things to do with sourdough starter

I needed to use up some excess sourdough starter so I hunted around and found this banana cake. Delicious.

C Mom Cook: Sourdough Banana Cake
…at home and in the kitchen with my kids

1 cup unfed sourdough starter, at room temperature (if you store your starter in the fridge, just let it sit out for about an hour before starting)

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 cup brown sugar

2 teaspoons baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 egg

1/4 cup vegetable oil

1/4 cup plain yogurt

1 to 1 1/2 cups mashed ripe banana (I used three large bananas)

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground cloves

1/4 teaspoon ground ginger

for the glaze (optional):

2 tablespoons melted butter

1 cup confectioners’ sugar

1 – 2 tablespoons milk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and generously spray a Bundt pan (you can use a 9″ x 13″ pan if you would prefer).
In a medium sized mixing bowl, combine the sourdough starter, mashed bananas, oil, yogurt, egg and vanilla. Mix together until everything is fully combined.
In a (separate) large mixing bowl, whisk together flour, salt, baking soda, sugar and spices.
Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir until just combined.
Pour the batter into the prepared Bundt pan and bake for 45 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. (The recipe offers a cooking time of 35-40 minutes if you are using a 9″ x 13″ pan.)
Allow the cake to cool in the pan (on a cooling rack) for about 10 minutes, then turn the cake out onto the rack itself and allow it to cool completely.
To prepare the glaze, mix the melted butter and confectioners’ sugar in a bowl, then slowly add enough milk to make a smooth, flowing glaze. Stir very well to ensure that you have removed all of the lumps. Once the cake is completely cool, use a spoon to drizzle on the glaze.

I also found this recipe on Beth’s Favorite Recipes.

sourdough day 2

So this morning I got my sourdough starter out of the refrigerator and mixed up my first batch of dough ever. I wrote about day 1 yesterday. So welcome to day 2.

I will remind everyone that this is not my recipe, the recipe and instructions come courtesy of Tracey Deschaine who owns Dixie Picnic a marvelous scratch kitchen in Malvern/Frazer. If you live locally I hope you will patronize her business and she has been one of the bright lights in this whole stay at home of it all during COVID-19 by gifting starter and selling flour to those who wish to try.

I will be honest and say it took me almost a month to get fresh flour. Everyone has been sold out of it and even King Arthur is on a backlog for catalog ordering. But because of the generosity of Tracey some of us have been able to buy it when needed.

I actually have made bread before. Even focaccia. I took a baking class with Patricia Polin the pastry chef at The Master’s Baker. But I didn’t venture into bread making solo until now. Bread is like a fun science experiment!

So I used the food scale just like Patricia and Tracey taught me and measured out:

10 oz. of sourdough starter

8 oz. warm water

1 lb. bread flour

1.5 oz. of canola oil. (Tracey calls for Crisco but never use it so I don’t have it)

1.5 ounces of oil ends up being 9 teaspoons.

So I followed Tracey‘s instructions and first I mixed the water and starter and then I added the rest. I mixed the dough until it came together and was smooth and pliable in the bowl. I then let it rest covered with a linen towel at room temperature for about 10 minutes.

Then Tracey‘s recipe asks for 0.5 oz (0.8 TBSP) of salt. That’s roughly 2.4 teaspoons. I mixed the salt into the dough and kneaded until the salt was all incorporated and the dough was once again smooth. You can feel the little granules of salt and when you stop feeling them it’s mixed.

I then took my dough and put it in a clean lightly oiled second mixing bowl and covered it with saran wrap. It will sit there and rise at room temperature for about eight hours until I take the next step.

I also decided to grow my starter again today so I could just bake next week again. The last picture in this post will show you that my bread is already starting to grow in size.

What I will do later is shape the dough and de-gas it, i.e. punch it down to remove large air bubbles. Then it will rest on a cookie sheet covered with the saran wrap I use to cover the ball this morning until tomorrow in the refrigerator. Then I bring it out to start the final process before baking.

