In My Sourdough Kitchen AKA Sourdough Chronicles I

Bread. Sourdough. So many of you are posting (and tweeting) about your starters sent to you from Australia by Celia, a regular font of sourdough knowledge (see her latest in Sourdough Tips). Her starter, which goes by the name of Priscilla, is very prolific. In fact, I believe Priscilla has gone world-wide. It really would be interesting to do a googlemap of Priscilla offshoots – all of whom have acquired new names. Or, perhaps a family tree – like genealogists make. Funny how we’ve anthropomorphised this blob of yeasty dough. But, then, it is a live thing, growing and constantly needing feeding.

sourdough_starter_bubbles

As I mentioned in my last IMK post, I have three different starters: my original starter that I’ve called Vaso made with a bit of Greek kitchen superstition (which I posted about in The Basil Effect). Then there is Sven, the 100% rye starter and, finally, baby Muriel, an offspring of Celia’s sourdough starter, Priscilla. I love all of my starters. They each have their own unique personalities. And, luckily, since I have been busy outside the kitchen lately, they can be left to their own devices in the refrigerator for a week (or two) at a time.

Vaso is both traditional and magical. She is part stoneground spelt and makes a great pain de campagne – a classic French sourdough “country bread” which is 1/3 whole wheat and a little bit of rye to the predominant white bread flour.
pain-de-campagne

Sven is robust and not very glutenous, but good at attracting all those wild yeasts. Naturally, he is brilliant with many rye based Scandinavian breads. So, he will be of particular use with creating breads from my new cookbook, Scandinavian Baking by Trine Hahnemann. At first page through the book, it looks like all those starred reviews were telling the truth. I think it might be a winner as I’ve already bookmarked a few recipes – although not all bread. The cakes and pastries look sumptuous. But, it was the crispbreads that first drew me to experiment with my rye starter. This one is a seeded rye, much like Ryvita, that is brilliant snacking on its own or with soft cheeses or possibly with classic Scandinavian pickled herring and a dollop of sour cream and dill.

rye_crispbread_feature

Muriel…what can I say? She’s definitely bubbly and makes the best crusty white flour based bread, rolls, pizza dough, and baguettes.

baguettes

With those baguettes – actually, probably they should be called demi-baguettes as they are about 40cm long – I had help in the form of a wonderful perforated baking pan. All those little holes make for a really nice crispy loaf. But, it only holds two baguettes. I got this one ages ago when we lived down south in Oxford and only had a miniscule gas oven (in a correspondingly minuscule kitchen). Argh… I still remember the angst, as if it were yesterday, when I realised I would need to buy all new (tiny) baking tins. Well, no more. I now have a brilliant – larger – oven. While doing a bit of internet “window” shopping, I spotted a marvellous covered clay baguette baker by Emile Henry – alas, at an outrageous price. We can’t always have everything we want (sigh). But, I have spotted a pierced baguette tin similar to the one I have that holds four, so next shopping spree….

perforated_baguette_tray

My breadstick tin is similar. But it is as rare as hen’s teeth. I bought this well over 20 years ago from William Sonoma in the US and have been looking for another one (or two, or three…) since – obviously with no luck. So, if anyone has seen them for sale, please let me know. You will notice in the photo that the ends have been crimped up – that was to accommodate the tiny Oxford oven! It just fit.

breadstock_tin

I’ve been reading about the benefits of using stainless steel bowls for making bread and pastry, but haven’t yet found the right bowl. Everything I’ve looked at seems too small, too deep, or not wide enough. Honestly, perhaps I really didn’t look all that hard since I do have a not-so-secret fetish for lovely ceramic mixing bowls. So, last in the Mason Cash series, a lovely fox bowl, 29cm wide.

fox_mason_cash

Meanwhile, despite all this bread baking…

sourdough_feature

Pancake Day (February 17th this year) or Shrove Tuesday didn’t escaped my notice. I adapted Celia’s fabulous recipe for sourdough pancakes for my buckwheat crêpes – dessert ones filled with caramelised apple slices, drizzled with salted dolce de leche and served with a scoop of my homemade apple butter gelato. And, of course my lovely barley pancakes I posted on last year were also adapted for sourdough starter – lighter and better.

barley_sourdough_pancakes

This, I hope is the first in a series of posts I’ve dubbed Sourdough Chronicles. As I experiment with my three sourdough starters and learn more about baking with them, I’ll be posting an occasional Sourdough Chronicle separate from my regular IMK posts. They will be listed under Kitchen Chronicles in the menu heading Diaries above.

