Sourdough and More Sourdough

Sourdough Bread

My brother in-law, Dave, is responsible for the fact that my ENTIRE kitchen is bathed in a fine layer of flour and has the unmistakable odor of something fermenting. You see, Dave has gotten into making sourdough bread recently, which just happened to coincide with plans that I had been making to get back into sourdough starters and bread making. Dave’s enthusiasm and success gave me the extra push I needed to plunge myself wholeheartedly back into an old favorite hobby.

Sourdough Bread
Oh my gosh! I love this bread recipe.

Two and a half decades ago I was a sourdough fiend and read everything I could find on sourdough starters and breads. It amounted to a flyer from the county extension service and three paragraphs in a small bread book that I had on hand. I had a recipe for Sourdough French Bread, one for Sourdough Pancakes and one for Sourdough Rye bread. Remember, the internet mostly did not exist at that time.

My first sourdough starter was made using all-purpose white flour and tap water. It took a leap of faith to believe that the flour and water slurry sitting in a quart jar on my countertop would actually become active with wild yeast spores and turn into a viable sourdough starter. After nearly a week of dutiful coddling for an exhaustingly exhilarating 6 minutes a day, the slurry did indeed become bubbly and active with whatever native yeasts were in its microclimate.

Sourdough Starter
One of my new sourdough starters — all bubbly and excited to be alive with a purpose.

But, let’s move forward. As I have searched the interwebs for new information about sourdough starters and breads, I have been very surprised at the phenomenal amount of information available. Not only is there a lot of information, there are also new methods, new sourdough-related gadgets and lots of wonderful recipes (yay!), there are also a large amount of various sourdough starters available for purchase.

I ordered some of those starters and while I waited for them to arrive in the mail, I started my own starter from scratch. Again I returned to flour and water, but with some distinct changes. I used unbleached, unbromated bread flour (Montana Wheat brand), freshly ground rye flour and non-chlorinated water. (I know for a fact that the rye flour was fresh because I was the one who ground it.) The rest of the ingredients were already in the flour and hanging out in the air in my house. Cool. I’m not going into details about how to achieve a viable sourdough starter here. That’s for another post, if anyone is interested.

Sourdough Starter
This is my rye sourdough starter. It grew out from the yeasts naturally present in the flours and surrounding air in my home. It’s a very happy little sourdough starter.

The artisan bread revolution has definitely impacted sourdough breads and how they are made. Home bakers can turn out exceptional breads and rolls with a bit of practice and earnest commitment. You don’t need a brick oven or a steam oven; just a standard kitchen oven and something as simple as a squirt bottle will do the trick.

I don’t have any fancy equipment, just a simple scale which measures in both ounces/pounds and grams; some favorite bowls; measuring cups; one newly purchased banneton; and glass jars. Oh, and I do own a baking stone, but even that one is not completely necessary for success.

Rye Sourdough Bread
This is the first loaf of Rye Sourdough Bread that I made with my new rye starter.

The thing about sourdough is the time commitment – not that it takes a lot of hands-on time, but that it takes lots of waiting time. As a matter of fact, though, you get to sleep through much of the time that the sourdough is doing its sourdough thing. Hands-on time is actually very minimal. Feed your starter before you go to bed and, ta-daaah, when you wake up, you’ll see that your starter will have shamelessly partied all night long. There is also nothing quite as lovely as shaping loaves of bread before bedtime, putting them in the fridge to rise while you sleep and then baking them the next morning. Freshly baked bread mid-morning – you decadent over-achiever, you.

Sourdough Bread
I love those ring imprints from the banneton (ratan proofing basket).

Of all of the new things that I have learned about making sourdough bread so far, I think that the most fascinating is not kneading the dough. I have been making bread for a very long time and the idea of NOT kneading it is astounding to me. The science behind a great crumb on yeast breads is all about kneading the dough to work up the gluten. With a sourdough, however, the sourdough starter does all of the work with its yeasty beasties and lactobacilli. It acts on the proteins in the flour and forms beautiful, stretchy, resilient gluten strands. What a marvel!

Sourdough Bread
You can taste this bread just by looking at it!
Sourdough Rye Bread
This is the Sourdough Rye Bread sliced. This bread was made from a loose, moist dough and was SO EASY to make.

My very most favorite thing about making sourdough bread is the crust when the loaf is fresh out of the oven. It is brown and crispy and crackles as the bread cools. I love to eat the crunchy crust like a snack cracker or chip. It’s the best tasting “chip” ever!

Sourdough Bread
Look at those blisters in the crust!
Sourdough Bread 0030 wm
See the cracks that have formed? The formation of those cracks is what makes such a nice crackling sound as the bread cools.

