Saturday, 20 April 2013

And So to Bread...

Well, 9 days in and our starter is toast!

Friday morning, I was about to launch into a loaf and got cold feet.  The starter looked reasonably bubbly but I wasn't sure, so decided to give it one more feed.  Removing half and about to discard it, it occured to me that it was an awful waste and that anyway, I may get to making the loaf and realise that I didnt have enough starter to bake with and have some left to keep the starter going. Some of those reading may at this point recognise the train of thought that leads to a garage full of junk and not being able to find anything!
Day 9 - Morning Split & FedDay 9 - Lunchtime - both bubbling!

So rather than throw it away, I got another jar out of the cupboard and fed the discard 100g flour, 100ml water.  I also fed the other one so we now have two starters.  One in reserve. By lunchtime both were bubbling away like ... well ... fermeting sourdough. Time to bake!
I have scaled down Paul Holliwoods first recipe to 150g Starter, 250g Strong White Flour, 115ml Tepid water and 5g Salt.  All of that went into the bowl, mixed up and kneaded.  A very sticky dough so took PH's advice and used olive oil on the worktop to stop it sticking.  Popped it into a clean bowl (greased with olive oil) and left with cling film over the top to prove for 3 hrs.  In the meantime I stoked up the Esse ready to bake.
Day 9 - 150g StarterDay 9 - 250g FlourDay 9 - Ready to Nead
Day 9 - neaded and bowledDay 9 - Stoke up time!Day 8 - 3hrs later risen for the 1st time
I was very relieved to see that the dough had risen and so "knocked it back". The dough is very sticky and we really should be using a fancy wicker "banneton". The Edwards household doesnt stretch to one of those so oiled and floured a smaller bowl. Three hours later the dough had risen again. Time was getting on, it was about 11:00pm and I had realised that I had forgotten to put some more wood on the fire so the oven was only at about 170C. However, I had got this far so I thought, go for it. The dough stuck to the bowl a bit but with a some gentle coaxing I got it onto the tray, ran a stanley knife over the top, dusted with flour, and in it went.
Day 9 - Risen Again!Day 9- Onto the floured trayDay 9 - 45mins later - a loaf!
45 minutes later I had my first sourdough loaf. The smell was quite authentic, vaguely vinagery warm bready smell. So onto the rack to cool ready for breakfast.
Day 10 -Slices well, good texture but a bit enemicDay 10-Sourdough Toast
It doesnt quite have the rise that I was hoping for, possibly owing to the lack of banneton and the crust should have been crisper and browner, probably because of the lower temperature but the toast was wonderful with a large dollop of last year's honey. Job Done!

Thursday, 18 April 2013

Sourdough Stater underway - time to bake?

The latest news is that we seem to have a reasonably active starter bubling away here. I say, "reasonably active" - I have no real idea what it is supposed to look like but as the pictures below show, there is no more 'hooch' and about half an inch of bubbles on the top
Day 7 - just halved & fed Day 7- Lunchtime - bubbling! Day 8 - Lunchtime after feed
Yesterday morning I halved the mixture and fed it with 100gms strong white flour and 100ml tap water.  By lunchtime there was a foamy top and it had visibly risen.  By this morning it had shrunk back a bit but was still bubbling so I halved it again and did the same feeding routine.  By lunchtime about 3 hours it was back up to about the same level.  The smell is quite fruity with a vinagary backnote which catches the back of the nose.  Reminds me a bit of the smell of vinyl matt emulsion.  So the question now (and one our 10 year old daughter is asking too!) - Is it ready to use fore baking a loaf?   Well... I suppose there is only one way to find out!

Tuesday, 16 April 2013

Getting Started - again! (part 3)

So after yesteday's disappointment I had a look at Mike's Sourdough Home - troubleshooting page and decided to follow his advice on the subject of the floating liquid.  This entails using a ladel to remove the liquid from the top and replacing it with plain water. and being patient - again! So imagine my delight when I looked at it this morning and found the same puddle on top but closer inspection revealed a very slight bubbling.

Day 6 - its not over yet Day 6 - Lunchtime - puddle gone! Day 6 Tea time - a layer of bubbles
So things are now looking a lot more positive.  I think I will leave things undisturbed for tonight and then feed again tomorrow - I bet you can hardly contain your excitement!

Monday, 15 April 2013

Getting Started - again! (part 2)

Well, a lot has happened over the weekend! The starter took off, bubbled away merrily and seemed to be increasing in size see pictures below. Filled with enthusiasm and probably not in full posession of the requisite level of patience for this business we decided on day 3 to give it its first feed... and that is where it all started to go wrong. There was a bit more bubbling but by the next day the starter was covered in a puddle of liquid.
Day 2 More bubbles Day 3 Lots of bubbles Day 3 After feeding
Day 4 Oh dear! Day 4 Fed again Day 5 Still not looking good

Thinking back I tried to work out what could have gone wrong. I used water out of the kettle which was room temperature. And the same type of flour. Closer examination of the flour bag revealed that I had used an older bag which I usually keep just for dusting when making bread. Its a bit past its sell by date and didnt really want to waste it. So I then turned for advice to the Sourdough Home Website. Mike seems to have a lot of knowledge to impart here although he seems a bit pessimistic about the chances of an old duffer like me being able to get this thing working. However, I was encouraged by the news that the liquid is called "hooch" and is alcohol being produced by the yeast and not a problem but possibly suggests it may need feeding again. On Sunday afternoon, I gave it another feed. This time with the freshest four and left it to do its thing.
This morning we have a jar with the same amount of starter and the rather ominous puddle on top again. So what happens now? Mike seems to think that this is no biggy, give it another feed. I'm contemplating starting from scratch again. Just to give you the full picture the only slight diversion from the recipe was the use of black non-organic grapes instead of green organic. Any thoughts anyone? 

