I’ve been looking forward to this week for months! I took some vacation time (Thursday and Friday) to have “me time” and then ended up getting sick over the weekend and was home on the couch Monday. So my work week consisted of Tuesday! That was it!
I had a few things planned for my time off. Michael had to work, which was a bummer, but at least he got the 4th off. We got to do some fun stuff. (And he kindly put together our new bistro set that I bought for us to spend time together in the evenings this summer.) It looks so cute:
For the 4th of July we spent the day pretty low-key. Logan and I got up early and had breakfast then went for a walk/jog on part of the neighborhood loop we used to do a lot (and stopped for coffee and lottery tickets!). We did about 3.5 miles and he started getting fidgety in the stroller around mile 2.5!
The rest of the day was easy and quiet. Then we went to a friend’s house for a holiday BBQ. Logan’s BFF was there and they played so hard. Logan was covered in dirt, bubbles, chocolate and god knows what. 😉
Our friends have a nice little enclosed yard in inner SE Portland, perfect location for all things Portland. And the yard was perfect for a little BBQ. They did burgers, chicken, sausages, veggies and veggie burgers. People brought sides. I made a Greek Orzo salad that turned out really yummy.
Someone made a blueberry pie and homemade cupcakes (both were delicious and decadent!). It was a bit crazy with two 2 year-olds just running wild, but…that’s what summer is for, right?
Only a few minor meltdowns…it was way past Logan’s bed time so we headed home. Long before any fireworks really started (but I did bring the pop things that you step on and they pop–the kiddos LOVED those).
I still wasn’t 100% from my gnarly cold so It was ok with me to go home before the fireworks. Way different than the old days when our neighborhood would get the GOOD stuff (aka illegal fireworks from Washington) and it would be a show late into the night. I was in bed at my normal bedtime this year, with my book. PARTY ANIMALS!
I need some advice! But first, a cute photo of Logan and me cuddling on the couch early Saturday morning:
Over the long weekend I finally got to try my very first loaf of sourdough bread. I’ve never made bread before (except for Sheepherder’s Bread and I think I killed the yeast and it never rose) but it’s been something that both Michael and I have wanted to try doing for years.
My friend gave me some of her sourdough starter probably a month or so ago. I’ve been feeding it every week and it smelled so good and sour. I was really excited to try this. So Saturday morning after the gym I got started on prepping and making the dough because I knew it would be an all day process.
First off, having the Kitchenaid mixer for making bread is AMAZING. I barely had to do any of the kneading.
Second, even though I fed the starter a lot and gave it extra leading up to the weekend, I still didn’t have quite enough for the recipe. So I had to feed the starter more right before. Maybe that changed things? I don’t honestly know.
I followed the instructions of the recipe I used (recommended by my friend). I had found another recipe, too, that I thought sounded good. I think I will try that recipe next time and see how it goes.
3 cups flour (white whole wheat, whole wheat, unbleached, or a combo)
1-1/4 cups water (may need less if your starter is “wetter”- mine is a 100% hydration starter, fed an equal ratio of flour to water)
3/4 cup active sourdough starter
1 tablespoon honey
1-1/2 teaspoons salt
Mix all ingredients together in the bowl of a stand mixer (or large mixing bowl) just until combined and then let sit for 15 minutes.
Using a dough hook, knead for 5 minutes. If making by hand, knead for 8 to 10 minutes.
Transfer to a medium-sized bowl, lightly coated with oil. Cover with plastic and let rise for 3 hours, turning and folding the dough once or twice.
Remove dough, turn and fold again, and place it back in the bowl, seam-side up. Let rise for another 2 hours.
After the second rise, place a square of parchment on a cookie sheet and gently shape the dough into a ball or oval (using lots of flour, as the dough is moist) and set on the parchment. Make sure there’s a good coating of flour on the top, as this will make slicing the top later easier.
Set an enameled, cast iron dutch oven into a cold oven and turn heat to 450 degrees (alternately, you can use a baking stone), and set the timer for 40 minutes.
When the timer goes off, slash the top of the loaf with a serrated knife (in 2-3 places) and transfer it to the hot pot by holding the edges of the parchment (or stone).
Replace the hot lid and bake for 12-15 minutes. Remove the lid and continue baking for another 13-15 minutes, until golden brown.
Remove to a wire rack to cool at least 30 minutes before cutting.
Slicing tip: if you don’t have a good serrated knife, try using an electric knife to easily slice through crusty artisan bread. I works like a charm and even cuts through warm breads without squishing the crusts like regular knives do.
Since this was my first loaf ever, I didn’t have high expectations. I knew it would take practice but I was still a little bummed out it didn’t turn out like it should. I think I should have let it rise longer than the 5 hours the recipe called for. Because the dough didn’t really look like it rose all that much from when I started it…
Next time, I won’t use my dutch oven to bake it, either. One of the options of the recipe was to use a baking/pizza stone. We have one that makes GREAT pizza so I will try that next time.
Overall the bread was OK but not great. It was really dense. It weighed a freakin’ ton. It wasn’t the light, airy sourdough I was expecting. I’m not sure what I need to do differently in the future. I read through some messages boards online and none of them were really clear. It could have been too wet, not wet enough, maybe I didn’t let it rise enough, maybe it had too much gluten in it, maybe not enough…HELPFUL.
So I could definitely use some advice from bread baking experts out there! What did I do wrong? How do I make the bread LIGHT and AIRY?
In other news…on Sunday we went out to lunch for Logan’s BFF’s birthday. I had an AMAZING burger on AMAZING bread. 😀
Lunch was at Hopworks. It’s a great place, good food and it’s very kid-friendly, which is nice. We were in a back room for kids so that was good, too.
Seriously, look at that bun! It was SO GOOD. I wish I could make bread like that. My burger had swiss cheese, toasted hazelnuts, caramelized onions, arugula and lemon aioli on it. It was to die for. One of the best burgers I’ve had in a long time.
The above photo was the toys at the restaurant in the kid’s area. (Great idea!) Logan had cheese pizza with apple slices on the side (decent pizza, too).