Puffballs

Puffballs!

Its Puffball season, don’t you know!

That one time in a year where giant puffballs appear in the forest and on market vendor’s tables. This year for the first time, I found my own stash – on the Bruce Trail near Owen Sound. I took part of one and decided to come to terms with this gentle fungal giant.

Here’s a photo of a similar one – beside our black lab, Beja for comparison.

I broke off half of its neighbour and took it home – all 32 x 20 *15 cm of it.

Puffball sources

Puffballs – Calvatia gigantea – are common in all temperate areas in the world and considered highly edible. They should be eaten when they are immature and the flesh is still white. Check out its Wiki page here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Calvatia_gigantea

A number of other bloggers have also had a go at this: http://foragerchef.com/puffball-mushrooms/ addresses the issue of storage and spoiling quite thoroughly, suggesting dehydaration as one option.

https://www.mushroomexpert.com/puffballs.html is a great page if you want to dive into more scientific detail about the mushroom.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g2YxzEV-Z6I provides a detailed process and recipe for preparing and BBQing puffball steaks

Of course I had to figure out what to do with it. I settled on a couple of immediate treatments: soup and saute. A few days later my son had some friends up and I put up a challenge: prepare the remainder of the puffball.

Like tofu, puffballs absorb the flavors around them. At the same time they have their own unique flavor and texture that is both gently earthy and creamy. Thus, a long slow cook, and/or a marinade according to the flavor palette of the rest of your meal is strongly advised.

Cream of Puffball Soup

My first thought was a soup. For this I used

  • 550g of the puffball (made a small dent in it!)
  • A medium onion
  • Several tbs unsalted butter – about 70g
  • 30g – about 1-2 cloves – garlic
  • A bunch of fresh parsley oregano and thyme. DO NOT cut this up. Better yet, put it in a muslin bag for easy removal prior to pureeing
  • 400 ml – about 2 cups – whole milk
  • Salt, pepper, and nutmeg to taste in that order

Method

  1. Gently saute onions and garlic until translucent covered on a low heat
  2. Add fresh herbs uncut, preferably in a muslin bag
  3. Cut puffball into large pieces and add to the saute. Cover until everything is gently but thoroughly cooked
  4. Remove the herbs and add milk. Heat gently and puree using an immersion blender.
  5. Add salt then pepper then nutmeg, tasting after each. You may also want to add a little white wine.

I found this both an intense, but also a gentle soup. One bowl satisfied the palette. I found the whole milk a better option than any addition of cream, as the puffball already supplies a lot of the creamy texture. I also felt it was best served fresh, either cold, warm or hot.

Basic Mushroom Sautee

This version followed a very basic mushroom sautee.

  • About 450g (1lb) of puffball
  • A medium onion
  • Several tbs unsalted butter – about 70g
  • 30g – about 1-2 cloves – garlic
  • Salt, pepper, and nutmeg to taste in that order
  • Optional – white or red wine

Method: as one usually would – sautee onions and garlic. Add salt and pepper (and any other herbs and spices). How you cut the mushroom will mark the dish. It could be as steaks which will yield a quite spectacular presentation, or in cubes to resemble what sauteed mushrooms would normally look like. What is key is a long and slow covered cook.

The Challenge

Four days after the puffball was picked, it began to turn yellow. On day 3, it was white, and overnight it had changed. Time to finish it off. As it happened my son had friends up, and we were all going to do a part of dinner. I presented a challenge to one of them to develop a recipe for the remaining puffball. A. took it up, did some research and really scored. She exploited the mushroom’s capacity to absorb flavors. Here is what came out of it.

Ingredients

  • 450g (1lb) puffball cut in steak like slices
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 5-6 tbs balsamic vinegar
  • About 6g salt (about ¼ tsp) (and to taste)
  • 2g pepper (a pinch) (and to taste)
  • 1 tbs oregano or 2 tbs fresh oregano
  • 1 tsp fresh rosemary
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • ¼ cup fresh basil
  • 2 cloves of garlic, pressed
  • ½ tsp steak spice (if you do not have this, try a pinch more of paprika, cayenne, garlic powder)

Method

  1. Mix all ingredients except the mushroom
  2. Marinate mushroom slices in the mix for about an hour
  3. Fry or bbq the mushrooms.

This recipe really nailed it. As with the soup and saute, the delicate yet intense fungal flavor of the mushroom provided the base, and the marinade provided a colorful and highly complimentary depth that was just perfect for our late summer meal.

Parting thoughts

This one puffball satisfied my puffball cravings for the year. As I’ve noted, the flavour was both subtle gentle and intense. A little goes a long way. I look forward to seeing if the remaining puffballs in the forest have turned black, and to stomp them, hopefully to see even more next year. I’ve also thrown a few scraps into the woods by our house. Next year, in addition to trying the fresh recipes, I will likely dehydrate some of it, give some away, and I think also do a brief ferment. I’ve heard it turns out a little like blue cheese. We will see.

This puffball is on its way to turning. Once it turns black, you can hold a stomping ceremony to release its spores far and wide.

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5 ways with duck

This blog started with the Sweetwater Restaurant at Cobble Beach near Owen Sound. As one of the appetizers they had duck breast on the menu. It was truly amazing. A delicate texture that melts in the mouth, succulently herbed, yet the quintessential taste of duck shines through. I was determined to copy it. Inquiring, I was told it had been slow cooked for 18 hours. That intel was a start…..

My first efforts were disastrous. Either the meat disintegrated to a liver like texture or was tough as nails. Not even close on the flavour.

We returned a couple of months later, and I inquired further. It was a confit. It was cured overnight and then cooked in it’s own fat. The curing was more important than the cooking. With that information I was on my way.

Enter the Owen Sound Market farmers – Doug Lemon and his friendly competitor Anita deJong. They both sell duck, and always with the sweetmeats – usually liver and heart. Enter also my wife who generally does not like duck except for one time when she had Peking Duck years ago. And there’s also the dog, Beja, who patiently lies at my feet anytime meat is being prepared.

The desire to maximize all parts of the bird while indulging my experimentation along with my various family factors has led to this: Five ways with a duck: from whole bird to 5 wonderful products.

Its all a matter of process, as with anything. So I will start at the beginning and work through everything with you.

To also note: this is not a one day affair. This process took place over 10 days, with the occasional 20-30 minutes of hands on work.

Cutting up – or quartering – the bird

Unlike chicken where you can buy either parts or whole, duck is inevitably sold whole. Its not as common and its more expensive.

At 8lbs/3.6kilos, this is a big duck!

Before beginning make sure your knife is wonderfully sharp.

There are a few YouTube videos that show best how to do this. I prefer the Good Housekeeping one though the Le Gourmet video is excellent too, though it leaves you with the bones on the breast, which I don’t want in my case. Its worthwhile checking out Gordon Ramsay’s How to Part a Chicken video as he provides great detailed tips about working around bones and generally being efficient about it all. In my duck process, I’m not too concerned about how the legs and wings are trimmed, though its important the skin remains on the breast.

