A totally cheating sour dough starter

Share

This is the third in a series of posts documenting my adventures in making bread during the COVID-19 shutdown. I’d like to imagine I was running science experiments in making bread on my kids, but really all I was trying to do was eat some toast.

I’m not sure what it was like in other parts of the world, but during the COVID-19 pandemic Australia suffered a bunch of shortages — toilet paper, flour, and yeast were among those things stores simply didn’t have any stock of. Luckily we’d only just done a costco shop so were ok for toilet paper and flour, but we were definitely getting low on yeast. The obvious answer is a sour dough starter, but I’d never done that thing before.

In the end my answer was to cheat and use this recipe. However, I found the instructions unclear, so here’s what I ended up doing:

Starting off

  • 2 cups of warm water
  • 2 teaspoons of dry yeast
  • 2 cups of bakers flour

Mix these three items together in a plastic container with enough space for the mix to double in size. Place in a warm place (on the bench on top of the dish washer was our answer), and cover with cloth secured with a rubber band.

Feeding

Once a day you should feed your starter with 1 cup of flour and 1 cup of warm water. Stir throughly.

Reducing size

The recipe online says to feed for five days, but the size of my starter was getting out of hand by a couple of days, so I started baking at that point. I’ll describe the baking process in a later post. The early loaves definitely weren’t as good as the more recent ones, but they were still edible.

Hybernation

Once the starter is going, you feed daily and probably need to bake daily to keep the starters size under control. That obviously doesn’t work so great if you can’t eat an entire loaf of bread a day. You can hybernate the starter by putting it in the fridge, which means you only need to feed it once a week.

To wake a hybernated starter up, take it out of the fridge and feed it. I do this at 8am. That means I can then start the loaf for baking at about noon, and the starter can either go back in the fridge until next time or stay on the bench being fed daily.

I have noticed that sometimes the starter comes out of the fridge with a layer of dark water on top. Its worked out ok for us to just ignore that and stir it into the mix as part of the feeding process. Hopefully we wont die.

Share

A super simple non-breadmaker loaf

Share

This is the second in a series of posts documenting my adventures in making bread during the COVID-19 shutdown. Yes I know all the cool kids made bread for themselves during the shutdown, but I did it too!

A loaf of bread

So here we were, in the middle of a pandemic which closed bakeries and cancelled almost all of my non-work activities. I found this animated GIF on Reddit for a super simple no-kneed bread and decided to give it a go. It turns out that a few things are true:

  • animated GIFs are a super terrible way store recipes
  • that animated GIF was a export of this YouTube video which originally accompanied this blog post
  • and that I only learned these things while to trying and work out who to credit for this recipe

The basic recipe is really easy — chuck the following into a big bowl, stir, and then cover with a plate. Leave resting a warm place for a long time (three or four hours), then turn out onto a floured bench. Fold into a ball with flour, and then bake. You can see a more detailed version in the YouTube video above.

  • 3 cups of bakers flour (not plain white flour)
  • 2 tea spoons of yeast
  • 2 tea spooons of salt
  • 1.5 cups of warm water (again, I use 42 degrees from my gas hot water system)

The dough will seem really dry when you first mix it, but gets wetter as it rises. Don’t panic if it seems tacky and dry.

I think the key here is the baking process, which is how the oven loaf in my previous post about bread maker white loaves was baked. I use a cast iron camp oven (sometimes called a dutch oven), because thermal mass is key. If I had a fancy enamelized cast iron camp oven I’d use that, but I don’t and I wasn’t going shopping during the shutdown to get one. Oh, and they can be crazy expensive at up to $500 AUD.

Another loaf of bread

Warm the oven with the camp oven inside for at least 30 minutes at 230 degrees celsius. Then place the dough inside the camp oven on some baking paper — I tend to use a triffet as well, but I think you could skip that if you didn’t have one. Bake for 30 minutes with the lid on — this helps steam the bread a little and forms a nice crust. Then bake for another 12 minutes with the camp over lid off — this darkens the crust up nicely.

A final loaf of bread

Oh, and I’ve noticed a bit of variation in how wet the dough seems to be when I turn it out and form it in flour, but it doesn’t really seem to change the outcome once baked, so that’s nice.

The original blogger for this receipe also recommends chilling the dough overnight in the fridge before baking, but I haven’t tried that yet.

