Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Kitchen Adventure: English Muffin Bread

I have a fascination with doing things that go against the convenience trend, specifically when it involves baking. 

It has been a great long while since I last did a kitchen adventure post. I just haven't felt the desire to bake much lately, due to work overload. However, if you saw this post just a wee bit over a week ago, you might have guessed that there was a kitchen adventure to follow.

I did a significant amount of research on sourdough and sourdough starter cultures before I embarked on this adventure.  The general recommendation is to obtain a starter culture from somewhere else for your first attempt. However, since I don't know anyone who has a culture, and didn't feel like hunting anyone down or spending any sort of money on this, I decided to grow it from scratch. I guess I figured that if it's something that pioneer people could do with limited technology, why couldn't I?

I came across Sourdough Home in my Googlin' and it's been an invaluable resource.  I chose to go with the simplest method available -- combine some whole wheat flour with some water and wait. I waited until I saw little bubbles appear in the mixture before I started feeding it with regularity (once every 12 hours). The first four feedings used whole wheat flour, but I transitioned to all-purpose flour on the 5th feeding.  The starter has been regularly doubling ever since. Based upon the advice I found at Sourdough Home, I waited a full week before using my starter to leaven me up some bread.

The recipe I used for this bread can be found here.
The first thing to do was separate out the starter, conserving roughly 100g of it in a bowl for future use. This is what requires regular feedings and what is expected to double between each feeding. It really doesn't look appetizing right now, I know.
I took the major portion of the starter and combined it with the water in my KitchenAid mixer bowl until it achieved a soupy quality.
The dry ingredients are combined in a separate bowl as usual. Isn't my little whisk cute? I'm totally the dork with squirrel paraphernalia kitchen gadgets.
I actually reversed the order of ingredient combination by adding the dry ingredients to the wet, but I'm not sure that it really had any effect upon my bread.
I stirred (by hand, really going for the pioneer woman feel here) until tiny gluten strands started to form. and the dough was smooth enough to be allowed to rise for 1.5 hours.
I had roughly 100g of leftover starter that I didn't really want to throw away...so I hunted for a recipe and found this one.
Yeah, I really do have my graphing calculator in my kitchen when I cook. This is what it's like to watch an engineer cook. Dorky! :)

I didn't have any blueberries so I substituted some frozen cranberries and portioned out the batter/dough. I was a little startled by how the mixture didn't fill the cups up very well.
But I really shouldn't have been...They're a little bit dry but are excellent when toasted!
Sorry about the terrible picture quality here! Another one of my kitchen lights blew out and it was a dreary morning when I took this picture.

I actually love this bread. It is a rather wet bread, which gives it some serious density and chew. But toasting it up and topping it with some sunny side up eggs? It's just as (if not) tastier than my standard English muffins. I am definitely looking forward to trying this bread again! 

Next weekend's kitchen adventure? Traditional sourdough bread!

Have you ever made your own bread or been interested in trying to make your own bread? Why or what not? I'm curious! Let me know in a comment down below. :)