Week at a Glance (April 5 – April 11)

A week of donning protective masks.
Gingham bandits at the grocery store.
Another week of gratitude for the open spaces
that provide respite from the shelter in place edict.
A week of bread and the wonder of sourdough.
The living, breathing rise of an overnight sponge.
A week of forsythia twigs thrust into planters, 
of thriving branches shooting from a rotting trunk,
and a cluster of daffodils nodding in the breeze.
World in disarray, but Spring will not be deterred 

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

English Muffins (Sourdough)

 

I adapted this recipe from a King Arthur Flour cookbook that was published in 1970. It was the first recipe that I made with the sourdough starter that my friend, Gail, was kind enough to share with me.

The starter (aka April) has been spending time happily bubbling on the counter next to the stove. As long as she’s well fed (equal amounts flour and water by weight), she willingly provided enough starter for these muffins, and the sandwich bread I made yesterday.

Ingredients:

*1 cup sourdough starter
1 1/2 cups lukewarm water
5 1/2 – 6 cups King Arthur All-Purpose Flour
1 TBS sugar
1 TBS salt ( I used table salt instead of Kosher because of the age of the recipe)
1 tsp baking soda
cornmeal for the baking sheet

The Sponge
Making this the night before means you can have English Muffins for breakfast!

In a glass or ceramic bowl, mix the *starter, water, and 3 cups of flour. Cover with plastic wrap and leave it on the counter to happily bubble and combine overnight.

The Dough

In the morning, whisk the sugar, salt, baking soda, and 2 1/2 cups flour in a separate bowl.
Stir this mixture into the sponge. The mixture is pretty thick, so do the best you can. Cover with plastic wrap and let it relax for about an hour.
After about an hour, turn the dough onto a floured board. Knead for a few minutes until the dough is smooth.
Using a floured rolling pin, roll it out until it’s between 1/4 and 1/2 inch thick. You might want to divide the dough into two balls for ease of use.
Cut out circles between 3 and 4 inches in diameter. Place the muffins on a cookie sheet that has been sprinkled with cornmeal. Let rest for at least 15 minutes.

Cooking

Place muffins, cornmeal side down, a couple of inches apart on a lightly greased frying pan or griddle. You’ll have to do this in batches. These muffins are cooked on very low heat. Cook slowly for 10 minutes. The muffins will shrink in diameter and puff up somewhat as they are cooking. Turn the muffins over and cook for 10 more minutes on the second side.

Toasting

Once the muffins have cooled, split muffins with a fork and toast them. Leftovers keep well for a day or two, and freeze well.

  • To be honest, April and I were not well acquainted when I made these. She had just arrived, and I wasn’t sure how sturdy she was and how she was feeling about her new home, so I added a half teaspoon of commercial yeast to the sponge. Given the scarcity of flour these days, I didn’t want to waste it if April wasn’t up to the task.
  • We’ve since bonded. Next batch, she’s on her own.

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Week at a Glance (March 29-April 4)

A week that included a flurry of baking.
Pumpkin corn muffins and English muffins
and No-Knead Sandwich Bread on the menu.
My need to keep busy producing sustenance.
A week when days of rain caused buds to appear
on the Lilac bush, and Daffodils to bloom.
A week when I was gifted with a sourdough starter.
The task of keeping it alive and fed adding
a needed new adventure, and a reason to smile
on these days when danger seems to lurk at every turn. 

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

No-Knead Sandwich Loaf

IMG_7105

This easy No-Knead loaf is thanks to Alexandra Stafford’s recipe in Bread Toast Crumbs. I’ve adapted the recipe to make one loaf, but it could easily be doubled.

Sandwich Bread
One Loaf

Ingredients:

3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
1 1/4 teaspoons instant yeast
1 1/2 cups lukewarm water
3 TBS neutral oil
Softened butter, for greasing

Method:

1. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, sugar, and instant yeast. Add the water, followed by the oil. Using a rubber spatula, mix until the water is absorbed and the ingredients form a sticky dough.
2. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and set aside in a warm spot to rise for 1 to 1 1/2 hours, until the dough has doubled in bulk.
3. Preheat oven to 375° F. Grease a 8.5 x 4.5 inch loaf pan with softened butter—be generous. Deflate the dough by releasing it from the sides of the bowl and pulling it toward the center. Rotate the bowl quarter turns as you deflate, turning the mass into a rough ball.
4. With greased hands, lift the dough into a prepared loaf pan. Do not cover the pan. Let the dough rise on the countertop near the oven (or another warm, draft-free spot) for 20 to 25 minutes, until the top of the dough just crowns the rim of the loaf pan.
5. Transfer the pan to the oven and bake for 40 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven and turn the loaf out onto a cooling rack. Let the loaf rest on its side for at least 15 minutes before cutting.

Note: Makes great grilled cheese sandwiches. Bet it would also be good for French toast.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Corn Muffins with a Twist

IMG_7100

The twist is the addition of canned pumpkin. Like me, you probably have a can or two left over from the pumpkin pie days of last fall. I adapted this recipe from one I found on line. Please forgive me whoever originally posted it. When I copied the recipe, I eliminated the source.

Ingredients:

1 cup plain *canned pumpkin
1 cup low fat milk
1/4 cup plus 2 TBS honey
1/4 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1 1/4 cups yellow corn meal
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 TBS baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
4 TBS butter (melted)

Method:

1. Preheat oven to 400. Generously grease pans with butter or spray. This recipe will make 12 regular or 24 mini-muffins, plus 3 regular muffins.

2. Whisk together the pumpkin, milk, honey, sugar and eggs in a separate bowl.

3. In a large bowl, whisk together the cornmeal, flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon.

4. Add the wet ingredients and the melted butter to the dry ingredients. Mix with a wooden spoon until just combined. Let sit for a minute or two.

5. Spoon into muffin tins, filling each cup to the top. Bake until tops are golden, and muffins are firm to the touch. Mini muffins should take about 11 minutes to bake. Regular muffins about 20 minutes. Leave in the pan for about five minutes before turning them out to a wire rack to cool.

Note: A can contains two cups. Save the second cup. These muffins are really good. You’ll want to make them again!

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Forsythia

IMG_7089

with a yellow splash
burst from a tangle of twigs
forsythia blooms

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Week at a Glance (March 22-March 28)

A week of social distancing.
Of gratitude for our beaches and bogs.
Outside spaces that provide moments of tranquility
in addition to needed fresh air and exercise.
A week where flowers burst through the soil
oblivious to
 the atmosphere around them.
A week for a dock, now empty, to remind us
that boats will once again dot the harbor. 
And a week for two lumps of pizza dough.
One for now, and one to freeze for future need.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment