Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Newsletter April 2017 Sourdough and a Bad Dog

Email from a Reader

Hello Sharon,
Thank you so much. We received the Baker’s Sampler yesterday.

So far, we sampled the chocolate bread (yay dessert), gingerbread (I really enjoyed the clove) & English muffin-cinnamon (toasted- cut in half as disks, slathered in yes, pasture-raised butter).

Your newsletter post about including animal fat in the bread was super-inspiring. The fat lends a singular satisfying element.

When I was a child, we would visit Argentina and have "factura" which are tea time pastries made of bread and tallow and sugar topped with quince jam or a custard. OMG

In my most recent baking exploits, 2 sourdough & 1 bread event slowed things down:
1. Jasper my redbone coonhound dog got into a batch of sourdough
2. I neglected to feed a starter and got mold :(
3. Jasper ate a full pan of bread.

Jasper is the quintessential "bad dog" when it comes to food.
Worse than a chocolate lab.

I finally baked a loaf again. This loaf was a full-on buckwheat starter with milk kefir whey, coconut flour, salt, eggs, bacon drippings & chicken schmaltz (chicken fat). I forgot to add both chia and flax seeds. It was still a success.
Half is frozen, half is high above out of any possible dog reach.

My prior successful bread batches consisted of:
teff starter made with milk kefir whey
coconut flour
olive oil
flax & chia gels
bacon drippings

I baked these uncloched (uncovered) and they became very DENSE biscuits.

The next trial, Round 2, baked up softer, given that I used a cloche (cover).

On another note,  I am using Milk Kefir to boost my starters because it seems to be beneficial for me. Also, I have not had great success with water kefir. Also, my kombucha seems too sugary.

Joyous, delicious baking to you :)

Hello C,
Thanks for your feedback of my Baker’s Sampler so far. Also thanks for the interesting and humorous stories of your baking adventures. It is obvious to me that Jasper is a well educated dog as he truly enjoys the benefits of sourdough starter as well as the finished bread.

Sorry to hear your starter got mold. Gluten-free starters are more delicate than wheat or rye starters and need to be fed regularly to prevent spoilage.

I’m so glad you found my animal fat post inspiring. I hope more people will come around to the possibility that animal fat builds health rather than hurts it. It is a good source of energy that digests slowly, reducing hunger. Using animal fat is also a good way to rotate your diet rather than eat the same fats all the time. (Food rotation is important for people healing leaky gut. Everything in moderation, of course.)

One questions about Factura, the Argentinean tea time pastries made of bread and tallow? Could you taste the tallow or did it blend into the pastry? I never noticed a tallow or lard taste in my breads or cookies when I use it. However, sometimes when I use a soup fat that had been heavily seasoned, the taste of the seasonings goes into the fat, and then into the bread, giving it some delicate, savory spice.

I found your buckwheat-coconut flour bread very interesting as far as flour combinations. I always think of buckwheat making a very spongy bread that tends to be dry without enough water in the starter. I also think of coconut flour as a super absorbent flour with a tendency to be dry without enough oil in the finished product.

In my experience, using those flours together might make a severely dry bread. However, the oil, bacon fat and eggs would help balance any density as would chia and/or flax gel.

I must try this combination the next time I experiment. The bonus is that I could use up a trifle of the enormous amount of fat in my freezer.

Sometimes I use a “cloche” or cover for the breads during baking and really appreciate the soft top it gives. Other times I like the slightly crusty tops. Cloches can be oven-proof glass, clay, (sometimes people use clean flower pots), or a simple metal baking pan placed over the bread pan.

I’m glad to hear the milk kefir is working well for your starters. For those who are unfamiliar with milk kefir, it is a culture that will ferment milk into a yogurt-like product. The actual combination of bacteria and yeast are different than yogurt cultures so the taste and texture are different than yogurt.

In my early gluten-free sourdough experiments, I used it as a booster and saw that it gives a bit more lift than water kefir-boosted starters. Unfortunately, I had to give it up because I couldn't tolerate it. I continued making it for my family, though, making milk kefir liquid for morning hot cereal as well as milk kefir cheese. I would snitch a bit as I made the cheese. I really loved the sour, creaminess of the milk kefir cheese.

I would make the milk kefir, which means adding the kefir culture to the milk and let it sit on the counter until it separated. For cheese, I would pour it into a strainer lined with a cloth, tie up the cloth and let the whey (water) drip out.  Depending on how long it hung and how much whey dripped out, I could make yogurt, cream cheese or farmer cheese. The whey was excellent for boosting starter or just drinking as a probiotics tonic.

 Milk Kefir separating
Milk Kefir strained with a metal strainer for cheese. The whey drips into the bottom of a bowl for other uses.
If you are interested in trying Milk Kefir, here's a link to an excellent company to purchase the culture. Cultures for Health

Thanks again for your feedback and sharing!
All the best,

I received a follow up from C about how the taste of the animal fat blended right into the factura pastries from Argentina.

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