The Start of Sourdough Fever
I see two trend in the foodie world of today. Those who have dismissed the idea of a “diet” and gone to find moderation in things that are more traditional food. And those who have gone towards specific healthy diets. I find myself in between, in that I do try to really keep variety in the type of grain and eat a healthy vegetarian diet. At the same time, I find so much pleasure in learning cooking skills that fell out of tradition for a long time. This year I am starting off the year with a bread class given to me by my sister for Christmas at Tatte in Boston. Pretty good place to start right? I have taken a baking class before in Providence at Olga’s but it was a long time ago, and the focus was on Challah and Scones mostly.
This year I have set myself specific goals, and not “New Years Resolutions”. I considered a more 365 project or 52 week project, but in combination with my new series on cookbook reviews that will be (at least 12- meaning not necessarily 1/month but one for every month of the year at least). I went instead with something that was possible and speaks true to what I started to learn this fall. To bake bread!
It started with a purchase of a Dutch Oven. Let’s be honest, it was a gift. A wonderful gift. The smaller size is so fabulous and if you are ever in need of a nicer gift for a newer cook who might not have one OR even only has a larger one, this is so fabulous. It’s a golden nugget of cooking supplies. This gift was on my wish list for as long as I knew they existed as a kid, and jumped up quite a few notches after reading the 24 hr No-Knead bread recipe. It requires a good dutch oven, in that it creates almost a mini oven like heat source to make homemade bread. The month I received this gift, I made 3 mini-loaves. THREE!
Fast forward to November Decemberish time 2016. I bought a new cookbook Molly on the Range, (see my review of the cookbook here). From the book, I dove into Challah. As one of my favorite breads, I know that with a little bit of knowledge and not too much time a great homemade challah is totally possible. I grew up in New England, at a private school where probably 35-40% of the students were Jewish, meaning I spent a good number of Friday nights eating Challah with friends. It also means that the bakeries in the area bake Challah on Fridays for those who work and don’t have time to make fresh bread before Seder dinner.
So I was on a Challah kick, buns, loafs, adding flavors and twists. The favorite being the apple pie version seen: HERE on the blog.
I actually attempted the Apple Pie Challah in St Croix over Christmas break, but the heat didn’t do too well - maybe that’s why there aren’t that many bakeries on the island. Maybe if we ever got air conditioning I’d make my own bread for the island, or buy a bread maker because seriously, there isn’t much in the stores except frozen.
Tatte Bakery Bread Class
So— we are now at Christmas 2016, and my sister got me a great gift - a bread making class at Tatte bakery in Cambridge, MA. On a snowy day in January I drove up and met her there for some fun in the kitchen learning three breads. First, a focaccia, which - I am totally falling back in love with after forgetting what GOOD focaccia is really like, and then second a baguette. Probably a little on the difficult side for me, but I’ll try it one day. The third and final recipe is SOURDOUGH! We did a few loaves, tested all the steps and then went home with our own starter.
My 2017 Sourdough Challenge
My first intention for 2017 was to do 12 breads, but instead I am going to attempt to keep my sourdough starter alive. Or not completely kill - since doing some research on how to keep it while going away on vacation. With that comes 12 months of sourdough baking including some recipes with flavor? Maybe we will get into trying to make a secondary white sourdough starter? Or rye? And then of course the varieties of non-sourdough bread — just other things you can make with some starter instead of throwing it out each time.
I don’t actually expect to “make it” through this challenge, but the attempt to keep going is going to be the hardest. Keep feeding, keep trying and keep going. So with that I will post my monthly updates on my Sourdough adventure! This is part one, and part two will come pretty quickly as it’s almost the end of Feb.
Get ready for some gluten my friends and family nearby!