A monthly IMK (In My Kitchen) post. Check out the fabulous Celia @ Fig Jam and Lime Cordial who lists all of us IMK bloggers, writing about what’s been happening in our kitchens each month. A chronological listing of my In My Kitchen blog posts can be found on a separate page, just click the link or look under the heading of Diaries in the Menu bar above.
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47 comments

    • Oh, baby Muriel (daughter of Priscilla) is definitely a bubbly addition to the family! I have recently learned that we will be moving abroad for a few years and these three sourdoughs will have to be dehydrated and packed to come with us. I wouldn’t think of leaving them behind! Lots of bread baking going to go on in my temporary new kitchen!

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      • Oh my! Special packing for these wee beauties….oh, how exciting (no?)! Where are you off to? Who will look after your beautiful garden? What will you do with all of your books and kitchen equipment? So many questions….what a nosey Parker I am!

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      • We are off to Athens! My son who is finishing his PhD here is going to live at home and (hopefully!!!) pick the fruit to freeze. At least he promised! I can see myself jetting back for serious jam making sessions. He’s also a decent cook, so I have no fear that the kitchen will be well used.

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    • Watch out for my next post. I did a bit of investigation myself + a LOT of trial and error. (My husband, son and numerous friends are munching their way through various experiments!) Also, Celia has a lot of examples of crispbread (AKA crackers) on her blog – well worth looking through.

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  1. What a great post, and perfect timing! I also have a granddaughter of Priscilla and she is very bubbly and always reliable, and I’ve also then created two of my own home grown starters that behave quite differently, they make good bread, but the dough does not grow as much, so it’s very interesting to read that not all starters behave the same way!!!
    Moving to Athens? Wow! I look forward to your posts and food discoveries from there 😀 good luck xx

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    • You would like Athens with all of its ancient architecture and great museums, but it really is the Greek countryside that draws me. A lot of good food off the tourist track, too. Am looking forward to reporting back!

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  2. A delicious post The buckwheat pancakes filled with ‘caramelised apple slices, drizzled with salted dolce de leche and served with a scoop of homemade apple butter gelato’- .how divine!!!! All the breads look great. I may be tempted to drag out my ancient baguette tins, encouraged by the look of yours, as I haven’t made any sourdough sticks yet.
    Can’t wait to see more chapters of your sourdough chronicles.

    I see that you succumbed to the fox- the Mason Cash fox bowl that is. In celebration I am sending you a foxy song and loads of envy:

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    • Those buckwheat crêpes were devoured before I could take a photo! Will have to do a post on them. Of course, that means making them again. And, the gelato, of course. The things we do for a blog post! Loved the foxy video. You’re right, I’ve never heard what a fox sounds like. I’ve seen them, however – even here in urban Sheffield garden when one flits through our garden on occasion.

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    • The baguettes did rise overnight, but I then in the morning pulled the dough (starting from the edge of the bowl and pulling it up and inward to the centre – at the four “corners”). The pulling stretches the gluten – quite satisfying to see. I let it rise again for the remainder of the day before doing the pulling again just before I put it on a dusted board to divide it into loaves – shaped by rolling and pulling. These loaves rested for about an hour before baking. All that pulling, I think, gives it a fine crumb and a chewy texture – just the way I like my baguettes (and of course with a crispy crust!).

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  3. I love that you have three starters concurrently! I just introduced my daughter of Priscilla in my IMK post — she’s called Pussy Galoaf. She replaces our much mourned Levi the Levain who passed away in his cold sleep!!!
    I’d love to see a Google Map of Priscilla’s offspring!