Begin with the legs, pulling them out and popping the joint, then cut into the joint to separate it. Review the videos. They will explain a lot better than my text.

Once cut, you should now have the following pieces:

  • 2 breasts with skin on
  • 2 legs/thighs
  • 2 wings
  • Sweetmeats
  • The rest of the carcass

For now, put the carcass in the fridge – making the soup comes after the confit. Unless you are going to be serving the breast within the next couple of days, freeze it as well. We are initially going to be paying attention to the confit and pate options.

The confit:

Confit is a culinary practice in which the meat is slowly cooked in its it’s own fat. To prepare it, one must first prepare a cure consisting of salt, sugar and spices.

In these duck experiments, I have been most concerned to get the confit right. The most challenging part of this is the cure – a rub that is primarily salt based, but also with herbs, spices and sugar in it.

A note about salt and meat

But first – a word on salt. In my initial attempts at this, I did not weigh out the salt, and my initial attempts at confit were definitely bordering on too much salt. Making confit reliably requires getting the salt amount predictable and correct. Not only does one want the confit to taste great, you also don’t want the fat you use to become forever salty.

Salt does a couple of incredibly important things to meat. The water from the inside of the meat is pulled to the surface, where it reacts with the salt.The salt works its way into the meat cells, and softening them, and making it possible for the meat to reabsorb its liquid. More importantly it loosens up the protein amino acids. These are typically like tight balls, and the reaction with the salt causes them to open up. In this way, salt tenderizes meat and allows it to reabsorb the liquid.

But – How much salt? As you are likely aware, salt has something of a goldilocks point: there is that ‘just right’ amount where it enhances flavour but does not overbear itself. What is that ‘just right’ point? Michael Ruhlman, in Ratio (an amazing book everyone should have) suggests 1:60 ratio (divide meat weight by 60). This yields a 1.66%. Stefan’s Gourmet Blog suggests 1.5% -2% salt per weight for a brine – either dry or wet – and this makes a lot of sense. 1.5%-2% is similar to the salt used for doing dry rub fermented vegetables, leaving them slightly salty, but not too much so. Its also the same salt range for dry fermentation such as sauerkraut. Finally, 2% is the baker’s percentage for salt in bread. (Stefan also did a duck leg confit blog a number of years ago before he sorted out the salt issue)

My subsequent discussion with the sous chef at the restaurant indicated that the cure was really the key, and that they had added sugar to the rub, more or less equal parts sugar and salt. So – that is one piece of the puzzle.

Finally, what else is in the cure? For this I turned to Cooking with the Wolfman where he proposes a poultry spice mix in which salt plays a significant role. It however does not include sugar. But you do not have to do such an extensive cure. At a minimum, you can get away with 2% salt, 2% sugar and less than a fifth of that in pepper. What else goes in the cure is up to you. Pepper and dried garlic immediately come to mind. Rosemary, sage, and thyme likewise would compliment a duck well. I appreciate also that people will prefer using teaspoons. If so, 1 g is about ¼ tsp, 3-4g is 1 tsp.

So what came about in the end?

What I did was to make a little scalable google sheet program for a cure based in part on the Wolfman cure and in part what I had been told. Here is the final recipe.

Ingredients

  • Duck parts: wings, thighs, legs. (1070g)
  • Lots of fat. If you already have some from bacon drippings or making soup, great. If you have not yet built up a store of fat, ask your butcher. While rendered fat is easier to work with, you can also use unrendered fat. It will render in the cooking process. You will need at least a litre depending on how much duck you have.

Cure Ingredients

The following cure based on David Wolfman’s poultry rub is for 1.07 kilos of duck parts.

21g Salt

21g Sugar

3g Pepper (1 tsp)

(Past this point everything else is optional. You can create your own masterpiece rub.)

3g dry rosemary (1 tsp)

4g paprika (1 tsp)

1g chili flakes (1/4 tsp)

3g dehydrated onion (1 tsp)

4g dry garlic (1 tsp)

1g thyme (1/4tsp)

1g cayenne (1/4tsp)

1g cinnamon (1/4tsp)

1g ginger 1 tsp (1/4tsp)

1g celery seed (1/4tsp)

1g nutmeg (1/4tsp)

Method

Thoroughly rub the cure into all parts of the meat and leave in the fridge overnight or for up to a couple of days.

Wings, legs and thighs with the cure on

Prepare a large pot, ideally 12-15L mostly full of water, and heat up.

Pack the joints into wide mouthed 1litre or 500ml mason jars along with the fat. The jars must be big enough to take a limb. It should be filled to the top.

Almost there. Wide mouth jars are critical for this.

Put a lid on each making sure there are no leaks.

Initially the fat won’t penetrate everywhere. Check the jars after a couple of hours  – you may need to top up with fat or stock.

 

Sous vide at 180F/82C for 10 hours or so. If you do not have a sous vide machine, heat the water with the jars in it until nearly boiling, insert a meat thermometer in the water and adjust your burner until it holds at approximately 180F/82C. Although sous vide is typically done with zip lock freezer bags, I prefer mason jars for this as the temperature is relatively hot, and for a long time.

After 10-12 hours, remove the jars and let cool until you can comfortably work with the jars and meat, but not so cool that the fat begins to harden.

The meat will gradually get up to the water temperature, but usually never quite. Its one reason to have them cook overnight.

Gently remove the meat from the jar and slide it off the bone. Serve or store refrigerated until needed.

20180827_084406duckConfit

The final result. I’m still looking for a better way to serve it.

Pour the fat into a jar and freeze, or refrigerate if you will be using it again. Put the bones with the carcass, ready for soup.

Discussion

I’m wondering if its necessary that all the liquid surrounding the meat be fat. Could, for example, 50% be stock? It will still cook, the taste of the stock will infuse the meat. This could be a good solution if one does not have quite enough fat.

The Pate

This is not fois grasse – but it’s all yours, and it will be delicious.

For quite a while I’ve tried to do something with the sweetmeats that come with birds. Only recently have I been successful. The key to success was taking an idea from my Haggis experiments: make the ratio of sweetmeats to flesh 1:1. This cuts some of the dryness and texture of the liver. With birds this works really well as it amounts to cutting out the meat around the spine and using that.

Here’s the recipe:

Ingredients

Note: Weigh the meat, onions, garlic and butter. This will enable the correct amount of salt.

