How to Maintain Your Sourdough Starter

Maintaining your Sourdough Starter

If, like me,  you’ve decided to start baking Sourdough Bread the FIRST thing you must know is how to maintain your sourdough starter. And there are certain rules, that probably, if you are like me, you will have a problem with… Namely throwing away some at each feeding… If you don’t learn this one thing, you will need to rent the neighbor’s pool the day after you fill yours… approximately 12 days from now. I’m not kidding…

You have a choice. You may either keep  your starter in the refrigerator and give it weekly feedings. Which is what I highly recommend.  Or, you may choose to keep it on your counter top and feed it every 12 hours. That’s ok, too. I do both, actually. The reason you may want it on your countertop is that you don’t have to ‘wait’ to cook with it.

If  it is in your refrigerator you need to bring it to room temperature, 24 hours prior to when you’d like to bake bread and feed it a couple of times, at 12 hour intervals. Then you may proceed to bake.

This post is to show you what happens after a mere 4 feedings of sourdough starter, if you decide NOT to throw any away… My goal is to help you, from day ONE, not to become so attached to this precious starter that you find yourself up to our elbows in this fragrant, yeasty, doughy substance. Oh, it will happen!

We will begin with a small amount of very, very happy starter.  It grows and flourishes happily in it’s little container. BTW, you will need a container that will hold about 3 times the amount of starter you have. I like glass jars because I can see what’s happening….

Do you see this? It’s barely 1/4 cup of starter.

fourth cup starter

This is what every single loaf of Sourdough Bread begins with. Starter. It’s alive and thriving with natural yeasts and will continue to grow and thrive. That is exactly why you must throw some of it away at every feeding. Or bake with it or give it to a neighbor.

This post however I am not going to do any of these things just to make a point….just so you can see with your own two eyes what will happen if  you get too sentimental over your starter. Now I agree it is a precious thing….but we must be disciplined…..;)

How to Feed Your Starter

add water to fourth cup

add flour

To Feed your starter the first thing you do is  measure an equal amount of water to the starter you have. So in this case, I have 1/ 4 cup starter,  so I add 1/4 cup of water and stir vigorously until well blended. If there are a few stringy pieces, thats ok.

Then you add 1/2 cup of flour….which is twice the amount of starter you have.

So the rule:  1 part starter/ 1 part water/ 2 parts flour.

Always. Just remember that. And when you decide to bake, you must reserve some of the starter and save it for your next baking project.

day one fed starter

After it is fed, it will look like a ball of dough…because it is. All of it together now measures about 1/2 cup. Cover lightly with saran wrap or a paper towel or a coffee filter. The only thing you need to know is this: Never cover the sourdough tightly because the gases inside will build up and explode the jar. #funfactforyou

day one plus 12

In 12 hours this is what you will find.   It has bubbled and rose to the top of the jar almost.  Time to feed her again. Same process. Always stir down the starter then measure the sourdough starter. You don’t want to measure bubbles! Probably 1/2 cup now. Add 1/2 cup water and 1 cup of flour!

day one second feed

I transferred to a larger container.

larger container day one

Covered lightly and wait another 12 hours….. I like to mark my container so I can see and make sure it is indeed rising properly… This is critical when you first begin and are making sure your starter is working as it should.

The next morning you should see this:

24 hours later

Yes, ma’am,  it’s working properly. Once this is stirred down it is probably enough for a recipe, but I’m doing a little experiment here, just for you…..

So once again, I stirred down the bubbles and measured the starter in this jar and added an equal amount of water and a double amount of flour and once again we will wait 12 hours….

larger conatiner 2nd morning

Now,  12 hours later I have this! WOW! Yesterday morning I began with 1/4 cup starter.

 

after third rising

I’m doing this to make a point. You can’t get sentimental about starter. It will dominate your life.

I’m going to feed this one more time….it’s only day 2 and it’s my second feeding. I’ll have to divide it between two containers because when it rises this time it will over flow this a gallon+ jar.

starter fed day2 2nd fed

This is my largest mixing bowl. Now, I’ll let it rise 12 more hours……hold your breath.

starter day 2 second feeding

Let me remind you how we began… We started with the 1/4 cup on the right and ended up with the large container on the left… Now after one more feeding and 12 hours…….. (I had to divide the starter)

sourdough starter comparison jars

I woke up to this 12 hours later….. Day 3

3rd day

Wow! I placed my canner behind these containers because that’s what I’d have to use next…and in a day or two I’d need my bathtub. My point is this…when making sourdough bread it is important to throw away or use or give away some at each feeding.