I have plans for more posts on sourdough starters and sourdough breads. I hope that you will like them. Sourdough is definitely one of those things that cannot be addressed in a single post. We’ll start out talking about sourdough starters, of course. :)

I’ve added a few of my favorite associated resources for sourdough. I am learning from them by leaps and bounds and am loving the whole process. You Tube has been a great resource for me as I have studied about sourdough over the past month. I am a visual learner and luckily I stumbled across some very helpful video tutorials which motivated me to get up and bake!

  • Breadtopia — what is it about sourdough that makes people so nice? Sour bread, nice people. Go figure. You will enjoy this well organized sourdough blog by Eric and Denyce Rusch. There are great posts, videos and even a store.
  • Northwest Sourdough — very informative blog and many good video tutorials. Teresa Greenway, the blogger, has easy, gentle, can-do video inspiration. Beautiful hands, too. Again — sour bread, nice person!
  • Sourdoughs International — very good blog by Ed Wood and a GREAT place to purchase an exciting variety of sourdough starters and learn about sourdough starters from all over the world. Especially good information for the science behind sourdough.
  • My Sourdough Starters — fun, friendly, informative blog by Bill Karoly with sourdough starters for purchase. The selection of starters is fun and very wallet friendly. Remember wallets? People used to put money in them. Remember money? You must be OLD.

Sourdough Bread

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Raspberry Mousse with a Balsamic Reduction

Smooth and creamy, lightly sweet with a fruity tart finish, this Raspberry Mousse with a Balsamic Reduction is a lovely dessert for Spring.

Raspberry Mousse with a Balsamic Reduction

Onomatopoeia. That word has to fall into my favorite words category. It’s fun to say and it’s meaning makes me smile. If you’re a little lost on the pronunciation and definition of this word, here’s the low down:

Pronunciation: [on-uh-mat-uh-pee-uh] or [on-uh‐mah-tuh‐pee-uh]

Definition: making up a word to represent or imitate a sound — kaboom, meow, hiss, buzz, whir

The old Batman and Robin shows from the 1960’s were probably the most exuberant users of onomatopoeias with their near endless use of fight words. Pow! Sock! Clank! Swish! Krunch! Thunk! Oooff!

 

 

….all of these onomatopoeias lead me to think about kitchen associated noise words. Honestly, cooking will probably never be the same for me again. Each experience will play out in my head in a series of colorful cartoon inspired onomatopoeias.

Since blogging is about sharing one’s life, insights, discoveries and knowledge, I have made up some sound visuals for you. I want you, too, to be able to have full, lively cooking experiences. And give your family more reasons to think you are nuts. (insert smirk here).

  • Splish — eggs falling into batter
  • Ting — metal measuring spoon on side of pot or metal mixing bowl
  • Clang — cast iron pan on stove grate
  • Sizzle — anything frying
  • Tsssss — steak being placed on grill
  • Pop — soda can being opened, liquid hitting hot grease
  • Bumpf — loud sound of canned biscuits springing open
  • Snap — breaking fresh beans or asparagus, wooden spoon cracking
  • Hhhhuummmrrrrrrrrrr — stand mixer engaging
  • Clingclingcling or tangtangtang — tapping a stirring or mixing utensil on the side of a bowl or pot
  • Kunk — heavy pot bumping into whatever
  • Schlapschlapshlapschlapschlap… — batter being mixed in a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment
  • Vvvrrrrrip — tearing aluminum foil off of the roll
  • Scrape — getting the last bit of food out of or off of various items
  • >&#^!@* – expletive uttered in relation to burned dinner, misread recipe, fallen cake, lack of important ingredient that was in the pantry/fridge/freezer/cabinet yesterday but not today, seriously messy boil-over, any other troublesome or frustrating kitchen experience
  • Beep beep beep beepbeep beep — inputting settings on microwave (or oven)
  • Clink or clinnnnng — thin glass object against other glass object
  • Clunng — thicker glass object against other glass object
  • Flumpflumpflumpflumpflumpflumpflumpflump — bread dough hitting sides of bowl in stand mixer fitted with the hook attachment
  • Whiiiiirrrrr — most excellent sound of my Bosch mixer working some serious magic on bread dough

Raspberry Mousse with a Balsamic Reduction

Okay, that’s enough onomatopoeias. Here’s a recipe. Oooooo, aaaaaaah. Raspberry Mousse with a Balsamic Reduction. I LOVE it!

The raspberry mousse gave me a run for my money, almost from the very beginning. I was dutifully following a recipe I had come across and every single element went wrong. Usually I can point to a single thing that I did wrong in a recipe which caused the recipe to fail. This time, I did pretty much everything wrong, or rather, everything that I did went wrong. Those are two very different concepts and both are applicable in this instance.

As it turned out, the failures were a blessing. Because the initial recipe was problematic, I ended up developing my very own recipe. Cool. I like it when I can whole heartedly claim a recipe as my very own.