  • Sweetmeats that come with your bird – usually liver, heart,
  • A more or less equal amount of flesh scraped from the carcass
  • 1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 75g unsalted butter
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • Salt – 1.5% the weight of all ingredients – in this case 8g
  • 1 tbs sage*
  • 2 tsp thyme*
  • 1 tsp mustard*

* these can be varied/substituted as you wish

Your mise en scene – more or less

Method

  1. Sautee onions and garlic in butter
  2. After onions have softened, add salt, pepper and herbs.
  3. Cook covered over a low heat for about 30 minutes, letting the onions caramelize a bit
  4. Add the meat and continue simmering, covered, on a low heat for about an hour.

    Cooking covered over a low heat for a long time is good.

  5. Remove from heat, cool a bit, and puree.
  6. Once pureed, adjust for taste. It will be a little runny, but will firm up once chilled. Other than making your salt 1.5% of the weight, other quantities are left to your best culinary judgement.

At the point of serving, interesting variations can be tried in addition to the basic pate: adding bbq sauce, ketchup, or even mayo will give you a wonderful one-off dip.

So, from a big duck, 500ml of pate.

The Breast

Sous vide duck breast is a tried and true technique – see Chef John’s All Recipes YouTube for an excellent instructional video. This was done before sous vide machines became a common tool. Pull out your finest pinot and enjoy!

Duck Soup

Duck makes great soup because it has so much fat. I suggest doing the soup once the confit has been done. Use everything leftover, add onion and carrot, any other vegetables too, and some salt and pepper. Fill with water until bones and vegetables are covered.

In retrospect, the temperature should have been higher. The meat did not fall off the bone the way I would have liked.

Bring to a point just below a simmer, about 180-200F, cooking for 6-8 hours. The “just below a simmer” is important. If it were to boil the fat would become emulsified.

Taste and adjust. Once cooled a bit, strain the stock, pour into litre jars all the way to the top, cover and refrigerate.

From our big duck, we get 4.5L of excellent duck soup! You can already see the fat separating to the top.

Once it has thoroughly chilled the fat will rise to the top and solidify. Skim this off the top, put into a jar and refrigerate or freeze until needed (for the next confit?). Whatever you use it for you will have delicious and amazing duck fat. The stock will be fine for a couple of weeks, but if kept longer should be waterbathed in a pressure cooker for 20 minutes. Beware of freezing. If you use glass there is a chance of the jar breaking even if there’s some expansion space.

Dog food

Dog food is a by product of the soup. The strained out meat and vegetables from the soup are separated: the meat will fall away from the bones. Discard the bones.The remaining meat and duck infused vegetables will assure your position as the boss-god with Fido. Beware though, it won’t have the same nutritional value as raw meat.

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Sorting out the soup: (L to R) bones, soup, veggies, meat, cooking pot with some onions. Apparently dogs should not have onions.

 

To see how this all ties in, see my blog on from scratch dog food.

Patience is finally rewarded.

Well, that’s it!. One duck, 5 delicious products from it. A little goes a very long way!

Bon appetit.

Beer trub bread

Beer trub bread

Brewers out there – this blog is for you!

I know that your friends and family are ooing and aaaawwwing at your brewhouse accomplishments. This blog will show you how to get them ooing and aaaawwwing over a great loaf of bread from your beer trub.

For readers who are not beer makers, trub is the ‘gunk’ that forms at the bottom of a beer fermentation vessel. Once the yeast has been active, and has fermented the beer, it drops out and falls to the bottom. The trub is highly bitter as it also picks up the taste of the hops and other bittering agents. But perhaps you are a bread baker who knows a beer brewer. Get some of that trub – its a unique baking experience.

Perhaps the most important aspect to master is the bitterness of the trub. A little is nice – but too much can kill it.

There are also many recipes out there for a beer bread in which beer is substituted in whole or in part for the water. This is also not like that. In this, the beer trub provides both the rise and the flavour.

So lets get started. The whole process takes between 6 and 24 hours, depending on the temperatures you ferment at. Its a great project to do on brew day when you have to wait around and monitor things. This recipe will make one 950g loaf.

Ingredients

  • Beer trub – about 100g. The fresher the better. Use what you have from your last batch that has been refrigerated.
  • Flour: about 700g total. Flour also imparts flavour. For this beer I would go with whole grain high protein flours – whole wheat, red fife, rye, spelt, kamut. Some all purpose white flour can be used, but that is not what beer bread is all about.
  • Water – less than a litre. It must not have chemicals in it.
  • Salt – 12g
  • Various seeds and toppings of your choice.

Directions

  1. Get the starter happening

In a 500ml or 1l mason jar combine 100g trub, 60g flour and 100ml of water (no chemicals in it though, they will kill the yeasts). Mix thoroughly and leave for a few hours. If your trub is fresh (less than a month old and has been refrigerated) place the mason jar in a bowl as it may very well overflow. (Check the ceiling photo. This one blew its top!) Leave the starter until it gets really active. This should take approximately 4 hours at room temperature.

Beer trub, flour and water= your starter

Beer trub has some really active yeast!

It twisted the top off … and BOOM!

2. The Bulk Rise

Now is the time to mix in the rest of the ingredients and let that trub yeast get refreshed and go to work! Combine the following dry ingredients:

  • 545g of flour. This can be your choice. Just as in beer making the grains you use determines the flavour, so it is true in bread making. Since trub has those hoppy beery qualities in abundance, my suggestion would be to try heavier whole grain flours: whole wheat, rye, red fife. Some white all purpose flour is fine too. (note the similarities to your grain bills?)

    Dry ingredients for the bulk rise

  • 12g salt
  • 25g DME (for you non brewers this is dry malt extract) or another sugar.

Now mix in the wet ingredients:

  • 285g of water. This could be other liquids, though I would not suggest beer, as there is plenty if beeriness in the trub.
  • 109g of starter: the trub/flour/water you just refreshed
  • Plus water and starter

Mix it all thoroughly together, turn it out on a counter and knead (wet your hands with water, don’t add more flour) until everything is nicely combined. If it gets a little sticky, wet your hands

at the start of the bulk rise

End of the bulk rise

some more.

Place your bulk rise in a bowl and cover with a very damp towel. This can be left at room temperature for about 4 hours or until it is doubled in size. You can also stick it in the fridge overnight.

3. Proofing

For this super simple first go at it, I’m advising you use a typical loaf pan.

Stretch and fold (S&F)

Stretch and fold: take a corner of your dough, pull it out and fold it over the rest of the dough. Repeat a few times until the dough gets stiff.

S&F: stretch and fold over

The taste test

At this point I would taste it to see where it is at for bitterness. I don’t usually do this for bread, but with the hoppiness in the trub, you might want to. Heat up a frying pan (cast iron is best), flatten out a small piece of dough you have pinched off, and put it dry into your pan at a medium heat. It will rise and get brown. Turn it a couple of times. After a couple of minutes it will be ready. Taste it. If you like what you have then go for it. If you feel it is too bitter, add some sweetener – honey, maple syrup, DME. Repeat the process (if you like).

