Every time you try a new chocolate chip cookie isn’t it a little bit different and yet you still love it?! SO – try this cookie and tell me it isn’t a little bit different yet you didn’t regret a single bite.
For these cookies you make the dough the night before and bake them the next day when the dough is cold. These are large, gloriously soft and almost an inch high. I used a 1/4 cup scoop for these, I like my cookies BIG! Even though I usually love my cookies slightly underdone and chewy, I LOVED the texture of this big cakey cookie. These cookies would be even better sandwiched around a dollop of vanilla ice cream.
I’ve come up with a new marker of an excellent friend: one who saves you from sourdough starter fails, one who can help you feel like a sourdough winner and not a sourdough loser. Also, someone who helps you out so that you can make crispy, tangy Rosemary Sea Salt Sourdough Crackers and feel joy.
As I noted in my last post, I experienced Sourdough Sadness, as my starter – initially filled with yeasty hope – ended up dying off. My lovely co-blogger, Streusel – ever the problem solver – texted and announced that she was going to figure out how to send me some of her successful starter.
Like magic, a few days later, UPS dropped off a double-bagged portion of starter (with a now-melted ice pack). I cut off a corner, poured it into a mason jar (while, I’ll add, somehow managing to spill about a 1/4 of the starter all over the kitchen counter). Following Streusel’s pre-texted instructions, I started feeding on a regular schedule (in a much less compulsive manner, I might add). I texted her daily photos of my starter and eagerly asking when I could bake bread. She gamely replied each and every time and coached me through the process (I told you she’s a good friend!).
In the meanwhile, my dad sent me this article from the New Yorker, and similar to Streusel’s messaging, it was all about calming the hell down. While I admit I’ve never reached that level of peace (please), I did make the crackers she recommended. Thin and crispy, I added rosemary and flaked salt to match the sourdough tang. The dough comes together in a snap, rolls out easily, and a great accompaniment to and appetizer tray. Or, more realistically, as snacks-for-dinner for one during quarantine.
A friend recently gave me large stalks of varying shades of watermelon colored rhubarb and I really wanted to make something other than a pie with it. I hit upon this candied rhubarb and thought for several days about what I could do with candied rhubarb. In keeping with our theme this month and my ever increasing amount of sourdough discard, I decided on this sourdough scone.
I have a confession to make: I had a rough time with my sourdough starter. I know the rest of the world is gleefully growing yeast, such was not my experience. I had a great go of it for about 10 days – with some amount of bubbling and lots of discard – before the starter grew exhausted and punked out.
But – prior to my Sourdough Starter becoming a Sourdough Stopper – I made a few great recipes, including these blueberry muffins. Cornmeal adds the “crunch” and Demerara sugar creates a sweet and crackly top – and the cake itself is sweet, burst-y with ripe blueberries and super moist.
In so far as my future with sourdough starters – well, more on that to come! I’m just superstitious enough now to say anything, but *hopefully* I’ll have more to say soon 😉.
Wow – it’s May! Is it just me or is this both the fastest and slowest 8 weeks of your life? In this time of quarantine baking, it seems sourdough baking has made a resurgence in social media. I’ve had my starter going for over 7 years now and it’s wonderful knowing I have a delightfully sour jar in my fridge that I can pull out and create fresh baked goods with at any time (sort of).
Like lots of folks, the longer this quarantining lasts, the more I’m missing my friends. I still love some aspects of being at home (mostly related to sleeping more and not packing a lunch every day). But, I really miss my people.
Last weekend 6 of us – three couples – enacted a plan that was weeks in the making. We decided to have a virtual wine tasting, just like the ones my pal Stephanie used to hold at her house. Stephanie picked up (and portioned out) the wines, and I made foods to pair. At a set time, Stephanie came by to drop off 2 sets of wines, and picked up her bag of food. I took one set of wine, and then, the other couple stopped by to pick up their portion of food and wine (we’ll rotate responsibilities in the future, so one couple will always have “off”).
Then, two hours later, we all met up on Zoom, drank wine, enjoyed food, and caught up. It was SO. MUCH. FUN. It was the closest to feeling like I was actually with my friends in forever, I think in part because we were having some of the same experiences (food and wine), at the same time (almost like being together for reals!). We also got a bit boozy and that was pretty fun too. For more details on what we tasted, check out Stephanie’s blog, My Wine Tribe!
