Monday, May 28, 2012

My Sunny Weekend

The warm weather has finally hit the UK and I'm loving it! 

Brand new flouro Havs. I was chatting to the shop assistant at my local op shop and found them. She said "they're £2" even though they were not. When I protested and tried to give her the right money, she said "no, no, I'm reading the price tag and they are definitely £2." Bless. There was a sign that said "No discounts ever".

With sunshine the parks turn into seas of sunbathers. I took a book and a picnic rug to Hampstead Heath and it was crowded. It's hard to chillout with people yelling and throwing frisbees overhead. Not to mention dogs that come up and lick your the face.

Girls night out in Shoreditch. We hit up Coollah Callay and Nightjar, two of the best top 50 bars in the world and quite rightly in their own ways. These cocktails at Nightjar were exquisite. I had a beef cocktail, yup. Beef!

And here are the ingredients. To be honest, I could'nt taste anything but gin but that's my lazy palate.

Stumbled across a quaint Portugese patisserie in Mornington Crescent called Lisboa. There was a guy having one of these for breakfast and it looked so good I ordered one too. The staff are friendly and the food is delicious. Their coffee is true to the Portugese, spurring back fond holiday memories...

Sunday afternoon in Hyde Park at the Serpentine Lake. Gf and I shared a bottle of Prosecco and basked in the warmth. 

Taking the Boris bikes for a spin. 

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Sourdough Bread From Starter to Finish

I tried growing wild sourdough starter from water and white flour. Every day I discarded half, feed it, talked to it and kept it in a warm place. After a week, I nearly gave up. There were no signs of life. It smelt sour but refused to evolve into a lively yeast.

Here's what it looked like after a week. Just a few tiny bubbles.

So I fed it with whole rye flour instead, left it on a warm heater and saw the difference in a day!
After three days, the starter was really bubbly and strong enough to rise bread. It smelt yeasty and sour.

When it spills out of the bottle, it's time for it to graduate into sourdough bread.  

As a first attempt, I made a dough with plain white flour, warm water mixed with 1 tsp sugar, 1 tsp of salt, and 1 tab olive oil. Mixed thoroughly with a wooden spoon and let it sit covered for four hours. It was too sticky to knead and for max bubbles I needed a wet dough.

After four hours it doubled in size.

My starter was doing it's job nicely. Lots of gluten strands and air bubbles.

After a punch down with the wooden spoon, I let it sit in it's baking pan for four hours and baked at the highest temperature in my oven (gas mark 9) for 20 mins. (EDIT: I should have covered this up while proofing as a crust has formed over the dough.)

Looks OK but I baked it in a steel bowl which did'nt conduct heat. The bottom was still undercooked.

My next attempt was with half white flour and half wholemeal breadmaking flour. This time I used a proper baking tin.
I baked for 15 mins on gasmark 9 and 20 on gasmark 8. It was in the oven for 5 min too long. It was too crusty but smells and tasted great. I was excited to have made real sourdough bread! (EDIT years later: this is terrible sourdough :P I was given a better starter by friend and can make a decent loaf. I have an updated a new post.)