Raspberry Mousse with a Balsamic Reduction

I do need to clarify that the resulting recipe is not a true mousse because it does not have egg whites. I wanted it to have them, but I have turned into such a germaphobe that I could not bring myself to use egg whites without first bringing them to a temp of 160° F in a double boiler. I’ve done it in the past with Swiss Meringue Buttercream, but could not make them turn out right for this mousse recipe. As I sit here writing, I am fairly certain that I have just figured out what I did wrong with the egg whites. C’est la vie. I’m still calling this recipe Raspberry Mousse with a Balsamic Reduction.

Speaking of the balsamic reduction; in the photos it looks like chocolate. In one’s mouth, there is quite a different experience. A balsamic reduction is thick and sticky, sweet and fruity with a lovely tart finish. The sophistication of the reduction belies the ease with which it is made. Simmer some balsamic vinegar until it has reduced by half. Easy peasy lemon squeezy.

Raspberry Mousse with a Balsamic Reduction

As for the raspberries, oh my. I used good quality frozen organic raspberries. They were big, fat beautiful berries and so flavorful! Noooooo, the raspberries on top of the mousse are not frozen; they are fresh. And pricey at this time of year. And clearly not from the United States. And usually I would be PAAAAARticular about that sort of thing, but it’s Spring and I wanted to decorate the raspberry mousse with fresh raspberries. So, I supported a farmer local to somewhere in the world, via my grocery store guys, locally.

Raspberry Mousse with a Balsamic Reduction

I’m excited for you to taste this Raspberry Mousse with a Balsamic Reduction. It is smooth and creamy, sweet with a touch of tart and simply beautiful. If you are unsure of the balsamic reduction, chocolate sauce would be a wonderful replacement, especially if it was a dark chocolate sauce. Or, the mousse could be served simply, adorned only with sweetened whip cream and a few fresh berries.

Raspberry Mousse with a Balsamic Reduction

Print green and blue-2Raspberry Mousse with a Balsamic Reduction


Prep Time: 15 mins  |  Cook Time: 2 hrs 15 mins  |  Total Time: 2 hrs 30 mins
Yield: 8 servings

Refreshing with bright, sweet and tangy flavors, this raspberry mousse provides a lovely finish to almost any meal. Get ready for the applause.

Please note: The cook time includes refrigerator chilling time.


Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons water
  • 1 packet unflavored gelatin (from a 1 ounce total weight, 4 packet box)
  • 20 ounces (weight) frozen raspberries, thawed
  • 3/4 cup white granulated sugar, divided
  • 2 cups heavy whipping cream
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • ½ cup balsamic vinegar
  • 16 fresh raspberries, optional for garnish
  • 8 small mint leaves, optional for garnish

Instructions

  1. Add the water to a small bowl. Sprinkle the gelatin over the water and allow to sit for a few a minutes to soften.
  2. While the gelatin is softening, prepare the raspberries. Place thawed berries and ½ cup white sugar in a blender. Process on medium speed until smooth. Place a fine mesh sieve over a medium-size bowl. Strain berry puree through the sieve, pressing and stirring as needed to separate the berry puree from the seeds. Discard seeds.Raspberry Mousse with a Balsamic Reduction
  3. Place the small bowl of gelatin in the microwave. Heat for 10 seconds on 30% power; stir well to dissolve gelatin. Repeat if needed. Add the dissolved gelatin to the raspberry puree. Stir well to incorporate the gelatin into the puree. Cover bowl and refrigerate puree for about 1 hour until chilled and soft set.
  4. To a large mixing bowl, add the whipping cream, remaining ¼ cup sugar and the vanilla. Beat with an electric mixer until moderately stiff peaks form. Remove 3/4 cup whipped cream, cover and refrigerate.
  5. Beat the raspberry puree with the mixer for about 30 seconds. (It is not necessary to wash the beaters between whipping the cream and beating the puree.) Add the puree to the remaining whipped cream. Fold together well. Divide the mousse evenly between 8 dessert dishes. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour and up to overnight.
  6. To make the balsamic reduction: In a small sauce pot, over medium heat, bring the balsamic vinegar to a boil. Lower heat and let vinegar simmer until reduced by half (1/4 cup), about 7-10 minutes, stirring frequently. Watch carefully so that the vinegar does not burn. If the reduction gets too thick, add a small amount of vinegar to thin it out. Cool before serving.
  7. Finishing: Just prior to serving, top each dessert with a small dollop of the reserved whipped cream, two raspberries and a mint leaf. Drizzle each dessert with 1 ½ teaspoons of the balsamic reduction. Serve immediately.

Notes

One of the great things about making this dessert is that it can be done in stages. The mousse can be made ahead of time and refrigerated for up to 24 hours before serving. The balsamic reduction can also be made ahead of time and can sit, covered, at room temperature until ready to use.

Raspberry Mousse with a Balsamic Reduction

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