Thursday, June 23, 2011
Look What I've Grown in the Kitchen
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!