Friday, 12 April 2013

Getting Started - again!

Keen followers of this blog may have noticed that posts have been a bit few and far between of late!  Well practically non-existent if I am honest.  I was mulling over a few things the other day and decided that it was about time I remedied the situation.  So here we are again and my text today is, appropriately enough, "Starters".
I was watching Paul Hollywood's excellent bread making programme the other night and was inspired to have a go at making a Sourdough Starter.  I have to confess that the possibillity of consuming a helping of his Summer Puddng made wth White Chocolate and Raspberry sourdough bread was a major selling point!  The other selling point was that I was in charge of entertaining our daughter who is still on holiday and a bit of culinary science seemed to fit the bill perfectly.
So kilner jar at the ready, we mixed strong white flour, 5 grapes and an eaqual amount of water and sealed it up as per his very simple method.
Day 1Day 2 Day 2 Bubbles!

So, we have a jar sitting by the range in the kitchen containing our starter.  I checked it this morning and it has started to bubble very slightly so fingers crossed.  I will report progress!  (yes I really am that desperate to find something to talk about until the weather clears up and I can get on with the first beekeeping inspection of the year)  So stay tuned!

Wednesday, 5 December 2012

As with most fine things, chocolate has its season. 
There is a simple memory aid that you can use to
determine whether it is the correct time to order
chocolate dishes: any month whose name contains the
letter A, E, or U is the proper time for chocolate.
                -Sandra Boynton,
                "Chocolate: The Consuming Passion"

Monday, 4 July 2011

Declaration of Independence - George III's Managment Analyst Replies

The Court of King George III
London, England

July 10, 1776

Mr. Thomas Jefferson
c/o The Continental Congress
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Dear Mr. Jefferson:

We have read your "Declaration of Independence" with great interest. Certainly, it represents a considerable undertaking, and many of your statements do merit serious consideration.  Unfortunately, the Declaration as a whole fails to meet recently adopted specifications for proposals to the Crown, so we must return the document to you for further refinement.

The questions which follow might assist you in your process of revision:

1.  In your opening paragraph you use the phrase "the Laws of Nature and Nature's God."  What are these laws? In what way are they the criteria on which you base your central arguments?  Please document with citations from the recent literature.

2.  In the same paragraph you refer to the "opinions of mankind."  Whose polling data are you using?  Without specific evidence, it seems to us the "opinions of mankind" are a matter of opinion.

3.  You hold certain truths to be "self-evident."  Could you please elaborate.  If they are as evident as you claim then it should not be difficult for you to locate the appropriate supporting statistics.

4.  "Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of happiness" seem to be the goals of your proposal. These are not measurable goals.  If you were to say that "among these is the ability to sustain an average life expectancy in six of the 13 colonies of at least 55 years, and to enable newspapers in the colonies to print news without outside interference, and to raise the average income of the colonists by 10 percent in the next
10 years," these could be measurable goals.  Please clarify.

5.  You state that "Whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute a new Government..."  Have you weighed this
assertion against all the alternatives?  What are the trade-off considerations?

6.  Your description of the existing situation is quite extensive.  Such a long list of grievances should precede the statement of goals, not follow it.  Your problem statement needs improvement.

7.  Your strategy for achieving your goal is not developed at all.  You state that the colonies "ought to be Free and Independent States," and that they are "Absolved from All Allegiance to the British Crown."  Who or what must change to achieve this objective?  In what way must they change?  What specific steps will you take to overcome the resistance? How long will it take?  We have found that a little foresight in these areas helps to prevent careless errors later on.  How cost-effective are your strategies?

8.  Who among the list of signatories will be responsible for implementing your strategy?  Who conceived it?  Who provided the theoretical research? Who will constitute the advisory committee?  Please submit an
organization chart and vitas of the principal investigators.

9.  You must include an evaluation design.  We have been requiring this since Queen Anne's War.

10. What impact will your problem have?  Your failure to include any assessment of this inspires little onfidence in the long-range prospects of your undertaking.

11. Please submit a PERT diagram, an activity chart, itemized budget, and manpower utilization matrix.

We hope that these comments prove useful in revising your "Declaration of Independence."  We welcome the submission of your revised proposal.  Our due date for unsolicited proposals is July 31, 1776.  Ten copies with original signatures will be required.


Management Analyst to the British Crown

(I don't know who really wrote this and if anyone does please let me know and I will of course credit them with the writing of it - I picked it up from Dan Galvin's 'Thought for the Day Email list')

Aparently George III's actual response to the Declaration of Independence was to write  in his diary that nothing of note happened that day!