Baking to Relax
March 28, 2020 2:58 PM   Subscribe

Finding yourself at home with time and energy? “The idea of cooking, and baking in particular, really requires a certain level of mindfulness, of putting aside everything else that’s going on around you and being present in the moment,” Ohana says (Tangential content warning: links with significant covid-19 content will be marked [cv19] but most are really just about baking).

Baking can be soothing, but it can also be trendy. And when the supply chain isn't built for trends, it can result in shortages of flour and yeast [cv19]. We are assured these shortages are temporary:
There’s no danger of flour running out, said Christopher Clark, vice president of communications for the North American Millers’ Association. “The industry has access to grain, has capacity, and will produce products our customers/consumers want as fast as we can,” he said in an email.

“I can absolutely and unequivocally say there is no shortage,” said Robb MacKie, the president and CEO of the American Bakers Association, whose members include packaging companies as well as makers of flour and yeast. “What we have is a demand issue.”
But the shortage of eggs may take longer to resolve [cv19]: "Production has been largely unaffected … But we are dealing with live animals, and it takes time to increase flock size." Enough of the business talk, though, let's get baking!

Perhaps you'd like to make fluffy dinner rolls, using an Asian technique?

Maybe a Dutch baby, like Yorkshire pudding meets a popover meets a gougère, flavored with browned butter, Parmesan and thyme?

Do you have too many bananas? This banana bread recipe calls for five. (Nuts are optional).

Maybe this is finally when you try to make your own sourdough starter, since you have time and you can't find yeast at the supermarket (perhaps that shortage is the answer to this tweet from the NYT's Katie Rogers, "why is everyone doing sourdough"). Here's one recipe for a starter. But it uses a lot of flour. Maybe try this one? If that still seems like more flour than necessary, you're in luck: Cook's Illustrated has you covered.

While you get that up to speed you can make sourdough waffles or pretzels with your discards. To improve the color of your pretzels, try baking your baking soda before you boil the dough.

For dessert? Have you tried chocolate chip cookies? I mean, really tried them? (Previously)
posted by fedward (77 comments total) 44 users marked this as a favorite
 
Thank you for posting this, I was just thinking about this being the perfect time to improve my baking skills. My partner is scheduled to wake up from their nap in an hour and I would love to surprise them with something... suggestions welcome, keeping in mind that I fuck up fried eggs about 20% of the time. Currently eyeing those dinner rolls...
posted by brook horse at 3:06 PM on March 28, 2020


Yum, sourdough! Thank you to Seamus Blackley for #QuarantineBakeIn and #YeastLords!
posted by MonkeyToes at 3:08 PM on March 28, 2020


Odd timing, but several weeks ago, I got sourdough starter from my brother who has had his for years. I made about four loaves of sourdough over the past 3 weeks. I'm not sure if I was seeing this in social media and I was prompted to do so by others or if it was just synchronicity. Anyway, my wife and I got pretty tired of sourdough bread in these last couple weeks! Started out: OMG FRESH BAKED BREAD, quickly turns to: no more bread, pls.
posted by SoberHighland at 3:14 PM on March 28, 2020 [2 favorites]


If life gives you oatbran, make baked oatbran: 60 grams of it, 6 spoonfuls of natural yoghurt, 2 eggs, a teaspoon of baking powder, 2 crunched-up tablets of sweetener. Mix it all up, swirl in 4 teaspoons of blackcurrant jam, spoon it into a small loaf tin, bake at 200°c (fan 185) for 30 minutes.
posted by Cardinal Fang at 3:17 PM on March 28, 2020 [2 favorites]


I tend to have a lot of baking stuff on hand already; the problem is finding the time to use it. I live in New York City, and I'm three days into an enforced two week self-quarantine (someone I work with tested positive and then sent us all home for safety's sake), and so I now have that time.

Last weekend I made a pumpkin bread, using some pureed pumpkin I already had in my freezer, into which I threw in some chocolate chips and some cacao nibs. I also made a black mocha cake, simply because the damn thing sounded so good. Somewhere in my travels I'd also turned up a new Nestle Toll House product - espresso chocolate chips. Some of those went into the mocha cake.

Today I made half a batch of homemade Hobnobs and sometime tomorrow I'm probably going to make these insane triple-chocolate cookies (the cookie is chocolate, you throw in chocolate chips, and you also add cacao nibs). Either that or pain d'epices. Sunday's also when I feed my sourdough starter, and I usually use the discard to make a couple sourdough pancakes (I have a small-size batch of starter by design).

And that's just the baking, I'm also going all-in with cooking things like three different curries, lentil salad with merguez sausage, tater tot casserole, beef stroganoff, minestrone....

