Off Topic: New-ish Hobby for a New Year
It's fun to try new things. This particular "new thing" is not exactly completely new for me, but, well, let's have some back story.
I have liked bread baking for a rather long time now. I can't say that I've done it a lot, but some, and it interests me. I got a bread recipe book many years ago when I was in college. I enjoyed using the recipes from it, and the how-to info in it was very helpful. There were a few recipes for sourdough type breads in this cookbook and that sounded interesting, so I tried making, and taking care of, a sourdough starter. I found that it was demanding to keep up with and that a sourdough starter could expand a lot. I had a hard time finding a good container for it because it kept expanding more than I thought it would.
I finally had a good size container for it, and then one day when it was out on the counter without a lid a fly got in it, and died in it. Ick. That was the end of that.
Fast forward to a few months ago, and a friend told me about a blog called The Bread Geek focused on using natural yeast to make whole grain bread. It sounded pretty awesome to me...yes, I'm a little on the crunchy side. I think the biggest draw for me is that making my own starter and baking bread with it is that it's the yummy mash-up of several things that I like or at least find interesting: baking bread, microbiology (my college major), old-world skills, and natural whole-grain foods. What's not to love?!
I asked for, and received Melissa and Caleb's book, The Art of Baking with Natural Yeast, for Christmas and spent most of Christmas day reading it. Of course, they suggest, with very good reason, that you start by getting a healthy, active starter from someone else to begin with. But, making my own sounded like a cool microbiology project. I'm completely willing to be patient, and to not get my hopes too high. If making my own doesn't work out, I'm okay with that, but I wanted to try it, just for the fun of it. (I know some of you are thinking, Fun?! Yeah right!). That's just my particular brand of geek.
So, the pic at the top is my starter, which I have named Bennet. This name was inspired by the sour, yet good at heart, character of Mrs. Bennet from the book Pride and Prejudice (yep, love that story). Bennet was born on Christmas Day 2014. So far, so good. I started with whole wheat flour, water, and an organic apple peel. I had bubbles the next day. When I "fed" Bennet for the first time, she began expanding, and nearly doubled her size within 12 hours, which is kind of the next milestone after bubbles. However, since then she is not expanding at all. Not really sure what's up with that. I'm going to see if I can do something to keep Bennet a little warmer tonight and see if that helps her expand overnight.
So, Bennet isn't ready for the big time yet -- making loaves of bread. But, I have to feed her each day, and twice now I've made these 100% whole wheat waffles. The sourdough taste is pretty strong so far, though I think Bennet will likely get more mild as she ages. The waffles are good, and Mr AC likes them as well. Drama Queen has tried them, but isn't crazy about them. The other girls think they look good, but don't care to try them when I explain that whole wheat, sour flavor.
The recipe comes from Melissa and Caleb's book. It's a very easy recipe. Quick as well, which makes it a great way to use starter when I have some to be used up every day.
What new things will you be doing in the new year? I'd love to hear about your great plans!
Happy New Year!