Monday, June 30, 2008


I decided to try making sourdough bread in the Crock Pot again, this time making the loaf a little smaller to avoid the problems I encountered last time. I used the same recipe, reducing it by one-third:

2/3 c sourdough starter
2 c bread flour
2/3 c water
1 tsp salt

Except I substituted 1/4 c multigrain cereal for 1/4 c of the flour, so it was really 1/4 c cereal and 1 3/4 c bread flour. Stirred it all together and let it rise until double, then dumped it out on a floured surface (my trusty Silpat), formed a loaf, the plopped it into my buttered Bread n Cake Bake pan (really is a pity that Rival quit making those, but you can score one on eBay without parting with any more money than I did when I bought mine new).

I let the loaf rise about an hour and a half, until it was a little more than double, then put it in the Crock Pot on high for 3 hours. And out came this:

Isn't it cute? Here it is sliced:

I meant to add some sugar to aid browning, but I forgot. I'll try that next time. But it tastes delicious, and I didn't have to heat up the kitchen! I'm so pleased to be able to continue to make sourdough bread through the summer.


Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Why do I do this to myself?

I have been crazy busy lately, mostly at my day job, plus a little consulting work on the side. I have neglected my garden terribly, so it looks like I am growing little besides weeds. So, when they started talking at work about upgrading to a new version of Office, and needing to provide training for the employees, what do I do?

I volunteer.

Yup, I volunteered to teach the training classes. After all, I'm very knowledgeable about Office, and I've taught loads of classes before. Piece of cake, right?

Of course, when I stopped teaching for the community college, I threw out all my training materials. No need to have them cluttering up my clutter room any more. So I had to recreate everything, which added nicely to my workload. And I forgot how, as a teaching date draws near, my stomach becomes more and more tense with dread at getting up in front of everyone and pretending to be an expert. I've been reminded of that quite effectively the last few days. I've decided that "volunteer" should really be a four-letter word. And not a fun one, either.

If it weren't for little woolen socks, I'd be a basket case. I finished the last pair I showed off in progress:

And another pair:

And started yet another:

These things have been my lifeline; I pick up my needles and that knot in my stomach starts to ease. At least someone will benefit from my foolishness. And next time I'll bite my tongue before blithely volunteering.

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Sunday, June 01, 2008


A few days ago, I decided to perform an experiment this weekend. I wanted to make sourdough bread, but the weather has suddenly turned warm. As I've mentioned before, I don't like to turn on the oven when the A/C is running, so I decided it was time to try baking sourdough bread in the Crock-Pot.

I've baked regular white bread in the Crock-Pot before, using a recipe from this book and my Bread ‘n Cake Bake Pan. It tasted great, but the recipe was too big for the pan, and the top crust stuck to the lid of the pan. The white bread recipe called for 4 cups flour; I wanted to use this recipe for my sourdough bread, which I've gotten good results with before. I thought about reducing the size of the recipe somewhat, but decided it should be OK, since it only has 3 cups flour, plus what is in the sourdough starter.

I stirred everything up Saturday morning, following the recipe as written, except I replaced 1/4 cup of the flour with multigrain hot cereal (uncooked), since we all know it's a really good idea to change more than one thing at a time with a recipe. Here it is after mixing:

Left it out for a few hours, then popped it in the refrigerator since we had a graduation party to go to. This is how it looked when it came out of the fridge this morning:

After breakfast, I dumped it out of the bowl and shaped it. Does that look like a lot of dough for that pan to you?

But it only filled it about one-third full, as you can see here:

Less than an hour later, it had doubled in size. The dough rebounded easily when I poked it with my finger, so it could have risen more, but I wanted to leave plenty of room for oven spring. See; lots of room left:

I put the lid on and popped it in the Crock-Pot, turned it on high, and (im)patiently waited 2 hours and 15 long minutes. The house smelled heavenly! When I took the pan out, I got the first hint that maybe things weren't altogether perfect:

I could see dough through the vent holes in the bake pan. I showed such patience that I should be nominated to sainthood: I waited the five minutes cooling time prescribed by the Rival cookbook before removing the lid...

and tearing off the top crust. Yup, the bread rose up to the lid and baked itself right onto it. I had greased the lid (just in case), but it didn't help; the crust ripped right off the loaf.

Here it is out of the pan:

Crust could be a little browner, but crumb doesn't look bad at all:

I must confess at this point that I forfeited my sainthood and sliced the bread before it was completely cool. I figured, since I had already torn off the top crust, the point was moot, anyway. I just couldn't wait any longer to taste it. And it was yummy, no doubt about it. Nice sour flavor, slightly chewy crumb (because I didn't let it cool long enough?). I didn't care (much) that it didn't look beautiful; it tasted great.

So, class, what have we learned from today's experiment?

1. Bread rises like crazy in the Crock-Pot; give it ample room to grow.

2. A little sugar to aid browning wouldn't be amiss

3. Bread doesn't have to look beautiful to taste good