We went from 1/4 cup on the right…to the large container on the left in 3 feedings….

sourdough starter comparison jars

If you keep your starter at room temperature it must or needs to be fed every 12 hours. And as you can see from this post, it grows very fast, if you are not baking with it everyday or giving it away. …or throwing it away.

Just remember to save back a small portion of your starter for your seed starter for next time.  I try to keep 1/2 cup in the refrigerator. If you keep it refrigerated you only need to feed it once a week or so.

Now, I’m in the process of giving away starter…;) Anybody need starter?  It’s really vibrant and active… ;)

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Happy Valentine’s Day

rappberyy meringue cookies cherub

Chocolate Buttercream Roses

chocolate buttercream roses

I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but I have become obsessed with making these roses.  Perhaps you saw my Raspberry Rose Meringue Cookies last week…Maybe I was meant to be a baker? I doubt it. Baking is not my forte..but I do LOVE making these roses….

Regardless, I’m just here to say….if you’re looking for a stunning Valentine’s dessert for the chocolate lover in your life…Chocolate Buttercream Rose Cake is it!  Who doesn’t associate roses with Valentine’s Day? And Chocolate? What more perfect dessert than this? And it’s mighty impressive, too, might I add!

I made this chocolate buttercream rose cake for my chocolate loving granddaughter’s 14th birthday a few weeks ago and thought what a perfect Valentine’s Cake for the chocolate lover.

DSCN3920

That’s Joe, along with everyone else (you can’t see), singing Happy Birthday to her! I love her happy face….and it’s mostly because she asked for chocolate buttercream and I delivered,  in a most spectacular way! At least that’s what I like to tell myself…

…ok, maybe it’s because Joe is so adorable…I’ll agree with that.

chocolate buttercream birthday cake

Anyway, she was happy and I was thrilled with how easy and perfect these roses turned out!

PLEASE don’t say you can’t. My mama used to say to me ‘Can’t never could”…and it stuck because I see very few things that I want to do, that I can’t do, once I make my mind up.

So remember this…if you want to do something, you have the ability inside to do whatever it is….yes, you do! Think of the NIKE ad…and JUST DO IT!

If you need a chocolate layer recipe you will love this one.  Now all you need is this wonderful chocolate buttercream roses recipe and you’re in business. Oh what? You still don’t think you can make the chocolate buttercream roses??? O, ye of little faith! Take a deep breath…..

First of all,  brush off any loose crumbs from the cake…then thinly frost it.   You must put a thin layer of frosting on the cake and between the layers. Not too thick. You just want a ‘crumb-coat’ that will make all the crumbs stay put when you decorate the cake.  Allow to dry a few minutes, then you may begin your roses.

(If you look closely you can see areas on my cake that don’t have roses on them and you can see the ‘crumb-coat’ is the same chocolate icing as the roses. If I hadn’t done that, you would see cake…oh me, that will never do. Of course, I could go back and fill in those places with a stroke of frosting or two…but since it all matched, I left it…)

To make a rose, make sure the icing is stiff enough to hold shape.  Use the largest star tip you have.  If you have not had much practice with a pastry bag, practice on a cookie sheet or wax paper first.

You want to squeeze and move at the same time to get the feel for how fast to move and how hard to squeeze. Kinda like patting your head and rubbing  your tummy at the same time…only easier…

chocolate buttercream roses2

Start with the bottom row of roses.  Begin your swirl in the center of each rose and with a continuous action squeeze and move in a spiral/circle, at the same time. Do one whole row first. You will notice from the photo that the second row of roses starts between the bottom row of roses and so forth.

If you make a mistake, buttercream is very forgiving. Simply scrap it off and start over. If you mess up the whole cake, scrap it off and start again… ;) just be careful not to scrap cake crumbs! But I have confidence…you won’t!

