The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts


Floydm's picture

I'm pooped. Busy weekend, but I did manage to do a fair amount of baking: a couple of french bread loaves with "stuff" in them (one seeded, the other with blue cheese and walnuts) as well as chocolate chip raspberry muffins. I'll try to post both recipes this week.

Tonight I tried making Zurek, a Polish soup that uses a rye sourdough starter as its base. It can be a wonderful soup, but I didn't quite get it right. It was edible, just not very good. I will try it again though.

Next time I think I need to let the starter age another couple of days: I gave it 4 days, but I don't think that was enough. I ended up adding some additional vinegar and lemon juice to give it a little more bite.

I also need to use better kelbasa. the Hillshire Farms sausage that was on sale at the grocery store was truly awful. Frankly, the store brand kelbasa is pretty decent, but it may be worth visiting one of the local Russian markets to find something more authentic. Well, semi-authentic: I don't mind keeping the higher food safety standards that we have even though it may not be the "authentic" Eastern Europe experience.

crumbbum's picture

A week or two ago, I queried in my LJ about Ranger Cookies. Nobody chimed in, so I went off to google. I found several recipes and hacked one together from those. It was a reasonable facsimile of the ones sold here in the Vancouver-Portland area Fred Meyer stores. I'm going to record it with the adjustments that I'll make the next time, because the dough was super-stiff and all that stuff wasn't necessary for the cookie. The recipes all called for either corn flakes or crisped rice (rice krispies) cereal. I chose to use the rice, because that was an ingredient in the cookies that I like. Anyway, I'm only reducing the oatmeal and rice cereal quantities by 1/2 cup each in hopes that I can better stir them into the dough. Even my stand mixer wouldn't have been able to handle the original dough.

Ranger Cookies
about 3 dozen
greased cookie sheets, 350F, 10 minutes

1 cup shortening
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1-1/2 cups quick oats
1-1/2 cups crisped rice cereal
1 cup flaked coconut

Cream shortening and sugars until fluffy, add eggs and vanilla and blend until smooth.

Sift flour together with baking soda, baking powder, and salt and add half at a time into the creamed mixture, incorporating it thoroughly.

Add oats, rice cereal and coconut by hand, mixing as well as possible--it makes a pretty stiff dough.

Bake (above) 350, greased sheets, about 10 minutes. Just very lightly browned tops. Leave them on the sheet for a minute or two then remove to wire rack. Store airtight.

Floydm's picture

I made strombolini again the other evening. The turned out pretty good. It is nice to have two weeks worth of lunches in the freezer like that.

Today I baked a couple of things that both turned out well. One was a rustic French bread (20% whole wheat), the other a blueberry cream cheese sweet braided bread. Pictures and recipes to follow.

Floydm's picture

I had a fairly long pretzel lesson written up and then I made a mistake and my browser ate it. Arg.

For the time being, here are a couple of pretzel pics:

I'll write the recipe up again in the next few days.

Altaf's picture

Cinnamon rolls, cinnamon buns, cinnamon bites

Floydm's picture

My dad was here last week. He is a buttermilk junkie.

We ended up with an extra half gallon in the fridge, so I've been baking the Buttermilk Bread from Beth Hensberger's book (the second recipe on that page, not the first) the past couple of nights. It really is an excellent "daily bread" kind of recipe, something that is wonderful warm from the oven or toasted with jam.

We're going to be heading up to Seattle Sunday for a class on website usability that I'll be taking, so probably not too much baking this weekend.

crumbbum's picture

When Ben and I took the dog to the groomer's for a bath earlier this week, we stopped in at the Oroweat thrift store. I always end up with way too much stuff. This time it was a cheese danish-like crumb cake for Ben, cinnamon-raisin english muffins for me, and a loaf of the wonderful healthy multi-grain bread *sheepish face*, also for me. Then the lady at the checkout told me to take one from the free rack, so I picked a loaf of sliced french bread, we can have some of that, and I can use the rest for french toast, and I think I'm going to make either this bread pudding or this one with the rest of it. That'll be the extent of my baking for this week.

never one to leave things alone, I cobbled it together from 3 recipes, and that baby is puffed up and nearly running over the edges of the 13x9 corning pan. d'oh!

SourdoLady's picture

I have been baking with wild yeast sourdough for the past 5 years. It all began when I purchased a starter from Sourdoughs International. One starter led to another starter, until I had 5 different ones. Recently, I felt up to the challenge of making my own wild yeast starter from scratch. I had tried this once before, many years ago, with no success at all. At that time I knew next to nothing about wild yeast and how it works.

This starter recipe is awesome because it really works, and it explains why it works. The starter I made is very good. The flavor is amazing and it rises very well. I purchased rye and wheat berries at my local health food store and ground them in a coffee grinder to make flour for my starter. It was kind of tedious to grind but I only needed a few tablespoons. I'm sure that you could just buy freshly milled flour at the health food store and it would work just as well. The wild yeast is on the grains and you just need to provide the right conditons to wake it up.

Procedure for Making Sourdough Starter

Day 1: mix...
2 T. whole grain flour (rye and/or wheat)
2 T. unsweetened pineapple juice or orange juice
Cover and let sit at room temperature for 24 hours.

Day 2: add...
2 T. whole grain flour
2 T. juice
Stir well, cover and let sit at room temperature 24 hours. At day 2 you may (or may not) start to see some small bubbles.

