestone for me. 🙂
When I first started, it felt like I would never get the hang of it.  I started to think that I would have to just cough up the extra money to buy bread that doesn’t have any weird ingredients in it.  There were a lot of flat breads because they just didn’t rise.  I had quite a few ‘flying crusts.’  That’s when there’s a huge gap between the loaf and the crust.  I also had some over risen bread that fell while it was baking. Others had huge gaps throughout the loaf.  Some were really crumbly, some were really dense.  Some tasted bad.  Most at least tasted good, but depending on the consistency, many became croutons or breadcrumbs instead of sandwich bread.  However, it got a lot easier as I made more bread.  Once I got a feel for what dough should look like for sandwich bread and what it should look like for buns or for pizza, I had a lot more success.  It also helps to understand what a recipe is saying when it describes the dough as loose or elastic.

It also felt like it was taking a lot of my time when I first started baking.  Now, I just work it into whatever else I’m doing.  Start dinner, mix bread, let it rise while I eat and then bake it.  I really only spend a lot of time baking it if I’m trying something new.  And for the weeks I really don’t feel like baking?  Well, there’s an easy answer for that… We don’t eat bread for a week.

It does take time to learn and get comfortable with baking bread.  It also takes time out of my day, even though I’m more used to dedicating time to it now and fitting it in to where ever it will fit.  It is totally worth it.  I don’t even want store bought bread anymore, the taste cannot compare to fresh bread and never will.
Next on the list is really learning how to cook a real sourdough loaf…

Cat Pic!

Chicken and Meatballs and Bread, oh yum

The most exciting Friday night is happening here at my house tonight.

Lots and lots of cooking.  I have been slacking recently with my planning, but since I found a farm to buy meat from, I decided it was time to start again.  Especially since they only deliver once a month (sometimes twice).  My poor freezer. Almost full, half full, almost empty, completely stuffed.

So to make all my plans happen, it means I need to get cooking! Hence the exciting Friday night.

#1 – Sourdough Whole Wheat Bread

I’ve actually been working on this since last night, and I made bread without an exact recipe, so we’ll have to see how that turns out.  The crumbs are really sour – sourdough sour, but more so than the store bought sourdough I’ve had before.

#2 – Roast Chicken with Green Things

Yes, it’s probably the most awesome name you will ever hear for a recipe, ever. It’s exactly what it sounds like – take chicken, cover with butter, or oil or some other fat and the season with salt, pepper, and all of the green herbs you have.

#3 – Pasta Dough and Meatballs

Not too much of a recipe, but here it is.  Half ground beef, half ground pork, breadcrumbs, egg, garlic, random herbs that felt right at the moment.  They smell sooo good while they’re cooking.

And yes, this is just the beginning of what I have planned.  On the books for tomorrow, and the rest of the weekend?  Chicken stock, spaghetti sauce, Broccoli and cheese soup, making more bread (really, can there be too much?), and refried beans.

And later next week, my very first attempt at homemade gnocchi!!!

Grains

Anyone who knows me, knows I like to make things at home.  Lots of things.  Bread, Cereal, Yogurt, Granola Bars, Pasta, Chicken Broth.  Tonight, it was granola 🙂 and bread, and buns, since we’re having hot dogs and sweet potato fries tomorrow (YUM). Plus fried catfish and quinoa for dinner tonight.

The granola was a happy accident.  I was trying to make granola bars and found a new recipe for no bake granola bars here: http://www.kitchenstewardship.com/2010/04/08/recipe-connection-soaked-granola-bars/

But it didn’t work, probably because I didn’t really follow the recipe at all.  I used a mix of butter, brown sugar, and maple syrup instead of the butter, honey and sucanet that’s in the recipe.  Oh well, I was able to save the first batch by adding flour and applesauce and baking it.  They were good, but the Dave said he thought the granola would have made great cereal.  So, I made it again for cereal.

The bun recipe I use is from King Arthur Flour, and it’s perfect! Every time! (ok, it took a few times of getting flat, but flavorful, buns before I got it right).  Now they look like this

Like I said, perfect, and oh so good.

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