Bill, Why Are You Eating Mangoes in the Laundry Room?

It all started with a hello.

More like a couple hundred hellos.

I was safe with the first course.  I guess Biscuits and Gravy wasn’t interesting or he was just distracted.

Rack, my dog, doesn’t really care.  He knows that typically I will stand at the kitchen sink or sit at the small table in the kitchen and stare out of the windows while stuffing my face.   Once through, he may get something if he doesn’t beg.   He will go to the backdoor and stare at me through the glass into the kitchen and go out to water the plants and sniff the dog on the other side of the double fence.  Besides I’m not having yogurt today.  That’s when Rack gets insistent and I eat all of my food under cover.

It usually gives me time to have the majority of breakfast.

Oscar, on the other hand, is weird.

My parrot has realized that me in kitchen means food.  Food can be in a bowl or on a plate.  He’s starting to realize that I’ll give him something just so he will shut his beak.

Hello in a shrill little girl voice repeated can be quite obnoxious especially when repeated at a volume that reminds me of my neighbor’s motorcycle.

On the other hand, it is Mango Season, so I can’t completely blame him.  I have had the first harvest of these sweet orange fleshed sugar bombs and am wondering when I can get the next one from the tree.  That tree is a neighborhood gift.  The owner doesn’t eat mangoes so we pick the fruit so it doesn’t fall from the sky. 

A two pound mango falling from the skies can leave quite a dent when accelerating at 32 feet per second squared.   Two seconds from the top of that 60 plus tree.  Pick with a long pole, and don’t stand under the fruit.

It just got weird in the kitchen.  I did tell him that he shouldn’t be begging for what I had.  Really I did.  It’s just too strange when a parrot is begging for a piece of egg salad sandwich. 

No, Oscar, this is your cousin from Maryland.  Eggs are not good for birds.

Second course had him fully warmed up, repeating Hello constantly.

I sliced up 12 ounces and set aside the broad flat pit.  It’s a deal, Oscar, you get the skin and a block of the fruit, plus the pit and some more orange flesh.  That should keep you quiet for a bit.

Walking to the cage, I open the door with sticky hands.   Orange drops of mango juice hit my right foot and splatter on the recently cleaned floor.  I’ll have to mop that up, it will only be the second time today that the floor gets attention. 

Oscar’s eyes pin.  The pupils shrink down to almost invisible.  His excitement is obvious.  I put the skin and the pit on the paper in the bottom of the cage commenting “I hope this shuts you up for a while”.

Grabbing the bowl, I take my mango into the laundry room and finish it while looking at the video feed from the security camera systems.  The night speeds by in a few segments where cars pass by the house in the wee hours.  No, nothing strange happened, and it really is a safe neighborhood.  The strangest thing that happened overnight was a moth that tried to mate with the camera over my Jeep.  No cats to catch and rehome, no dogs lost, no weird neighbors having a party at 3AM.

At least for now, the neighborhood is quiet.

My mind flashes to the week.  I’m having house guests so I have to make bread.   Sourdough rolls take a longer rise time so I have to make the pre-ferment.  Add everything but two cups of flour to the standard recipe, then let it sit for a half hour.  If I see action in the mix, it will rise, if not add yeast.

Adding the sourdough starter to the bread machine’s bucket I hear it as I feed Mother for her trip back to the refrigerator.

Hello!

Bloody freaking hell… Oscar you have had enough, eat your mango!

Add sugar, oil, salt, lukewarm water…

Hello, Hah Hah Hah!

No Oscar, you don’t want this!

A cup of flour, press start to mix the pre-ferment and walk out of the kitchen.

Oscar stops.   Just like a light switch.  Life goes quiet and back to the routine.  Late 90s Pop playing on the internet radio and the clock ticking loudly in the background.  Back to normal.

Except… time to add those two cups of flour…

HELLO!  URP!

It’s going to be a noisy day.

Advertisements

Mom Got Fed – Caring for Your Sourdough Mother

I can’t get Amoroso’s Rolls in South Florida.

The nearest Wawa at this point is South East of Orlando.

I wish they’d open a Wawa here in Wilton Manors, but this is a small city.

I love sourdough but never managed to get the Starter or Mother to work right … until this time.

The last rolls I made were perfect.  Very sharp sourdough tang to them.  They used a very long rise time of 23 hours, and no yeast.   This batch of hoagie rolls and the sandwich sized rolls just off frame to the left were a shorter rise of only 2 hours with some commercial yeast added to the dough.

