sourdough

i first learned about sourdough in intermediate baking with chef wetter. sourdough is so interesting! it is also a challenge because the yeast is alive and has its own personality. instant yeast is great for making a lot of great breads, but there’s always something special about sourdough.

to start a sourdough starter, people just leave out some flour and water and let the natural yeast in the air start colonizing in there. the flavor of your sourdough will be different depending on the wild yeast in the air in your area. i haven’t started my own starter; i think it is pretty challenging from what i hear. my sourdough starter is from the one chef wetter started about six years ago. to keep the starter going, it has to be fed regularly or else the yeast will run out of food, get too acidic, and die. for example, i feed mine once a week, leave it out for a little while, and then keep it in the fridge for the rest of the time. if you don’t feed it regularly, it might need to be revived. for long term storage, the starter can be put in the freezer and later revived.

for the past few months, i’ve been making sourdough every week. i named my sourdough “Fred.” it’s good to name your sourdough because he’s basically like your pet. well except you can put him in the fridge and freezer… anyway, it’s been a great learning experience figuring out the right schedule for Fred, and figuring out what conditions bring out his awesomeness the best. usually i feed him once a week, which means i take part of him, add flour and water, and knead him and beat him up a bit (helps develop gluten and incorporate oxygen). i am not an abusive parent to my sourdough! it’s what he needs. anyway, then i take another part of him as the starter for my weekly bread. the rest i toss. you have to toss part of your sourdough every time or else he’ll just keep getting bigger and bigger.

this week i had a breakthrough! actually first Fred kind of became dormant, and i was worried about him. for Fred to be ready to make bread, he has to be able to double in size after feeding in 6-8 hours. he hardly was rising in 8 hours, so i had to go back to the revival schedule and feed him once a day until he was ready. he was really kicking after that! doubling in a good 6 hours. i think one mistake i was making was i would feed him and put him straight into the fridge, which means the yeast didn’t have the chance to multiply enough for the next week. i think he needs to stay out for about an hour after feeding, and probably needs to come out of the fridge for a couple hours before his next feeding.

so anyway, this week the bread was really beautiful. great crust, nice soft fluffy interior, and great flavor. GOOD JOB, FRED!!!

update

hmm i haven’t updated my blog in a while! well, it has been a busy year. i finished culinary school in may, hooray! i’ve been working as a cook for about a year and a half now, and it’s been going pretty good. now that cooking is my job and not just my hobby, i kind of don’t know what to put in my blog. i have some recipes i might post, but it’s hard to remember to take pictures! i might post some more crafty things and bunny related things instead. we’ll see!

 

finding nemo cupcakes

here’s some finding nemo cupcakes i made for ryder’s 2nd birthday party. they’re funfetti (homemade) with vanilla buttercream. they came out pretty good:

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nemo, dore, the turtle, the pink octopus, seaweed, and coral.

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here’s a close-up:

it was a fun little project.

gingerbread

gingerbread was our second main project in confisserie. i kind of didn’t want to construct anything after pastillage, so i decided to make a rabbit sleigh. actually i had one other idea, the trojan rabbit, but i didn’t think chef brown would go for that. anyway, i’m glad i went with the sleigh since it’s more christmas-y. so first i had to get the shape with some input from chef brown. looks good!

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then i made the sleigh body out of special strong but bendable cardboard and lots of masking tape.

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then cover the sleigh with gingerbread! yes, cardboard is not edible, but i wasn’t entering mine in the food show and it would have been really hard to make it without the cardboard, so oh well. then some egg wash and bake. the egg wash kind of had a cool effect, almost like old looking wood.

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then cover the interior and bake as well. also fill in some of the edges with gingerbread and then sand down for a nice smooth edge.

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more egg wash and bake to desired color. i think this was some egg yolks and sugar to get it a little more brown.

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then i cut and baked the feet, then sanded down and egg washed. egg wash had a little black food coloring to give it a darker color.

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gingerbread rabbits! had some issues, but overall they came out pretty good. only one is standing because it’s hard to get them standing… the other ones are resting.

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after baking them, egg wash lightly and toss in granulated sugar. some ears got a little burnt but kind of cute actually. also, make scarves!!! those are made of marzipan and fondant.

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the sleigh needed a little simple decoration around the sides as well as royal icing snowflakes. those were really hard to make. hardest part of this project.

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santa bunny and his little helper with his marzipan and fondant presents and CARROT!

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BUNNIES!!!

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here’s the completed piece. bunnies!!!

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bunny close-up!!!

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after we finished all these, they were donated to local hospitals, so that’s nice. merry christmas!

pastillage

in confisserie we mainly worked on two big centerpiece projects, pastillage and gingerbread. pastillage is made of corn starch, powdered sugar, gelatin, and water. you mix it for a long time, then it is this interesting moldable thing that becomes really hard when it dries. after it dries, it gets sanded and then you can even carve it, etc., and glue it together with royal icing or superglue. i chose kind of a crazy design that was really hard to put together… i made this out of paper before for fun and for wedding centerpieces. it is much easier to make out of paper. here is a link in case you’d like to try

i had dreams every night about this thing breaking and it broke like 20 times, but in the end i made it work. take that, pastillage! it was really really hard. i almost gave up. chef brown actually gave me permission to give up. but in the end, i got it to work. actually the last piece i put in i deliberately broke in half because it couldn’t fit and then i sanded it down to make it appear continuous, but it’s just an illusion. when things don’t work, sometimes you just gotta brute force it.

here’s some of the pieces. i needed 30 units. i had to make one unit out of cardstock (the base is an equilateral triangle), then use that to make a plaster of paris mold. then each piece had to be sanded and cut with a saw at like 90 degrees from two directions and the point thing had to be 30 degrees… it was pretty complicated. then i had to superglue stuff together.

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hey the first one’s easy.

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this one wasn’t too bad either…

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number three is always the hardest one to do, even with paper. it was so hard… and the other two kept breaking…

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this one was really hard too and the other three kept breaking.

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by the fifth one, there’s like no wiggle room. i started sanding them down so they’d be skinnier. lots more breaking. brute force in the end…

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i also made a small pyramid to act as the stand. that was so easy compared to the main thing. good thing it worked…

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finally done!

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here’s a couple of my classmate’s ones:

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couple more:

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these are actually socles, so they are supposed to hold croquembouche (cream puffs dipped in caramelized sugar), so at the end of the class we did that.

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here’s some of them lined up in the hallway:

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