So stay tuned and fingers crossed that I can do this right and make Tracey proud!

learning something new: sourdough bread

Our friend Tracey who owns a local scratch kitchen called Dixie Picnic is an amazing bread baker. One of her breads I love is her sourdough.

Well she gifted me some of her starter. So today I grew it. You can see the result in the above photo. The black line on the jar is where it was before I “fed it“.

I popped my starter back in to the refrigerator and tomorrow I will make my dough, and the next day I will bake. She gave me really clear step by step instructions and it’s kind of a three day process.

I used to be very intimidated by making bread but she and other people have encouraged me to learn and I’m having a whole lot of fun!

I have heard stories of people who have had the same strain of starter for decades. That blows my mind! I found an article where it talks about starter that’s over 100 years old and that was in 2011. There was an article in 2018 about Sourdough starter that was over 120 years old! That’s a crazy kind of antique to have, right?

Even recently in San Francisco this kind of a cool thing has started happening. A mystery person has set up a Sourdough kiosk offering how to make bread with it. And apparently it’s 100 year old starter. I think it’s really cool! Seriously… a phantom baker with what is supposed to be San Francisco’s oldest starter and only a couple of people have or had it.

Phantom Bakers Sharing Sourdough Starter In Walnut Creek By NEWS24-680 – Apr 26, 2020

If someone famous hasn’t already said the true measure of a community is how it rises to help others during a time of crisis – we’ll say it now.
Over in Walnut Creek, outside the entrance to Buena Vista Elementary off San Juan Avenue, an anonymous baker with a talent for making sourdough bread is sharing the wealth with neighbors.
A self-help kiosk complete with a recipe and history of the starter – which is over 100 years old (attached below) – along with sample containers of precious starter are fresh and replenished every day.

The history of sourdough bread and sourdough starter is fascinating to me. And I never knew about it until I started doing research after Tracey gave me some starter.

I also discovered this article:

Before DIY sourdough starters became popular, there was home economics Mary-Leah de Zwart, University of British Columbia May 5, 2020 4.30pm EDT

My niece is sheltering at home during the COVID-19 pandemic. She’s making sourdough starter for the first time because she couldn’t find any dry yeast. It’s like having a newborn for the first three days — keep warm, stir three or four times a day, watch for bubbles, feed regularly after use. On cold winter nights, old-timers used to take their sourdough starter to bed with them.
Meanwhile flour is also scarce. A well-known flour company has run out of its usual bright yellow bags and has to use white ones instead. It seems everyone is baking these days.
Questions come to mind. Are people re-enacting the traditional household activities of their mothers and grandmothers? Does this signal a massive change in society?

We don’t really know. Søren Kierkegaard, the father of existentialism, once wrote that we live life forwards and understand it backwards. People may simply be stocking up on baking supplies while they’re in quarantine. It may or may not be largely limited to women who are baking.

Caring for one’s sourdough starter will not alleviate the fear of loss of control, but, as psychologists suggest, it offers the physical and emotional comfort of working with one’s hands. It makes me wonder if people are trying to remember what their home economics teachers taught them, or wishing they had taken home economics electives.

I have found some things on the Internet for those of you who are interested in learning how to do sourdough bread:

King Arthur Flour: Sourdough Starter

All Recipes: Sourdough Starter

The Clever Carrot: Sourdough Bread: A Beginner’s Guide

You Tube: The Ultimate Sourdough Bread

You Tube: I Love Cooking Sourdough Masterclass

Tasty: How To Make Homemade Sourdough Bread

Taste of Home: Country Crust Sourdough Bread

Food Network Sourdough Bread

Knead Not Sourdough Recipe | Alton Brown | Food Network

from roast chicken to chicken soup

The other night we had a roast chicken. I hung onto the carcass and threw it into the instant pot yesterday and made bone broth from it.

This morning I got out the broth, removed the fat, and added the rest of the chicken that was left over to it and set that container to the side while I prepped the vegetables.

