Where’s Mimi?


I just wanted to give a quickie update to everyone stopping by here as to why there has been no activity here recently.  I have had no real access to a computer for the past couple of weeks.  My parents have no internet access and the good folks at the Scripps Hospital in La Jolla California are providing me with a few minutes a day of access.  Just enough time to approve comments on the blog and see that I have been tagged with a Meme. 

Why am I sitting in a hospital waiting room typing as fast as I can?  Well, my Dad has been dealing with heart problems for years.  He was told to go in for an angiogram months ago and he kept putting it off and putting it off.  He didn’t have a heart attack but he was feeling worse and worse.  He finally admitted himself to the hospital and found out that he needed an immediate QUADRUPAL BYPASS!  My dear Mom is pretty much blind due to her own health problems so I drove down to support her and be her transportation since the hospital is 30 miles from the house and she can’t drive.

My Dad has been in ICU for two weeks.  Today was the first day that he has been alert enough to know we are here.  Today was a very good day.

I am not a religious person.  I fall somewhere between agnosic and atheistic depending on the day and my mood.  I did a little bit of praying this week.  I’m sure God was like, “what the…?”.  If you are reading this and you are religiously inclined, please pray for my Dad that he gets better soon.  If you are not religiously inclined, just send out some good vibes.  Every little bit helps.

D. at Sourdough Monkey Wrangler tagged me for a Meme.  I promise I’ll post my answers as soon as I can.  I’m already sitting here much longer than the 15 minutes I’m allowed for the public computer here. 

So, keep the good vibes going for us and I’ll try to check back soon and keep everyone updated

Thanks for your support and take care!



Three stubby baguettes


I’m a low maintenance kinda gal.  If I can save myself from a little work, I am a happy camper.  Normally, I keep my sourdough starter in the fridge.  Refrigerating the starter probably doesn’t do much for its development but it keeps me from having to think about its care and well being in between baking sessions.  This past week was an exception.  I took the starter out of the fridge a week ago Friday in anticipation of making pizza.  I knew I wanted to make biscuits later in the week, so I kept it out and fed it daily until Thursday when I finally made the biscuits.  Well, by then it was so close to the weekend that I decided a few more days of feeding wouldn’t kill me. 


Last night, I found a baguette recipe in my copy of Williams-Sonoma essentials of baking.  The recipe was written for commercial yeast, but I was happy to notice a side bar that explained how to make a variation with starter.  The variation called for making the sponge the night before with starter and then the recipe called for commercial yeast in the actual bread dough.  Since I never use commercial yeast anymore, I don’t have any in the house.  I decided to only use the starter for leavening and just stretch out the proofing time a little longer than called for.  I wanted loaves that were a little sturdier than their all white version so I substituted some stone ground whole-wheat and some rye flour for some of the white flour.


The recipe makes enough dough for three small baguettes.  My dough forming skills still need a lot of practice.  My loaves were cute, not pretty.  They are a little malformed and squat and fat.  I love them anyway.  Why?  Because of the flavor and the texture.   I think having the starter out for so long and then giving the sponge a full thirteen hours to do its thing before the long proofing period really gave them a nice sweet tart flavor.  This bread pleasantly surprised me; the center of the bread was fluffy, moist and soft.  Almost like sandwich bread but the outside was crispy to the point that it shatters to the bite.  The sweet tart flavor I told you about hits the tongue and then you taste a touch of salt. 


We grabbed a loaf the minute we thought it was cool enough to eat.  We brought out some manchego cheese and demolished most of that first loaf of bread in a single sitting.  It was so very delicious!


Sourdough wheat and rye baguettes

Adapted from Williams-Sonoma essentials of baking


For the sponge:


½ cup well fed sourdough starter


1 ½ cups water


1 tsp sugar


2 cups unbleached white flour



For the Dough:


¾ cup unbleached white flour


¼ cup rye flour


1 cup stone ground whole-wheat flour


1 ½ tsp salt


cornmeal for dusting your peel


extra flour for dusting your cutting board


The night before you want to bake, Mix all of the sponge ingredients thoroughly in the bowl of a standing mixer and cover loosely with plastic wrap.  Let the sponge stand overnight at least 11-13 hours.  The next morning, the sponge should be very active and bubbly.


Add the salt, white, rye, and whole-wheat flours to the sponge.  With the dough hook inserted into your mixer, mix on the lowest speed to combine.  Kick the speed up one notch and knead the dough for 7 minutes.  The dough should pull away from the sides and form a ball.  If it does not, add a little more white flour a tbsp at a time until it does.  Form the dough into a ball and then grease your bowl and return the dough to the bowl.  Cover the dough with a clean dishtowel and let it rise for 1 ½ to 2 hours.  The dough should double in size.


Punch down the dough.  Shape into a round again.  Re-cover the bowl with the towel and let it rise again for about an hour.


Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and cut it into thirds with a bench scraper or a sharp knife.  Shape each third into a round.  Cover the dough with the dishtowel and let it rest 10 minutes before shaping. 


