Monday, December 31, 2018

Finally Sour Sourdough Bread

The new starter we decided to put together last week made a huge difference in our bread loaf this weekend. We're finally getting a little bit of a tang in the flavor! The bread came out golden brown outside and super soft inside. By far, my favorite loaf yet.

A little bit of the dough making process here for you this week too:

New Year's Eve, 2018

The hubby and I have been enjoying the last week of Holiday time at home and at work. The office is always so quiet this time of year with most people out on vacation, it makes the days easy to manage and likely to end early. As always, we've been taking the days we did have off to cook too much food and work a little on the house. While we've been out of boxes for a while now, there's always the big effort to truly organize and make the spaces all function properly. So I've been spending a lot of effort to do that. Happily, I've been able to cross a lot of "to-dos" off of my list and the house is really starting to come together better!

We started our long Christmas weekend with another loaf of Sourdough Bread, getting better at this every time. But we still weren't getting the taste we wanted, so we decided to create a brand new starter, to see if we could get it a little more sour...

With the last of our old starter, we also made a good old loaf of white bread for Christmas Day French Toast, and tried Pizzas on the grill again. Pizzas were better this time - still some work to go though getting the dough just right.

For Christmas Eve, we always do Italian meal at home. We had a gorgeous loaf of Sourdough already, and decided to make our own Pasta Dough, Filling and Bolognese Sauce for Ravioli Dinner. It turned out amazing! Creme Brulee for Dessert.

Christmas Morning is made for Cinnamon Rolls, and we made Stuffed French Toast this year. Bacon, Cream Cheese and Jelly might sound odd, but turned out really good.

Tonight, we will cook up some traditional New Year's Eve Steaks, take a two-year Aged Beer out of the cupboard and count down to another new year together. 2018 has been another big year for us, and we're looking forward to building up this new California life in 2019.


Sunday, December 16, 2018

Hanging Pictures and Fourth Loaf of Sourdough

This weekend's loaf of Sourdough turned out so much better than any of the others. Our only real change was the bake time. We took it down from a 35 minute bake to a 31 minute bake, and ended up with a much softer interior, and a lighter colored crust on the exterior.

The taste, however, is still lacking that Sourdough "funk" that we're really looking for. We bought a loaf of our favorite bakery Sourdough yesterday, and it definitely has a very sour bite that ours hasn't found yet. Still some research to do on that part of it, but the improvement we saw in just four weeks of consistent baking has been encouraging.

We also spent the weekend putting up some pictures and decorations that have so far been left in piles around the house. Little by little, the house is becoming more and more a home.

Sunday, December 9, 2018

Outdoor Patio and Third Loaf of Sourdough Bread

We changed up a few things this time. First, we fed the starter with some Dark Rye Flour on Friday, before we started the new weekly bread ritual on Saturday morning. Not only did it make the starter start to smell more sour, but the fermentation was also really happy about this change. It bubbled over after both feedings, and made a huge mess of the baking pan it was sitting in. (Thank goodness for the hubby's forethought to set it on a pan, so the explosion didn't destroy the floor of our oven).

We made sure not to overwork the dough again, and regulated the temperature a little better this time, too. Unfortunately, our timing was a little off today, as we were also working on the back patio, and we think we left it out of the fridge too long before we baked it... But other than that, I'm not quite sure how to describe what it is that we're missing. It's probably just a matter of more practice and eventual expertise, so we'll hopefully just get there naturally.

Notes for this week:

  1. We think we should try a loaf of Raley's sourdough in comparison to ours to see if we can pinpoint what we think we're missing.
  2. Just keep practicing...

In addition to our third loaf of sourdough this weekend, we also set up some new lighting and heating features in our back patio area. Excited to now have an outdoor area that's usable year-round. One of the amazing advantages of living less than 2 miles from the Santa Cruz beach.  <3

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Sourdough Bread: Second Loaf

This week, our Starter looked much more healthy than it did last week. It was bubbling and growing the night before we made our dough, and had a much better smell to it. That was the first big improvement.

Because our loaf was a little under-proofed last week, we ended up over-compensating the opposite way. We kept the dough in too warm of a place for too long, and it ended up over-proofing this week. It rose beautifully every time we let it rest, and we were thinking that these were all very good signs. In the end, we learned that when the dough rises like that, it's easy to deflate it and it still comes out "not quite right."

Something else we felt we were missing in both loaves was a more sour flavor. So next week, we're going to try some different kinds of flour, to see if we can get the flavor profile closer to correct.

Notes for this week:
1. Keeping the loaf at room temperature is important, instead of too warm or too cold.
2. Round proofing basket made the loaf maybe more uniform, but it wasn't noticeable.
3. Dark Rye or Wheat Flour should make the bread more sour tasting.
4. White Rice Flour on the surfaces was a much better choice, as it doesn't stick so much.
5. Bake time took about the same 35 minutes as last week.

Saturday, November 24, 2018

Sourdough Starter and Bread: First Attempt

Voila! Our first loaf of bread, fully made from scratch. We've even made our own sourdough starter. There is still so much to learn about getting this just perfect... But having the first loaf come out of the oven, tasting good, was a big enough victory for today.

The goal from here is to start on a baking journey, similar to the cooking resolution I had in 2015. Try to bake something every weekend to keep the starter alive and well, and learn all about the intricacies of making a truly great dough for pizza, sourdough bread, english muffins, etc.

Notes about today's loaf:
1. Bake time only took 35 minutes in our oven, not the full 45 minutes.
2. The crust is great, although the level of flour is too much on the surfaces.
3. The inside is soft, but very dense. Possible we over-worked the dough.
4. Starter may have been slightly too "young" to fully activate the yeast.
5. Color was not what we expected. Not sure if it's right or wrong though.
6. Next time, we want to try a round loaf instead of the oblong shape.
7. Would be interesting to try a seasoning or a different salt for more flavor.