Shaping and proofing

Now that the basic taste of the bread is where you want it, shape it more or less into a shape that will nicely fit in your pan. You can add other things: cereals, seeds, cornmeal – whatever your brewer’s heart desires. Sprinkle your additives on or roll the dough in them.

To place the bread in its pan, tear off enough parchment paper to hold the loaf. I advise parchment paper as it makes the loaf super easy to extract.

If you are baking it right away, leave it for about an hour at room temperature. If you want to wait overnight or a similar longish period, put it in the fridge for 8-24 hours at this point. Just make sure it is covered with a damp cloth.

Shaped into a loaf, you can add seeds etc. on the crust if you like.

4. Baking

Turn your oven to 450F. When it reaches cooking temperature, score the loaf: using a sharp knife cut a slash from one end to the other. The blade should be at an angle and not go in more than a few cm/1/4”.

Just before it goes in, slash from one end to the other.

At this point you can also brush on a variety of crust caremelizing liquids – either water, oil or egg white.

Bake as follows: You will be using 3 different temperatures.

You proofed it at room temperature You proofed it in the fridge
12 minutes at 450F/230C 16 minutes at 450F/230C
12 minutes at 425F/218C 16 minutes at 425F/218C
12 minutes at 400F/205C 16 minutes at 400F/205C

If you are unsure if it is ready, test it with an instant read thermometer (you are a brewer, you will have one of these!). It should be at an internal temperature of between 190F (88C) – 205F(95C).

Once out of the oven let it cool off for about 15 minutes – then dig in. You will find it pairs so excellently with the beer you brew!

Further discussion….

Adjusting the recipe

What is presented here is a precise recipe yielding a 950 or so gram loaf. You can easily adjust it using my handy bread calculator spreadsheet.

The highlighted cells can be changed by the user, however the other cells are all formulas and the cells are protected. The two key cells are B6 and B8.

In B6 you control the ratio of flour to starter. Making regular sourdough, I typically have this set for a 3:1 recipe. For trub starters, I suggest it be set to 5 or 6 – a higher 5:1 ratio.

B8 is the amount of trub starter to use. Remember that the trub starter is what resulted from initially combining trub with water and flour. In this recipe, you will have trub starter left over. Put it in the fridge and you can use it a day or two later. You can also refresh it with the following ratios of flour and water: 1 part trub starter, 1 part water, 60% of the starter weight in flour. If you wanted to be adventurous you could even use it to get your next brew going! What you are doing is using flour instead of wort to refresh and strengthen the yeast.

B7 is the hydration – what is presented is a fairly dry 60% hydration loaf. You could nudge this up, but if you are trying it for the first time, just leave it as it is.

Where next?

If you loved doing this you will want to do it some more. You can! You can keep refreshing your starter using equal amounts of the old starter and fresh water, with 60% of the starter weight in flour. The hoppiness will dissipate the more flour refreshing you do until you will eventually have your own strain of sourdough starter.

If you want to explore even further, check out my blog on sourdough here:

More sourdough related posts

Making sourdough easy and ‘just in time’

More fun with Sourdough: Party Bites

Fun stuff to do with sourdough

Backwoods Sourdough

As well as the following bread resources here:

Facebook groups

https://www.facebook.com/groups/perfectsourdough/

https://www.facebook.com/groups/360136781918/

Plus some other cool sites

http://www.northwestsourdough.com/

https://breadtopia.com

http://www.thefreshloaf.com/

https://food52.com/blog/10044-dan-leader-s-4-hour-baguette#comments

https://food52.com/blog/10557-8-rules-for-altering-baking-recipes?utm_source=FOOD52+Subscribers+List&utm_campaign=03bb5226cf-Digest_Edit_Only_6_15_2014&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_191568346e-03bb5226cf-19271481&mc_cid=03bb5226cf&mc_eid=3a9f42af79

https://breadtopia.com/whole-wheat-croissants/

https://www.shipton-mill.com/baking/recipes/sourdough-croissants.htm#comment-837

Pork Tenderloin

Last weekend we had the pleasure of our son’s company for a couple of days. Its always a pleasure to see him – he brings such an air of freshness, optimism and vitality that helps us to refresh ourselves.

I was thinking of what to do for dinner, and I had kind of thought along the lines of a raclette, but there were other options as well. I suggested these, thinking of what I had brought back from the market.

I had to go a little late to the market – and sometimes one risks the vendors running out of food. Sure enough when I got there, the meat counter was devoid of all roasts steaks and chops. There was however a single pork tenderloin – quite small – under 400g but enough.

That was what he wanted – and said ‘leave it to me/we’ll do it together’.

Very well then. I took the precaution of salting it as dinner was clearly headed in this direction.

Here is the story of how it transpired. The lesson in it is how a good cook can get the general idea of the dish, and make it something new yet their own. In this case simplicity prevailed; the desire to bring out the best in the meat with the least amount of work.

He started off his search with Gordon Ramsay – a fav go to of his ever since I showed him the Hash Brown video. So he searched out his Pork tenderloin video. Its quite delightful watching Ramsay cook – such high energy, but also he is so exact about what you do when.

It was clear to us that our sad little 400g piece was nothing like the succulant 1 kilo fat enshrouded piece Ramsay was working with. To begin with, our piece was completely lean. It was, however all in one piece, and thick enough that it could be cut open.

The big idea about this recipe, so it seemed, was to prepare a stuffed tenderloin, but it didn’t have to be all that was in Ramsay’s recipe.

So he started cutting open the meat, and layering in his filling: apple, garlic, pepper. This was followed up with preparing a glaze, a technique picked up from making Christmas turkey. I just happened to have some pork stock on hand, to which was added some maple syrup and apple juice. 

Next was what I felt was a genius move: wrap the whole thing in bacon. That would serve to nicely intensify the taste. Finally, as the Ramsay video shows, tie it up with butcher string.

 

Since our piece of meat was lacking a few things, we wanted to keep it moist. So instead of putting it directly in the oven, we decided to bake it in a dutch oven on a trivet (made of mason jar lids) with the glaze providing the moistening.

With an accompaniment of green salad with viniagrette, braised turnip and parsnip, a warmed grain salad, sauteed mushrooms, broccoli, beer bread as a side and rhubarb apple pie with homemade vanilla ice cream, it was a delicious weekend dinner at the cottage. Were we to do it again, we would have added a good hit of rosemary, but as it was, the apple and garlic truly served to bring out the taste of the cut. Simple, and delicious.