Work with one dough ball at a time.  Slap the dough hard onto the work surface.  Flatten the dough with the heel of your hand.  Roll a third of the dough to the center and push the seam in a little to seal it.  Roll the dough onto itself until you have an oval loaf.  Elongate the loaf by rolling it on the work surface exerting pressure from the middle of the loaf out.  Dust a peel or a cookie sheet with cornmeal.  Place the loaf on the peel.  Repeat this process with the other two balls of dough.  Let the dough rise for 40 minutes to an hour until it has doubled and the dough feels light and spongy when you lightly poke or squeeze it.


Put a pizza stone in your oven and preheat the oven to 500 degrees f. as soon as you are done shaping the loaves.  Place a cake pan in the oven


When the loaves are done proofing, slash them on the diagonal 4 or 5 times with a sharp knife.  Transfer the loaves to the pizza stone, toss a cup of water into the cake pan for steam and then close the oven door fast and lower the heat to 450 degrees f.  Bake the loaves for 20-25 minutes until they are golden brown and sound hollow when you tap them.  Cool the loaves for 20 minutes before you uncontrollably scarf one down with butter or cheese.


Whole wheat sourdough biscuits: easy and yummy

Sourdough biscuits

I’m usually really good at gauging how much food to make in two nights of cooking to last us most of the week.  Somehow two pizzas and a Rachel Ray recipe for Chicken Goulash did not last us past lunchtime on Wednesday.  Although I am struggling with a weight problem and I have been trying to cut my portions, my boyfriend is one of those lucky people who can eat vast quantities of food and still maintain his weight.  The problem with keeping active and thereby maintaining a high metabolism is that he sometimes loses weight, which he can’t afford to lose.  He seems to be in one of those lose weight without trying modes so I think he tried to remedy the problem by eating bigger portions, thus, we ran out of food.


What to do, what to do?  Well, after lurking around the Arctic Carbivores site for the past couple of weeks, I saw them post a link to a recipe for Sourdough biscuits.  These are similar to buttermilk biscuits but contain sourdough.  I had to have them!  So, I moseyed into the kitchen and found a huge supply of broccoli (not unusual if you know my boyfriend and his love for this cruciferous veggie).  I had some leftover cream, some onions, and more odds and ends.  I would make cream of broccoli soup.  Soup was a great excuse for having biscuits I thought.


The biscuits.  When I saw the biscuits on the other blog, I asked the Blogger what she (or he?) thought the sourdough was doing in there.  I was told that they (one part of the couple bakes the other one blogs) thought it contributed to the “fluffy nature” of the muffins and also helped them rise.  I have to agree.  The recipe calls for the starter, baking powder, baking soda and buttermilk, which together would all help the dough, rise.  After baking up the dough, I have to also say that the starter gave the biscuits flavor and texture too.  Look at the picture.  Do you see the layers?  These biscuits expanded and made fluffy layers!  The insides were soft and the outsides were crisp.  My starter is never very sour, but I could taste a pleasant malted grain flavor that I have often experienced in some of my better sourdough breads.  This recipe is a keeper and if you enjoy sourdough I recommend you try this recipe.  I’m not sure how mine compared to theirs since I used whole-wheat pastry flour, which makes for a slightly heavier end product, but either the whole-wheat pastry flour or white flour should work just fine.  So how was dinner?  The broccoli soup was insipid.  The biscuits were superb!


If you have a chance, run over to the Arctic Carbivores blog.  They are new bloggers but they bake and blog several times a week so there is plenty to see there.  I have to say; I’m impressed by how much they bake.  They are fearless sourdough experimenters and there is a lot of good baking going on over there!


Sourdough biscuits

Adapted from the Golden sourdough biscuits recipe on Recipe finder


2 cups whole-wheat pastry flour


1 tsp baking powder


1 tsp kosher salt


½ tsp baking soda


½ cup cold unsalted butter


1 cup well fed sourdough starter


½ cup buttermilk


1 – 2 tbsp melted butter for brushing the muffins


Preheat the oven to 425 degrees f.


In a largish bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, salt and baking soda.  Using a pastry-cutter cut the cold butter into the flour mixture until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.  Don’t let the butter get too warm, you want the cold butter chunks to stay pretty solid to help with the flakiness of the finished biscuits.  Mix together sourdough starter and buttermilk.  Add the buttermilk mixture to the flour mixture.  Using a silicone spatula, mix the dough until well combined. 


Turn the dough out onto a well-floured surface.  Knead the dough a dozen times.  The original recipe says to roll the dough to a ½” thickness.  I think we can get away with slightly thicker biscuits.  Mine seemed a little wimpy this time around.  Cut the dough with a 2 1/2” biscuit cutter.  Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper or butter the cookie sheet.  The original recipe instructed us to place the rounds 2” apart but they did not become larger in girth just in height.  I didn’t want to use a second cookie sheet so I placed my biscuits close, almost touching in order to fit them all on the same sheet and they were fine. 


Bake the biscuits for 12 – 15 minutes until golden browned.  Remove from the oven and brush the biscuits with melted butter.  Allow them to cool before serving.  I tried them both hot out of the oven and cooled down.  The cooled biscuits had a much more complex flavor.