Sourdough backlog

A three-day weekend meant I had time to work through my backlog….of sourdough.

Here’s the thing with sourdough. You feed your little pet but you don’t feed all of it because if you do, you end up with more than you know what to do with. You feed only a portion of your starter and either throw the rest away or use it. (King Arthur Flour has blog posts devoted to how to use up your excess starter.)

Several weeks ago I fed the whole thing. And then did the same the following week. Think of it like a nest full of baby birds, all chirping “feed me!”

Fast forward to this weekend, when I had about 32 ounces of beautiful sourdough starter, filling multiple containers. Yeah, I know it’s just flour and water, but the idea of feeding only 4 ounces and throwing away the other 28 ounces of beautiful bubbling starter was just wrong.

In addition, in the back of my head I could hear the chef who teaches my current baking class, lecturing us about how we should never throw anything away, because it can always be repurposed. For example, accidentally use way too much salt in a dough? Make some kind of dough decoration. Mess up the cookies so they don’t look attractive? Grind them into crumbs and use them to decorate a cake. (I had some in the freezer and did just that this weekend.)

So with all of that lovely starter, I made several loaves and lots of rolls, using one of my favorite King Arthur Flour sourdough bread recipes, which includes whole-wheat flour as well as seeds and flaked whole grains. (For each roll, I used about 55 grams/2 ounces of dough.) In many sourdough recipes, you can use fed or unfed starter.

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We now have lots of great-tasting bread in the house, and I am back down to reasonable sourdough proportions. I know you were worried about me.

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Frangipane-Prune Tart

Dried-fruit producers clearly are trying to rehab the poor prune’s image, from being associated with — as a recent New York Times article wrote — “constipated octogenarians praying on spoonfuls of paste.” The Times‘ article explained that in the early 2000s, the California Prune Board

officially changed its name to the California Dried Plum Board, hoping to avoid the association entirely. “We thought maybe the stigma was too much of a challenge for us to overcome,” Donn Zea, the board’s director, [said]. And “dried plum” was an accurate description: “It’s a plum. It grows on a tree. We dry them.”

Read the article here. And then bake the Frangipane-Prune Tart.

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Here’s my tart. I used the crust from another Times’ frangipane tart recipe.

Forget any stigma. It’s a plum. It grows on a tree. It’s dried. And gee is it great, steeped in earl grey tea, in this terrific tart. I might have leftovers for breakfast tomorrow.

 

Mocha-ricotta puffs

Every time I open Dorie Greenspan’s new book, Dorie’s Cookies, I find something….too many somethings…I want to bake. But today picking a recipe was easy.

Often what I cook or bake depends on what we have in the fridge and what needs to be used up. For example, the crumbs from various boxes of cereal went into sourdough bread this weekend, substituting for the seeds and flaked grains the recipe called for. (Yeah, that bread did indeed come out a little dense.) We also had some ricotta that needed to be used, so when Spouse said he wanted to make pancakes for breakfast, I suggested that he use Mark Bittman’s lemon-ricotta pancakes, instead of his go-to, which is another Bittman recipe.

But even after those pancakes, we still had ricotta left over. Luckily, Dorie Greenspan has a cookie for that: mocha-ricotta puffs.

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Mine turned out a bit darker than the recipe in her book, probably because I used a tad bit more instant espresso than the recipe called for.

They’re terrific little cookies. Ricotta and yogurt make them tender yet substantial. They still have crisp edges.

They would make excellent sandwich cookies, with either a ganache or vanilla filling.

Speaking of how my cookies look compared to the photo accompanying a recipe: In my last post about Moroccan semolina and almond cookies, I noted that my cookies did not look like those in the photo that accompanied the New York Times’ recipe. They do, however, look like the cookies in the photo that accompanies the source recipe: Greenspan’s cookie book! You can see the photo that Greenspan uses in her book here.