....I went grocery shopping a couple times over the past couple weeks simply because it was an excuse to get outside, and stuck to buying weird things that no one else wanted because there was no one crowding around them. I also have a habit of buying weird food items because "that looks interesting, let me try it" and then not getting a chance to try it. ...The time is now.

My roommate is thrilled.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 3:21 PM on March 28, 2020 [10 favorites]


In my area you couldn't even buy all-purpose flour, to say nothing of bread flour, a week ago, so I think it's safe to say that a lot of people are trying their hand at bread baking right now.
posted by Kadin2048 at 3:23 PM on March 28, 2020 [8 favorites]


I work in a bakery and I just want to say that it's really rewarding handing out the staff of life to a community of people who need something reliable. We're also letting pieces of our sourdough starter out into the wild for anyone who wants to try their hand at home.

Our wholesale business has tanked but our community has stepped up on the retail end and come out in droves to help us keep the lights on. Bread really does bring people together.
posted by East14thTaco at 3:28 PM on March 28, 2020 [17 favorites]


Does anyone have a recommendation for a basic crusty bread like you'd get at a bakery as a round loaf? I have made no knead options quite a few times and while they're good, they're never quite as good.
posted by geegollygosh at 3:32 PM on March 28, 2020 [1 favorite]


Been making lots of biscotti. Yesterday, I whipped-up some cinnamon rolls. I’m thinking some focaccia tomorrow. We were lucky to score a bag of flour at the market yesterday. The raiders had wiped-out the shelves the last couple of weeks. Getting low on yeast, though.
posted by Thorzdad at 3:36 PM on March 28, 2020 [2 favorites]


I guess I'm going to make Mollie Katzen's made-in-the-pan chocolate cake? Even though I am pretty far from vegan and have also always been like "enchanted broccoli forest, puke". But no dirty bowls, and I can make it without dipping into my dwindling egg and butter supply! Does anyone know if I can substitute red wine vinegar for white vinegar?
posted by Ralston McTodd at 3:37 PM on March 28, 2020


Does anyone have a recommendation for a basic crusty bread like you'd get at a bakery as a round loaf? I have made no knead options quite a few times and while they're good, they're never quite as good.

I made a loaf I'm pretty pleased with using (half of ) the King Arthur no-knead recipe on Wednesday. The key, in my experience, is baking it in a stonking hot cast iron dutch oven with the lid on (as in the NYT recipe). That's where the steam comes from that makes the crust.

Does anyone know if I can substitute red wine vinegar for white vinegar?

Looking at that recipe, if you could, I'd suggest replacing both the baking soda and vinegar with 2-3 tsp of baking powder before going to red wine vinegar.
posted by Homeboy Trouble at 4:06 PM on March 28, 2020 [6 favorites]


I bought extra flour when I stocked up, and yeast, but not much, so I am saving part of every batch of dough and that's working fine. I've been making simple flatbread on top of the stove in a cast iron pan, even when it's not perfect (remember to add the salt) it's pretty good.
posted by theora55 at 4:12 PM on March 28, 2020


I'm a regular bread baker, usually a weekly British bloomer or sourdough loaf, but I have been baking more since sheltering in place. I tried to buy sugar this week and the baking aisle was decimated, there were only a few bags of almond flour and Splenda on the shelves.

I made homemade flour tortillas last week since stores have been out of those as well. They did not turn out so well. If anyone has a good recipe for those, please share it.
posted by shoesietart at 4:12 PM on March 28, 2020


I've been posting my bread and bread-adjacent attempts on mltshp.
Waffles: The King Arthur recipe linked in the FPP. This is legit, folks!
Broa, a kind of Portuguese corn/wheat bread.
English muffins.
All three of those have links to their respective recipes.

I've also got sourdough starter in progress, but aside from using some of the discard for the waffles it probably won't be ready for baking until some time next week. Which is fine because we have a lot of leftover waffles, bread and English muffins to work through.
posted by ardgedee at 4:51 PM on March 28, 2020 [1 favorite]


For all those egg hoarders: How to tell if an egg's gone bad.
posted by sammyo at 4:54 PM on March 28, 2020


fwiw I'm following the Washington Post's recipe for sourghdough starter. It, like the New York Times' sourdough starter recipe, are paywalled, but the Post's was, briefly, freely accessible. If anybody would like a peek, memail me.

