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Sourdough Bread Baking: Sourdough Baker’s Percentages

January has been a crazy month. My baby boy celebrated his first birthday on the 18th.

Mom giving Jack his first cake

Mom giving Jack his first cake

Laura made him a fun shark themed cake that matched the wrapping paper on his presents. He made a huge mess of it.

Messy Boy!

Cake Destroyed!

I also got in a car accident which rendered my vehicle useless. That sure has made the weekends more difficult, since I can’t even leave the place to get groceries unless Laura is home from work. At work we’ve gone through four separate change of responsibility ceremonies, starting at the company level and going all the way up to theater. Plus I’ve been preparing for two missions that I’m slotted for, one starting tomorrow and the other at the end of March. It sure has been busy.

So we last left off with making a starter and letting it mature into a levain by feeding it and keeping it healthy. If you followed those instructions and have been taking care of it, you should have quite nice mature liquid levain. It should be very active and smell nice and sour when it’s at its peak. Maybe you’ve even found a bread recipe to try it out with.

Well, now it’s time to learn how to formulate a sourdough recipe with your levain using bread formulas. Hopefully, at this point, you are well versed in basic baker’s percentages and have used pre-ferments before. Sourdough formulas can seem a little more complex at first, as there are extra steps and math involved. You’ll remember from using pre-ferments that you have to start with your total dough recipe. Then you select a percentage of your flour that you want to pre-ferment a day before. That requires you to subtract the flour and water that you used in your pre-ferment from the total dough recipe, which gives you your final recipe. Baker’s formulas using levains use that same basic concept. Read the rest of this entry »

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Posted by on February 2, 2013 in Army, Baking, Bread, Food, Pizza

 

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Creative Calzones!

Creative Calzones!

One of my very first jobs in the food business was working for a pizza place. It was called Pizza USA, and it was one of those food court pizza places you’d find in a mall. Think of Sbarro, only worse. Of course, at the time, I didn’t know any better. I was in high school just trying to make some spending money. I actually enjoyed the job quite a bit, and it introduced me to a few cooking skills that helped to lay the foundation of my knowledge today, to include bread making.

Of course, the place is out of business now. It was owned by shady people and managed by even shadier people. We had a manager that ended up being convicted of embezzling money from the petty cash safe. Funny story: I got fired for it! It wasn’t long, though, before the manager got caught and I got my job back, with a fairly hefty raise 😉

Once again, I digress. One thing I remember well from that job was making calzones. They were actually pretty decent and one of the few things that I enjoyed eating from there on a regular basis. When I made the ricotta earlier, my mind went immediately to making calzones! This time, though, I wouldn’t be limited to just pepperoni or spinach. And, since I’ve already got a pretty good pizza dough here to work with, it should be pretty easy! Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on January 30, 2012 in Entree/Main Dish, Food, Pizza

 

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Pizza Time!

Pizza Time!

I am a man who loves his pizza. It has everything I look for in a meal. Crispy crust with a soft crumb, sweet and tangy tomato sauce, savory and fatty meats, loads of crisp veggies, and chewy, salty cheese! I’m a sucker for pizza, for sure.

Laura and I eat too much pizza, which is just enough for me. However, we’ve found that we end up spending way too much money on mediocre crap. Our only choices for pizza around here are the chain restaurants. We usually order Papa John’s because it’s far less greasy than the alternatives. Besides that, pizza out here on the island is terribly expensive. Without a coupon, a large specialty could cost us $28, before delivery fee and tip.

So why on Earth have I not been making it myself? I asked myself that the other day. It was a “duh” moment. Granted, it’s time consuming, but given a little planning, it really isn’t that much of a bother. Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on January 14, 2012 in Baking, Entree/Main Dish, Food, Pizza

 

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