Here is the tenderloin recipe:

Ingredients

450g pork tenderloin

half a granny smith (or other tart apple) apple sliced thin
1 large clove garlic sliced thin
5 rashers of bacon
pepper
salt

Glaze/broth

3 tbs broth
about 6tbs apple juice
2 tbs maple syrup

Instructions

  1. Salt the tenderloin for several hours – but at least 60 minutes.
  2. Oven to 400F/205C
  3. Slice open the tenderloin.
  4. Thinly cut apple & garlic and insert into the cut tenderloin.
  5. For the glaze heat the broth, apple juice, and maple syrup.
  6. Tightly roll up the tenderloin then wrap bacon around the meat. Tie off the roll with string – one string on each bacon rasher.
  7. Put the wrapped tenderloin on a trivett in a Dutch oven.
  8. Pour the glaze over the tenderloin, cover, and bake for 45 minutes – more if your tenderloin is bigger.

How to make Haggis

Haggis  – the much maligned national dish of Scotland definitely deserves a second chance. I think many are put off by the organ meat ingredients and the way it has been traditionally prepared. But if you have a chance to taste a really good homemade haggis, you are, in my very humble opinion, in for a real treat. Chances are that you won’t have a buddy around the corner who just happens to be a haggis maker. There aren’t many of us around, sadly. So you might just have to strike out on your own and do it yourself. This blog will tell you how.

The summer before last, I decided to do a Burns Supper. My sister eagerly became my partner in crime, though she was initially reluctant about doing a haggis from scratch. When we got to the point of sorting out meat proportions and spicing, she was quite pleased with our enterprise.

If you have any Scottish roots, you’ll know what a Burns Supper is. For those of you who do not, here is a brief rundown. January 25th is the birthday of Robert Burns, the most famous of Scottish poets. Sometime shortly after his untimely death after only 37 years on this good earth in 1796, some friends of his got together and held a supper in his memory. The bill of fare for the supper was centred around haggis: a Scottish sausage which comprises of lamb organ meats and oats boiled up in a sheep’s stomach. For vegetables, “neeps and taties” (mashed turnip and mashed potatoes). What a quintessential northern clime winter dinner: The haggis is prepared by first boiling the meat, then grinding it, then working the oats in, spicing it, stuffing it and boiling it ….. for quite a number of hours. Definitely a winter dish to be prepared over a hot stove keeping the house warm on a cold winter day.

I must have participated in Burns’ Suppers when I was a child. My sister – who was my wonderful partner in crime throughout this caper told me so. Goodness knows where I was – lost in the middle of teenage angst perhaps? But I have it on good authority that my father for some years did an annual Burns Supper.

While haggis is a signature Scottish dish, its origins and first mentions were from England. Beyond that there are accounts going back to the early Greeks and Romans of packing meats in an animal stomach and boiling them. Other cooking cultures have their variants too – Chaudin – is a cajun dish using a pig stomach.

So last year we did our lovely supper, and  it was delicious. While Haggis is the  centrepoint of a Burns Supper, it was not the only thing going – in fact it would be pretty dull without the other stuff. This included a salmon dish over an onion and mushroom braise, cheeses and oatcakes as an appetizer, leek and potato soup, and Cranachan, a wonderful desert of oats, cream, whisky and raspberries. I’d love to be repeating it this year, but alas I will be travelling on Robbie Burns eve, and I figure you really should do this on the day of.

I’ll start with how to make it, and if you are interested you can read on to its history.

Ingredients

Please note that while weights are given, the attached spreadsheet link will automatically scale your haggis ingredients to the weight of the organ meats you have available. The final total cooked weight of the haggis will be approximately 4 times the weight of your pluck  (Pluck = all the organ meats). I’ve included weights below, because that’s what people expect to see in a recipe. These weights will yield enough haggis to fill a large haggis casing about 18” in length and about 5” in diameter. More on that below.

  • 500g Organ meats of a sheep: heart, lungs, liver, kidney. You can (and I do) loosely interpret this. Where I am, lamb is both more expensive and harder to come by. Every month I buy meat to make into raw dog food for my dog. (Here’s my blog on that). This consists of beef: trim, a heart, liver, tongue. I use a little of this to make my usual haggis, though for Robbie Burns Day, I’ll plan well in advance to get the lamb pluck
  • 500g meat – shoulder, leg, loin  – whatever is cheapest and available. For my beef version, I use stewing meat. It CANNOT be minced however. It must be in solid chunks.
  • 150g fat: This can be any kind of animal fat, including bacon drippings, fat from meat soups, any kind of meat rendering
  • 265g steel cut oats or oat groats. These  are roughly milled groats, not the flakes one customarily thinks of as oatmeal  null
  • 1.250L (5 cups) water
  • 4 large garlic cloves
  • 300g onion  – a medium to big onion
  • 17g salt
  • 20g pepper: It seems like a lot, and it is. Haggis is peppery by nature. But you can scale it back if you wish.
  • 35g thyme
  • Add other herbs and spices as you wish. I understand that in Glasgow there is a butcher that makes a tandoori haggis. Check the recipe variants on the haggis spreadsheet.
  • 1 casing: Sheep stomachs are the traditional casing vehicle for haggis. They are strong and will not disintegrate in the long final boil. However In Canada and the USA, they are not allowed to be sold – apparently health concerns around bacteria in the stomach lining. Its all quite curious as regular sausage casing or beef bung are the intestines  – I would have thought similar issues would be there too.  What I have been able to procure is a special food grade synthetic casing from my butcher that apparently is intended for haggis. I’m hopeful that recent rule changes that apply to sheep lungs will also apply to their stomachs. Never use sausage casing or beef bung. They are not strong enough to hold up to a 6 hour boil.

 

Special Equipment needed: Other than the usual kitchen stuff, be sure to also have:

  • Meat grinder
  • A pot that can hold the casing – about 20L or a turkey cooker

null

  • Butcher string

Method

This will take about 4 hours to prepare, of which 2 will be active preparation. The final boil will take about 4-6 more hours. If you intend to serve your haggis on the same day it is cooked, prepare it the day before, and save the boil for the day of.

  1. Salt the meat and pluck and let sit for 40-50 minutes. Usually salting meat means you are sprinkling an eyeballed amount of salt on. Please use the salt called for in the instructions.
  2. Turn on the oven to 220F
  3. Spread oats on a cookie sheet and toast for 20 minutes
  4. Simmer the meat in the water for about 45 minutes. The water should cover the meat, but not too much. The quantity of water given should do the trick. You don’t want too much water, as it plays an important part later on. Do not hard boil it – you don’t want to reduce it, just make a nice soup of it.
  5. Extract the meat from the water, and reserve all the soup.
  6. Cook oats using  636g (or whatever quantity the spreadsheet turns up) of the meat soup. Simmer until cooked but ensure the oats still a crunchy texture. The remaining water will be used later on.
  7. Grind the meat. If you want the garlic and onions to be fully integrated into the mix, grind those too.
  8. Combine the oats and meat and mix thoroughly. (a good job for a stand mixer, but not critical)
  9. Check flavoring and spicing. Since the meat is cooked, you can and should taste as you go.  Begin with
    1. Salt. The salt used initially should be fine, but you may wish to add more
    2. Pepper: Its an important part of haggis. Keep in mind that after it cooks the pepper taste will diminish.
    3. Thyme and any other flavorings. Check the other haggis recipes on the spreadsheet to see what others have done.
    4. Garlic and onion: These should be finely diced or crushed in.
  10. Use the remaining soup water to dampen the mix. It should be damp, a little like hamburger mix.
  11. Once you are pleased with your result, stuff the casing with the haggis fill, use butcher string to tie off the ends, place on a trivet in a pot that can hold the whole casing, and simmer for about 4-6 hours.
  12. If serving it at a Burns supper, serve the whole casing very hot with ‘neeps and tatties (mashed potato and mashed rutabaga).  If using it for other purposes, let it cool and cut according to your needs. 

