Sunday, December 27, 2009

Flour Power

I asked my friends Stephen and Frances D'Andrea (who were kind enough to invite me over for Christmas dinner, during which we sampled some impressively redesigned chocolate bars from Newman's Own Organics and some dubiously "natural" "sea salt" caramels from Lula's Chocolates) if they could help me figure out how to use my camera to take photos for this blog that look more like Steve's artful images. Steve, former art teacher and current amateur theorist working on his master's thesis in art history, responded to the request graciously, though Frances pointed out that it was a bit like someone asking me to show him what keys I push on my computer to turn out good essays. Put another way, it's like throwing crappy forastero beans into Valrhona's conch and expecting artisan chocolate to come out.

Speaking of crap, I wonder if the problem isn't my photos at all but my lackluster baking skills. We poured some of the Newman's stuff into an old chocolate souffle recipe, but the result was a nondescript chocolate blob in a circular container whose appearance was unimpressive and indistinguishable from my last domestic experiment, my great-aunt's chocolate cheesecake.

So, until I can gather up enough mojo to turn out recipes and photos as classy as those on 101 Cookbooks, I'm turning the camera and the kitchen over to Steve, who shares his recipe for the dinner rolls we made after dinner the other night.


Sourdough Cornmeal Dinner Rolls*

1 cup sourdough starter (see recipe below)
1 package active dry yeast
¾ cup warm water (110°–115°)
3 ¾ to 4 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
½ cup yellow cornmeal
¼ cup sugar
¼ cup butter or margarine, softened
1 egg
2 teaspoons salt
½ teaspoon baking soda

Bring sourdough starter to room temperature.

In mixer bowl dissolve yeast in water.

Stir in 1 cup of the flour, the cornmeal, sugar, butter, egg, salt, and starter. Beat at low speed of electric mixer for ½ minute, scraping sides of bowl. Beat 3 minutes at high speed.

Combine 1 cup flour and the baking soda; stir into sourdough mixture. Stir in as much remaining flour as you can mix in with a spoon.

Turn out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead in enough remaining flour to make a moderately stiff dough that is smooth and elastic (6–8 minutes total).

Shape into a ball. Place in greased bowl; turn once to grease surface. Cover; let rise in warm place until double, about 1 ½ hours.

Punch down; divide dough in half. Cover; let rest 10 minutes.

Roll each half of dough to ¼ inch thickness. Cut with floured round biscuit or cookie cutter.** Brush with melted butter. Make an off-center crease in each round. Fold so large half overlaps slightly.

Place 2 to 3 inches apart on greased baking sheets.

Cover; let rise until nearly double, about 30 minutes.

Bake in 375° oven for 18–20 minutes or until golden.


*Steve explains: The recipe comes from The Better Homes and Gardens All-Time Favorite Bread Recipes, 1979. I just checked on Amazon to see if it's still in print. Apparently it is not, but someone is selling a used copy for .01. Or there are several copies for sale on for .75. ISBN: 0696012103.

**Steve explains: I used a cookie cutter that resembled a petaled flower, increasing the suggestion of portions of the female anatomy.

Sourdough Starter

1 package active dry yeast
2 ½ cups warm water (110°–115°)
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon sugar or honey

Dissolve yeast in ½ cup water. Stir in remaining 2 cups water, the flour, and sugar or honey. Beat until smooth.

Cover with cheesecloth. Let stand at room temperature for 5–10 days or until bubbly; stir 2 to 3 three times each day. (Fermentation time depends upon room temperature. A warmer room hastens the fermentation process.)

To store, transfer sourdough starter to a jar and cover with cheesecloth; refrigerate. Do not cover jar tightly with a metal lid. To use starter, bring desired amount to room temperature. To replenish starter after using, stir ¾ cup all-purpose flour, ¾ cup water, and 1 teaspoon sugar or honey into remaining amount. Cover; let stand at room temperature at least 1 day or until bubbly. Refrigerate for later use.

If starter isn’t used within 10 days, stir in 1 teaspoon sugar or honey. Repeat every 10 days until used.


Anonymous LunaCafe said...

What a hoot! Who needs photos when the writing is this funny? :-) ...Susan

8:43 AM GMT-5  

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