Chocolate Butter Cream Frosting

Chocolate Buttercream Roses

Ingredients

  • 2 cups unsalted butter...yes, 4 sticks, softened...not melted
  • 2 pounds powdered sugar
  • 1 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 TBLS Vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup milk

Instructions

  1. You will need this whole recipe to cover a cake in roses.
  2. Place softened butter and vanilla in mixing bowl and beat on medium high for 3 minutes until light and fluffy.
  3. Turn off the mixer and add cocoa and 1 cup powdered sugar to mixture. Slowly turn on mixer to incorporate sugar. Continue to add one cup powdered sugar at a time until all is incorporated. You want it stiff.
  4. Chocolate will look light but it will darken.
  5. Frost a thin 'crumb' layer all over and between layers of cake.
  6. Fill pastry bag with frosting using largest star tip you have.
  7. Then begin with the bottom row.
  8. Start in the middle of the rose and make a large dot them in a continuous motion swirl all around the 'rose' until it is the size you'd like.
  9. I made each rose as tall as one layer of cake.
  10. Try to keep them all somewhat uniform in size.
  11. Try to end each rose at the same place on the rose.
  12. Go all the way around making your first row of roses.
  13. On the second row, place your next row of roses, between the roses you just made.
  14. Do the same for the third row.
  15. For the top, begin on the outer edge and make a row all the way around the top, then move toward the middle making rows until you are in the center.
  16. You may go back and fill in with a little 'swish' if there are any bare places on the cake.
  17. It is very forgiving...if you make a mistake, scrap it off and start over. :) It's just icing....
  18. Practice makes perfect.
  19. Enjoy!
  20. Adapted from www.iambaker.net
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See, it was not hard at all….. Wishing you a Happy Valentine’s Day! LOVE

Inspiration from Amanda at www.iambaker.net …Now, she’s a real baker~!!!

Chocolate Buttercream Roses would also be great on party cupcakes!… Just sayin’

chocolate rose cupcakes

Enjoy!

The Easiest ever White Chocolate Mousse

raspberry meringue bowls with white chocolate mousse

Valentine’s Day is rapidly approaching and I’m feverishly working on a menu for our little dinner party. In all my searching,  I found a recipe that I will probably incorporate into something….and so I thought I’d share….stay tuned in a couple of days to find out just how I plan to use this delicious white chocolate mousse. [Read more…]

Raspberry Rose Meringue Cookies

Raspberry rose meringue cookies1

It’s almost Valentine’s Day and these little goodies are perfect for any Valentine in your life!  Raspberry Rose Meringue Cookies look pretty on the table and they are easy to make.

I know I often say ‘It’s easy to make’ and so I’m guessing you know by now, if it’s not easy for me, I’m not sharing with you.

Recently I posted a recipe for Chocolate Pecan Meringue Cookies. This recipe is similar except it is piped through a pastry bag to make the rose design.

I’ll be having some friends over for our annual Valentine’s Day Dinner Party. I made these ahead because they freeze so nicely and they look special. I always want my friends to know they are special to me! So once a year, at least, they come over to get spoiled. Besides, who wants to go out on the busiest date night of the year and wait for a table to eat mediocre food? Not me…and not our friends!

These are fun and pretty and I made enough for Valentine gift bags for each guest to take home…and since they freeze so well….what are you waiting for? Go ahead and get them done and out of the way….then on Valentine’s Day put them out on a pretty little plate and show your loved ones how much you truly want to be their Valentine!

raspberry rose meringue cookies3

raspberry rose meringue cookies2

P.S. They won’t keep them in the refrigerator…they’ll become soft. Store them at room temperature in an air-tight container or freeze them.

Raspberry Rose Meringue Cookies

Ingredients

  • 4 egg whites
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/4 Teaspoon Cream of Tartar
  • 1/4 Teaspoon salt
  • 1 Teaspoon raspberry extract
  • 5-6 drops red food coloring, more or less, according to your preference of color.

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 175*
  2. Beat egg whites, salt and cream of tartar until frothy, about 2 minutes.
  3. Add powdered sugar a little at a time while whipping.
  4. In crease speed of mixer and beat until stiff about 5 minutes.
  5. Add raspberry extract and food coloring. Beat just until mixed well.
  6. Spoon into a pastry bag with your largest star tip.
  7. Line baking sheet with parchment
  8. To pipe the rose, hold the bag vertical in the center point of the rose.
  9. Gently squeeze the bag and move outward in a concentric motion while continuing to hold the bag vertically. Lift the tip to finish.
  10. Mine are about 2-3 inches wide. Space them about 1/2 inch apart.
  11. You want to work fairly quickly because meringue will fall and you want this in the oven asap.
  12. Bake 175* about 2 hours.
  13. Cool completely.
  14. Serve immediately or store in an airtight container.
  15. They will keep for a couple of weeks.
  16. Or they freeze beautifully.
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Enjoy! Happy Valentine’s Day!

