Pandemic sourdough baking: my second loaf and some more pretzels

Click here to see the first post in this series on baking sourdough started from nothing but flour and water

After starting a new sourdough starter not long after sheltering-in-place at my parent's place about 12 days ago, I have baked my second loaf of bread!

I've been baking with sourdough for well over a decade. My aged OG sourdough starter is currently in hibernation, however, at my brother's house in Northern California while I am in Southern California. I wanted to bake, but did not have a starter. I decided to make one.

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10 seconds of steam coming out of a fresh loaf of #sourdough from my 12 day old #sourdoughstarter #boingboing

A post shared by Jason Weisberger (@jlw) on Mar 28, 2020 at 9:58am PDT

The first loaf I tried with the starter showed that it was almost but not quite mature enough for me really enjoy what I was baking. It reminded me of a prior experience baking with my OG starter when it had not been treated well. Care of a starter is pretty easy, just feed it every day.

I gave the starter another 5 days or so of daily feedings.

I made some more sourdough pretzels while I waited.

Last night I put up a smaller sized loaf of bread. I want to conserve flour as it has been the only thing I've had a hard time finding. Hell, I am using some aged whole wheat...

I combined 1 ¼ cup of bread flour and ¾ cup of 2015 expired Gold Medal whole wheat in the big blue bowl. Read the rest

Baking through the pandemic: Sourdough starter day 2

UPDATE: Click here for Day 3's status (I baked pretzels!)

UPDATE: Click here for Day 4's fry bread

UPDATE: Click here for Day 5's waffles!

Day 2 and my starter is looking really good!

After 24 hrs of sitting the ½ cup of water and ½ cup of Signature Select pre-sifted All-Purpose enriched and bleached flour looked like a blob of wet flour. I added another ½ cup of each, mixed it up and set it back on the counter.

24 hours later the blob had fluffed up quite a bit and doubled in size. I had not expected to see this much activity fast -- but I have baked a lot in this kitchen over the last 6 or 7 months or maybe the air here is packed with good yeasts.

I added another ½ cup of warm water and a ½ cup of flour. Tomorrow I will probably use 1 cup of the starter for something non-risky like pretzels and continue to feed the mother.

UPDATE:

About 2.5 hrs after I fed the starter it looks pretty great. I will make pretzels later:

Previously:

Day One Sourdough Starter Read the rest

A 1953 colloquium pondered the question "Did Man Once Live By Beer Alone?"

Photo of glass of beer by Alan Levin

The folks at JSTOR Daily have unearthed the proceedings of a 1953 colloquium that pondered a great question: Did early humanity first cultivate grain not for the purpose of making bread -- but brewing beer? Or, as official title of the event asked, "Did Man Once Live By Beer Alone?"

If the latter is true, then we owe the very concept of agriculture to the delights of getting sozzled.

As the proponents of that theory noted, beer-like drinks are arguably easier to create than bread. The former requires less technology:

The proponents of the beer-before-bread idea noted that the earliest grains might have actually been more suitable for brewing than for baking. For example, some wild wheat and barley varieties had husks or chaff stuck to the grains. Without additional processing, such husk-enclosed grains were useless for making bread—but fit for brewing. Brewing fermented drinks may also have been easier than baking. Making bread is a fairly complex operation that necessitates milling grains and making dough, which in the case of leavened bread requires yeast. It also requires fire and ovens, or heated stones at the least.

On the other hand, as some attendees pointed out, brewing needs only a simple receptacle in which grain can ferment, a chemical reaction that can be easily started in three different ways. Sprouting grain produces its own fermentation enzyme—diastase. There are also various types of yeast naturally present in the environment. Lastly, human saliva also contains fermentation enzymes, which could have started a brewing process in a partially chewed up grain.

Read the rest

Thanks for the wine, beer, bread, and yeast infections, China

Yeast has brought a lot of joy into the world, but its evolutionary origins were unclear until scientists did a worldwide genomic survey of the humble organism. Based on the genetic diversity of strains found in China, they concluded that its origin is almost certainly in that part of the world. Read the rest

Baking fantastic bagels is supremely simple

I love bagels. I wanted to learn to make delicious ones at home. I was surprised at how simple it really is. Read the rest