The result is that that little piece you see in the lower left tasted only mildly like sourdough, but it was there.  The Crust was crispy but not too thick.  Kind of a “Cracker Crust” on a hoagie roll that will go well with ham, prosciutto, sharp provolone, onions, tomato, lettuce, spices, EVOO, and Balsamic Vinegar.  

Can you tell what Lunch will be?

I’m “in”.  I have a functional Mother who will live in my fridge until I get a power outage and the entire contents have to be chucked.

How do I care for Mom?

Yes, I really do refer to it as Mom, but hey I’m enjoying the whole process.

After I created the Sourdough Starter, I used up 2 ounces (1/4 cup) in a recipe.  This means you have to feed Mother at least 2 ounces. 

I fed Mother

  • 2 ounces of all purpose flour, 
  • 2 ounces of warm to the touch water,
  • Stir Mother until smooth.  Air Bubbles are acceptable at this time, it makes her happy.

I then put Mother in a one quart resealable jar and placed it on the top shelf, front of the refrigerator.

What this will do is keep Mother alive but not so vigorous that you will need to feed Mother every day.

I feed Mother once a week, or when I make Sourdough bread.

I actually got about 5 days in and fed Mother another 2 ounces each of water and flour.

The trick is to always feed water and flour evenly and feed well before your intended use date so the new flour and water get incorporated into the Mother.   In my refrigerator, in my conditions, I saw a bloom of new bubbles from the sourdough bacteria and yeasts within a couple hours, and it settled down to make a fine amber liquid on top by the next day.

Day 2 usually smells more like beer than bread, but it is fine as long as it doesn’t smell “vile”.  Sourdough is a living thing, treat it well and you will enjoy the results.

Stir your Mother often, once a day is fine.  I do mine at breakfast while I am waiting for the water to boil for coffee.

I bake on the weekends, typically, so I will feed Mother on Wednesday or Thursday.   Prepare the dough on Friday, and allow a day to rise in the oven with the heat off but with a pan of hot water under the dough.   This will allow the dough to rise and not dry out.  If it does dry out, the crust will have a strange texture similar to crackers, but not as pleasant.

If I bake with sourdough Mother and commercial Yeasts, I allow at least 2 hours to rise and then bake at 450 for 11 minutes to get the results you see in the picture above.

The longer you allow your dough to rise, the better and more complex the flavor will be.  If bread tastes flat and lifeless, why bother wasting the calories.

I typically weigh my dough balls when I prepare rolls.  A good Sandwich roll is 80 Grams, a good Hoagie roll is 120 grams.  Yes, I use a gram scale.  It really does help to make your results come out correctly first time, every time.

My Sourdough Haul – Recipe

When you have a “viable Mother” you need to do something with her.

In my case, Mother was the first ever sourdough starter that I made that “worked”.

Since it takes between 2 and 5 days to get Mom out of that bowl and ready to be added to the bread dough, it gave me time to find a recipe.

Of course I procrastinated.  The recipe I found was very good, and I did learn from my mistakes.

You see there are some tricks to this.

Sourdough bread does not typically have added yeast.  You use the Starter as “yeast”.  Those starters are also very slow acting.   Commercial yeast, like the stuff I buy in 1 pound bricks at the warehouse stores, are vigorously active.  You can add yeast and a little sugar to some warm water, stir, and step back.  You will have a bowl of froth in short order.

Sourdough starter looks like wallpaper paste that separated out and spoiled.

My recipe said between 12 and 24 hour rise time and that is why the rolls all look “Lumpy”. 

What happened was the outside of the rolls got dried out and when Mom got busy with the dough, she had to break through the crust. 

The solution is to make sure you rise your dough in an enclosed space with a pan of hot water in the bottom.  This is what I will do next time I have to bake.

Since the recipe was so large, I won’t bother baking for a while.

Another wrinkle is that Mother is Wet.   Mom is 1/2 water and 1/2 flour.  So if you add 1 cup of Starter, you have to reduce your normal recipe by 1/2 cup of water and 1/2 cup of flour to get the “Hydration levels” right.

Fancy talk for watch your dough or it will be too wet or dry.

So here’s the big recipe.  Next time I do this, I’ll increase my water since my High Gluten Flour is thirsty and my dough was too dry to start out with.  It made a great pizza crust, but the rolls were on the small size since they didn’t rise quite enough.

