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Ontario, Canada
I am a wife, mother and grandma who enjoys the many aspects of homemaking. A variety of interests and hobbies combined with travel keep me active. They reflect the importance of family, friends, home and good food.
Cook ingredients that you are used to cooking by other techniques, such as fish, chicken, or hamburgers. In other words be comfortable with the ingredients you are using.
--Bobby Flay

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Thursday, February 01, 2007

New Kitchen Toys & Sourdough

I'd like to start this entry by thanking Taste of Home for their very flattering comments regarding my cooking blog. This is a real honour for my blog. I have accepted the invitation to include their Meal of the Day search box so please take the time to check them out for recipes and meal ideas. I'd really appreciate it. And to Tast of Home cheers to good cooking!

My husband dragged me shopping yesterday under the pretext of having to buy a new tv for Superbowl Sunday then would put it in our bedroom to replace a smaller model. I'm not even going to go into that issue! The end result was he got the 37" digital LCD tv and I decided to get a couple of kitchen toys since I'll be doing the hosting for the superbowl party. The guys bring snacks but I make the main meal, breads and like to wow them with a few of my snacks. What better way to get the undivided attention of about thirty guys than cooking great food the will love.

One of my new toys is a Kitchen Aid Professional HD mixer. I debated over this purchase for ages and finally said what the heck. My kitchen is spacially challenged so any appliance I can get to do double duty or one that will eliminate one or more appliances is more than welcomed.

I need to buy a new food processor and my handheld mixer needed to be tossed. The breadmachine, while a true workhorse in my kitchen, will likely not last much longer and the last few years it is used to make dough only because I prefer the results of oven baked bread. With this one appliance, the handheld mixer was tossed and the breadmachine has been moved to the backroom. I've checked out the attachments I can get and the one that really looks appealing is the attachment kit that comes with the food grinder. There is also an attachment that would replace the food processor so I am considering that as well. Any attachment I buy will certainly take up a lot less room than the appliance version and since some of the attachments fit right in the bowl for storage, I will be freeing up cupboard space as well.

My other new toy is an Aroma rice maker. My old one was giving up the ghost and believe me as talented as I am with cooking certain things rice is not one of the. We eat a lot of rice so a rice maker is a must!

I have been asked so many times as to how I make sourdough starter. My simple reply is always mix one part water with one part flour. Other starters will add yeast, sugar, milk or any number of a lot of ingredients but this is not traditional starter. The only things you need for a good starter is water, flour and wild yeast. Stir well and set aside until bubbly. Now this picture does not do justice to the bubbly of the starter but it has the consistency of a very thick, foamy milk shake with a lot of bubbles and a nice sour smell. A starter is not ready to use unless you can smell it and it should not be used unless active (bubbling). I used 1 1/2 c of starter for the following loaf and 1/2 c for drying. When your starter is to the right degree of sourness always reserve 1/2 c for drying. This can be used to seed future batches. I ended up taking 2 c of starter from the original so replaced with 1 c flour and 1 c water. Since I really need this starter for Superbowl Sunday, it will be left until early Sunday then fed just before making a couple of loaves. But before that the starter had to be tested. Watch for the recipes made for this big event!

This was my first time using the Kitchen Aid Mixer and I do have to say I'm impressed. This is a small video clip of the dough making process. It was just as fast and efficient as the breadmaker. The nice thing is this appliance can do more than knead dough!

This is the first loaf of bread from the fresh starter. While the crust could be a little darker, for a sour dough french bread it came out just fine. My husband loved coming home to hot bread fresh from the oven. Me, being critical and wanting perfection for Superbowl Sunday, wanted more. The bread essentially came out as it should. However, I would have liked just a bit more of the developement of the sourdough flavour. By Sunday and given the traditional recipes I will use it should be fine. Since this was a test loaf I used an ABM recipe. All I was really interested in was the taste. This recipe does call for the addition of yeast and when making sour dough bread that is almost an insult as it means you do not trust your starter. But this recipe is really fine for getting the taste right before you make a loaf or two using no yeast. I only make the dough in the ABM but this time used the Kitchen Aid mixer. Either way, let the dough rise until doubled, shape then let rise again and bake.

Sour Dough French (ABM)

1 1/2 c sourdough starter
1/2 c water
1 1/2 tsp sugar
1 1/2 tsp salt
3 1/2 c unbleached flour
3 tsp dry yeast
1/4 c cornmeal
1/4 c water

Make the dough in ABM without using the last two ingredients. When dough is ready, shape then place on a cookie sheet sprinkled with the cornmeal. Place in pre-heated 400ºF for 30 minutes. Pour the 1/4 c water into a shallow baking pan and place under the cookie sheet. Bake until golden brown or loaf sounds hollow.

Note: This is a French style sour dough bread so the crust is expected to be hard, crispy and crunchy.


4 food lovers commented:

Susan said...

Dear Mrs. Gnome

I am trying to grow my starter and so far it is a watching game. Something is happening, I think. How long do you allow for the wild yeast to find your starter???
Have you ever used dried potato flakes for starter food?

Garden Gnome said...

The length of time it takes to develope a starter will depend on the availablity of the wild yeast and the room temperature so it is difficult to give an actual time. If you are seeing a few bubbles and your mixture smells slightly sour but your room temperature is cool, try sitting the container in warm water. I like to stir my starter a couple of times a day to keep the houch (liquid layer) mixed in. I've heard of using ingredients like potato flakes or milk in starters but prefer to make mine in the traditional flour/water only and rely on wild yeast. However, I have seeded mine on occasion with dried starter from a previous batch. I keep a well supply of dried starter on hand because my husband likes to help clean out the fridge and has tossed more than one container of sourdough starter!

LindaG said...

I want to get a mixer like that for when we retire. I too have a hand held one, that sometimes shuts off in the middle of being used. the buttons are tempermental.

And I just put my bread machine up on top of the cabinet. It's not consistent in it's baking, and it needs yet another paddle because the coating is coming off. And I can't buy just a new paddle. I don't want to replace it again. I think A new mixer like yours, along with a new stove for the farmhouse, and I'll be baking bread like my grandmother did. :)

Garden Gnome said...

Hi Linda :) My biggest regret with the Kitchen Aid stand mixer is not buying one sooner. I use mine almost daily. I have since bought additional attachments for the mixer that I enjoy too.