Day 3: add...
2 T. whole grain flour
2 T. juice
Stir well, cover and let sit at room temperature 24 hours.

Starter at Day 3:

Day 4:
Stir down, measure out 1/4 cup and discard the rest.
To the 1/4 cup add...
1/4 cup flour*
1/4 cup filtered or spring water

*You can feed the starter whatever type of flour you want at this point (unbleached white, whole wheat, rye). If you are new to sourdough, a white starter is probably the best choice. All-purpose flour is fine--a high protein flour is not necessary.

Repeat Day 4:
Once daily until the mixture starts to expand and smell yeasty. It is not unusual for the mixture to get very bubbly around Day 3 or 4 and then go completely flat and appear dead. If the mixture does not start to grow again by Day 6, add 1/4 tsp. apple cider vinegar with the daily feeding. This will lower the pH level a bit more and it should wake up the yeast.

Starter at Day 7:

How it Works

The yeast we are trying to cultivate will only become active when the environment is right. When you mix flour and water together, you end up with a mixture that is close to neutral in pH, and our yeasties need it a bit more on the acid side. This is why we are using the acidic fruit juice. There are other microbes in the flour that prefer a more neutral pH, and so they are the first to wake up and grow. Some will produce acids as by-products. That helps to lower the pH to the point that they can no longer grow, until the environment is just right for wild yeast to activate. The length of time it takes for this to happen varies.

When using just flour and water, many will grow a gas-producing bacteria that slows down the process. It can raise the starter to three times its volume in a relatively short time. Don't worry--it is harmless. It is a bacteria sometimes used in other food fermentations like cheeses, and it is in the environment, including wheat fields and flours. It does not grow at a low pH, and the fruit juices keep the pH low enough to by-pass it. Things will still progress, but this is the point at which people get frustrated and quit, because the gassy bacteria stop growing. It will appear that the "yeast" died on you, when in fact, you haven't begun to grow yeast yet. When the pH drops below 3.5--4 or so, the yeast will activate, begin to grow, and the starter will expand again. You just need to keep it fed and cared for until then.

Once your wild yeast is growing, the character and flavor will improve if you continue to give it daily feedings and keep it at room temperature for a couple of weeks longer.
After that time, it should be kept in the refrigerator between uses/feedings.

My First Loaves From New Starter:

Floydm's picture

Yesterday I made Vienna Rolls and an Onion Braid:

Many more pics of the Onion Braid over in the forums, as well as the recipe.

I think the high point of the weekend, food-wise, was the fresh strawberry pie. The local strawberries don't ship as well as California strawberries, so you don't see them outside of Oregon, but they are *so* good. Particularly when they are picked ripe, as these were.

The pie was a simple one I had never tried from the Joy of Cooking. Basically you just filled a baked pie shell with 4 cups of fresh berries and poured over it a glaze. The glaze is made of 2 cups pureed berries, 2 tablespoons of lemon juice, 1/4 cup corn starch, 1/4 cup water, and 1 cup sugar (I used a bit less). Bring all that to a boil in a small saucepan, pour over the fresh berries, and... YUM! Serve it with a little bit of whipped cream on top.

And, I confess: I used a frozen pie crust from the grocery store instead of making it from scratch. I can knead dough for 12 minutes, no problem, but I hate making pie crust. It bores me to tears.

Oh yeah: I tried a new banana bread recipe today. It was good, a nice change from my standard banana bread recipe, but not worth the additional work in my mind. I'll try to post that recipe in the next day or two.

crumbbum's picture

my starter has died of black plague. either that or neglect. yesterday I dumped it out and started over. I really have a way with words, don't I?

anyhoo, I began with 3/4 cup white bread flour and 3/4 cup water. in yesterday's still pretty warm temperatures, it separated early on with much liquid on the top, and there was very minimal action there. I stirred it back in after about 12 hours and it had thickened some, but this morning at 0530, there it was separated again and still no real action. I dumped half out and mixed in 1/3 cup whole wheat bread flour and 1/3 cup white bread flour, and just a little less than 1/2 cup water. there is now a small bit of action happening, so I'm hopeful to have active starter again shortly. and it's really too bad it isn't good yet, because I have black bananas ready to go into a loaf ...

meantime, I made some very tasty cookies from the Quaker Oats website.

the real bonus for me on these cookies is that it only makes about 3 dozen, so you don't spend an hour hanging around in a hot kitchen, shuttling cookie sheets back and forth, in and out. I admit to being a lazy baker.

Oatmeal Cranberry White Chocolate Chunk Cookies

2/3 cup butter or margarine, softened
2/3 cup firmly packed brown sugar
2 eggs
1-1/2 cups Old Fashioned Quaker Oats, uncooked
1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
One 6-ounce package dried cranberries
2/3 cup white chocolate chunks or chips

Cook’s Tip: To use Quick Quaker Oats, decrease flour to 1-1/3 cups.

Heat oven to 375F.

In medium bowl, beat butter and sugar with electric mixer until light and fluffy. Add eggs, mixing well. In separate bowl, combine oats, flour, baking soda and salt. Add to butter mixture in several additions, mixing well after each addition. Stir in dried cranberries and white chocolate chunks. Drop by rounded teaspoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheets.

Bake 10 to 12 minutes or until golden brown. Transfer to wire rack. Cool completely. Store tightly covered. Makes 2-1/2 to 3 dozen cookies.

click the photo for the big view


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