The Post's recipe estimates around 1200 grams of flour will be consumed by the time the starter can be used for bread. Which is a lot (it's roughly half a 5 lb bag) but at the same time there's not really any waste since the discard is also usable. (Have I mentioned how fantastic those waffles are?)
posted by ardgedee at 4:59 PM on March 28, 2020


Oh, thank you for the link to the Hobnobs! I'm still regretting not getting a package of them the last time I was near a Cost Plus.
posted by suelac at 5:00 PM on March 28, 2020


My niece has this recipe for focaccia, and really it is warm water sugar, yeast, wait for it to bubble. Turn on the oven, once the starter bubbles put in enough whole wheat flourwith 1/4 semolina flour, to make a stretchy dough, and add a coupla tablespoons of olive oil. Put the oven on high, get out a baking sheet or holy pizza pan, roll the dough out to 1/2-3/4 inches thick, put some finger dimples in it, evenly sorta spaced, one per inch or so. Brush it with olive oil, or garlic olive oil, and bake it for 18-20 minutes at 425 degrees. Or, roll it out thin, and put whatever sugar you have all over it, chop up apple, stir it with olive oil, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, more sugar, add some chopped dried apricots if you have some, or come crasins, or raisins or nuts whatever, you like. Roll it into a tube, let it rise, oil it and sugar it, and put that on a baking sheet, in a crescent shape so it will go on a plate or a cake stand. Or, make some of the focaccia into pizza dough, (I put some semolina in with my whole wheat baking flour, for stretch,) make a pizza, eat it, then make the focaccia, then the strudel from the same batch of dough, that is how I did it two days ago. Multitasking dough. I love baking in the best of times, and it makes the other times much more homey.
posted by Oyéah at 5:01 PM on March 28, 2020 [3 favorites]


I am currently working on my third loaf of this no knead sourdough: https://www.kingarthurflour.com/recipes/no-knead-sourdough-bread-recipe since I also got caught out with plenty of flour and no yeast. The number of deep dude-bro sourdough blogs with 1000's of words on process were just killing me, so the King Arthur recipes were a godsend.
posted by 3j0hn at 5:03 PM on March 28, 2020 [6 favorites]


i love baking, find it incredibly relaxing and house-smell-engoodening but oh my god. the output. i will die instantly in a diabetic coma. especially now when i can't do any kind of exercise other than pace furiously.

anyway rugelach doesn't have eggs in it so you can all go wild
posted by poffin boffin at 5:03 PM on March 28, 2020 [9 favorites]


OUR OVEN IS BROKEN SPEAK NOT TO ME
posted by little cow make small moo at 5:10 PM on March 28, 2020 [14 favorites]


counter top convection toaster oven pandemic panic purchase time
posted by poffin boffin at 5:16 PM on March 28, 2020 [7 favorites]


homemade flour tortillas last week since stores have been out of those as well. They did not turn out so well. If anyone has a good recipe for those, please share it.
posted by shoesietart


You are not alone. My tortillas suck too. Flavour is great, thinness is terrible. Clearly a secret non-Tejano's are not privy to. Come on texas, help a brother out. They are better/more pliable with a long rest after rolling the balls. Plus I suspect my press is junk.
posted by Keith Talent at 5:20 PM on March 28, 2020 [2 favorites]


I'm not a sourdough expert, but this worked pretty well for me: make a bread dough with a small fraction (like, a tenth) of the yeast you would normally use. Let it rise, save part of the dough and put it in the fridge. Treat that dough as a sourdough starter. Enough original yeast will survive between bakings to keep your loaves rising, and eventually “good” wild yeasts & bacteria will colonise it and help develop sourdough flavours in your loaves. This way, when I get bored of baking I don't need to fret over keeping a starter alive: after three or four bakings I effectively have a new one.
posted by Joe in Australia at 5:28 PM on March 28, 2020 [3 favorites]


I’ve found that using the “discards” from a sourdough starter are...iffy.

Up until day four, the starter smells really fun-KAY, and pancakes I’ve made with the discards also smelled and tasted too sour/funky to enjoy.

About the fifth day, the starter began to mellow in odor, as the beneficial yeasts began to outcompete and overwhelm the other wild microbes that were more vigorous in the early days.

And on day eight, when it smelled like actual sourdough? It felt like I’d just completed an eight-day magic ritual to summon sourdough.
posted by darkstar at 5:39 PM on March 28, 2020 [8 favorites]


I made homemade flour tortillas last week since stores have been out of those as well. They did not turn out so well. If anyone has a good recipe for those, please share it.

flour tortillas

I started using this recipe when I was in Japan because they would inexplicably send me home with cartons of school milk. When I returned to the US, I made them for a very opinionated New Mexico cousin and he was fine with them. The dough really does need to rest for the full time listed in the recipe, or even a little longer.
posted by betweenthebars at 5:58 PM on March 28, 2020 [4 favorites]


Requesting your corn tortilla-making recipes/tips, please!
posted by MonkeyToes at 6:01 PM on March 28, 2020 [2 favorites]


All supermarkets in Calgary are out of yeast! It’s bizarrely specific.
posted by sixswitch at 6:50 PM on March 28, 2020


Requesting your corn tortilla-making recipes/tips, please!

Many years ago I was an expat in El Salvador and when I came back home I tried desperately to reproduce the amazing corn tortillas I had all over Central America.

