Redefining Rustic

rus⋅tic
–adjective
1. of, pertaining to, or living in the country, as distinguished from towns or cities; rural.
2. simple, artless, or unsophisticated.
3. uncouth, rude, or boorish.
4. made of roughly dressed limbs or roots of trees, as garden seats.
5. (of stonework) having the surfaces rough or irregular and the joints sunken or beveled.

I am fairly sure a couple of those definitions describe my crazy bread baking skills. I have never been really good about following a recipe to the “T”. You would think I would be more careful to do so when I am tackling a new area of cooking. Instead I throw caution to the wind and just go for it. I do my research before I embark some new adventures. Baking bread is no different. What I did learn is that it isn’t necessarily an exact art. There are quite a few variables involved, particularly when dealing with sourdough starters. So that’s my story and I am sticking to it..lol.

Now I have been reading on how to make my sourdough more sour. My husband likes it mild but I like a hearty sourdough – something with a little more bite to it. So I tried adding rye flour to my whole wheat starter which seems to have either done the trick or I finally got enough nurturing into the starter. Bottom line was that it was time to bake some bread with it. I am loving Daniel Leader’s, Local Breads so I decided the first recipe I would try was a basic sourdough baguette.

I can’t begin to describe how exciting it was to actually make this bread. I enjoyed the hand kneading (I don’t own a stand mixer but definitely will put it on my wish list at some point). It was cool to see how the loaf came together. Of course the only issue I really had was with the shaping (which of course did not become evident until the bread came out of the oven). My baguettes definitely did NOT look like the pretty pictures.

Sourdough "baguette"

Frightening yes?

Clearly deprived of play time with play dough as a child, I may need to invest in some clay and practice..lol. BUT in my defense, once those bad boys were sliced up – my bread looked DIVINE and tasted like a hearty sourdough with a chewy crust.
Sourdough slices

Pretty pretty holes!

Finally a start!

Ironically I wanted to start this over a week ago. I got all excited to realize I wanted to blog again and where I wanted to head with it. And then I got slammed with “work”. Being disabled I don’t actually work and get paid. I do volunteer my time at Sparkpeople.com. I lead a handful of teams on Spark’s – two South Beach Diet teams, an Arthritis team, Tattooed Women, Motivation team, a GLBT team and finally I agreed to take on a “Class” team. Class teams are made up of a week’s worth of people who have just joined Spark’s – basically we answer questions, get them going, help provide motivation. Great no problem! Except that January is a wicked month due to New Years resolutions and the brains behind Spark just dropped a book and is doing all the promo for it. This meant my one week’s worth of team equaled over 27 thousand people. OUCH! I was slammed and basically felt like I needed to put everything else on the back burner. Today is the first day I have been able to breathe, play catch up with mail, upload pics and read some of my favorite blogs. I think my lesson learned is volunteering isn’t always my best friend and I have paid my “dues”. I enjoy doing my bit and giving back on Sparks but I think in the future I need to keep it limited to my “home” teams and nothing more. It just brings out the super overachiever in me which I just don’t need.

So amidst the madness, what do I decide to do to relax – cook! I have worked on my sourdough starter for the last couple weeks. I had to restart it thanks to my Weimaraner, Abe deciding it smelled too much like bread and he knocked it over (and licked it up). I found I fell into the typical newbie with my starter – I just could not bring myself to toss out the cup of starter I had to remove so I could feed my baby. This means of course that I needed to bake! I have owned a bread machine for several years. I was always intimidated by the whole baking bread by hand process. I think having baked a couple “bricks” did that for me. I dusted my bread machine off and baked a couple loaves of bread, working on experimenting with the various flours. Being on South Beach Diet, my breads need to be whole grain based, with at least 3 grams of fiber per a one ounce slice. I found this easy enough to do but ironically what is harder is slicing the bread properly…lol. I normally don’t eat bread very often but fortunately my spouse needs all the carbs and he loves the bread (and croutons for his salads). It was interesting balancing out my personal diet, seeing how the scale would react to my testing out each new creation.

I finally got brave about midweek and decided to actually try my hand at making rolls. I was going for the knead since I figured I could work out some of my stress! The result is a double batch of goodness:

Rolls

Popover style rolls


rolls

Pullaway rolls


I was really pleased how both turned out! I ended up bringing the popover rolls to a friend’s house for her kids, figuring they would enjoy them with jam in the morning. I packaged up the other rolls and froze them so I didn’t feel the urge to graze my way through the pan. The recipe: Sourdough Dinner Rolls