Share

A breadmaker loaf my kids will actually eat

Share

My dad asked me to document some of my baking experiments from the recent natural disasters, which I wanted to do anyway so that I could remember the recipes. Its taken me a while to get around to though, because animated GIFs on reddit are a terrible medium for recipe storage, and because I’ve been distracted with other shiney objects. That said, let’s start with the basics — a breadmaker bread that my kids will actually eat.

A loaf of bread baked in the oven

This recipe took a bunch of iterations to get right over the last year or so, but I’ll spare you the long boring details. However, I suspect part of the problem is that the receipe varies by bread maker. Oh, and the salt is really important — don’t skip the salt!

Wet ingredients (add first)

  • 1.5 cups of warm water (we have an instantaneous gas hot water system, so I pick 42 degrees)
  • 0.25 cups of oil (I use bran oil)

Dry ingredients (add second)

I just kind of chuck these in, although I tend to put the non-flour ingredients in a corner together for reasons that I can’t explain.

  • 3.5 cups of bakers flour (must be bakers flour, not plain flour)
  • 2 tea spoons of instant yeast (we keep in the freezer in a big packet, not the sashets)
  • 4 tea spoons of white sugar
  • 1 tea spoon of salt
  • 2 tea spoons of bread improver

I then just let my bread maker do its thing, which takes about three hours including baking. If I am going to bake the bread in the over, then the dough takes about two hours, but I let the dough rise for another 30 to 60 minutes before baking.

A loaf of bread from the bread maker

I think to be honest that the result is better from the oven, but a little more work. The bread maker loaves are a bit prone to collapsing (you can see it starting on the example above), and there is a big kneeding hook indent in the middle of the bottom of the loaf.

The oven baking technique took a while to develop, but I’ll cover that in a later post.

Share

Margarita Mix

Share

I’ve had trouble sourcing an acceptable Margarita Mix now that we’re back in Australia. You can get the Jose Cuervo stuff, but it is $10 for a liter bottle. Instead, I’ve been making my own, which is nicer than the store stuff and cheaper to make as well. It is also ultra simple to make. Here’s how:

Put two cups of white sugar in a pot with four cups of water. Heat on the stove stirring occasionally until the sugar dissolves. Turn this mix off and let it cool down slowly on the stove. It should be quite thick when cooled, and there should be no visible sugar crystals any more.

When the liquid is cool, add a cup of fresh lime juice and a cup of fresh lemon juice. Stir thorough. Pour the result into a bottle and stick it in the fridge. It should store for a couple of weeks, and I am told it freezes ok as well.

Share

Slow cooker caramelized onions

Share

I was keen the other day on giving caramelizing onions in the slow cooker a go. It was comparatively simple, although I had trouble finding a site which had a complete set of instructions — lots of sites say “it works”, but don’t give a lot of detail. So here’s what I did: put 1.2 kilograms of diced onions in the slow cooker. Chuck 75 grams of butter on top, as well as a heaped soup spoon of brown sugar. Run the slow cooker on high for two hours, stirring hourly. Then turn the slow cooker down to low and run it for 14 hours, stirring when you’re in the mood. Add a cup of chicken stock, which you stir though. Run the slow cooker for another hour with the lid off to dry stuff out. The stock gives a nice sheen to the onion, but doesn’t really change the flavour.

The finished product is lovely, and makes a great french onion dip.

Share

Chocolate fudge self saucing pudding

Share

I’ve talked before about cooking here, for example by my barbecued salmon recipe turned out ok. So here’s the dessert I’ve been meaning to write up for a while:

Ingredients for the pudding:

  • 1/2 cup of self raising flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt (I usually just use a pinch)
  • 1 tablespoon of cocoa
  • 90 grams of sugar (I usually use raw sugar)
  • 1/4 cup of milk (62.5 ml)
  • 1 tablespoon of melted butter

Mix all of those in a bowl. The mix will look pretty dry when you’re done, but don’t panic.

Ingredients for the sauce:

  • 1/2 cup of brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon of cocoa
  • 210 ml of hot water

Mix those in the oven container. I use a casserole pot. Pour in the other mixture. Chuck in the oven for 45 minutes at 180 degrees Celsius. You know it’s cooked when a skewer comes out dry (except for any sauce which might get on it from the bottom. Take out of oven. Put into your bowl. Pour cream on. Eat.

This version serves two.

[tags: food dessert chocolate pudding recipe]

Share