11 May 2008

Sunday morning: fresh air, fresh coffee, sweetened sourdough

After walking my dog this morning in the rain scoured and wind freshened air, I returned to the apartment to brew coffee, wash dishes and to set out dough to rise. While my coffee brewed, I washed some blueberries and put them over soy yogurt. That I ate with some whole grain toast and a café au lait (de soja). Although I have stacks of papers to check, I'm wasting a bit of time updating this here blog. [[Grading papers sucks. If there were some way to teaching in truly a Socratic fashion, I'd be happy. No grades, no seemingly arbitrary curriculum, but pure discovery. That'd be an educational Utopia, for me anyway.]

For the past several months, I've been experimenting with home grown sour dough starter. Until I conducted a small amount of research on the toile mondiale, I thought it was some great secret known only to chuck wagon cooks and San Franciscan artisan bread bakers. Hah! It's a delightful accident of nature. One cup of flour (whole grain, baby, whole grain!) and one cup of filtered water mixed well and left to stand from 1 to 24 hours, and then you've got sourdough starter. Wow. So, for about six months now, I've had a continuously cultured batch of starter, separating and feeding it about every 7 to 10 days, using about 1/3 to make more starter, the rest in a loaf of bread. Here's my recipe for the dough that's rising now.

  • 2/3 cup sourdough starter
  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 3 cups whole grain AP flour
  • 2/3 cup water
  • 1 Tbsp honey
  • 3 Tbsp soy margarine
  • 100% whole wheat flour for dusting

I just threw it all in my trusty KitchenAid and let the machine work until the dough became a smooth, fat ball. I put the ball into a greased, tightly lidded plastic container to chill in the refrigerator over night. I took the container out of the refrigerator this morning, and I'm going to allow it to rise as long as needed until it has doubled and bulk. Natural yeasts can take quite a long time to rise bread, but it's all so worth it! Then I plan to form it into two baguettes, then allow those to rise a bit longer. Then I'll bake them until they are deeply golden brown and have that lovely hollow thump when tapped. I'm the only one home, and these generally don't last more than three days. They're wonderful with breakfast, with lunch, with dinner, or with a snack. Okay, I'm addicted to bread. My midsection is a witness to that.

The rest of my papers await this Mother's day for my pen to score points and then this little computer demands that I update the grade records so that I can distribute progress reports to my students. [See notes above about Socratic methods.]

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