Category Archives: Muttering to Myself

Basically running my mouth on stuff in general although mostly bread related.

No politics or anything.

Mellow Bakers: group baking at an easy pace

I had mentioned in the last post of the the BBA Challenge, that I wanted to perhaps continue doing a bake-along with others, although not something as “big” again as the entire set of recipes in one book.

So far, a few of the BBA members have said that they might be interested in a similar venture. So I’ve spent the last couple of days working up a bit of space on this site to work as “home base’ for such a group.

I’ve arbitrarily called it Mellow Bakers as this describes a somewhat more relaxed goal for the group.

So what’s the deal?

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Why Discard Starter: A Mathematical View.

DiscardingYou see this question pop up all the time in sourdough discussions:

“Why do I have to discard? I hate the idea of throwing anything away. Can’t I just keep feeding the starter?”

Although reducing the waste we produce as a species is a good thing, there are times when it’s actually more logical to NOT do so. And feeding a starter is one of those times.

Let’s first see about the starter when you’re just starting it up from scratch.

Early in your starter’s young life, within the first two weeks or so of starting a starter from scratch, there is absolutely no good reason to save the excess “flour soup” you’re cutting back. It has done it’s job and is spent, and unless you’re building excessively large amounts (see the Starter Step by Step series to see the recommended  quantity), it should only be about 2 tablespoons of flour each day, this is not worth worrying about. Even if ditched directly into the trash or compost, it’s still not “wasted” any more than that nice dinner you ate yesterday was “wasted”: it was used to feed your starter, so it had a purpose and served it well. So right off the bat, we need to get out of this idea that bit of flour you used to feed our yeast is wasted.

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Stinky Oven: An (Happy) Update

 

A little later…

UPDATE to the “New Stove” post of a few days back:

Well, I decided to give the oven a good bake, so I put the bird in the basement in a closed room with a window then went and cranked on the Self-Clean for two hours. Man it stunk!! But that seemed to do the trick. Two days later, the Whirlpool folks reply saying “let your oven go at 450º for 1 to 1.5 hours and that should do it”.  Well, it was at about 800 for two hours, so that did it too.

Then I pop in a batch of cookies. No stink! The cookies were a “gift mix” from a friend, a jar full of cookie stuff I added an egg and water to. I even got the convection part going. Press “CONV” five times and it’s set for cookies! Not sure what it’s exactly doing on that semi-auto setting. But since I had fired up preheat then just plain CONVECTION already, I probably had two or three things going on so I dunno if any were in effect for real.

Cookies came out… fine, I guess. There was no problem with them overcooking or anything. I think the problem was too much “stuff” (choc chip, white choc chip, toffee chips and TONS of each) and not enough “cookie” to hold it all together. Still quite edible even if flattened and really not cookie shaped at all.

cookie_remnants

Flat Cookie Remnants

BUT we now have a stink-free oven and it’s ready for some BREAD!

And so I will now start up on the The Bread Baker’s Apprentice Challenge and put this sucker to the test! (See recent entry for details).

Onward ho!

[easyazon-image-link asin="1580082688" alt="The Bread Baker's Apprentice: Mastering the Art of Extraordinary Bread" src="http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51f8aSiQREL._SL160_.jpg" align="none" width="146" height="160"]

Get your copy here.

Bread Baker’s Apprentice Challenge #BBA

PinchMySalt, a.k.a. Nicole of the (yummy and gorgeous) PinchMySalt blog, has set up a challenge that will surely prove tobe a ton of fun and very educational. She’s invited people, novice or otherwise, to join in and do all the recipes in the great Peter Reinhart book The Bread Baker’s Apprentice (Click the link or cover below to get your copy.)

The goal is to go through each recipe, in order (which happens to be mainly alphabetical) until you’ve done them all. A quick count and I get about 43 recipes in there – probably a little more if you include the small variations suggested. So if you’re like me and do a loaf or two on weekends, this means it will take the better part of a year, or a tad over 10 months, to get through the whole lot.

Now that seems like a lot of bread but if you think of it, it’s also going to get you to step off the “comfortable few recipes” track and not only try others you may not have felt confident making but you’d definitely be getting some excellent skills under your belt as you delve into areas you may have shied away from. Then show off your results on the Flickr group and post and read as you go on Twitter , using the search tag #BBA.

If you’d like to join in, hop over to the PinchMySalt blog and read up in more detail, then send in your info to be added to the challenge’s growing list of participents (as of this post date, it was up to 68 crazy bakers!). Although most people will be getting started around the same time, it’s pretty much open season and there are no set deadlines for doing any of the loaves. Work at your own pace, do as many as you like. It’s more of a SELF-challenge than a competition.

[easyazon-image-link asin="1580082688" alt="The Bread Baker's Apprentice: Mastering the Art of Extraordinary Bread" src="http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51f8aSiQREL.jpg" align="none" width="250"]
Get your copy here.

You’ll also want to peruse the recipes before you decide to move on to them to make sure you have all required stock on hand. I had to go out and get some cornmeal (coarse) for the first recipe – it’s soaking as we speak…

Can’t wait to see how it all works out, looking forward to the challenge for me and the results are, one can expect, almost always edible, success or bomb.

Come on, join in. It’ll be fun!

New stove’s here! More bread imminent!

Hooray and yippeee!

My god, what a load of buttons! Pre-heat, RAPID Preheat, Bake, CONTROL Bake, Convection, Broil… and a whole bunch more for the cook top, as well as other things there’s not buttons for (“Accutemp”, etc.), Steam Cleaning, Double Burners, when to use the Rapid Preheat and when not to… 

I can see this thing taking a few tries and likely glitches to learn and get used to it’s multiple functions. I’ll have to look online for video classes on steering this jet.

ovencontrol

Then there’s that “New Stove Smell”. Gotta burn that stuff off quickly so we can get baking (there’s some coating on the glass top too that has to get fried off). And it needs to be done when it’s nice enough outside to put the parrot there so she’s awys from deadly fumes during this starter stage. Hopefully this weekend.

BUT THE NEW STOVE’S HERE!! WOOTNESS GALORE!

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New oven on order… YIPPEEEE!!! More bread soon!

Still no bread baking this week.

However, we stumbled on a little extra tax-rebate cash and decided to finally upgrade the current “Burn-O-Matic” piece of poop GE oven we are putting up with. Went oven shopping and after much confusing sales pitches and questionable claims – “Oh, AccuTemp is much better than TruTemp” What? – we settled on a Whirlpool glasstop, convection with “SteamClean” and self-cleaning. 

So I may be back to bread baking shortly! Woohoo!!

Whirlpool oven

Went with white because A) all our other appliances are white and B) stainless and/or black is a bitch to keep clean. The designers who come up with these trendy styles are clearly not doing their own house cleaning. True, the white version isn’t as “sexy” as the stainless. But anyway… Continue reading