In the end I could not, because it turns out the secret is to make thousands of them until it feels as natural as this.

Here's the recipe I now use:
  1. Get a cast iron corn tortilla press, the Victoria brand is excellent.
  2. Gather ingredients:
    • 2 cups masa harina *
    • 1 1/4 cups water
    • 1/4 tsp salt
Knead the above ingredients until smooth, then divide into 16 equal pieces and roll each into a ball. You can add a few drops of water or cover with a towel, but do this part fast so they don't dry out.

Line your tortilla press with parchment paper on the top & bottom.

Use an ungreased cast iron pan or comal if you have one and cook on medium-high for about a minute per side.

* For Masa Harina I tried the fancy Bob's organic blah blah at first, but in the end, the cheap and cheerful Maseca instant corn flour that you can get for 3 bucks is the best.
posted by jeremias at 7:04 PM on March 28, 2020 [5 favorites]


I’ve been baking my entire life for fun so when I caught a glimmer of what could be coming...I stocked up on supplies. So far I’ve baked bread for my brother’s family, and chocolate chip cookie bars and peanut butter cookies for us. Tomorrow I’m going to try chocolate chip muffins.

Sourdough starter is my white whale. I consistently kill it by day 4.
posted by kimberussell at 7:07 PM on March 28, 2020


counter top convection toaster oven pandemic panic purchase time

actually I have one borrowed from friends so it's not completely dire; this morning we had a cheesy savory dutch pancake bc we decided the mini oven was too small for the popover pan. so basically a giant flat cheesy popover.
posted by little cow make small moo at 7:17 PM on March 28, 2020 [1 favorite]


geegollygosh, if you don’t have a cast iron covered pan try any other way to enclose the loaf in its own steam to start - I have an iron pizza plate for the base but I use an overturned stainless mixing bowl for the top and it’s fine. I think a big overturned cheap pot would be fine. Or a heavy one, but then it would need preheating.
posted by clew at 7:20 PM on March 28, 2020 [2 favorites]


What I need to know about griddle breads is, are they always as smoky to make as when I make them? The food isn’t unusually charred, but the alarms usually go off and the house smells of smoke.
posted by clew at 7:22 PM on March 28, 2020


RE the no-knead bread preps that call for an enclosed cast iron Dutch oven, I’ve used (at least twenty times now) covered Corningware dishes. Works fine. I typically split the loaf into two separate, smaller dishes.

(I use an older pattern — Spice of Life from the 70s — as I’ve heard that newer Corningware may not tolerate the higher temps.)
posted by darkstar at 7:49 PM on March 28, 2020


So I have a simple rule of thumb for baking: take a Joy of Cooking or internet recipe, and DOUBLE the spices* (except for cloves). Because those recipes are made for Midwesterners

*(Note to Midwesterners: salt does not count as a spice).
posted by happyroach at 8:53 PM on March 28, 2020 [5 favorites]


My tortillas suck too. Flavour is great, thinness is terrible.

My tortillas are rather thick too, but I do get them fairly large by rolling each ball three times (resting in between rolls). Could possibly get them even thinner if I was less impatient to eat them. (Had some for dinner with delicious refried beans my spouse made.)
posted by Margalo Epps at 9:02 PM on March 28, 2020 [1 favorite]


Paul Hollywood thinks your bread was under proved, so it ended up raw inside...

The Great British Bake Off will warm your bread-baking hearts.

Get set...

BAKE!
posted by Windopaene at 9:20 PM on March 28, 2020 [1 favorite]


There’s a shortage of eggs? What?
posted by mwhybark at 12:20 AM on March 29, 2020


I've managed frankly brilliant bread (yeast, not sourdough, but same recipe) with just a plain Oumbarlig Ikea stainless steel pot, preheated in the oven. Just finished the rest of it yesterday and my convalescent Mum is already making noises about wanting more, despite various great store-bought loaves being available. Which is the greatest compliment a daughter could get <3
posted by I claim sanctuary at 12:36 AM on March 29, 2020 [3 favorites]


Sticky date self saucing pudding from a packet - and it still tastes like my childhood. Comfort food in these times is so goddam comforting.
posted by ninazer0 at 1:52 AM on March 29, 2020 [1 favorite]


Someone in my apartment building revived an old mailing list/google group. I posted to it asking, and someone gave me sourdough starter. So tonight I made my first bread ever. It wasn't perfect, a bit too doughy in the center. But given that I don't have a scale, a dutch oven, bread flour, a bread knife, or really much of anything you are supposed to have before baking, and had to half assedly adjust the recipe halfway through because i actually didn't have enough starter, it was absolutely magic. Actually it was alchemy.
posted by gryftir at 3:04 AM on March 29, 2020 [4 favorites]


> There’s a shortage of eggs? What?

