Thursday, June 27, 2019

Sourdough Obsession

Although I've been interested in bread making before, this time around it has taken a hold of my brain. It's like succulents were two years ago or dumplings a few months ago. Or that time I was making tempeh and everyone thought I was taking pictures of nougat and were distraught when they found out it was actually moldy, fermented beans.

This latest round of bread making has been concentrated into high-hydration sourdoughs and open crumb. Allow me to post some pictures to explain.

My neighbors and friends, at least the friends that don't make their own bread, have been getting loaves of bread since March. I even read an excellent 200+ page technical book on how to get that custardy, open crumb called, not surprisingly, Open Crumb Mastery. I've become a bread nerd who gives away bread with the condition that the recipient has to cut open their loaves and send me a picture. I have contemplated cutting the loaves open before gifting them, but so far I've restrained myself. Barely.

Because I was freezing so much bread and I didn't want to use plastic bags, plastic wrap, or foil, my friend taught me how to make these nifty waxed cotton cloths to wrap up my bread in the freezer. So kawaii!

I've also been experimenting with different scoring techniques.

I brought a couple of loaves to a party, and a French person said it was the best bread he's had in the US, and he asked for the recipe. It's funny how I know nothing about this person except that he's French, and I took his praise as a huge compliment. Like, anyone could say that to me and I'd be flattered, but the fact that he comes from France magnified that compliment times 10. Or maybe times 20. If I moved to a different country, on what food topic would I be able to talk about where being an American would give me more credibility? I can't really come up with anything because a lot of the foods associated with Americans are in the fast food category, and the last fast food I ate came from Amy's Drive Thru, an atypical fast food joint that has lots of vegan and organic food options.

Maybe I can add bread making to my list of things I'll do to make money during retirement. The thought of having a weekly or monthly bread club is pretty exciting, although I know the reality would be hellish, especially since I can only bake 1 loaf at a time in my oven. And I like to experiment with different flavors, so anyone in my bread club would have to be down with getting some funky breads.

As always, you can find more frequent project and pet updates on my Instagram account (@sungoldtomato).

Monday, February 4, 2019

Year of the Dumpling

Happy 2019! Chinese New Years is this week, and it happens to fall in line with my newest obsession: dumplings and baos! When I was a kid, I helped fold endless wontons and potstickers, but we always used the prepackaged wrappers. I got it in my head late last year to start making dumpling wrappers and baos. And once I start something... Well, you know how that goes.

The boy made me some Asian-style rolling pins, because my tapered bread pin from India wasn't made for the task at hand. Dumpling rolling pins are straight, so conveniently, you can buy a dowel rod between 3/4"-1" in diameter and cut it into 12" chunks. I wanted a fancy walnut rolling pin, not quite traditional, but they're sooo pretty!

Rolling out dumplings reminds me of first learning how to knit. I was all thumbs when I started to learn, and my garter stitch scarves would mysteriously increase and decrease in width. My dumpling wrappers are doing the same thing! But, I'll get my 10,000 hours in and rock this with time. I just have to push through the apprentice stage and realize that even ugly dumplings are good to eat. Two particularly ugly batches of dumplings are pictured below.

Now that I have the hang of the dumpling dough, I've been experimenting by replacing some of the flour and water with sourdough starter discard. For any of you making sourdough breads, you know that the hungry little starters need to be periodically fed by dumping out half of the old starter, and refreshing with new flour and water. But what to do with that old starter? I was making pancakes with it, but I'm not really a pancake person. However, I can confidently call myself a dumpling person now, so into my dumpling mix it goes! I still don't have the perfect proportions yet, but I can share if I ever get there and if you're interested and make another post.

I've neglected this blog in favor of Instagram, but I find myself constantly coming back to this blog to look up recipes and methodologies because I have a hard time keeping track of what I do and when. It's handy! I need to remember to post more often.

And since this blog started off as a knitting blog, here are some of my favorite FOs for 2018.

I linked my project pages to the captions if you would like more deets. Until next time, have a happy 2019!


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