A note on the spreadsheet

Perhaps its the geek in me but I like to present scalable recipes. In this case I felt that people would either have a fixed weight of organ meats, or want their haggis to weigh a certain amount at the end. The spreadsheet does either of these functions. All of the cells except the highlighted input cells are locked. If you share my geeky nature and want to play with the recipe yourself, go ahead. Downloading the sheet as an excel sheet will remove all protection, and you can mess with the formulas all you like.

The second tab is one where I have copied and pasted other people’s haggis recipes. I wanted to see what similarities and differences were out there.

What else can you do now that you have made a massive amount of haggis?

Here are some ideas:

  • As part of  an hors d’oeuvres offering. Think Pate.
  • Fried with an egg for breakfast. Think sausage.
  • Spread on bread or toast as a snack, lunch.
  • In its own sandwich
  • In a burger bun. Think haggis burger.

Purists would say that haggis must be served on its own, but I often will do it with suarkraut, or other savory condiments.

History of Haggis

Many culinary cultures have a form of organ meats boiled in the animal’s stomach . There are apparently references to this practice going back to the ancient Greeks. Apparently it was a good way to feed the troops. Although now considered as a Scottish national dish, it’s first mention was from England.

It’s easy to understand why it gained currency in Scotland.  After the Battle of Culloden in 1746  Scots were at the mercy of their English conquerors who would take the best cuts of the sheep that happily grazed on the harsh highland lands leaving their tenant farmers with all the rest. What better way to use the offal or pluck and supplement it with a good hit of carbs in the form of the staple carbohydrate of the region- oats.

The future of the haggis as a national dish  was sealed with the “address to the haggis” by Robbie Burns which  is read at all Burns Suppers.

Haggis links

/foodanddrinknews/5960237/Haggis-was-invented-by-the-English-not-the-Scottish-says-historian.html

https://www.boisdale.co.uk/blog/the-history-of-haggis/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Haggis

https://www.britannica.com/topic/haggis

Related recipes

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chaudin  http://www.jfolse.com/recipes/meats/pork38.htm

Haggis recipe links

https://www.google.ca/search?q=haggis+recipe&oq=haggis+recipe&aqs=chrome..69i57j69i65l3j0l2.4687j0j7&sourceid=chrome&ie=UTF-8

http://www.jamieoliver.com/recipes/lamb-recipes/easy-essex-haggis-neeps-tatties-shepherd-s-pie-stylie/

http://columbusfoodadventures.com/2010/blog/haggis-from-scratch-step-by-step

http://www.obanargyll.com/haggis-recipe.html

http://www.obanargyll.com/address-haggis.html

http://www.bbc.co.uk/food/recipes/haggis_66072

http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/alton-brown/haggis-recipe.html

http://www.rampantscotland.com/recipes/blrecipe_haggis.htm

http://www.souschef.co.uk/haggis-making-kit.html

http://www.bbc.co.uk/food/recipes/haggisclapshotandwhi_92144

https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/wordofmouth/2009/jan/23/haggis-recipe-burns-night

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=123179163

http://duramecho.com/Food/Haggis.html

https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/wordofmouth/2012/jan/25/burns-night-supper-vegetarian-haggis

http://www.electricscotland.com/food/recipes/haggis.htm

This recipe provides directions for preparing the stomach.

Mrs. Lawrie’s Haggis

Mrs. Lawrie’s Reliable Cookery was the textbook used to teach Scottish girls 120 years ago about cooking and the ‘domestic sciences’. As it was a national textbook, it arguably defined the cuisine of that age. Here is the haggis recipe from that book.

1 sheep’s pluck (heart, liver, and lights).

Allspice and cloves if liked.
stornach bag.
1/2 lb. beef-suet. 4 onions (par-boiled).
1/2 lb. oatmeal (toasted).

Salt and pepper.
I pint water in which pluck was boiled.
Method.
l Wash the bag well in cold water, scrape till quite white,
and rinse thoroughly.
2. Soak overnight in cold water.
3. Wash the pluck well and put on to cook, covered with
boiling water and a teaspoonful of salt, leaving the windpipe
hanging out.
4. Boil 2 to 3 hours, then remove from the water and
allow to cool.
place on a baking sheet.

5. Remove the windpipe and grate down most of the liver.
6. Chop the lights and heart, and mix with the suet (chopped) and the toasted oatmeal and the seasonings
7. Moisten with about 1 pint of the water the pluck has been boiled in and mix very thoroughly
8 arrange the stomach bag into three or more small bags and fill about half full of the mixture and sew up
9. Put in a pan of boiling, salted water, and boil steadily
for 3 hours, pricking occasionally to prevent bursting.
10. Dish on a hot dish and serve very hot.
Pan Haggis is prepared in the same way, but, instead of being put into
bags, it is stewed in a pan for 2 to 2 1/2 hours, a little more
liquid being required.

 

Yeast connection part 2

The Yeast Connection part 2

Sept. 18-19

This blog is a continuation of the previous one exploring various aspects of yeast in its manifestations in beer and bread.

  • That beer bread where I used the last dregs of the recently bottled beer rose. It took a full 24 hours at room temperature to get itself sorted out. Its now been in the fridge for about 15 hours. I took off a little pinch to taste (heat a frying pan, a little oil, flatten the bread sample, cook, observe if it rises, eat) It also passed the stretch test 20170918_063800.jpg
  • I thought I’d like it as a boule – but realize I need a suitable rising container, so here it is in some parchment paper ready for its long fridge rise. 20170918_065555.jpg
  • The beer is now bubbling away, and the reconstituted yeast brew (right) is much more active than the basic yeast version. 20170918_094347.jpg
  • Meanwhile my apple and pear ferments are bubbling away nicely. I’m going to try a few experiments with them:
    • Cider: propagate a yeast slurry using organic apple juice in the same way I do a beer yeast refresh: (per gallon) 200g juice (hopefully at 1.035) and 20g of the yeast in the jar. Same for the pear.
    • Beer (why not?) same thing – but use my beer wort mix
    • Bread: 2 starters – Elaine at foodbod https://foodbod.wordpress.com/2017/07/26/fruit-yeast-water-bread/ suggests equal parts water and flour (which would yield a 100% hydration starter). Now this will definitely be interesting to compare with my ‘old faithful’ SD starter. Will I get hints of apple and pear? 20170919_112835.jpg