Might be a regional problem. Around here there's been a visible dent in the volume of eggs in the stores but I haven't seen any place that's totally sold out.
posted by ardgedee at 3:27 AM on March 29, 2020




I wont lie. I didn't stock up on paper towels or toilet paper, but I immediately stated that we wanted a small jar of yeast, because we were going to wind up with gaps in bread supplies. We are making a lot of bread lately...
posted by Nanukthedog at 5:02 AM on March 29, 2020 [1 favorite]


Oh and everyone is doing sourdough because nothing says irony like feeding a sour dough starter born on the day the state closes down your wife's business.

Virus bad! Bacteria good!
posted by Nanukthedog at 5:05 AM on March 29, 2020 [2 favorites]


For corn tortillas I find that using a heavy duty ziplock bag slit down the sides but with the bottom retained as a hinge works really well as long as your dough isn't too wet. Very reusable for a long time/forever.
posted by Rufous-headed Towhee heehee at 5:32 AM on March 29, 2020


Okay, this is just adorable -

I'm kind of hooked on the Youtube vlog Dainty Diaries, which is kept by a young woman in Dublin who likes to DIY her house and craft and sew and make stuff. Her aesthetic is a little more girly than I go for, but she's just so perky and makes the things she does look so easy that I just sort of mentally swap out her pastels and floral prints for my own more rustic plaids and neutrals and consider things.

Her day job was as an assistant manager of some kind of retail shop, but she's one of the many who have had their nonessential shop close down and lay everyone off so she's been at home at loose ends. And she's still hanging in and posting videos of the things she's up to - her most recent video was about her giving her office and bathroom a good clean, sorting out receipts, and following along with a Bob Ross painting video.

And - she also tries baking. She admits that she hasn't baked since her home ec class in school, 15 years ago, but was determined to be self-sufficient and make her own scones, using a recipe a baking friend sent her. It's like a whole little journey watching - she goes into it thinking she's not as prepared as she should be, since she got a different kind of sugar by accident and she doesn't have a rolling pin or measuring cups - but she just keeps saying she'll "give it a bash" anyway, using a Guinness bottle as a rolling pin and eyeballing a pint glass as her measuring cup ("you know, back in the day people baked before they had fancy tools and they still did it, so I can do this!") and the recipe works and she's so excited when she actually successfully bakes scones and it's just adorable.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 5:51 AM on March 29, 2020 [9 favorites]


I'm envious of those who can bake right now. Eggs are impossible to find in the markets where I live.
posted by Annabelle74 at 7:18 AM on March 29, 2020 [1 favorite]


Sourdough starter is my white whale. I consistently kill it by day 4.

I gave up on my starter when I tried a few years ago. I never actually killed it (as far as I could tell) but after about three weeks of feedings it still wasn't behaving like a starter should, and I felt like I wasn't making a good investment in flour trying to keep it up long enough for it to become viable. And there were only so many waffles and pretzels we could justify eating, as good as they were.

I'm actually trying the tiny starter this time around, though, since I do have some unexpected time on my hands this week. I was idly pondering the phrase "minimum viable starter" and wondering how little flour you really needed, and then I saw the #quarantinystarter recipe linked from the Cooks Illustrated home page and figured it was time to find out.

The number of deep dude-bro sourdough blogs with 1000's of words on process were just killing me, so the King Arthur recipes were a godsend.

There's a previously on that, but it is decidedly not relaxing.
posted by fedward at 8:34 AM on March 29, 2020


It wasn't perfect, a bit too doughy in the center.

This can happen if you don't let the bread completely cool before cutting it. Waiting for the bread to cool is probably the hardest part of sourdough baking for me.
posted by srboisvert at 8:35 AM on March 29, 2020 [2 favorites]


Seems like the thread for me to say that I have access to the Washington Post and the New York Times online. Memail if anyone wants one of their recipes.

Also, on March 25th the Washington Post did their food section entirely on bread. Since I don't bake (much), the physical section is sitting untouched in the recycling bin. If anyone wants it, I can pop it into the mail to you.
posted by gudrun at 8:46 AM on March 29, 2020


I've just been worried that by the time I get in my new place it'll be too hot to bake. We only seem to get a couple of weeks of spring weather anymore. It's already too warm to sleep with blankets.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 9:09 AM on March 29, 2020


The sourdough process I followed wasn’t complicated at all.

Day 1: Add 2 cups flour and 2 cups water to a mason jar. Cover top with cheesecloth secured by rubber band.

Day 2: Scoop out half of the goop and discard. Add 1 cup each of flour and water to replace.

Days 3-8: Repeat the “discard and replace” step from Day 2.

I didn’t have to time it, give multiple feedings per day, etc.

