Aside from regular sourdough bread, I had been kind of wondering what else to do with my starter. Luckily one of my FB groups are full of cooks and someone shared a sourdough ciabatta recipe they liked. I figured I’d give it go. The original recipe is here: https://breadtopia.com/sourdough-ciabatta/
I didn’t have the requisite 550g of starter ready but had 300g of starter so adjusted the recipe accordingly. When I was transcribing from the internet to a piece of paper (yes I’m still old school and typically don’t just look at a screen for my recipes but actually write them down on paper), I accidentally wrote my 2 so it kinda looked like a 7. So when I was weighing out the water, I accidentally did about 50% more than I had anticipated using. I then had to do a bunch of math to try to even things out. I’m not even going to try putting the actual recipe values on here (just go look at the original recipe). I’ll just go through my process and how it came out.
With COVID-19 going on, a TON of people have decided to take up baking. I’m glad that I got into it a few years ago so at least I’m already familiar with the process and had started building up supplies prior to the lockdown. I have heard a lot of people who have started making bread starters because it is difficult/impossible to get active dry yeast at this time (side note: my wife mentioned part of the reason for the shortage is that it is hard for the yeast companies to obtain the packaging for the yeast and normally their “busy season” is int he fall so they weren’t prepared for the high demand). I had made a starter a few years back and kept it going for a few months but then neglected it and eventually tossed it. For the last year or two I’ve been meaning to re-start one. It happened to be unseasonably warmer this week and since I have a little extra time (I’m considered essential so still working but not as much as before) decided to start a new sourdough starter.
Surprisingly you can make a sourdough starter pretty easily and with few ingredients. All you really need is flour and water. There are some particulars to each that you have to pay attention to. For the flour you can actually use different types (as evidenced below). The water you ideally should be using something that doesn’t have chlorine or chloramine in it as that can retard the growth of the starter (either using filtered water or bottled water).
I decided to try two different types to see which would create a better yeast starter. I made one out of whole wheat flour and one with AP flour.
Both those failed to produce.
I waited a week and then decided to try once more (what’s that saying “try and try again”). This time I kept it very simple.
1/4 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 cup water (used the Brita since that water has sat and if there is extra chlorine, hopefully it will have evaporated out).
Food safe plastic container
I mixed everything up thoroughly and then used cheesecloth to cover (and partially covered with the lid but didn’t seal it). I put this on top of the fridge because it’s supposed to be a little warmer there.
Then I just let it sit for about 24 hours. Our house is relatively cool so I left it an additional 12 hours. By now I could see a little bit of bubbles. I removed 1/2 of the mixture and then added in another 1/4 cup flour and 1/4 cup water and mixed it thoroughly.
I kept repeating the process (waiting 24 hours between feedings). It took almost 2 weeks (most web sites say you can have it ready in 5-7 days) probably because it is cooler in our house (normally they want it in 80-85 F temps).
If left too long a crust can form, just discard it and underneath is fine and toss 1/2 and re-feed
I learned about the famous Parker House rolls sometime ago while watching one of the many food shows that I use to waste my time. This morning since I was up at 4 AM due to jet lag, I decided to try my hand at them (also because I didn’t think we had anything in the house for breakfast except for eggs and I figured that some bread would go well with eggs).
I ended up loosely following a recipe from King Arthur Flour, but made some changes based on what I had in my pantry.
3 cups flour (I used a mixture of bread and AP)
2 1/2 tsp active dry yeast
3 Tbsp sugar
1 1/4 tsp salt
3 Tbsp butter
1 cup milk (I used rice drink as that is all we have in the house)
1 large egg (mine was more of a medium sized egg)
3 Tbsp melted butter
The overall recipe was fairly easy. Mix all of the above ingredients save for the last 3 Tbsp of melted butter – that was for later. I did slightly warm up the rice drink with the egg whisked in to get it closer to room temperature. Initially (maybe due to lack of sleep), I only used 2 cups of flour and couldn’t figure out why the dough was so wet and seemed to be more consistent with a cake mixture. I eventually realized my mistake and added the extra cup of flour and it still came together okay though was a very wet dough (I suspect from the all the butter).
