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Rambles' Ramblings

Ramblings, a salve for any hurts

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yeast

Sourdough Starter: FAIL!

I threw out my entire container of starter. It had already started to smell really bad and I don’t think it could be saved any more. Aah….. No idea where I went wrong, but I had definitely went wrong somewhere somehow.

I will wait a few days before starting again. If anyone has any good recipe for a starter, I will appreciate it very much. Thank you in advance.

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Sourdough Starter: Is it dead?

Ok. I just threw out about 3/4 of my baby starter and started all over again. I have no idea where I went wrong. It was beautifully bubbly the first two days and then quieted down until there was no more bubbles. Clear liquid collected on top and when I stirred it in, nothing happens.

So there’s that. I added more flour and water in. Hopefully it will revived itself.

Sourdough Starter Update: 48 hours

When I checked on my starter this morning, a thin layer of clear liquid had collected on the surface of it and there is very little bubbles. I was a bit worried, but dismissed it when I recalled about the hooch that is mentioned a lot. However, by tonight, when I wanted to feed my starter, there was a layer of clear liquid about 3mm thick.

I told my friend and she googled for me (thanks Steph!). Apparently it meant that my starter was over-hydrated and less water should be used. Hopefully I hadn’t killed my starter by accident! Therefore, when I feed my starter tonight, it is only 75% hydration instead of the 100% hydration I have been using, praying for a ‘normal’ starter by tomorrow morning.

Now that I think of it, could the humidity of the weather affect the starter? It was raining the whole day today and therefore evaporation should not have been too high. Could this be the problem? Should I adjust my hydration ratio according to the weather since the evaporation rates for hot and cold days would be quite different?

What do you think? If any experienced sour bread baker read this, please advised me. I thank you in advance.

Sourdough Starter Update: 24 hours

It is almost 24 hours to dot when I am writing this. I have already fed and watered my sourdough starter tonight. It is giving off a very pungent smell with lots of bubbles and more than doubling its size. I hope this means that it is health. Can someone with experience tell me?

Below are some photos of my two-day-old starter which are taken using my phone camera.

Side view of pre-fed starter
Side view of pre-fed starter
Sourdough starter after one day
Sourdough starter after one day
Fed and watered starter
Fed and watered starter

Anyway, I don’t have 100g of flour, but only 97 g of flour. I try not to obsess over the missing 3 g and instead mix it in with 97g of water. I am hoping that the yeast would not know the miniscule difference.

One thing I am worried about is that tomorrow night I will be home late, at least one hour and a half past today’s feeding time. I hope that the starter can stand being hungry that long, though I am probably getting all worried over nothing since I have been told time and again that yeast are very resilient and could easily miss a feeding or two. As I am getting a very active starter after one day, I am going to assume that it is much stronger than it seems.

By the way, I just learnt that a mutual friend actually bake sourbread and is likely to have some starter on hand. Ah, if I could have know earlier, I might have just begged some starter to seed my own instead of starting from scratch. Oh well, as my friend said, it is experience worth having.

Sourdough Starter Update: 12 hours

I am pretty excited about my sourdough starter. I just can’t resist peeks into the container whenever I entered the kitchen. Right now, it has been almost twelve hours since I stirred in flour and water and the mixture already have some bubbles formed. Yay!

All of the online sources agreed that it means my starter is alive so at the very least I knew that I started off right. At this point though, online sources disagreed as to whether to feed the starter or not. The one I am using says once every 24 hours is okay while I have read others saying that it must be once every 12 hours once it starts bubbling. I think I am just going to leave it there for now, opting for the once every 24 hours feeding since I often has to be out of the house by this time and therefore could only feed it regularly at night.

Will update soon. Have to get ready for work now. Till the next time, friends.

Sourdough Starter Update: 12 hours

I am pretty excited about my sourdough starter. I just can’t resist peeks into the container whenever I entered the kitchen. Right now, it has been almost twelve hours since I stirred in flour and water and the mixture already have some bubbles formed. Yay!

All of the online sources agreed that it means my starter is alive so at the very least I knew that I started off right. At this point though, online sources disagreed as to whether to feed the starter or not. The one I am using says once every 24 hours is okay while I have read others saying that it must be once every 12 hours once it starts bubbling. I think I am just going to leave it there for now, opting for the once every 24 hours feeding since I often has to be out of the house by this time and therefore could only feed it regularly at night.

Will update soon. Have to get ready for work now. Till the next time, friends.

Sourdough Starter Started

Excuse me, I just couldn’t resist the pun. Anyway, just 40 minutes before I mix flour with water to start off my sourdough starter. Hopefully it will be a success. I have been baking (experimenting?) for the past two months. While I wouldn’t say I am extremely proficient in baking, I have come to an understanding with my oven with regards to temperature and time.

Being someone who gets bored very easily, after being able to successfully bake bread and cakes (sort of), I cast my eye around for the next challenge. And found it in the form of sourdough bread.

I generally prefer my homemade bread and cakes to be as homemade as possible, only buying what could not be reproduced in the kitchen. Hence, when I read that sourdough bread does not use the commercial yeast but instead wild yeast captured in the starter a week ago, I am hooked onto the idea. Although commercial yeast is cheap (at 70cents for 11g), it is the idea of homegrown yeast that caught my interest.

