As the New Year approaches, Christmas retreats into a surreal memory. Well, this Christmas in particular featured a few surreal moments. Winter could not quite make its way here. There were dribs and drabs that melted, and as Christmas neared, we had December frost.
The yard reminded me more of some of my childhood Christmases growing up in Southern Ontario, but even those were not quite that green.
In spite of the delayed winter weather, Christmas did arrive,…. and our goose was cooked. Quite an experience preparing and then hacking, um carving it up. The stuffing, that included apricots and raisins that had been soaked in Loganberry wine, prunes, apples, currents and even some bread, went well with the bird. One well braised bird – the wine was very effective.
We had a good friend, who had provided the goose, join us. Our endeavours at carving were very amusing, and our other guests at the table, Don Quixote and Dulcinea, seemed to enjoy the quest for goose meat.
Well now just a memory, time to get ready for a New Year’s Eve promenade.
Happy New Year to all.
Milder weather makes baking easier. Mind you, the warmer days kept the sourdough starter bubbling vigorously.
Working with Sourdough is challenging, but it can be used to produce great breads, pancakes and waffles. The starter is a living breathing community of fermenting flour and liquid. It is sensitive to changes in the environment such as temperature, humidity and air pressure. While the simplest way to produce a starter is use commercial yeast, the traditional way is to allow the natural occurring airborne yeasts to take up residence in a preparation of flour, liquid (combination of water and dairy produce ) and sugar. Distinctive regional sourdoughs, such as the famous San Francisco , French and Egyptian breads derive their unique qualities from the local natural occurring yeasts.
For the Sourdough Rye Raisin Bread there as an additional challenge. It required a sourdough sponge made with rye flour. A sourdough sponge is created by combing sour dough starter with a specific type of flour that will be used as starting agent for the loaf. This extra step does two things. It can mellow the starter’s flavour by freshening it up and the different type of flour will create a distinctive taste and texture. I used the recipe from “the New Bread machine book” (1999) by Marjie Lambert. The book is now considered hard to find and I could not find the same recipe online, so I have included a recipe card for those interested in attempting it for yourself.
I needed to make adjustments in the preparation. As I noted, sourdough starters can be sensitive. The Rye flour I used was the dark variety and not the freshest. My basic starter was a bit thicker so more liquid was needed. In this case, the sponge was not as responsive as it should have been initially, so it required more water and I had to feed it a couple of tablespoons of all purpose flour and a tablespoon of brown sugar. This kicked it in nicely. Working with sourdough is a bit like jazz, you need to respond to it and adjust rhythm of ingredients.
I went with the small loaf recipe . When actually preparing the bread ingredients I had to adjust with more flour. The initial dough was very sticky. As you can see from the photos the finished bread loaf was quite dark. The base of the loaf was slightly scorched. Our stove runs a bit hot and I did not allow for that. In spite of this, the bread was as described: it had a rich moist texture, soft chewy crust with a hint of sweet from the raisin. Because the rye flour was in the sponge, but not used as an ingredient in the actual bread, the rye flavour was very light, not like a dense pumpernickel. I would make this one again, but first there are some other traditional European style breads from another book that I may take a stab at first.