Baking Sourdough Bread in a Bread Machine

sourdough bread in a bread machine

MY SOURDOUGH LEARNING CURVE

I’ve been making sourdough bread now for about a year now and today I think I’ve made my best loaf yet. Although I had originally been using 350ml water to 500g of flour, I’ve recently decreased the amount of water to 320ml and this seems to work better and the texture of the bread is not so gummy. The original proportions might work better in a conventional oven where there might be more evaporation, but I tend to bake the bread in a bread machine and these proportions seem to work better.

 

PREPARATION

The day before I am going to bake the bread, I take the sourdough starter out of the fridge at about 17:00 and leave it for a couple of hours to warm up.
I don’t want to have to throw any of the starter away and so I save the smallest amount possible to bake the next loaf. At the moment, I am saving back 60g.

I use rye flour (centeno) to feed the starter and add 60g flour and 60g of water to the starter. I transfer 60g to a new jar and put this back in the fridge. I then add another 10g flour and 10g water to the remaining starter and mix well. This is the starter for the next loaf and it should weigh approximately 140g. I leave this out on the worktop, wrapping it in a towel in the winter.

 

AUTOLYSING THE DOUGH

I have recently been experimenting with autolysing the flour overnight before mixing with the starter and this seems to work really well. Autolysing is basically mixing the flour and water together and leaving it for a number of hours for the gluten bonds to form. You generally leave white flour for around an hour and brown flour for about 4 hours.

At about 21:00, I weigh out 250g strong white flour, 250g brown flour, stir in 320ml water and gently knead the mix to bring in all the ingredients. I then cover the bowl with a plate and leave overnight.

 

ADDING THE STARTER

The next morning, I test the dough to see if it can make a window pane. I then sprinkle in 12g salt and 320ml water, mix well and leave for 60 minutes.
After 60 minutes, I stretch and fold the dough gently about 8 times and coil fold the dough about 4 times.
I do another 4 series of stretch and folds and coil folds every 30 minutes.
I then shape the dough into a ball, creating surface tension by pulling over and towards me a couple of times, turning the bowl as I go.

 

BAKING THE BREAD

I transfer the ball of dough into the breadmaker. I select the yoghurt cycle on the menu and time the breadmaker for 30 minutes.
After 30 minutes, I stop the machine and choose the bake cycle. On my machine, this takes 60 minutes.

Using Solar hot water for a Washing Machine

Using solar hot water with a washing machine

If you are living off grid or you have solar powered hot water then you may want to take advantage of the hot water that you have in the tank.

Washing machines and dishwashers can heat up their own water but the heating element tends to be between 2000 and 3000 watts.  You would have to have a very big off grid solar system with a large  inverter to use the actual dishwasher or washing machine heating element.

The simple answer is to plumb these appliances into your hot water system and always wash your clothes on the cold setting so that it never attempts to heat the water up.

If you are in an off grid situation it is probably  best to wash your dishes by hand.  Most dishwashers have a heating element and unless you have a big lithium ion system the solar inverter will shut the system down after a short time of having a draw of 2000 watts unless the sun is actually shining at the time. If you are connected to the grid then connecting your dishwasher directly to the hot system would be a good idea. Note: The time of writing this is 2021. In a few years it will be much more common to have large capacity batteries which will be OK with a dishwasher.

On the other hand clothes washing machines are perfect for solar power. As long as you have an inverter of over 700 watts they will work fine.   Most detergents nowadays are designed for cold washes. However from time to time it is nice to be able to do a hot wash. The most important thing with clothes washing is that the water that enters the washing machine should not be too hot for the type of clothes that you are washing. For this reason you need to install a mixer tap or mixer valve.

The photo at the top of this page is the mixer tap on our washing machine. Mixer taps have 2 inlets. Hot and cold. They have 1 outlet. The water in the outlet should be limited to the maximum temperature set on the control dial. I personally would not trust the mixer tap to have an accurate temperature setting and I would use an external thermometer to make sure the temperature is correct.

Note that using this method you will end up rinsing your clothes with warm water. If this is a problem you could switch the hot inlet off after a certain amount of time.

Warning: I still don’t know how it happened but my mixer tap has  some sort of back flow issue and it resulted in cold water being mixed with my general  hot water system. I solved this by putting a tap to stop the hot water inflow but beware if this happens to you, it took me a month to work it out.

Remember that even if you run hot water into the inlet of the washing machine you should choose a cold wash setting on the machine. (you don’t want the internal water heater to start) 

One last idea: Why not use the used water from the washing machine for irrigation.  Pipe the water onto some trees or into a container to be used for watering.

This is a link to a mixing tap on Amazon.
If you go to a plumbing shop in Spain ask for “Válvula Mezclador termostático or “Válvula de mezcla caliente y fría de 3 vía”.

