Month: May 2015

It’s ALIVE! Part 3: Sourdough Coffee Cake

So the sourdough starter is still in my fridge, and every time I look at her, all freshly fed & ready to go I feel the need to make something. Twice it has been this sourdough coffee cake. The bad news is, I have yet to get a picture of the finished cake, because it’s so warm & delicious that it gets gobbled up before I get the chance. (There are 2 teens living in my house.) I shall try again the next time I make it, but for now the featured image will be the empty pan. 😦

Disappearing Sourdough Coffee Cake

Ingredients:

For the cake:

  • 1C sourdough starter
  • 1/3C vegetable oil
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 1C all-purpose flour
  • 3/4C granulated sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon

For the topping:

  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2C dark brown sugar (packed)
  • 2 tsp unsalted butter
  • 1 tbsp all-purpose flour

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350F.
  2. Combine sourdough starter, vegetable oil, and egg.
  3. Stir together all dry ingredients, and add to starter mixture. Stir until combined, scraping down edges of bowl as needed.  IMG_0342
  4. Pour batter into a greased baking pan. (I used a 9 inch round, but a square is fine too.)
  5. Combine topping ingredients and mix with your hands (or you can use a pastry blender) until large crumbs are formed.
  6. Sprinkle topping evenly over top of cake.  IMG_0343
  7. Bake for 25 minutes, then cover loosely with foil and cook another 10 minutes until golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  8. Let cool for 5-10 minutes before cutting and serving.

It’s ALIVE! Part 2: “Feed the B!tch”

Fermented foods (and drinks) are fabulous! I was recently given a homemade sourdough starter by a friend. As he sat in my fridge, breathing through the air-holes in his jar, I contemplated (and pinned) the various delicious baked goodies I could make. English muffins, coffee cake, sourdough bread! Finally, I settled on some big-ass sourdough rounds. Seriously, one of them ended up bigger than my head! Good job, little starter! Once I had measured out the cup of starter needed to make the bread, I had to do what’s known as “feeding the b!tch”. That is, add some water, flour, and a sweetener to the jar of starter so it will continue to live & ferment and make you more delicious sourdough goodies! It’s also a good idea to do this every week or so when you’re not using your starter. To replenish your starter, you’ll need:

  • 3/4C water (not too hot)
  • 3/4C all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp sugar or honey

Stir the above into the existing jar of starter until combined. Cover with cheesecloth, or a lid with holes poked to allow “breathing”. Let stand at room temperature for about a day and a half. Store in the refrigerator.

Here’s a video of me “feeding the b!tch”.

Big-As-My-Head Sourdough Rounds

(adapted from a recipe in Better Homes & Gardens cookbook)

Ingredients:

  • 1C sourdough starter (for some starter recipes, check out my It’s ALIVE! board on Pinterest)
  • about 6C all-purpose flour
  • 1 packet (2 1/4 tsp if you’re using a jar) active dry yeast
  • 3 tbsp sugar
  • 3 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • a few swigs of olive oil

Directions:

  1. Stir your starter & allow 1C to stand at room temperature for 30 minutes before using.
  2. Combine 2 1/2C of flour with the yeast and set aside.
  3. Combine 1 1/2C of water, sugar, butter, and salt until warm and butter is nearly melted. (It’s very important that this mixture not be too hot, or it could kill the yeast!)
  4. Add water mixture to dry mixture in mixer bowl. Add starter. Beat using mixer fitted with a dough hook for about 30 seconds on medium speed, scrape down the bowl, then beat on high speed for 3 minutes.
  5. Combine 2 1/2C of flour with baking soda, and add to dough mixture. Add all the remaining flour until combined and knead in the mixer (that’s why we’re using a dough hook) for about 6-8 mins until a firm ball of dough is achieved.
  6. Place the dough ball in a bowl coated in olive oil. Cover with plastic wrap and leave in a warm place (I usually use my stove top area) to rise for at least 45 minutes. The dough will double in size.
    Before first rise...

    Before first rise…

    After first rise...

    After first rise…

  7. After 45 minutes, punch down the dough, divide in half, cover, and rest for about 10 minutes.
  8. Form dough into 2 rounds, tucking any scruffy bits underneath. Place on a lightly greased baking sheet. (These will get BIG. You may want to use 2 separate baking sheets.) Make a criss-crossed slash across the top of each round to prevent cracking. Cover & allow to rise a second time, for about 30 minutes.

    After second rise. See what I mean about them getting HUGE?! The one on the left was bigger than my head after baking...

    After second rise. See what I mean about them getting HUGE?! The one on the left was bigger than my head after baking…

  9. Bake in a 375F oven for about 35 minutes per loaf, covering with foil for the last 10 minutes to prevent over-browning. Cool 5-10 minutes before cutting.

Tools of my trade…

This week I was named a Delectable Wine Pro!

Screen Shot 2015-05-08 at 12.53.28 PM

So what the heck does that mean? Well, I use a nice little wine app called Delectable. I recommend it to all my fellow winos, if you don’t already have it. I use it to track and rate wines I’ve tasted, and also while I’m in the store picking out wines to purchase. It has excellent label recognition (the best I’ve come across in a wine app) and will give you user & pro ratings as well as descriptions by users & pros. So I guess I’m officially a professional wino according to Delectable. Check me out on Delectable here & see what I’m drinking!