Double Chocolate Banana Bread

double chocolate banana bread poster

Bananas don’t last long at my house. Either they are eaten…(we love a banana, peanut butter and honey sandwich for lunch). Or either they start turning brown and I rush to use them in something ASAP.

I was fascinated to learn that the more brown spots on a banana, the more nutritional value they have. There is no doubt, they get sweeter the more brown spots they have. I’ve finally convinced my grandchildren of this. (Still working on my grown children…;) )

I do draw the line. When they get soft and mushy, they’re only good for cooking….and Double Chocolate Banana Bread is the perfect use of an over ripe banana. Or two. Or three.

Double Chocolate Banana Bread loaf

I made this today. A variation on my favorite Banana Nut Bread recipe.  If you have bananas sitting on your counter, turning browner by the minute….don’t wait another minute….make this! Especially if  you are a chocolate lover!

It’s richly chocolate with cocoa powder and chocolate chips. I prefer the bittersweet chocolate chips. The older I get, the less I like sweeeeeeet things that curl my teeth. Bittersweet is perfect to me. But you may prefer the semi sweet or milk chocolate chips for your family. Either one works.

double chocolate banana bread slice poster

Warm from the oven, with butter and a glass of milk….(or a cup of coffee)……delicious! If you’ve been craving something chocolate….and have bananas….this is your recipe!

I made muffins last week,  from this recipe.  Grease muffin tin or line with cupcake liners, fill 2/3 full with batter and bake 350* for 20-25 minutes.

double chocolate banana muffins

Perfect for lunch boxes. And nutritional, too!

Double Chocolate Banana Bread

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 1/3 cups sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 3/4 cups flour
  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 cup ripened mashed bananas
  • 1 cup chocolate chips...I prefer bittersweet

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven 350* Grease loaf pan. (Or muffin tins.)
  2. Cream butter and sugar until fluffy. Add eggs one at a time. Add sour cream, vanilla and mix well. Sift dry ingredients together. Add to creamed mixture. Stir in bananas and chocolate chips.
  3. Pour into loaf pan and bake 70 minutes or until toothpick some out clean.
  4. (Bake muffins 20-25 minutes. )
  5. Remove from pan to cool.
  6. Enjoy!
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Creamy Broccoli and Cheddar Cheese Soup

Creamy broccoli and cheddar cheese soup A1

Wondering what to cook for lunch? I have something delicious, nutritious and I’ll bet you have all the ingredients already… Creamy Broccoli and Cheddar Cheese Soup. Paired with crusty bread, makes for a perfect lunch. And it’s easy, too. [Read more…]

How to Make Birdseed Ornaments

 If you’ve visited this blog very much you probably know we love to watch birds at our house. I mean all of us, young and old alike. And we like to feed them and do special things for them…like Mosaic Birdbaths and build birdhouses. We make Birdseed Wreaths at Christmas and also Birdseed Ornaments.

[Read more…]

How to Make Birdseed Wreaths

birdseed wreaths

Making birdseed wreaths with the children after Christmas has become a tradition at our house.  The children love it and it’s a fast little project, for their sometimes short attention span. Not only are they making birdseed wreaths, they’re making memories….of Christmas time at NaaNaa’s.  (pronounced with a long ‘A’) short for Renee…

Birdseed Wreaths is a misnomer because we actually use fruit rather than birdseed. But they are food for the birds…so….  work with me, here….  And, stay tuned….we will be making birdseed ornaments next! [Read more…]

Not Your Mama’s Pear Salad

Pear Salad sign

Last night we brought the New Year in with a few close friends and a little dinner party. Our friends are resigned to the fact they will have to “suffer” through being my taste testers, while I try out new recipes.  They don’t seem to mind.  As I was searching for the perfect menu, I came across a recipe for pear pies. I love to make little pies, and this one was just too cute. [Read more…]