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  4. Wow, you’re really taking this bread baking lark seriously!! I’m green with envy of your beautiful loaves! I don’t envy you packing to move, but your time in Athens will be amazing. I look forward to enjoying a Greek sojourn vicariously

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    • I’ve always made bread, even when I was busier outside the house. And, of course, pizza on Fridays – my family would revolt if I didn’t produce pizza! However, with these sourdough starters, it has become a more regular baking task and I am expanding its use into those pizza doughs and other things. Thank goodness we do not suffer from gluten intolerance. Athens will certainly be different, but I hope to have the kitchen up and running soon after we get there. Part of my husband’s job is entertaining, so my frantic clipping of nibbles and party food, particularly things that can be made ahead of time – many of which originate with you. So, I second Francesca’s plea – it is time for your book!

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  5. You’re always amazing… I only have one starter a white one, I love all the one you have and the name yoi gave them! I should start a Sven cousin too 😉 love rye breads! 🙂

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    • Terry, send me an email (debi.harlan@googlemail.com) and I’ll attempt to dry a portion of my rye starter to send to you. But, first I’ll test it to make sure it works!
      It is very different from the white flour starter and really does make great rye breads.

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  6. Your breads all look fantastic. How wonderful to have three different starters resulting in different breads. Good luck on your new adventure, so many new foods to discovers!

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    • Thanks! That’s how I look on our move – an adventure. It really is good (and sometimes scary) to shake things up a bit. At least I know it is temporary and we can always slip back into our life here. But, wherever we are, there is always bread to make.

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    • If you do see a breadstick tray, snap it up because it really is a great way to bake perfect breadsticks. I’ve just ordered my 4 baguette baking tray from amazon. Can’t wait to try it out!

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  7. Debi, your breads look amazing, and your baking tins (especially the breadstick pan that ‘just fit’) are treasures. You are an artist at adapting! I also love your white crockery bowl — simply beautiful. Great idea about creating a family tree (or map) for Celia’s starter, Priscilla, too! It would be fun to see where she shows up. Best wishes in your travels, too!

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    • I’ve been experimenting with those baguettes – first and foremost because I love the kind that are crusty on the outside and soft and chewy on the inside. I find that stretching the dough after a slow overnight rise, then letting it rise again for a few hours before stretching and dividing again. Really gets those gluten strands going! Of course, the baguette tin helps produce the crispy crust.

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  8. Love your loaves…they look delicious with all of the crusty crust. The crust is definitely my favorite part with just a little dab of butter. Perfection. Yes a map with all of Priscella’s off-shoots would be interesting indeed!

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  9. Wonderful looking loaves – you have given me the impetus to try making baguettes. Very exciting to hear that you will be in Athens although I am sure that the practicalities of it won’t be so exciting…

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    • We shall see (about Athens, that is!). I keep telling myself it will be an adventure. We do not have to pack everything up as a house, furnishings, etc. comes with the job. Do try baguette baking. I got tired of the fluffy innards of those supermarket baguettes and since we moved up north, I have yet to find a good artisanal bakery that does a proper loaf. I like a chewy interior and a crispy crust. It was your description of your fruited loaf that led me to experiment with pulling the dough. I think this is what did the trick.

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  10. athens? how marvellous. i love mason and cash bowls too. i am slowly collecting that animal set; i have the hedgehog one and am about to buy another animal. not that i need one single more bowl really:) interesting about the different starters.

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    • Just finished the set of these wonderful woodland animal mason cash bowls. They are marvellous. Who says you can’t have too many bowls? They stack, so they don’t take up too much room. Anyway, they are lovely things to cook with.

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  11. I love your Mason Cash Bowl and of course your sourdough! I have just started a rye starter and it is just wonderful. I have a baguette tray, but mine doesn’t have any holes in it… You could try here as she sees them http://www.wildsourdough.com.au
    Thanks for sharing! Liz xx

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    • The Mason Cash bowls became somewhat of an obsession! I now have all the sizes and am enjoying using them – they make me smile. Thanks for the link. It looks interesting. Rye starters are so different from the others, but fun to use. I am trying to find ways of using it other than simply rye bread. Have fun with yours!

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