On about day 4, it did start smelling like alcohol, which I took to mean that it was getting too liquidy and was becoming whisky mash. So when I did the “discard and replace” step that day, I only added about a quarter-cup of water that time. So it became a goop again, rather than a liquid slurry. Straightened it right up.

The bread it made was delicious. The remainder of the starter is now hibernating in the fridge.
posted by darkstar at 9:10 AM on March 29, 2020 [1 favorite]


MORE IDEAS

Remember when you watched Netflix's Salt Fat Acid Heat and paused after the focaccia segment so you could Google the recipe? Did you make it then? (I did! SO MUCH FOCACCIA. I now cut the recipe in half and use a smaller pan.) Don't use fancy flour, though!

Sunday dinner? How about some Parker House Rolls?

Waffles sound good, but you don't have any sourdough starter? These yeast waffles are [chef's kiss]. (I like the hour rise better than the overnight rise – I just have to wake up an hour before my wife on the days I want them …).

Starting with the basics? The Fresh Loaf has a great set of lessons.

Wanna up your game? Try your hands at baguettes!

Is everything too hard? The Best Brownies Come From a Box and I Will Not Apologize. Cooks Illustrated recommends a different mix from Ghirardelli. Eat This, Not That prefers Pillsbury (but Ghirardelli is № 2).
posted by fedward at 9:50 AM on March 29, 2020 [4 favorites]


If you're using a Dutch oven, make sure the handle on the lid is oven safe up to the temperature you need. The classic phenolic knob used by Le Creuset might not be. Steel knobs are OK.
posted by fedward at 9:55 AM on March 29, 2020 [1 favorite]


Twitter thread with instructions for harvesting yeast from fruit that may already be in your kitchen: THERE IS NEVER A SHORTAGE OF YEAST.
posted by fedward at 9:59 AM on March 29, 2020 [4 favorites]


I'm just gonna keep posting links: the #quarantinystarter project is also on Instagram and now has a newsletter.
posted by fedward at 10:32 AM on March 29, 2020 [1 favorite]


For those of us who are cooks rather than bakers by nature, the Serious Eats lacy ricotta cookies recipe is relatively manageable.
posted by praemunire at 10:34 AM on March 29, 2020 [2 favorites]


For those of you with no yeast or sourdough, follow my lead. Irish soda bread and bannock require no yeast at all and are super quick compared to a "normal" bread.
posted by Gor-ella at 10:36 AM on March 29, 2020 [2 favorites]


I wish this post had been a few days earlier. I started my life's first sourdough starter from scratch, and then after 4 days the smell was so weird and funky I threw it out. Now I know I should have kept going. It looked very good, too, but it smelled like a barnyard.
Tomorrow I think I'll make some rolls with kefir. My kefir has become a little too cheesy for my drinking taste, but not bad at all. I think it's going to be very good in rolls with a bit of caraway seeds.

If you're using a Dutch oven, make sure the handle on the lid is oven safe up to the temperature you need.
I have heard of this problem, but I have never experienced it. I just use the pot as it is. Maybe one day the handle will break, and then I'll replace it.
posted by mumimor at 11:05 AM on March 29, 2020 [2 favorites]


I have a 2.5" X 2.5" fridge/freezer and a two-burner stovetop at my disposal at the moment, so I can't put much in cold storage, nor can I bake or roast anything.

I DO have a fair amount of shelf and cabinet storage space, though. So I'm focusing on buying shelf-stable items and just a few items that require refrigeration, and cooking only what I can eat in a couple of days. Wild blackberries adorn the local hills so I'm able to do some solitary physically-distanced foraging, too.

Long story short: I'm eating more healthfully and cheaply than I ever have in my nearly 55 years on the planet and I'm hoping to hang on to these new habits. It's also great practice for tiny house living should I ever be able to make that come to pass.
posted by Sheydem-tants at 11:15 AM on March 29, 2020 [2 favorites]


I have a 2.5" X 2.5" fridge/freezer and a two-burner stovetop at my disposal at the moment, so I can't put much in cold storage, nor can I bake or roast anything.

I sometimes make Middle Eastern flatbreads (link is to pinterest, I don't remember where I originally saw it). You can make them with half wholegrain flour for a healthier version. They are so fast to make and delicious for stuff like hummus or stews, or rolled up with falafel and all the fixings.
posted by mumimor at 11:26 AM on March 29, 2020 [1 favorite]


I found yeast at my local drug store when I went to pick up a prescription.
I made cinnamon rolls using a chai spice blend I made plus brown sugar plus golden raisins. I didn't have yeast at that point so I used frozen bread dough. OMG. So good.

My dad made banana bread.

I fried up some ground cabbage and made pagach and some cabbage and noodles.

We got a vacuum sealer for Christmas, so I'm seriously thinking about starting to make Christmas cookies for my church's bake sale.

