Babcia’s Bread Experiment, part 6: restarting

Okay, so after accidentally killing off our ball of old dough “yeast”, I had to start over. Since I have no idea how my grandmother got her first ball of old dough, this is all a guessing game, anyhow!

This time, I went with another old technique: the sponge.

It’s just 2 cups warm water, 2 cups flour and 2 Tbsp of yeast, mixed together. This is the sort of thing one might put into the fridge overnight, to bake in the morning. Instead, I put it in the oven that was warmed up to its lowest setting, then turned off.

After about an hour or more, the resulting sponge was all soft and fluffy!

I added another half cup of warm water, which also made it easier to transfer it to my big mixing bowl, then added the salt and flour, as usual.

Once I’d kneaded in as much flour as I wanted (I have to catch myself and not add too much!), the dough was set aside to rise in a floured bowl. Once again, it went into a warm oven to rise.

But not before I took out a dough baby! My mother described my grandmother as taking dough out for the next batch after the second rising, when she was shaping the loaves. Since I’m using actual yeast in this, I did only one rising before shaping the loaves. I flattened the ball out this time, to see how that changes things as it sits buried in the flour.

As for the rising dough, it ended up taking about 2 hours, even with using commercial yeast!

This would have been a 2 loaf recipe, but I decided to play around a bit.

I made 4 plain mini loaves, first.

Yes, there are only 3 in the picture. My husband already ate one. 😀

After taking the picture, I ate one, too!

The other half was used to make surprise buns. During our city shop, I’d found a gouda-like cheese (I can’t remember what it was actually called) with truffle in it. There was still some left, so I cut it into small slices and wrapped them inside the dough.

I did try and seal the dough well, but as you can see in the photo, the cheese still made its way out, and started bubbling in the middle!

I can hardly wait to try it out!

With our new dough baby, I will have to make a point of using it every few days again. Since I didn’t start out with an “instant sourdough” yeast, it will take longer to develop that sour flavour. At least, that’s my assumption.

I will also keep taking the dough baby out for the next batch at the start, as the dough it being setting aside to rise. That way, I can do things later on, like knead baking soda in again, or knead in things like herbs or shredded cheese or anything else that catches my fancy.

I just have to not kill the old dough again! 😀

The Re-Farmer

I am such a goof: crab apple cider vinegar reboot!

Today, the girls and I worked on juicing apples and getting some hard crab apple cider started (which I will post about next). While I was de-stemming the crab apples and cutting off any nasty bits, they took care of sanitizing the gallon jugs and the various items that would be needed.

They usually did the sanitizing part during our few beginner attempts at making alcoholic drinks.

That’s my excuse!

You see, when I used sanitizer to start the crab apple cider vinegar a couple of nights ago, I made a mistake. A silly, forgetful mistake. A laughable mistake, even.

But for the cider vinegar, it was a deadly, disastrous mistake.

As I listened to the girls chatting while using the sanitation solution, then rinsing everything off and setting it aside on a towel to drip dry, I suddenly realized my horrible mistake.

When I sanitized everything for the vinegar, I set everything out to drip dry – but forgot to give them a final rinse, first. Which means, when I made the vinegar, everything had dried sanitizing solution on them.

There’s no way they’d be able to ferment at all!

Later, while my younger daughter and I were juicing apples, I mentioned it to her. Oh, my, the look on her face!

Sweetheart that she is, she took over the juicing while I went and got the jars.

There was, of course, no sign of bubbling in the air lock, but after only 2 days, would there have been any? I don’t know. However, when I opened them up, I could see they were already a loss. There may not have been any fermentation happening, but decomposition had already started at the very top. 😦

Thankfully, since I had prepped all the other apples for juicing, I was able to wash, sanitize and RINSE THE HECK OUT OF everything, then quickly chop apples into pieces for a new batch.

The only thing different from last time, aside from actually rinsing everything after sanitization, was to not fill the jars as much as I had before. The recipe had said to fill the jars 3/4 full. I think I was still over that, but the first batch was full almost to the top. Here, you can sort of see through the container they are in, that there is a fair bit of space under the floating apple pieces.

I foresee only one problem right now.

These are in the old kitchen and, right now, it’s pretty cold. It was cold enough today that the furnace actually turned on – and the thermostat was dropped quite low over the summer! As I write this, it’s already dropped to 4C (39F), and we have frost warnings for tonight. Amazingly, we’re supposed to go above 20C (68F) in a couple of days, but for now, it’s downright chilly! The old kitchen doesn’t have any heat going into it. Back in the day, with the wood stove going, it was a source of heat for the rest of the house, not the other way around! I don’t even know what the old kitchen has for insulation, if anything. It stays cools in the summer, and in the winter, it gets pretty close to freezing in there. We can actually use the room as an extra refrigerator in the winter.

The cider vinegar should be done well before we reach those sorts of temperatures all the time, but the next couple of days might slow things down a bit!

We shall see how it goes.

I still can’t believe I made such a silly mistake!

The Re-Farmer

Mead Baby 2.0: second fermentation

First, the back ground, for those who are new to this blog. (Welcome!) All links will open in new tabs, so you won’t lose your place. 🙂

Mead Baby, redux
Mead Baby 2.0: active fermentation
Mead Baby 2.0: it’s a temperature thing
Mead Baby 2.0: temperature success

We’ve been keeping a close eye on our baby mead, keeping the temperature at the warm end of the temperature range recommended. If it dropped to 16C, I would turn on the electric heating pad to the “warm” setting, and that would bring it back up to 18C.

We could see bubbles inside the airlock, so there was still active fermentation – something we’re pretty sure had stopped completely well before this point in our first batch. The “burp” had dropped to about 23-27 seconds apart and seemed to be staying there for the past few days, so my daughter and I planned to transfer the must to another 1 gallon glass carboy for a second fermentation today.

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Mead Baby 2.0: active fermentation

It’s only been two days, but with our set up being more in the open, I thought I’d show what the active fermentation looks like.

Even in the still shot, you can see that the water in the airlock is carbonated, with all the bubbles on the sides.

In the video, you can see that a “burp” comes up about every 6 seconds. It’s a bit on the slow side, from what I’m reading, which could be temperature based.

Now, we’re also supposed to be aerating this twice a day for the first few days, which was easy to do when using the fermentation bucket. We haven’t done that at all, yet. The spoon that came with our wine making kit is too big to fit into the opening of the 1 gallon jug.

I’ll have to see what I’ve got that’s thin enough, and can be sanitized.

This stage should take about 7-12 days, and watching those bubbles and burbs are supposed to help us know when it’s time to do that. So we’ll be keeping a close eye on that airlock. 🙂

The Re-Farmer

Fail, times three!

I’ve posted about our first time tries at making several fermented products.

There was the mead, small batches of plain sauerkraut and a probiotic sauerkraut/fermented vegetables version. Plus, there was the crabapple cider vinegar I posted progress on recently. (all of these links will open in new tabs)

The jars of sauerkraut and cider are in locations that I can easily check on them. With the lack of fermentation in the mead, I’ve found myself eyeballing the jars harder.

I was feeling suspicious.

So this evening, I took down a jar of plain sauerkraut and took the filter off. It seemed okay, but I went to check the other two, anyhow.

Oh, dear.

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