September 20

I had to bake that beer bread today. It was just going too long in the fridge. I didn’t need to do it for bread – there’s already lots – but it really had fermented enough at nearly 48 hours. It rose, and did its yeasty breadish thing, but had I done it earlier it would more have resembled a bowler hat and not a volcano. The taste however was excellent. I’m glad I added the maple syrup. There was no bitterness as I tasted in the pre rise taste, but the taste was wonderfully rich and malty. In retrospect I should have made about 1.5 x the recipe using water as additional liquid. Or indeed not. This is a bread that is no shrinking background bread. Its the star of the show. I imagine it with roast squash, your thanksgiving turkey, a rich thick soup. And of course it will ideally suit the beer you brewed from it. That said it will be a month before you drink that and the bread will be long gone. It will NOT however a light summer salad. Here is what it looks like:

20170920_085436.jpg.

It is definitely worth doing this again next time I brew. Of course one can also use this last not full bottle for other things too – like marinating your meat, maybe cooking beans. Now there’s an idea!

Sooo…. In summary… if you are a brewer who has not made bread before:

  • Weigh the beer/trub mix.
  • Divide the weight by .6 to give the amount of flour to use. You can use whatever flour you like, just understand this will really affect the taste.
  • Multiply the weight of the flour by 2%. This is the amount of salt to add.
  • Mix and knead the flour and the beer until it is all well mixed. Place in a bowl and leave for 20 minutes
  • Add the salt and knead until it is well integrated. Taste it – the hoppiness could make it too bitter. This can be countered with a sweetener of your choice (which will also aid the fermentation going forward.)
  • let rise at room temperature for about about 24 hours.
  • Stretch and fold – a kind of kneading – look it up on Youtube – and then shape to the shape you wish it to be. At this point you can add stuff – seeds, nuts, other grains, oil….. Taste it again using that ‘fry a little bit of dough’ method described above.
  • Leave it at room temperature for a few hours or stick it in the fridge for about 24 or more hours.
  • For baking – oven to 450F. Depending on how much you have, it will be anything from 30-60 minutes. But if you are a brewer you should have a digital thermometer on a long probe. Stick that in after about 25 minutes and wait until its over 190F but not over 205.
  • Let it cool for about 20 minutes.

September 22:

Check out the apple ferment! Its in its glory now!

20170922_092653[1].jpg

September 26

  • Lots has happened, including my courses, which is why I have not been great about keeping this journal up to date.
  • The brews noted above were bottled. The ‘control sample’ with regulare old Safale 04 yeast came in at 1.020, while the reconstituted yeast came in at 1.010!! Its clear to me now. I will be using active trub, strengthened with some 1.035 wort from now on.
  • On September 24, I participated in Jan and Jim’s cider making process. My first time for this. Jim and jan are wonderful people who live off grid up in the Bruce Peninsula. Ultimate DIYers, one of their annual projects is processing their apples into all sorts of things, but mainly cider. I spent the morning with some of their city millennial friends, chopping and got to see the cider press in action. Here are a couple of photos of their set up:
  • The apple chunks are first mashed in the masher, then placed in the press. A hand screw presses down the press plate squeezing the juice out. Jim notes that since none of the trees are cultivated and grafted, they are all their own individual species. I felt very honoured to take away a gallon, which I innoculated with my apple yeast, and placed in the crawl space to ferment for goodness knows how long. For the first time I made a connection between what Sandor Katz has said about apple cider – i.e. give it oxygen and time and things will happen vs. what I have found to be succesful: dropping some champaign yeast into it. I did wonder that perhaps I did not need to add my yeast – but we will see what happens. Naturally sweet, it came in at 1.043 OG. If it fermnents all the way it should produce a 4.5% hard cider.
  • On the brewing front, I finally got to try the exbeeriment I made using sourdough starter. It was excellent and I did not expect that. What I have read notes that for sour brews one needs to think of lighter brews, pilsner and wheat malts, and light hopping. In this one I made a straight up ale with 2 row malt, and northdown hops. I was truly expecting sour, but did not get it. I’ve heard that the hops tend to kill off the lactic acid bacteria so if that happened it would definitely account for the lack of sour where it was present at the point I bottled it. Between the result noted above and this, I feel that I am much more in control and comfortable with my yeast situation and beer.
  • I’ve pureed and added fresh apple juice to my apple yeast sample, and have taken some of it to make a bread starter. Haven’t tried it yet – family is not eating enough bread.
  • I also was able to get a decent DIY stirplate going. Its super basic, and needs a lot more refinement, but I was able to use it to get a yeast happening for a 2 gallon brew. Since yeast needs oxygen in order to work well, stirring it is a good way to do this. In a stir plate, a magnet is on a motor spinning around. There’s another smaller magnet in your jar of yeast. The spinning magnet causes the other magnet to spin also. The trick is that you need to start things slowly and get it at an optimum speed for a whirlpool to happen. 20170923_110355[1].jpg
  • And to finish this blogging sequence off, my 2 gallon brew (I am trying to make a Kolsh but I have substituted so much that its likely turned out to be just another pilsner.) and its buddy, the apple cider. I can hardly wait until next week to see how they turned out. If I see any fermenting action I will just leave them there. You can see that the beer is already developing a nice Kreusen. The cider may take longer.

All of this goes to show how flexible, variable, and also powerful this microscopic fungi called yeast is. Its key to a significant number of foods and drinks we not just consume, but really enjoy. If anything, I hope these 2 blogs inspires people to experiment, to ask “what if….?” set up and experiment, and have fun with it!

The yeast connection

The Yeast Chronicles (part 1)

Or How to love your trub and find all kinds of uses for it.

A warning: This blog is a tad nerdy. It’s a journal kind of blog chronicling my thoughts and mini experiments regarding bread, beer, and what joins them at the hip, yeast.

This blog entry chronicles my thoughts around yeast and its connections to both beer and bread over the course of a week when I did not have to think about the courses I’ll be teaching shortly.. In it I am trying a variety of experiments that consider the use of the same yeast samples in both baked products and beers.

In this phase of things, I’ve been inspired/influenced by the following bloggers and resources:

Bread Cakes and Ale https://breadcakesandale.wordpress.com/2017/06/18/crumbs-brewing-and-the-bread-beer-relationship/ Lots of great info on the connection and history of beer and bread from a British perspective.

http://brulosophy.com/ this is a blog all about beer experimentation. Great ideas!