 

Bottled Blackberry Mousse

blackberry mousse

BOTTLED BLACKBERRY JUICE

This recipe solves the problem of what to do with the avalanche  of blackberries that we have at the end of every July. We don’t eat a lot of jam so this is perfect for us. In the 1970’s, my mother used to make a foamy mousse made out of jelly and evaporated milk.  We have now got enough bottled blackberry juice to make over 100 portions. It is packed with vitamin C and the gelatine is apparently very good for bones and reduces osteoporosis.

Blackberries are now in full flow and although I’ve been making blackberry mousse every couple of days and blackberry jam, I thought it would be a good idea to find a way of making a blackberry syrup that could store and that could be mixed with whipped evaporated milk at a later stage. That way, we could summon up summer at any time in the future.

I prefer to remove the seeds from the blackberries and so use a stick blender to blitz up the blackberries and then pass them through a mouli-légumes. I then weigh the juice and calculate the quantities of sugar and glycerine based on this.

The basic quantities are 750g blackberry juice, 15g glycerine and 50g sugar. In percentage terms this amounts to 2% glycerine and 6.7% sugar.


blackberry mousse

Blackberry Mousse

These are the quantities for 750ml of blackberry juice and 330ml evaporated milk.

INGREDIENTS

  • 750ml blackberry juice
  • 15g powdered gelatine
  • 50g sugar
  • 4 tablespoons water

METHOD

  1. Run some very hot water in the sink and thoroughly clean the jars and lids.
  2. Leave to drain on a tea-towel while you prepare the syrup.
  3. Pour the blackberry juice into a saucepan and bring to the boil.
  4. Boil for 5 minutes or so.
  5. Meanwhile, combine the water, sugar and gelatine in a small saucepan.
  6. Gently heat through, stirring all the while until the gelatine has melted.
  7. Add a couple of ladlefuls of the hot juice mixture to the gelatine mixture and stir well.
  8. Pour the gelatine mix back into the juice pan and bring to the boil.
  9. Fill the jars with the juice.
  10. Close the jars firmly and place upside down for 30 minutes or so.
  11. Turn the right way up and leave to cool.

NOTES

To make up the mousse, use 330ml evaporated milk for 750ml blackberry juice. Whisk the evaporated milk until thick and you can see trace on the surface. Combine the juice and milk and mix well. Put in the fridge to set overnight.

Fried Aubergines and Tomato

fried aubergines and tomatoI invented this recipe for fried aubergines and tomato the other day and it doesn’t really have a name – it’s really just fried aubergines and tomatoes with a bit of salt – a bit like a simpler version of ratatouille but without the other ingredients. The aubergines are starting to ripen at the moment and it won’t be long before we have plenty of them so I’m trying out different ways of cooking them in preparation.

One of the problems with frying aubergines is that they absorb a lot of the oil. So, in this recipe I dry fry them for ten minutes in a frying pan or so before adding any oil, giving the aubergine pieces enough time to take on a lovely golden brown colour.

 

fried potato cake

Fried Aubergines and Tomato

This recipe is quick to prepare and is best served warm.

 

INGREDIENTS

  • 4 medium-sized aubergines, halved lengthways and then cut into 1cm slices
  • 2 large tomatoes, coarsely grated
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • salt

METHOD

  1. Heat a frying pan on a high heat.
  2. When hot, add the aubergine slices, cover and cook for 5 minutes.
  3. Turn them over and cook for a further 5 minutes.
  4. Drizzle over some extra virgin olive oil and season with salt.
  5. Keep turning the aubergines every so often until they have got some good colour.
  6. Add the tomatoes and fry on a high heat for another couple of minutes
  7. Turn the heat down low and cook for another 5 minutes or so.
  8. Leave the lid on and leave in the pan until you need to serve them.

Stir-fried Cauliflower

stir-fried cauliflower

STIR-FRIED CAULIFLOWER

We’ve been having cauliflowers every now and again throughout the year. The ones growing at the moment are now big enough to eat so I’m looking for new recipes and ways of preparing them.

Stir-fried Cauliflower

This recipe is quick to prepare and tastes delicious.

 

INGREDIENTS

  • Cauliflower florets
  • 4 cloves garlic, micro-planed
  • 1 inch ginger, micro-planed
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • sesame seeds
  • soy sauce
  • salt

METHOD

  1. Heat a frying pan with some extra virgin olive oil.
  2. Add the cauliflower florets, season with salt, cover and cook on a high heat for about 5 minutes so that they take on a nutty brown colour.
  3. Add a couple of tablespoons of water to the pan and cook for a further 5 minutes.
  4. Drain the cauliflower in a colander and transfer to a bowl.
  5. Add some extra virgin olive oil to the pan.
  6. Fry the garlic and the ginger for a couple of minutes before sprinkling over some soy sauce.
  7. Return the cauliflower to the pan and mix thoroughly.
  8. Put the cauliflower back in the bowl and sprinkle with sesame seeds.
  9. Serve.