I chopped up one of the remaining onions that I have and threw it into the soup pot with a little bit of olive oil. To that I added a bunch of diced celery, and a small bunch of sliced up carrots, and some fresh new potatoes. I added a little salt and started to cook the vegetables down.

As the vegetables started to cook down I added a chopped bunch of mixed kale and baby bok choy and some other greens that had come in a farm box. To that I added a can of white cannellini beans.

Then I added the broth and the bits of chicken and a bouquet garni of fresh herbs from the garden. The chicken soup simmered away for a few hours and now it’s cooling to be eaten later in the week.

a little mini cookbook gem

Did I need this little miniature cookbook? No but this little cookbook booklet was sitting on a shelf when I went barn picking this morning.

It’s partially a little time capsule but it is also a great little how to book for making piecrust, apple dumplings, chocolate layer cake, biscuits, sour milk gingerbread and more.

These are old school recipes like your grandmother would make. Now mind you I don’t cook with lard, and I think that is part of this cookbook. It was a gimme and advertising for Armour Lard.

And this booklet was created by Fannie Farmer in 1912!

Yes you are looking at photos of the entire booklet. It’s from 1912 so no harm in sharing. Also note the letter from the Principal of the Philadelphia School of Cookery on Powelton Avenue in West Philadelphia. Needless to say I don’t even think the building exists any longer!

Enjoy!

a look inside “merion square meals”

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Over Christmas a friend remarked they had made a dessert out of the old “Merion Square Meals” Cookbook which I remember when it was new in the 1970s.  A lot of local Gladwyne and close on vicinity ladies contributed it to it.  200+ pages of fun. Some recipes I would still try today, and some recipes caught in a time capsule.  It was from a time when a lot of ladies still did their own cooking, and cooking for entertaining.  It wasn’t always a we deliver catered affair!

So I went digging through my cookbooks, because I knew I had a copy.  A copy I had bought as an adult second hand from either Harriton House’s annual fair, Church of the Redeemer’s Christmas Bazaar (or whatever it was called), or from the book tent at St. David’s Fair (hands down one of the most ideal places to find fun old books!).

I finally found it way up in a book shelf, with it’s very plain brown plastic comb spiral facing INTO the shelf.  So I posted on my social media a photo of the cookbook and it sparked a lot of memories in people.  You never see this cookbook pop up much.

Some asked me to post some of the recipes, so that is what I am going to do.  But first, the preface and cool bits of history:

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Now for recipes.  I just pulled out a bunch of recipes at random.  My edition is from the original printing.  It apparently made a second appearance in 2008 or so according to Main Line Today Magazine:

Merion Square Meals
(Gladwyne Library League, 219 pages)

First printed in 1978, this old-school community cookbook is packed with the sort of blue-blood fare—spinach vichyssoise, beef stroganoff, Swiss chicken divan, gazpacho aspic, Hoosier pie, triple chocolate sin—certain to have guests reminiscing at your next dinner party. A short history of Merion Square and a dedication page to its original author, Patricia Van Arsdale Murray, offer a connection to the past and bring a little Main Line tradition back to our modern kitchens. Proceeds from its sale go to the Gladwyne Free Library.

So Gladwyne Library League? You might want to resurrect it again because people are STILL interested in this awesome local cookbook! Here are the recipes I am sharing from my personal copy:

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white chocolate oatmeal hazelnut cookies

I seem to have created something new. I had wanted to make my white chocolate cinnamon cookies with oatmeal, but then I decided I could improve on it. And I didn’t have any cinnamon chips. So I did improve my recipe and changed it up…and…taa daa! The 2019 White Chocolate Oatmeal Hazelnut Cookies were born.

RECIPE:

1 cup of butter softened (2 sticks)

1 cup white sugar

1 cup brown sugar

2 large eggs

2 tablespoons buttermilk

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

3 teaspoons cinnamon

2 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 cup almond flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 cup quick cook oatmeal (plain no flavoring)

2 cups white chocolate baking chips

1 cup dried currants (I used Sunmaid Zante Currants)

1 cup chopped hazelnuts

Preheat oven to 350°

Cream together until well mixed butter and both sugars in a large bowl. Add eggs one at a time, followed by vanilla, beat until light and fluffy. Add 2 tablespoons buttermilk.

