January 2007


Oatmeal Sourdough Bread

A couple of years ago I obtained a dried sample of Carl Griffth’s 1847 Oregon Trail sourdough starter. Made a couple of tasty loaves, but managed to let the starter die off. At the beginning of year I requested another sample and have started a very active starter and hopefully I can keep it alive this time.

My first bread with this starter is one from the linked website.

1 cup quick oats
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon salt
2 tablespoons butter or margarine
2 1/2 cups boiling water
1 cup sourdough starter
5 cups white bread flour

Makes two loaves. Combine in a large bowl the oats, whole wheat flour, brown sugar, salt, and butter. Pour boiling water over mixture. Stir to combine. When batter is cooled to lukewarm, add the starter and stir in the flour. When dough is stiff enough to handle, turn onto floured board and knead for 5 to 10 minutes. Place in a greased bowl, cover and let rise until doubled (about 4 hours in my oven with the light on). Punch down and separate into 2 equal balls. Shape into loaves and place in greased 9 X 5 X 3 inch pans. Let rise until doubled again. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes at 350 F. Cool on rack, brushing loaves with butter or margarine for a soft crust.

Notes: I needed additional flour to get beyond sticky. The starter seemed to be pretty active, but first doubling rise took 4 hours. Second rise in pans took an additional 2 hours (I actually should have let it rise in the pans a bit more, but I had a dinner appointment that I had to meet). In my oven, the loaves still weren’t really done in 40 minutes, so I dumped them both out of their pans and set them bare on the oven rack and baked an addtional 10 minutes. Nice loaves, though not as sour as I remember from the first time I tried this starter. It will probably get more sour over time.

How about combining the two…

The brownie recipe is from my Mother:

Preheat oven to 325 – Lightly grease 9×13 pan

3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter
2 cups sugar
1 cup Dutch process cocoa
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
3 large eggs
1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
12 oz bag of York Peppermint Patties

1. Melt butter over low heat. Stir in sugar and return to heat and stir until it’s about 110-120F. but not bubbling.
2. Stir in cocoa, salt, baking powder and vanilla.
3. Whisk in eggs until smooth
4. Add flour and stir until smooth.
5. Pour half the batter into 9×13 pan and even it out.
6. The 12 ounce package of York Peppermint Patties should have 24 individually wrapped little patties. Unwrap and lay them down on batter in a 4 x 6 grid.
7. Pour second half of batter over the top of the patties and even out again.
8. Bake for 29-32 minutes (I found that this is a *very* fudgy batter and the center was still pretty soft at 30 minutes).

Mmmmmm!

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I’m not much of a writer, which will be self-evident if you spend much time reading this weblog. But I like reading and I like cooking, so I write.

I’ve always thought I was a bit weird as I like reading cookbooks like literature. I’ve got a few that I’ve never made a thing out of, but just enjoy the writing.

My current food book reads are The Making of a Chef: Mastering Heat at the Culinary Institute, More Home Cooking: A Writer Returns to the Kitchen (already finished the first of two books) and Garlic and Sapphires: The Secret Life of a Critic in Disguise along with a new cookbook, The King Arthur Flour Cookie Companion.

As somebody who loves to cook and who’s current job is as a cook in pizza restaurant, there’s always been a secret desire to *really* learn how to cook. At nearly the age of 60, books are probably as close as I’m going to get (and the fact that I don’t have 30-some thousand dollars to make it through the first year at the CIA). Making of a Chef is a good read. Michael Ruhlman provides a fascinating look at the work that goes into the training of a chef. Maybe it’s a good thing I don’t have the money. I don’t know if I could stand the heat,.

I came upon Garlic and Sapphires because of an NPR interview with the author. This one hasn’t been started yet, but what I heard during the interview intrigued me enough to buy the book and I’m sure I’ll enjoy it.

I’m reading Laurie Colwin’s books Home Cooking and More Home Cooking because of a search for Gingerbread. The restaurant was planning an employee Christmas party and we were asked to bring along something. For some reason I was convinced I needed to bring a nice Gingerbread. I hadn’t eaten any for years and the remembered taste was something I wanted to recapture.

A Google search turned up a couple of pages of Gingerbread recipes along with a link to a discussion of Ms. Colwin’s books and the fact that there were Gingerbread recipes in both. I asked around, including a discussion on the USENET group, rec.food.cooking, and the concensus was that she was a great writer and I should probably get both books. And I did.

Damp Gingerbread is a moist and flavorful treat that’s delicious with a bit of good vanilla ice cream. I’ve made this recipe a couple times more and it seldom survives more than a couple days. Original recipe is from an English cookbook, Delia Smith’s Book of Cakes.

Damp Gingerbread

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter a 9-inch round tin (2 inches deep) and line the bottom with parchment paper.
2. Melt 9 tablespoons butter with 12 ounces (1 1/2 cups) Lyle’s Golden Syrup.
3. Into a bowl sift 2 cups plus 2 tablespoons flour, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1 3/4 teaspoon baking soda, 1 tablespoon ground ginger, 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves, and 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon.
4. Pour the syrup and butter onto the dry ingredients and mix well.
5. Add 1 beaten egg and 1 cup milk. Beat well. The batter will be very liquid. Pour it into the tin and bake at 350 degrees F. for about 50 to 55 minutes. (The middle should be just set, with the edge pulling away from the pan, and a tester will bring out a few crumbs.) Cool the cake in the tin for 10 minutes before turning out.

I actually forgot about the parchment paper and baked it in a 9-inch square pan.

As for The King Arthur Cookie Companion. Well, you can’t have too many cookbooks and you certainly can’t have too many cookie cookbooks.

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