I popped the dough into a lightly greased bowl and placed it in my oven’s proof setting for 80 minutes (originally it was set at 90 minutes but I took it out a little early). The dough rose quite nicely.
The King Arthur recipe calls to shape the dough into the orginial recipe shape (as seen here). I decided to do my own thing.
I spread the dough out into a roughly 8″ x 12″ rectangle. I took some of the melted butter and generously brushed it over the entire dough rectangle.
I then divided the dough into 16 pieces. Each piece was then individually rolled into more or less a ball like shape and placed in some cast iron pans.
I then let it rise for abour 40 minutes (the recipe says to let them puff up and not double at about 45-60 minutes).
In a 350 F pre-heated oven I popped both the cast iron pans into the center of the oven. The original recipe called to bake for 20-25 minutes until brown but mine ended up taking closer to 30 minutes (maybe like 29 minutes). I then brushed the top of the bread with the remaining melted butter.
Overall I was impressed with how they came out. The inside dough structure was soft and pillowy and there was a bit of crunch from the outside of the bread. This is definitely something I can do again in the future.
A few weeks ago I decided to make some bread for my lunch (I’d bring the bread with some deli meat and sliced cheese – very European I know). I decided to just make two boules and bring one for a co-worker who has asked for me to bring some bread for her previously (little did I know that she’d be out sick). I went back and found an old recipe and tweaked it slightly.
350 g bread flour
364 g water
3 g yeast
350 g bread flour
266 g water
14 g salt
I mixed up the preferment and let it sit for about 30 minutes. I then added that to the remaining ingredients above. I mixed these up thoroughly and then let it sit for the water to absorb before I kneaded it.
I then proceeded to knead it for approximately 15 minutes until it was relatively smooth and I could do the “window” test – not perfectly but close enough. I then set it in a bowl, covered it and used the proof setting on the oven to allow it to rise (double in size).
I pulled the dough out, did the knead and fold method a few times with 30 minutes in between before dividing the dough into 2.
Week 9 had some highs and a lot of lows. As you’ll see below, I ended up only doing 2 runs the entire week. For my scheduled Tuesday and Thursday runs I can blame work for not getting them in. Normally I get off work around 6 but due to various circumstances on both those days I had to stay late and was just too tired to get a run in when I got home. I’m not sweating it too much.
The high of the week was actually hitting the 18 mile distance and feeling somewhat okay afterwards. I keep telling myself that for the actual race I’ll be doing an additional 8.2 miles so I better feel “okay” after an 18-miler.
Here’s a summary of last week’s running.
( ) = # of miles on my plan
Tuesday – 0.00 (3)
Thursday – 0.00 (8) – in reality, 8 miles was a bit ambitious considering 18 the following day.
Friday – 18 (18)
Saturday – 4.05 (5)
Sunday – 0.00 (4)
Weekly Total – 22.05 miles (37)
My long run was taken along the American River Trail again. This time I went further and traversed the bridge past William Pond Park. I ran over this bridge when I did the Run The Parkway Half. There were tons of Canadian Geese out. They were just all over the place.
It is amazing how quickly the water level drops after no rain for a few weeks. Not sure when we’re going to get more rain but I feel like we need some more over the next 1-2 months to feel okay with being out of the drought.
My last run I ran past this tree with these bright vibrant yellow flowers. Now, 2 weeks later the flowers are still there but they appear so much more dull.
So I crossed the bridge and explored some new territory. I stopped at a bathroom/water fountain area that was cool but a bit isolated. I pictured a horror movie where I was being chased by some masked villain. Luckily this was only about a 1/4 mile detour.
Even though my 18 miler was slower than my 16 miler, I think it is good progress. It is amazing how I slowed so much on the 18 miler even though for the 16 miler, I had put in some tough fast hill miles the night before the 16 miler. Strange how the body works.
Sunday I woke up in a funk and just wasn’t feeling it (it = life).
So rather than get a run in that may have helped my mood, I went out to dinner for some cocktails and pizza. I had the notion of doing a few night miles after dinner but when I ordered that second cocktail, I knew that running was out of the question. I also had a baking fail. I decided to make some bread but was too cocky and didn’t check the temperature of the bread when I finished and of course the center of the loaf wasn’t cooked. It was just gummy paste. Fail. But at least the cocktail and pizza look delish!