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Sour Bakery

from barm to table

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wild yeast

I recently had some bananas that were perfect for banana bread. But, I did not want to make banana bread. I LOVE to experiment! It is why I want to open my own bakery: so I have control of what I make and when I can try new things.

In recent posts, I wrote about a wild yeast cinnamon roll recipe that I was experimenting on. So, I decided to stuff that dough with mashed bananas, chocolate, nuts, and peanut butter.

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This is what it looked like before the roll: I wanted to try two different types. Half was chocolate, peanut butter and banana, the other half was banana and walnut. Rolling these was a bit messy. I realized that if I was going to have so much yummy gooeyness I need to leave more empty space for the goo to expand on.

Once I had it rolled I really thought it was not going to work, so much so that I did not bother taking pictures. I shoved the pan into the fridge overnight, filled with barely rolled, explodingly gooey rolls and thought, well- experimenting is half the fun. They will probably taste good…

This morning I got up and started taking my loaves out for bake-off. After the third round of removing a few baskets at a time I remembered the rolls. Cringing slightly, I took the pan from the fridge and inspected the mess. There was so much liquid I thought that baking them was going to be a mistake. But, I chose to bake them anyway. No one would have to know if they were terrible.

I am so glad that I baked them off! They are absolutely delicious and I am getting ready to make some more tomorrow, with a few tweaks.

For me, baking is all about imagining something that might taste great, and applying that idea to your existing knowledge. Sometimes, it will flop, but sometimes it will be absolutely delicious!

 

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I am so lucky that I have been able to work on my art more, now that I only have one job. My repertoire has expanded and I would like to create a list that exists outside of myself, for any to see, so that it exists beyond me and makes what I am doing more real. My loaves are not always as big, not always as tasty, and not always as beautifully open as I would like them to be. I am not always as patient nor as confident in myself as I should be after all these years. But there is hope. There is always hope.

Here are the loaves that I sell:

vegan

classic sour, roasted onion garlic potato and herb, sundried tomato and garlic, salted rosemary, olive garlic and pepper, seeded

cheesy

caprese, garlic cheddar, jalapeƱo cheddar, chipotle cheddar, habanero cheddar, artichoke parmesan and garlic

meat

bacon apple gouda

sweet

raspberry and white chocolate, cinnamon and raisin, dark chocolate cherry and pecan

I am always experimenting, it is one of the greatest joys in baking! Not only do I make these phenomenal loaves, I also make cinnamon rolls, crackers, biscuits, and sweets. All with a wild yeast starter!

These turned out absolutely delicious, and absolutely HUGE! I experimented with extra sweet potato and no buttermilk, leading to a tender and sweet roll. White chocolate and milk chocolate created a decedent treat. I need to recreate them soon!

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My loaves have always been about a pound and a half, before I add in extra tasty bits. I decided that, maybe, they were too big. So I’ve reduced my loaves to about a pound and a quarter. I haven’t reduced my initial dough recipe yet, so I had a bit of extra. The other day I made a roll; today I tried a mini baguette. I notice that people seem to buy baguettes more than a loaf when I snoop on other bread makers. So, I might start making souguettes (sourdough baguettes). It was fun forming a different loaf, but I will need to work on form and mess with the proofing time.

I don’t always eat all the bread; I don’t know enough people here yet to hand it out, but I so love creating it, watching it, messing with it, and seeing how my creations turn out.

When feeding the starter, barm, or pulling some out for sourdough breads, there is always extra. I feel so sad just tossing it down the drain: the lovely, happy, and active yeast has no idea what awaits it down the drain hole and all its potential slips away. Sigh, I have tossed the extra more times than I care to admit.

In the past year I have started making crackers, herbed and garlic, as well as cinnamon spice. Yesterday I branched into unknown territory. Having recently satisfied my sweet tooth with a delicious cinnamon roll I thought I would try using started as the yeast in my own sticky bun.

I made the dough using a rich dough recipe, replacing the baking soda and powder as well as some of the flour and milk, with the starter. Leaving it to proof, I realized I did not have any pecans. If they couldn’t be nutty, they would be fruity sticky buns. I did have some peaches that were heading out, and some green apples I had just bought. So I made the buns three ways: classic spiced cinnamon, spicy apple, and sweet peach.

Experimenting, which seems to be a major theme of Sour Bakery, is so much fun! When I was at the Academy I was told I had to get the “classic” recipe correct before I should branch out to “oddities”. While I respect the classics, I think that a person can learn how to do what should be done while trying out what has not been done.

My first try turned out beautifully, spread out a bit to thin, my sheet pan was to big! I think I will try these in jumbo muffin tins next. I loved how the fruit filling blended with the spices, and the fruit that ended up on top changed the flavor of the caramel sauce. I had one for dinner, and another for dessert. Oh, and one for breakfast too.

I think I would sell these for $3, once I get them perfect and tall and crispily gooey.

Also, as a side note: I think I make up a lot of words. And I forget words and use odd words to replace that which has been forgot.

