Tuesday, April 26, 2005

My new pets

I have a few million new pets! They demand to be fed regularly, and are currently living in the fridge... And after a few days of service, my fabourite activity is shoving them in the oven and eating them!

Sounds barbaric, eh? I'm talking about yeast :)
After Ben's wife brought some delicious home-made bread to our wine tasting a few Fridays ago, I've been interested in making bread "the old-fashioned way". Quick bread dough is pretty good, but I thought it'd be interesting to try something new, so I've been trying bread recipes using a sponge starter.

The starter is basically yeast, flour and water - much more runny than the final bread dough. The yeast consumes the sugar in the flour and gradually multiples. Each "iteration" of the sponge uses just 3/4 cup of flour and 1/2 cup of warm water. You then let the least do their stuff (4-6 hours at room temp, or 12-14 hours in the fridge). After this time, you either use some of the sponge to make bread dough, or feed it again and keep it active.

So far, I've been using "The Joy of Cooking"as my recipe book, but last weekend I got a copy of "The Bread Bible" from the library - quite a thick tome! I've made 2 batches of bread using the sponge starter, and so far I love the texture and flavour. The flavour still could be richer and more "bready" - I have yet to get a real fermented taste from the bread, so I can probably let the starter go for longer... Anyway, more experimenting is ahead.

One of these days I'd also like to try making sourdough using airborne yeast. (And of course, lambic beer, but that needs a ton of equipment, and A wouldn't like the beer bottles sitting in the bath tub a la Alton Brown)

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