Sunday, February 5, 2012

Sour Dough and Sour Oranges

Since finishing my sourdough starter last week for the Tea & Cookies Cooking Challenge, it’s been hanging out the refrigerator.  Waiting.  Beyond the fact that I was busy with the caramels for the Icing Smiles Magic of a Smile gala, the starter develops more flavor and tang as it ages.  But it seemed like it was about time to start doing something with it since I have so much. 

The two recipes I chose to start with, Extra-Tangy Sourdough Bread and Sourdough Chocolate Cake, both required about a cup of “fed” starter.  To feed the starter, I measured out one-half cup of refrigerated starter for each recipe then added one-half cup of flour and one-quarter cup of tepid water, stirred them up and let them sit until doubled in size. 

In between this, I had finally made the decision that it was time to harvest the oranges off of the dwarf tree in the living room.  Some of the branches looked like they could break at any moment.  If these were sweet oranges that could be eaten out of hand, I may have left them on the tree and just used them as I wanted/needed them.  However, that’s not the case.  I’ve tried the oranges a couple of times in the last two months trying to gauge their ripeness.  Both times it was like eating lemons instead of oranges.  Through some Internet research, I think I’ve finally identified these as calamondin oranges.  They will never be sweet.  This does put some limitations on what I can do with them. 

So I’ll turn to the never-fail solution for citrus:  marmalade.  To be finished tomorrow.

In the meantime, my starters being ready, I mixed up the first steps of the bread as it needed to sit at room temp for four hours before going in the refrigerator overnight.  The chocolate cake also needed some fermentation time for the starter with some flour and milk, so that part was mixed and set aside.  Until about 10:00 p.m. when I finally had time to get back to it.

As this was a recipe I’ve not made before, I chose to make cupcakes instead of cake.  Cupcakes just seem to be easier to share than a cake with a piece missing.  I’d like to say I stayed true to the recipe, but that’s not the case.  This was one of the strangest batters I’ve ever worked with.  The addition of the sourdough starter made it gave the batter a texture that was most unappealing in its raw form.  It left me wondering what the baked version would be like.  I also had to consider that instead of using all vegetable oil, the majority of the fat I used was butter.  This may have had an effect on the final texture as well.  When I checked them during baking, I was concerned I had overfilled the cups, but fortunately they came out with perfect high domes without overflowing.  They’re not iced yet, but the one I tried seemed a little dry and not nearly chocolaty enough.  I’m wondering if the recipe would be better as written (imagine that!) with all vegetable oil and in cake form, but not enough that I’ll try it.

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