 

I am so excited to have a happy, healthy barm in my kitchen! I am also super excited to have all my baskets, baking stone, and other tools I need to make bread. The truck that had our stuff took its sweet time moving across the country. But, it’s all mine once again, and I am ready to go!

The home in Durham is so much warmer, my bread proofs like a slowly inflated balloon. In Santa Cruz I had to create a proof box, put it in a sunny spot, and pray for a miracle. Here, sits on my counter and -poof- pillowy soft gooshy goodness. I am not too sure about this oven. I’ve been using gas for awhile, and now I’m back to electric. Temp of the oven seems pretty good though.

In looking at other bakers breads I notice that they love having that nice open, holey, crumb. I don’t know. I like a bread that you can slice as thick as a finger, slather on some melted butter and jam, and not worry too much about all that goodness slithering down your hand as you gobble it up. I degas my loaves gently, but always feel best about my bread when it has solid, small to medium, bubbles.

I love experimenting: flavors, mix-ins, ratios, and scoring. I’m trying my hand at an “S”. Think the loaves tomorrow will have a tiny “s” and some other embellishments. I know the score is what opens the loaf and lends it some shape, but it is just so fun to see what happens.

All my loaves are between a pound and a pound plus a quarter. I sell my classic sourdough for $5. I think that is reasonable. I have also been exploring trade and barter.

 

A month ago, to the day nearly, I arrived in Durham, North Carolina. Most of my possessions came later (including most of my baking supplies. But I brought my partner, my two cats, and my barm. I have had this beauty since 2009 in Seattle. She has made 1,000+ loaves, crackers, pancakes, and cinnamon rolls. She has been in the San Francisco wild yeast air, and survived at least 5 moves.

I put her in a refrigerator bag, brought my scale, water filter, and flour. I think that my barm took up as much space as a cat, and I worried about her nearly as much. Once in Durham I noticed that she seemed sluggish, super sour, and not especially yeasty. She smelled like sea weed and rice, an olfactory flavor I had never smelled in her. I knew that the trip had been difficult. It was difficult for all of us (We had to drug one of the cats and she still yowled and rubbed her nose raw a few hours a day for 6 days). I just didn’t realize how rough it was on her.

Thinking back is like watching a movie that you have already memorized: you see all the plot twists and know exactly where the main character messes up. The car was not an even enough temperature. I left her in there for no more than 10 minutes (to use the bathroom, check into the hotel, get gas…) but it was enough time for her environment to shift too much, even in the refer bag. I fed her every night (should have been twice a day), and should have used bottles water, not just filtered from the tap.

Well (once “home”), I fed her a few times a day, but no change in her look or odor, for 5 days. I decided to go back to the feed from when I first started her from pineapple juice. I fed her honey, with the water and flour mix. I fed her honey for 3 days. On the fourth morning, she had exploded! She smelled like sweet yeast, bread, and heaven. I literally hugged her container, crooning to her like a baby. I think my partner feels I am a little crazy (he had been suggesting I start over with a new one, to which I nodded but secretly seethed at him-never abandon your barm!).

I am happy to say she is back. She’s off the honey and still growing well with each feed. My first Sour dough loaves in Durham are about ready. Time to break in the oven!!

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Olive you! I remember being younger and learning that if you mouthed “olive juice” it looked like you were saying “I love you”. Its been awhile since such innocent childhood moments. Now, when I make this bread, I’ll chop up some olives really small and put them in the cat food bowls. I think they smell the olives as soon as I get ready to make the Olive Loaf and they are waiting as close as they can get. While they eat the olives I’ll rub some juice on their coats. It is pretty hilarious watching them chase each other around and go into a licking frenzy. Of course, all this happens after the bread has been put away to proof, so cat hair is not an issue!

In truth though, I love olives. My sisters and I would put olives on our finger tips, become olive monsters, then eat them one by one, over and over until our stomachs near burst. It wasn’t until later in life that I learned the beauty of Kalamata olives, and green olives stuffed with garlic. This loaf has been inspired by the variety and complexity of different olives. When I get an olive loaf from a market stand I generally enjoy it. The bites with olive, usually Kalamata are glorious, but infrequent.

My Olive Loaf is full of Kalamata and Green olives, as well as pickled garlic and a hint of pepper. The pepper is coarse ground so some bites come out spicy, some oliv-ie. But I can confidently say that no loaf I have ever tried comes close to the heaven that exists in my Olive Loaf.

Olives: “olive juice”!

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Artichokes are just lovely. The flavor is so subtle that artichokes are often overpowered by the other foods we put them with. I tried a loaf of bread once that had, literally, been stuffed with an artichoke. Just one, and in the middle of the bread. It was a disappointing experience, but it inspired this loaf.

I marinate the artichokes with olive oil and herbs. There is also slivered garlic and chunks of parmesan. These flavor combine to support and enhance the delicate artichoke, with a lovely creamy finish.

Santa Cruz was just outside Gilroy, the artichoke capital. Hoping to find some amazing providers here in Durham.

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