Foodbod https://foodbod.wordpress.com/2017/07/26/fruit-yeast-water-bread/ where I was inspired to try the apple fermentation

The Early English Bread Project https://earlybread.wordpress.com/

September 9th

  • Used 200g of trub made from safale 04 yeast. Treated it as ‘starter’ and added 200g water and 120g flour; let ferment for 6 hours at room temperature. This starter is to be called ‘ale starter’
  • Used 200g of this to make a 66% hydration loaf. (dark, malty taste; not bitter)

Sept 12

  • Refreshed the ale starter; let rise 6 hours room temp, made a 1700g bulk rise. The starter still has a malty taste to it though not as dark or strong as its prior version. (note to self: try either using beer to refresh or use beer as your bread liquid. ) Bulk rise left out overnight (@ 8 hours)

Sept 13

  • Baked 900g loaf from the bulk rise (made from ale starter). Both starter and dough have performed very well.Spring is good, crumb is fine. The taste is not as malty as the earlier loaf, but it has a complexity and darkness that is not present in my usual sourdough. I’m wondering if I keep refreshing it as a SD culture if the unique flavour of the yeast will endure. yeastconnection1.jpgyeastconnevtipn2.jpg
  • I refreshed equal amounts of my original starter and my ale starter. The ale starter was considerably more vigorous.
  • Can’t make up my mind on what kind of beer to brew next.
  • Hooked up a light dimmer to an old bathroom fan to develop a stirplate. I just need to figure out how to separate the fan from its metal enclosure and build a box around it.
  • Began apple and pear yeast capture: cut up each placed in 500ml jars with RO water.
  • apple pear ferment day 1.jpg

Sept 14

  • Decided to do a beer experiment with the 2 yeasts:

What I am trying to do here: That safale 04 trub starter appears to be quite strong. What I want to do in this experiment is to compare this reconditioned yeast (now in its 4th refresh) to dry safale 04 on the following parameters:

  • Strength: Does refreshing trub using bread flour contribute to a stronger yeast? Which yeast is most effective to take down a 1.070OG brew? The results will be clear – what is the FG? IN comparing this starter to my sourdough starter, it is more vigorous.
  • Taste: how different is the taste? the yeast is going to be the same. But in refreshing it 3-4 X over a week with bread flour, have LAB’s developed to sour the beer?

Methodology:

  • Make a 2 gallon brew mashed, boiled and hopped together.
  • refresh starter and brew morning prepare 20g ale starter with 200g 1.035 wort; use safale 04 dry for the other batch. Divide equally into 2 gallon jugs.

Malt:

  • 1.83kg Weyerman Pilsner (83.4%)
  • 360g Briess Carapils (16.6%)

Hops: Perle – 12.74 gOG 1.070 (came out at 1.062)

  • IBU: 20.1
  • Colour 8.1 EBC
  • Est ABV: 6.5%

Comparing the 2 starters for bread:

  • Took my 2 yeasts to see the difference in the same loaf of bread: same flour mix, same hydration, done at same time, in same banneton. Bulk rise set up around 1PM; will set up loaves tonight, bake off tomorrow AM.

2yeastsamd their doughs.jpg

Sept 15

  • The bake-off
    • The ale starter rose better – but not a huge difference
    • The crumb was similar – fairly closed. (I had used 50% durum flour)
    • The ale starter still retains a rich malty sense to it.
    • The SD starter has a definite LAB taste profile – more tangy
    • Conclusions:
      • both make excellent bread, both are very different.
      • The ale starter is more vigorous
      • Its always worth setting up an ale starter when one does a brew.
      • I’ll keep my SD starter: its been going for 3 years or more, and is likely changing as its own subspecies
    • Questions:
      • Will different brews yield different flavour profiles in bread? (They should)
      • How will the difference in the starters affect the taste in crackers? (next experiment)
      • Can I even reasonably maintain 2 starters?
      • & what happens when the apple and pear yeast captures are also part of the yeast collection?

Sept 16

It’s brew day.

  • The day started by preparing the reconstituted starter (6AM): 200g of 1.035 wort and 20g of the starter. The idea here is to use the wort to build up and strengthen the yeast. I haven’t yet developed an effective stir plate, so I whisk it often throughout the day. I’m anticipating it will be pitched this afternoon. 20170916makingstarter.jpg
  • I’ve done the mash, boiled the wort and will shortly divide the wort into 2 gallon jugs and pitch the yeasts. I used the same recipe as for my first sd brew except I’m going with Perle hops. It came in at 1.062 – a high enough OG to test how well the 2 yeasts will perform. The one with reconstituted yeast is higher as a result of the pitch being a total of 200g. 20170916ale1.jpg
  • I also made a cracker dough with the ale starter: 250g starter 250g red fife flour, 7g water, 37g oil, 12g salt, 5 g each cumin and fennel. Rolled into a ball, into fridge. Let the yeasts slowly discover their own food source while battling excess salt. I’m curious about the flavours that will come through from this yeast in these crackers.
  • Finally today, I pulled the last piece of dough from the trub dough I set up a few days ago. I added herbs – basil, oregano, thyme, rosemary, garlic, pepper – and also butter. As the picture suggests the dough was rolled out, the ingredients added, and then it was rolled up and kneaded out again into a foccacia shape.20170916beerbread4.jpg

Sept 17

  • Crackers were rolled out and baked. These were used using my bread spreadsheet – a universally editable spreadsheet to be used for any bread formulations. I added fennel and cumin to this. Note the parchment paper. It works well to roll it out on parchment paper as it makes the handling a lot easier, especially as it tends to break apart when it is quite thin. The result: Interesting, though not my best cracker. The beer aspect does indeed come through, and I should have just left it like that. With the cumin and fennel, there’s just too much going on for the pallet. This is a technique that I would not do with fresh trub. The trub for this one had been refreshed 4 times with flour over the week. Using fresh trub, for the 300 or so grams of starter used in the recipe, I would probably do 3 parts water and 1 part trub: 180g water, 60g trub, 146g flour. 20170917trubcrackers2.jpg20170917trubcrackers1.jpg
  • I did one more experiment – its still happening. Yesterday I also bottled a brew – an American pale ale. At the end of the bottling I had a partly filled bottle with a fair amount of trub and beer. Since the trub is a lot of used yeast, I decided to attempt using this bottle as both the yeast and liquid in a bread. Here is how that went down: I poiured the beer into a bowl and weighed it – 300g. Then I divided this by .66 to give me the flour needed to give a 66% hydration loaf: 454g. I then multiplied this by 2% for the appropriate amount of salt (9g). Its (hopefully) rising, though I don’t know how long its all going to take.
  • Meanwhile my apple and pear ferments are bubbling away nicely.

It has been a week now of fun and experimenting. I do appreciate that the only ones left reading are those who might be interested themselves in this amusement of beer, bread and yeast. That is after all one of the prerogatives of the blogger – to be as self indulgent as they want – and I’ve definitely been that.

But wait ….. There’s more! (just kidding) But seriously, after a week of this Its time to wrap and post. I’ll likely continue a second edition next!