Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Baking Notes

Meet the troops. I mixed these sponges (one cup flour to 1/3 cup starter with enough water to make a batter) last night before bed and left them on the counter to get busy doing what microbes do. They are covered in plastic to keep the moisture in and the flies out. 

Check out the action on the spelt sponge!  Nice work, spelt. 

Each bread gets similar treatment but the different flours respond differently. I didn't get a picture of the whole wheat sponge in the bowl but it puffed up rather than foamed like the spelt, probably due to the tougher gluten holding everything in. The wheat dough can tolerate a little more handling than the spelt. Spelt is more delicate and really appreciates a lighter touch. Each one gets a light kneading in the bowl with the addition of a little extra kneading on the counter for the wheat. I like a wetter dough so I have to use a scraper on the counter to keep it all together instead of sticking to everything.

Both doughs like to be kneaded in on themselves right there in the bowl. 

Settle down, fellas. After several hours of rising in a warm kitchen, I had to put these guys in the fridge to calm them down as I was not ready to bake them until tonight. You can see the difference between the doughs here. Spelt on the left has a thinner consistency as opposed to the wheat on the left which is more solid.

And here we are. Wheat (also mixed with some rye) on the left and spelt on the right. The bubbles are quite large because of all their vigorous rising earlier today. Baking in the summer presents its own special challenges. A long rise gives the bread a better developed flavour but the added warmth makes everything go too quickly. The spelt loaf is a little flat because I only put 3 cups of flour into the sponge instead of the usual four. Next time.

Fairy Tales 
by Christina Paterson Ross (1843-1906)

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Reading Notes, Baking Notes

After a major downsizing move to a new city, I'm finally getting to unpack my book boxes. There is nothing more soothing for an addled and stressed mind than that. All is right in my world once again. I'm presently reading The Revised Fundamentals of Caregiving by Jonathan Evison which I am enjoying more every day. I had my doubts at first as it seemed a little too familiar-first-person-chatty which is -ehn- is not my favourite writing style for books(blogs, yes - books, no), but engaging enough in this instance for me to keep going. It's taking me forever, but I keep reaching for it when I have a chance. I'm also doing a lot of middle of the night reading on my phone as my insomnia is in full roaring swing lately. I have a digital version of Tolstoy's Boyhood an autobiographical story which has me totally captivated. I put the screen on 'night' mode and read away until dawn.

As for bread, I had to give my two sourdough starters (one wheat, one spelt) to my aged mother to put in her fridge and babysit while I was away. She was happy to help but there was nothing much to do but wait and see and hope it would recover when I finally had access to my baking pans and an oven. I've read that starters can lie dormant for months in the back of the fridge but I don't want to push my luck. And I'm a mom so I worry about keeping things alive. So, earlier this week I put the jar of spelt starter out on the counter to warm up, stirred in the dark watery 'liquor' that collects on top, and waited. After an hour or so I poured out about 1/3 of the starter (down the drain - I know! Horrors!) and added 1/3 cup fresh spelt flour and enough water to bring it back to a thick batter consistency. It sat on the counter again for 24 hours with only just a little bubbling so I did the same procedure over again and waited another 24 hrs, this time with a little more bubbling - it's alive! So just to be sure I did it one more time and then made a sponge to use for a loaf, putting the rest of the stater back in the fridge as per usual. The dough mixed and rose like a champ and I pulled a hearty, well crusted loaf out of the oven later that day. The wheat starter got the same treatment but without the baking this time around. It responded similarly with the fresh flour and bubbles so I imagine it will bake up okay when I make a loaf later this week. And so it appears we are back in business. 

Apropos of baking, here is a granola recipe I would like to try. Perhaps even without the brown sugar? I think there is probably enough sugar in the bananas to give it the flavor, crunch, and chew I require in my morning cereal. 


Friday, April 15, 2016

Windows and books always go so well together. Warm and quiet. A refuge. 

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

April has been feeling a lot like January here in Ontario. Never mind though, it means we still get to do a little more of this . . .

Monday, March 28, 2016

If someone bases his happiness or unhappiness on major events like   a great new job, huge amounts of money, a flawlessly happy marriage or a trip to Paris, that person isn't going to be happy much of the time. If, on the other hand, happiness depends on a good breakfast, flowers in the yard, a drink or a nap, then we are more likely to live with quite a bit of happiness.
~Andy Rooney

[true, and I would also add books to his list of random, everyday contentment.]

Friday, March 25, 2016

I do things like get in a taxi and say, "The library, and step on it."
David Foster Wallace, Infinite Jest.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Please, no matter how we advance technologically, please don't abandon the book. There is nothing in our material world more beautiful than the book.
~Patti Smith