Since we were tasting “comfort” wines (big reds like Zinfandel and Cabs), I made a menu to pair – spicy mixed nuts; beets and blue cheese salad; a mushroom galette; and these Tiny, Salty, Chocolatey Cookies. The recipe comes from my #1 Quarantine Distraction Technique: spending time in the kitchen with this cookbook (I’ve made many a delicious recipe, for folks who are interested!)
As the name of the cookie notes, the cookies are deeply chocolatey, lightly sweet with a hint of salt. Quick to bake, the brown butter gives the cookies a rich depth, and a perfect end to a meal.
There is still no all-purpose flour at my grocery store! I have whole wheat flour though so I went straight to King Arthur Flour for help. A coffee cake recipe solely with whole wheat flour made me skeptical that would it would be dry but this recipe was tender, hearty, sweet and salty. It was the perfect morning (and maybe late afternoon too) treat.
Like the rest of America, I’m spending my time indoors making a sourdough starter. Streusel has been talking about hers for years, and I did try once, but gave up on it pretty quickly; apparently I found it overwhelming to stir flour and water twice a day (am currently rolling my eyes at myself). But now that my commute involves putting my laptop on the dining room table, I have a bit of extra time for stirring.
I read a bunch of recipes for starter, including this one from NY Times Cooking (a site I usually love!). Maybe it’s amazing – but who the hell has pineapple juice sitting around? Maybe in another time when I could pop out to the store, but not these days. So, I went with the KAF recipe and appreciated this article. It had just enough details – but not too many! – and that helped me.
One thing I learned: after the first 24 hours, the starter looks pretty gross. It’s brown and watery, which means that it’s hungry *not* that it’s gone bad (embarrassing note: I threw away my first starter because I though the brown wateriness was bad).
Now that I’m back on track, as I wait for my starter to ripen, I’ve been baking with the discard. In these days of “use what you have on hand,” it’s been fun to bake something new, and I also like that I’m not just waste perfectly good ingredients (though admittedly I’ve done a bit of that too – there *is* a lot of excess starter!).
Buttery Sourdough Biscuits were definitely made for weekends – not because they’re hard (quite the opposite!) but because they taste luxurious and decadent and make you feel like you’re easing your way into the weekend. And because I’m a baking fiend these days, I halved the recipe – my freezer is plenty full.
High school seniors were planning on graduation parties…
Busy brides were planning their dream wedding…
Many people were planning on paying their bills until they lost their job.
Generations before us, have had uncertain times, times of economic depression, times of war and they had to make do. In my bubble, before March of 2020, I haven’t had to make do, I can buy anything I want at any time and I am so grateful! It’s been weird for probably all of us to go into our grocery stores and not find flour or sugar or yeast or toilet paper, we’ve had to make do.
So in the spirit of making do, Strudel and I decided this month (and maybe longer) would be back to basics baking.
I hope this week finds you all healthy and well, both physically and emotionally. I’ve settled into a routine of morning CorePower or other workout videos, short outdoor runs and days spent on zoom. Brandon works at a hospital, so he’s like a relic from the long ago; his daily routine has barely changed, with the exception of his gym closure.
The stark changes in our world has impacted all part of our lives, right down to this blog. Tiff couldn’t find any yeast last week, and that – combined with the current stress of her job, highlighted in these complex times – meant that we needed to take a break from posting last week. Hats off to her, though, since she was valiantly trying to get creative with her starter to develop something to post. When that wasn’t working out, we agreed that this blog is supposed to be fun – and when it’s not, well, perhaps we can skip a week.
For me, one advantage to being at home so much is that it’s given me lots of extra time to cook and bake during the week – in-between meetings I’ve been able to knead some dough, pop something into the oven, or just get a few things started. Like lots of other folks, I’ve been craving foods I find comforting.
A few things we’ve eaten have included:
- these sweet potatoes
- some recipes from this amazing cookbook (halibut with asparagus; spicy pork meatballs, subbing Beyond Beef; artichokes in wine broth)
- homemade pasta prepared this way
- risotto has also made an appearance (with this sub, of course)
- we even had salad one night!
And of course, this Pear Honey Swirl Bread. Think Cinnamon Raisin Bread, but with a sweeter interior. It’s fruity, sweet, and a little spicy and earthy (thanks to the cardamom). The bread is delicious toasted with butter (of course), but also great with almond butter spread on top. It’s a simple bake (if you can find yeast!) and – speaking from experience – is perfect to put together in-between web meetings.