Oh I also made a bourbon apple pie with raisins and pecans a few weeks ago. Heavenly.
posted by kathrynm at 2:15 PM on March 29, 2020 [2 favorites]


I'm envious of those who can bake right now. Eggs are impossible to find in the markets where I live.

A surprising amount of baked goods can be made with substitutes. Vegan cooking has a lot of ideas for egg replacement. I used commercial egg replacer in my blueberry muffins, flax seed in the oatmeal cookies, and the breads I've made haven't called for eggs at all. (Applesauce and oil also work, as does mayo.)
posted by Margalo Epps at 3:18 PM on March 29, 2020 [1 favorite]


little cow make small moo: OUR OVEN IS BROKEN SPEAK NOT TO ME

Ugh I am in this boat too!! I bake SO MUCH as a hobby and for food, and our apartment oven is awaiting repair/parts replacement because it keeps getting WAY hotter than the temperature I set. Our state is under a safer-at-home order for the next month so non-emergency apartment maintenance will not be done.. I'm so relieved that we at least have a toaster oven that can bake!

Some things I have baked in it recently:
Frozen pizza (cut into slices with poultry shears while still frozen)
Muffins, scaled down to fit a 6-muffin tin
Biscuits
A sandwich loaf of brioche, though I have to cover it with foil partway through due to extra browning
posted by cp311 at 3:24 PM on March 29, 2020 [2 favorites]


We can’t get flour in the supermarket here (Austin), much less yeast, eggs, or butter. I broke down and ordered the expensive stone-ground heirloom-grain flour from a local mill ($15 for 5 pounds, yikes). Luckily I still had a jar of yeast in the fridge.

I have some eggs and butter, too, but am scared to use any for non-essential baking, because we may not be able to replace them at any price for God knows how long. I think it’ll have to be the very basic flour-yeast-salt-water bread for now. And not too much of that, given the price I had to pay to acquire flour. No sourdough for the same reason. I can’t afford to burn through that much flour.
posted by snowmentality at 3:43 PM on March 29, 2020


If you're in the SF Bay Area, the SF Baking Institute in South San Francisco has flour and yeast (last time I called).

Darkstar's starter recipe (no offense) is way too wasteful, especially during a flour shortage.

fedward's recipe link uses a lot less flour.

If I have a lot of starter, I look for bread recipes that use more starter. This is a good recipe if you want to use a large amount of starter. (Ignore the starter recipe portion!)

The French Guy has an easy recipe that uses the following ratios, so you can up- or down-scale depending on how much bread you want to make.
1 part starter
2 parts water
3 parts flour
plus salt

So you could have 200 grams of starter, 400 grams of water and 600 grams of flour. I like this recipe since it's just me and my boyfriend and I don't want to bake too much. Sourdough goes stale quickly. You can also make fantastic croutons - cube bread, toss very lightly with olive oil and salt and toast in a medium hot skillet. I also make breadcrumbs to store in the freezer for meatloaf or mac & cheese topping.

There are a lot of sourdough pizza recipes on youtube. The fancy ones use 00 Italian flour and overnight rising but I've substituted all-purpose and bread flour and still gotten good results.
posted by shoesietart at 12:36 PM on March 30, 2020


Sourdough starter is my white whale. I consistently kill it by day 4.

I wish I had that problem. The last time I tried making sourdough starter, I left the jar on our apartment porch in South San Jose for an hour, then brought it inside and went off to work.

When we came back, the apartment reeked of old gym socks, the stuff had foamed out of the top of the jar and was pooling on the table, and the cats were hissing at it.

It was obviously a case of it or us. We carried it out to the apartment complex bins, opened all the windows, and thoroughly disinfected the area.

I heard that years later the local seagulls still avoid that trash bin...
posted by happyroach at 1:02 PM on March 30, 2020 [4 favorites]


So my kefir rolls are on the way, the dough is fragrant and raising slowly but deliciously. I hadn't planned to post about them till tomorrow, when I'm having some for breakfast, but I looked at food52 and realized that inexperienced bakers may be using too much of their precious yeast. Don't do that.
What I'm doing: I mixed 5 grams of fresh yeast into a tablespoon of cold water. That's like a pinch of yeast, and the rest I packed in alu foil in the fridge where it will keep well. Then I added about a cup of kefir (you can use yogurt instead, but maybe then dilute it with water). Then a mix of half Manitoba flour and half whole wheat flour, with some sirup and a tbsp of salt and a tbsp of caraway. How much flour? Enough for a very sticky dough. I always go slow with this.
My kitchen is cold, so I'm letting it rise overnight on the countertop. You can put it in a cold room or in the fridge. I've stretched and folded it twice, because I want to make little knots of it tomorrow, so I need to be able to handle the dough.
Update tomorrow. Just don't spend all your yeast on one or two breads.
posted by mumimor at 3:45 PM on March 30, 2020 [1 favorite]


Here is a thing to contemplate while stretching out your yeast: in this case exponential growth is working for us, as in a pandemic it is working against us. A little pinch of yeast will double as fast as a big one, and after only a few doublings the little pinch of yeast *is* a big one, and then you're back where the recipe started.