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup starter
  • 6 1/2 cups White bread flour
  • 2 1/2 cups water
  • 2 tsp Salt

Process

  • Stir your starter to knock the bubbles out for a correct measure of starter.
  • In the mixer, add starter, water, and salt and mix until smooth.
  • Add flour 1 cup at a time to the mixer with the dough hook and continue until the dough has formed.
  • Separate the dough into two loaves or individual rolls.
  • Allow to rise in a moist area until double in size – this will take between 12 and 24 hours. 
  • For decoration, slash the tops of the loaves at the beginning of the rise time with a sharp knife.
  • To bake, place a pan of water in the bottom of the oven and preheat to 375.
  • Bake the bread for 45 minutes or until it thumps hollow – Internal Temperature will be 190F when done.

Sourdough Starter – FINALLY!

Sourdough was my own private Holy Grail.

I seek the Grail!  I have never found the Grail!  Do you know of the Grail?  Can you help me find the Grail?

Ok, so channeling Monty Python and the Holy Grail aside, I think I finally found it.

No, my light is not Grail Shaped, evil Zoot.

I have been reading the Breadit subReddit on Reddit.com lately to try to get insight to this odd thing.  After weeks of reading, I finally thought that I had enough of that and just threw my hands into the air to try to make a Sourdough starter.

Sourdough is a special bacteria that grows wild in a Starter and is named after San Francisco in California but not limited to that area.  From what I can tell, while I have re-created the taste, I have the bacillis in my area.  My own commercial yeast “went wild” over the generations of breeding that happened in that not so very pretty white bowl, but it did not jump species and become that specific species of yeast that they may use in San Francisco, but the lactobacillis seems to be here.

Any kitchen where you bake bread will have wild yeast.  I would wager that any kitchen that you do NOT bake bread in has wild yeast as well, but that’s just my scientific background coming to the surface.

The story goes that you start a commercial yeast in a mix of flour and water and perhaps a little sugar.  Make sure that the glass or plastic bowl is “sterile clean”.  Allow the right conditions of not too hot nor to cold to exist for the little creatures.  Leave the thing alone for 2 to 5 days.  That’s right, practically a week.  All you do to it over that time is to stir it.

The resulting mix will have the consistency of Pancake Batter or Wallpaper Paste.  It should be runny per the recipe.

If it doesn’t get infected or spoil, you will go through some specific phases.

In the first couple hours, the commercial yeast will bloom and the mix will rise.  In my case it grew to push the towel up in the air.  I had to remove the towel and clean it off, replacing it with a cookie sheet that was placed so there was an opening at the top of the bowl for air to circulate.  The next time I try this, I will leave the towel off until the first bloom is complete and the yeast settles down a bit.

The next five days it will settle down and beneficial yeasts and beneficial bacteria will populate the mix.  The mix will settle literally and there will be some changes of smell and color.  It went from being a wallpaper paste looking mass to what you see in the picture – a layer of amber liquid on top. 

It smelled first like beer.  Then it started to smell like what I remember Sourdough smelling like.  It was a sharp smell but not unpleasant.

I vowed to allow it to go five days, only stirring the mass once or twice a day.  I did not feed it any extra flour, yeast, or sugar.  It merely sat on the counter looking strange and perfuming the house with that brewing smell of funk.  

Finally when I decided to try it out, I got proper Sourdough Rolls, Torpedo Rolls, Pizza, and a Boule loaf.

I had success!

The recipe was this link on King Arthur Flour but I will reproduce it here for brevity.   You already have the process above.  If it sounds less precise than usual, it was.

The remnants of what I made were “fed” with another half cup of flour and placed in a semi-sealed ball jar in the refrigerator.  It is still alive, although mostly dormant and growing slowly.   I will add another half cup of flour and water each week and give it a stir from time to time to make sure it is still alive and happy.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups warm water 
  • 1 tablespoon of sugar or honey (optional) 
  • 1 tablespoon or packet active dry yeast
  • 2 cups King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour

Process:

  • To Glass, Plastic or Ceramic bowl add 2 cups warm water, 1 tablespoon of sugar or honey, 1 tablespoon or packet of yeast.
  • Slowly add the 2 cups of flour while stirring it in to incorporate it to a smooth consistency.
  • Allow the yeast to bloom.
  • When the yeast settles down in a couple hours, cover the starter with a towel allowing it to breathe.
  • Stir it occasionally over the next 2 to 5 days.


Feeding and care:

  • Move the remaining starter to a smaller jar with a loose lid. 
  • Place starter in the refrigerator.
  • Feed every couple of days but no longer than once a week with 1/2 cup flour and water to retain consistency and “vigor”.
  • Yes it was vague to me as well but I added flour and water in equal parts. 
  • This “extra” water will need to be accounted for in a Sourdough Bread recipe.


Or you could visit the King Arthur Flour website for additional insight on how they make their starter.