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Thursday, June 23, 2011

Look What I've Grown in the Kitchen

This blog is supposed to be about things I'm growing in the garden and using in the kitchen.  But there is NOTHING HAPPENING out there! Sorry for shouting, but it's winter and I have planted things - broad beans, bok choy, spinach, leek... lots of stuff that's being eaten by snails and growing at a snail's pace. The only things I've been picking to cook are the occasional silverbeet leaf, rosemary for my roast veggies and lemons that get squeezed into Monkey Man's cup of tea. And I need to have something up my sleeve to blog about later - there's still lots of winter to go - 69 days and 23 hours according to my sidebar counter.

So I thought you wouldn't mind too much if I blogged about something very exciting that I've been growing in my kitchen (aside from the mouldy veggies and fruit in my crisper - tsk tsk). What I have been growing in the kitchen is so alive that the professionals call it a "mother".  Yep I've been making a sourdough starter.

I realised that I'd already come to think of it as a living thing when I was letting my dough rise last night. I'd propped it in a very obvious spot on the floor in front of the fire. Some would say that was a rather silly spot to put a dough but we all knew it was there. You should have heard me squawk when Monkey Man inadvertently plonked his heel on it while simultaneously tossing another log on the fire. I yelped louder than if he'd stomped on my own little toe and jumped up faster than I've been known to move after 8pm on a cosy winter's night. Fortunately, I did have a moment of self-awareness as I sat patting and cooing over my poor loaf of bread and sending Monkey Man daggers and realised that I was slightly over-reacting and decided to pull my head in.

I'd been thinking about making sourdough for a month or so now and coincidentally lots of blogs I read started to tempt me with their sourdough and bread-making stories. I do love to check out what Christine from Slow Living Essentials has been doing. She recently posted about her sourdough and whenever I read her I see the picture of that woodfire oven in her garden which is another thing I've been tempted to tackle. My friend Jo and I have been talking about wood-fired ovens. She's planning one and reckons that when she fires it up she's going to hoist a flag in her back yard which will be a signal for all the neighbours to come on over and pop their own breads or pizzas in her oven if they feel so inclined.  What a lovely idea. Unfortunately, we don't live within flag-sight of her place so I think I might just be wanting to make my own. Rather, what will probably happen is that I will order Monkey Man about and he will make me one under my strict supervision and bossing about.  In retrospect I might need to put that one on hold 'til I've finished bossing him about to plaster and paint and hammer on skirting boards and clean up the mess on his desk. (Hmm not sure I'm painting a very nice picture of myself in this post. I bet you're all feeling really sorry for Monkey Man and wondering how on earth he puts up with me - aren't you!)

But back to the sourdough. I've been feeding a container daily with a bit of pineapple juice and flour for 7 days and now have a tangy, beige splotch of stuff called the "mother". As I may have mentioned once or twice I'm a bit of a googler and love to research before starting up a project. A very informative and detailed sourdough making website I found was Sourdough Baker which I thoroughly recommend to anyone interested. I followed their instructions to the letter. If nothing else, thirteen years of Catholic education has instilled in me a very strong talent for rigidly following instructions. The Sourdough Baker advised me to test my mother out on some semi-leavened loaves with a wee bit of added yeast. And that's what I did yesterday. Unfortunately, I didn't start my bread-making 'til 2.30pm, not quite realising that sourdough is a much longer process than normal bread making. So I ended up pulling this loaf out of the oven at 12.30am. Of course, the smell of hot bread was too hard to resist and I had a teeny midnight snack so the crusty end bit is missing from the bread in this photo... but check out what I made!
Very pleased with myself. And feeling only a little guilty that I skipped my 6am yoga class 'cos I went to bed too late and it is too cold and dark and miserable to get up that early when you've been baking bread and eating it only five hours earlier.

22 comments:

  1. Wow, that is perfect sourdough! I like the container you have your starter in, it's such a pain getting it out of a tall jar. I think I'll give sourdough another try :)

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  2. Well done you, that is one lovely proffesional looking loaf. yum I don't think I could have stopped at the little end bit. enjoy x

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  3. ps I think I spelled Professional wrong, too lazy to look it up.

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  4. The loaf looks great, and I never thought of using pineapple juice as a starter! I always just used flour and water, and the yeast in the air, I guess that in Italy pineapple didn't exist when they started making bread. I wander if different juices would make different flavoured bread,or if in the end it would all be the same fermented stuff :-).

    Ciao
    A.

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  5. That is one tasty looking loaf!

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  6. Yeah, give it another go Cat. I'm all enthusiastic 'cos it's cold and I've just started. Will wait to see whether I can keep it alive as the months go by. Thanks Jeanetteann - you got professional right in the end. Alessandra I have no idea. In my googling I read that you can use potato (didn't look into that one) or water or pineapple juice. Pineapple juice is recommended for giving your starter a bit of a boost every now and then too.

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  7. I hope you were extra naughty and smothered that crusty end in yummy butter. :)

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  8. Great looking bread. I have been wanting to start making sour dough for a while so I will be having a go when we get back from NZ in a few weeks.

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  9. That looks amazing, I killed my starter in the summer heat but I might give it another go now i've seen your bread. Very inspiring.

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  10. very jealous! i've got this sourdough starter in my fridge that i have yet to make a decent loaf with. what's your secret! oh yum!

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  11. Veggiegobbler, I have been baking my own bread for exactly 2 days now, and I have been pretty proud of my efforts... but... look at your bread!!! It looks perfect! Oh I am very envious, and all I can hope for is to one day rise to your dizzying breadmaking heights...

    But pineapple juice?

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  12. hey sue, i'll just txt you when flag is raised... love the loaf!

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  13. That is the best looking loaf of bread I have seen on a blog so far. WoW!

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  14. That is a PERFECT loaf, isn't it? I hope you made some nice veggie soup to go with it!

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  15. VG you should be justifiably proud of this loaf. I think it certainly warrants a late night snack + missing a yoga class. Well done you xcellent baker!

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  16. This is extremely exciting, VG! I don't think I could make a loaf this good this late at night, let alone take a spectacular photo of it! Love the idea of the flag raising at the wood oven! You must get cracking with your own, you could have your very own veggiegobbler flag to raise while the scent of your sourdough wafts through the neighbourhood. Yumminess in your kitchen alright, ooh yeah :)

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  17. Fantastic looking loaf id love to start a sour dough starter of after looking at your loaf i may just do some research :-)

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  18. I terrified to make sourdough from scratch... but would love to have some for panini sandwiches.

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  19. Well done! What a beautiful looking loaf! You made me smile - I've so often under-estimated how long a SD loaf will take to rise, and will be rubbing my eyes at 2am, waiting to take it out of the oven.. :)

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  20. Hi, just found your blog. I too live in Melbourne. Looking forward to following your blog and seeing what is happening in your garden.

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