I use this all the time to slow the first rise -- sometimes I just want to leave the dough without worrying, and also I think the wholegrain flours are benefited by a long soak. There are fancier ways to deal with both these problems, but I am usually not a fancy baker.

My slashing has gotten vastly better this week! My sweetie gave me a ceramic pocketknife which neither of us trust for pocketknife purposes (no way you want to take a stone out of anything with this) but it is a *heck* of a lame.
posted by clew at 3:58 PM on March 30, 2020 [2 favorites]


> Sourdough starter is my white whale. I consistently kill it by day 4.

I have a starter in my freezer that, according to family lore, can be traced back to Lithuania at the turn of the 20th century. I'm scared to see if it's still revivable or if it survived two world wars just to be killed by me.
posted by The corpse in the library at 4:17 PM on March 30, 2020 [7 favorites]


Vegan cooking has a lot of ideas for egg replacement.

weird gooey bean water!
posted by poffin boffin at 7:38 PM on March 30, 2020 [1 favorite]


I've written in the check-in thread about my weird start to the day. It didn't stop me from baking my rolls.
When I got up, the dough had risen to double size, and it was beautifully soft and smooth. I divided it into 8 parts, and rolled each into the shape and size of a small hotdog, then tied a knot on it. I have a bread dome, so I put them into that and gave them an egg wash, put them into a cold oven and baked them till they were golden brown. There's no real reason to use a bread dome or a cast iron pot for rolls like these, you might as well just let them rise while the oven is heating, covered with a damp towel, and then bake them for 15-20 minutes at 200 celcius.
When they came out, they had risen to double the size of when they went in, and they were soft and fragrant with a bit of crust to the undersides. To me, the tanginess of the caraway seeds goes well with both cheese and marmalade. But I suppose you have to be from Northern Europe or Jewish or both to have those in your isolation pantry.
posted by mumimor at 2:05 AM on March 31, 2020 [2 favorites]


I put my bagel recipe on GitHub a while back and I've just updated it to incorporate some practical changes I've figured out over recent batches. It's exported from the Paprika recipe manager (not a paid placement) but it should be in a usable HTML format for people who don't use Paprika. Aside from bread flour the only specialty ingredients you would need are vital wheat gluten and either malt syrup (I used the Eden brand available at the organic market) or non-diastatic malt powder (I ordered mine from King Arthur). Another specialty ingredient, pretzel salt, is optional but makes for a better everything mix (and gives you the option of making salt bagels, which my wife loves). It's a 60% hydration dough that starts from a sponge (per Reinhart) and uses an overnight retardation after shaping for flavor development and proofing (per Cooks Illustrated). I put the malt in the dough (not the water) and boil using baked baking soda (per McGee, as referenced in my pretzel comment above). The bagels should come out a bit more golden brown than pale because of the additional alkalinity in the boiling water, but not as brown as pretzels.

If you don't have a stand mixer with a dough hook, be prepared for a workout.
posted by fedward at 11:08 AM on March 31, 2020 [1 favorite]


Darkstar's starter recipe (no offense) is way too wasteful, especially during a flour shortage.


Just to note: you can use the same ratios I used, but far smaller sizes, if you wanted.

So presumably you don’t have to make starter by starting with two cups of flour. You could start with two tablespoons. Just scale everything down proportionally and it should work the same.
posted by darkstar at 7:21 PM on April 2, 2020 [1 favorite]


> The corpse in the library:I have a starter in my freezer that, according to family lore, can be traced back to Lithuania at the turn of the 20th century. I'm scared to see if it's still revivable or if it survived two world wars just to be killed by me."
ITYM The corpse in the library fridge:
posted by theora55 at 11:32 AM on April 3, 2020 [4 favorites]


Via the #quarantinystarter mailing list comes this post on the King Arthur Flour blog, Don't Be a Bread Hostage.
Have you ever been a bread hostage? Did you ever feel like, “I’d love to make bread but I don’t have a half day to do so.” Or, “I’d love to attend your wedding, but I might be making bread that day.” At my house, there's quite a bit of coming and going. While I enjoy the opportunity to slow down and make beautiful things, there are also days where I just need to put great sourdough bread on the table.
It's about a technique that skips a preferment and goes from directly from starter to bulk fermentation. Results look good.
posted by fedward at 8:00 AM on April 12, 2020 [1 favorite]


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