Add cinnamon, salt, baking soda.

Mix in 2 cups of all-purpose white flour until mixed well. Stir in oatmeal, followed by white chocolate baking chips, and finally the hazelnuts.

I chilled my dough about an hour.

Drop by rounded teaspoons on cookie sheets lined with parchment paper or silicone baking sheets. (I line my cookie pans silicone baking sheets for the most part now.)

I actually like to roll might dough into about 1 inch balls instead of “drop”. I place them a couple inches apart on the sheet.

Bake at 350° for 10 to 11 minutes depending on your oven.

Do not overbake and please cool these cookies at least five or six minutes before removing from baking sheet to cooling rack to cool completely.

This recipe makes a little over 4 1/2 dozen cookies. They seem to be an instant crowd pleaser in my house, so I hope you like them too!

passing down recipes

 

I have started baking. It’s a much slower process this year as I am hampered by my formerly “good” knee. Actually everything Christmas is hampered by it, so this morning to be honest, I was mopey.

What I was thinking about this morning is I never had children of my own. So I’m a stepparent of a son. When he was little I tried to get him interested in making Christmas cookies but he was into it for about 20 minutes and then would evaporate. He likes to eat them, but he’s not really into cooking . And there are no girls.

Well I do have a niece but she’s a big city girl. They order things like cookies, not bake them. Fashion, make-up, and selfies are where it’s at now. Maybe that will change as she grows up, but I don’t think so. And that’s ok, I am happy to bake them.

It’s just when you are growing up female, or at least for me, there was always this little day dream of when I was grown up and had my own kids I would bake Christmas cookies with them. Like my mother did with us. When we were little my mother did this. Gingerbread men, chocolate chip cookies, cut out cookies with bright sugar sprinkles, Russian tea cookies, and these amazing things called Florentines with bittersweet chocolate and candied orange peel. I still don’t know how to make the Florentines.

So this morning I was all down about this whole wondering who would eventually want the recipes I had collected and written over the years? They fill three 3-ring binders. And then there are my cookbooks.

Then I realized sometimes family extends to friends. And I do have friends with daughters. And one is already a baker at 13.

And I also realized I do share my recipes with my readers too. So hopefully down the road, as the years progress people will find my recipes and use them. Of course I could actually write a cookbook if I would just get down to the writing of it part. I have the recipes and I have the photos. I just haven’t done it. It’s on a “I will get to it list.”

 

Then I also remembered I had shared a collection of recipes last year with my readers, friends, and members of my cooking group.

So….sharing again: Fa la la la la. No cookie grinches here! Follow this link and see embedded below a curated collection of cookie recipes from ALL over the Internet

Also included?A few of my own personal cookie recipes. For web-based recipes at the bottom of each page is the link to the originating sites. Gathered here to make my life easier! Yes a lot of them are in landscape – I do that when I print – easier for me.

Happy Baking!

mother wants fruitcake

I love my mother (the holy mothertude) but she is not so subtle sometimes when she does things like saying the other day:

Oh we took the last of your fruit cake out of the freezer from last year. We just love it so much.”

(She totally cracks me up with this so, bum knee and all, I knew I was indeed making fruitcake this year.)

And then my lovely stepfather said something similar in his very adorable, very British way.

So I called my mother back today and said “I decided I will be making fruitcake this year.”

The mothertude replies “I really wasn’t trying to get you to make it.

Now you know you can’t ignore mother requests at Christmas, right? So…I made two today and will make two tomorrow so I don’t have any of that candied fruit to store. Because face it, what else do you use it for except fruitcake?

I make white fruitcake. I saw somewhere once and then couldn’t find it again, where it was referred to as “grooms cake”. It’s made with good brandy or whiskey and it actually tastes good.

Normally I like to make my fruitcake more ahead of schedule than I am now, but it will still taste good.