Another fun little tool in my arsenal is Pepperplate. I’m just starting to scratch the surface of what Pepperplate can do, but the main thing I use it for is when I’m composing recipes. It formats them for me so I don’t have to worry about numbering, or bullet points, or lining things up. It does all that for me. You can share recipes with your friends and there’s an option to make menus and grocery lists using the recipes. Best thing is, I have this app in my phone, so I can write a recipe wherever & whenever inspiration strikes. Currently, there’s an option to share your recipes on Facebook & Twitter, and boy would I like to see an option for formatting a recipe on Pepperplate, and posting it to WordPress (hint hint).

It’s ALIVE! Part 1: Brewing “Booch”

Because I definitely don’t have enough random things living in mason jars around my house, I recently decided to try my hand at brewing kombucha. Kombucha is a fermented tea drink that is full of probiotics and other naturally growing healthy things. Check out some info about the health benefits of drinking kombucha on my new Pinterest board: IT’S ALIVE! To brew kombucha at home you will need to have a SCOBY, which is short for Symbiotic Culture of Bacteria and Yeast. I know, it sounds a little gross. It kind of is. You can buy them, grow them yourself, or get one from a friend. Here’s a video of me meeting my new SCOBY for the first time:

Beginner’s Kombucha

Ingredients:

  • one gallon of brewed tea, cooled ( I used PG Tips)
  • 1 C granulated sugar
  • SCOBY
  • fruits or juice to flavor (optional)

Special Equipment:

  • a clean container to ferment in (I used a glass jug with a spout, the type you would use to serve drinks at a party.)
  • a big rubber band
  • some cheesecloth to cover the top of the fermenting container
  • mason jars for storage
  • coffee filters for filtering (This is optional, but I promise you will want to filter.)

Instructions:

  1. Brew the tea. For a gallon of tea I used about 10 tea bags. I let my tea brew for about 3 minutes. Add the sugar while the tea is hot & stir until dissolved.
    boochtea

    Brewing up the tea.

  2. Let the tea cool thoroughly. This is very important. Much like baking bread, where you don’t want the water you put the yeast in to be tepid but not too hot, it’s important for the tea to be cooled or the live cultures won’t do their thing.
  3. One the sweet tea is cooled, you can put it in the container and add your SCOBY.
    Here's my new buddy right after I put him in the tea.

    Here’s my new buddy right after I put him in the tea.


  4. Cover the container with a piece of cheesecloth and secure with a rubber band.
    Here's my set up all ready for a fermentation party.

    Here’s my set up all ready for a fermentation party.

  5. Put container in a warm place. Colder temperatures will cause the fermentation to slow down. I put mine next to my kitchen sink, above my dishwasher where it stays nice & warm.
  6. Now comes the hard part. Wait. Brewing kombucha can take anywhere from 7-28 days. It’s all a matter of your personal taste. It’s going to be tangy, because the SCOBY is devouring the sugar you put in the tea. It’s simply a matter of how tangy you want it. You can also back sweeten your “booch” with juice or fruit after the fermentation is complete. I tasted it at 7 days & it wasn’t quite there, I ended up fermenting it for a total of 11 days.
  7. When the flavor is how you want it, you will want to remove the SCOBY & store him covered in a little kombucha in a plastic bag or tupperware container.
    Here's what my friend looked like when I pulled him out of the finished kombucha.

    Here’s what my friend looked like when I pulled him out of the finished kombucha.

  8. Next you will want to filter your “booch”. I used my usual filtering method; coffee filters and mason jars. If you need a refresher, check it out here. It’s a messy sticky process that’s definitely a little gross.
    boochtweet

    As you can see, brewing kombucha is not for the faint of heart…

  9. I ended up with 4 quart mason jars mostly full by the time I was done. I left one plain (no sweetener or fruit), and I’m steeping some frozen fruit I had on hand (peach, cherry, and blackberry) & hoping for some sweetness and secondary fermentation (FIZZ!). **Update: I was able to achieve a little secondary fermentation & fizz after I added the fruit!   
  10. When your kombucha is done & filtered and you’ve added any juice or flavorings, you will want to store it in the fridge to prevent further fermentation. Even though it’s been filtered, and the big chunks (GAG) are out, there are still tiny bits that can (and will) continue to ferment. This can blow up the jars or bottles that you’re using for storage. Consider yourself warned.

Shatto Flavored Milks…

Recently, I stumbled upon these flavored milks in my local supermarket. They’re from a local dairy: Shatto Milk Company is about 45 minutes from my house. For some reason I have not visited yet (it might have something to do with the fact that there’s a winery close by & I usually end up there) but fear not, the field trip is in the works! There are a variety of flavors available, besides Root Beer & Cotton Candy that you will see here; including Orange Cream, Banana, Strawberry, Coffee, and Cookies & Cream. Can’t wait to make this trip & check it out!