Two things made me uncertain of whether to venture into the sourdough venture. Firstly, I am not sure how my family will react to potentially sour bread (although I have been informed through online sources that the starter will be quite unlikely to have a very sour taste at the beginning). We have always have plain common bread. Indeed, I myself have never tasted sourdough bread. I was reassured however, by the information that with a quicker rise using the starter at a higher temperature, the sourness of the bread will be a mere hint.

The second problem is my quick-waning interest. Sourdough starter requires long-term feeding and caring. It is not something I am confident of being able to do for long periods. However, I have taken the plunge, resolving to at least see this through to the end. I think it will actually do me good to care for something dependent on regular feedings and caring.

That’s all for this post, I think. I will possibly and probably post a lot more now that I am back in the habit of writing blog posts and sharing opinions. Wish me luck, dear friends.

Bread Baking

I know I know, two posts in one day after being MIA for so long really doesn’t give a good impression for my dedication to this blog. However, since it is holidays, I think I can be forgiven for not paying attention to my blog as I should have.

After the rant on that earlier post, I realized I badly wanted to talk about bread baking and it simply wouldn’t be appropriate for the post titled “Box Mixes….Ugh“.

Anyway, as I mentioned in my earlier post, so far my bread has only failed once and it is due to the weather. Temperature during the rising of the bread is VERY important. Seriously important. I live in Malaysia, with fairly constant weather and temperature all year round. And yet, what works one sunny day does not work the next rainy day.

The bread I baked on that cold, rainy day ended up being extremely tough, chewy and dense instead of the soft, light and fluffy bread we had the first time I make the exact same bread. The culprit turned out to be the ambient temperature. You may ask how may I be so sure? Well, I am sure because after second rise, I freeze 2/3 of the dough and baked the remaining portion which was thrown out. Later on, on a bright, sunny day, I took out half of the frozen dough and proceeded to gave it the third rise and bake it as instructed. Cue one yummy loaf of fluffy bread. Luckily I did not throw out the frozen dough as my mother suggested.

The next time I wanted to bake on a rainy day, I was chagrined, until I remember a tip from one of the numerous websites I visited prior to baking. (Please credit yourself if you see this, sorry). The tip is about how to get a rise even on cold days. To tell the truth, I had put it out of my mine, because Malaysia? Is not known for being cold.

In any case, the tip says to put a pan of hot water into the oven and put the dough in to proof. I admit to be slightly dubious; I was afraid I might accidentally kill the yeast. However, I do not need to worry. The dough rise beautifully and evenly. I got the bread I wanted with a fine-grain texture. (By the way, I found that the hot water should be right at the edge of boiling before being tipped into the pan for a better result. For some reason, the crust of the bread is also more crisp.)

Oh, and one more thing, I ‘killed’ my hand-mixer after my third time baking bread. Apparently bread dough is too tough for the mixer to handle. I started to hand knead the dough and get a pleasant surprise; hand-kneaded dough tended to have finer grain. Maybe because of us having a better feel when we hand-knead? It is hard work though, and is almost a workout in itself.

That’s it for tonight (I think). Tomorrow I want to try to make sourdough starter. Hopefully by next week I will have tasted my first sourdough bread. Stephanie, want some?

 

PS: One quick note, I really hate recipes that is essentially bread machine recipe yet do not announce it on the title. I have wasted quite a lot of time on this sort of recipe and it really grates on me (possibly because I don’t have a bread machine and I am jealous).

Spongecake 2.0 and no croissants.

I have learnt my lesson. If an instruction doesn’t seem to make sense, there is a good chance it is not making sense. Earlier today, I try to make some croissants, try being the operative word. The entire thing did not even make it to the mixing. By some weird chance, I read the instructions wrongly, mixing up 50g of yeast instead of the 7g needed. I thought 50g is a bit excessive but decided to go through instead of re-reading the instructions. Ended up having to pour away the milk and sugar. At least it is only the three ingredients. So, next time, I am going to read the instructions at least twice before starting. Sigh. And I was so looking forward to croissants.

Anyways, giving up croissants for the time being, I went back to experimenting with the spongecake. I double everything and beat the egg whites to death. Still doesn’t rise very well. Too dense to be called a spongecake, though it will make a great cake. I quartered the sugar. Seriously, is it our family or does people actually eat that much sugar everyday? Every recipe I used I halved the sugar to make it edible for my family which comprised of two diabetics and two not so sugar-happy young people.

Right now, I have a chocolate cake in the oven. Hopefully it will turn out well. My springform pan isn’t very good and tend to leak batter. So, instead of the full 250ml boiling water recommended in the recipe, I poured in only about two thirds so as not to make the mixture too runny. Smells divine. I know, cliche, but it does! Smells divine, that is. I am waiting to try my chocolate cake. There are comments saying that the cooking time is not enough. Maybe I need to add more time? Hmm….

By the way, my mom suggested that the reason for the not very well rising spongecake may lie in not beating sugar and eggs well enough. I think I will retry the spongecake again tomorrow incorporating my mother’s suggestions. Maybe even having her standing by me to supervise? Great idea, if I say so myself.

Till tomorrow then.

 

Ok, update on the chocolate cake. It cooked within the time range prescribed, so it is probably oven problems. Anyway, as could be seen below, the cake has spectacularly exploded. I haven’t had a taste yet, but it smells and looks nice. So there is hope for this cake. Cheers!

The cake EXPLODED!
The cake EXPLODED!

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