The basis for my fruitcake recipe can be found in a 1959 edition of the Better Homes & Gardens Holiday Cookbook. But I have adjusted the recipe over the years based on personal tastes and recipe research and tweaked it a little.

This year I changed it again and I went back to only using almonds. And I didn’t use figs, I used chopped dates and golden raisins. I might change the second batch up a little, I will decide tomorrow.

I actually wrote about this a few years ago. (Follow this LINK to yes really…fruitcake.)

I will tell you I had blocked out what a mess your kitchen becomes making fruitcake.

Below is a photo of them going into the oven. I just took them out and they smell GOOOD! Try a white fruitcake…I promise you will like it!

Fa la la la la

more thanksgiving prep: laying it all out

Thanksgiving in our house is going to be smaller and much simpler than years past. I didn’t get to all the little ceramic turkeys to put on the table this year so the table just has the simple candlesticks and some greens in a vase. I still think it’ll look pretty.

My order arrived today from Harman’s Cheese in New Hampshire. I love my imported cheese, but for Thanksgiving especially it’s American made cheeses. Tomorrow for nibbles before our little feast, I will put out Harman’s cheddar with crackers with a Balsamic Onion Jam. The rest of the cheese will take us through the holiday season and well into the winter.

The table is mostly vintage. Pewter napkin rings I got years ago. No one likes pewter much anymore so I literally picked these up super inexpensively.

The napkins came from The Smithfield Barn. They are of a newer vintage from Ralph Lauren.

The plates are Steubenville Adam Antique from the 1930s. I bought them for our first Thanksgiving in this house. They came from Frazer Antiques. I remember they were on sale. I have looked for years since at these plates here and there, and never been able to even come close to the deal I got that day.

The placemats are vintage Pimpernal. They belonged to one of my dearest friend’s mothers.

We are having a simple menu. Yams, green salad with a simple vinaigrette, stuffing done outside the bird, homemade cranberry sauce, and the turkey. The turkey is from Loag’s Corner Turkey Farm in Elverson and was delivered by Doorstep Dairy. Doorstep Dairy is our milk delivery service and more. We have been a customer for a few years. They are terrific!

If you are local, Loag’s turkeys can also be purchased through local butcher shops like Worrell’s Butcher Shop in Malvern Borough. We also are big fans of Worrell’s!

I didn’t mention dessert. That I am actually not baking. Someone gave us a cheesecake. Not our normal Thanksgiving dessert, but my husband loves cheesecake!

My last piece of the puzzle is a vintage turkey platter. Also from the Smithfield Barn a few years ago. American made, true vintage, and I love it.

Holidays are about traditions. Thanksgiving is about the classics: turkey, friends, family.

Here is a poem from Ella Wheeler Wilcox:

Thanksgiving

We walk on starry fields of white
   And do not see the daisies;
For blessings common in our sight
   We rarely offer praises.
We sigh for some supreme delight
   To crown our lives with splendor,
And quite ignore our daily store
   Of pleasures sweet and tender.

Our cares are bold and push their way
   Upon our thought and feeling.
They hand about us all the day,
   Our time from pleasure stealing.
So unobtrusive many a joy
   We pass by and forget it,
But worry strives to own our lives,
   And conquers if we let it.

There’s not a day in all the year
   But holds some hidden pleasure,
And looking back, joys oft appear
   To brim the past’s wide measure.
But blessings are like friends, I hold,
   Who love and labor near us.
We ought to raise our notes of praise
   While living hearts can hear us.

Full many a blessing wears the guise
   Of worry or of trouble;
Far-seeing is the soul, and wise,
   Who knows the mask is double.
But he who has the faith and strength
   To thank his God for sorrow
Has found a joy without alloy
   To gladden every morrow.

We ought to make the moments notes
   Of happy, glad Thanksgiving;
The hours and days a silent phrase
   Of music we are living.
And so the theme should swell and grow
   As weeks and months pass o’er us,
And rise sublime at this good time,
   A grand Thanksgiving chorus.

I don’t know if I will write again between now and Thursday, so Happy Thanksgiving!