04 July 2018

Cherry Preserves

Our house was built in 1938, at the height of the Great Depression. Lines of cracked clay tell tales of decades of fight and neglect. In the front yard stands a cherry tree - 50 feet tall, proud, willful, pestilent. Branches droop from the weight of ripened fruit, and my arm sticky with the sap of my harvest.

Cherry Preserves | makes 5 half-pint jars
adapted from Ball Blue Book
3 cups pitted cherries
3 cups sugar
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 package powdered pectin

Combine cherries, sugar, and lemon juice in a large pot. Bring to a boil, stirring until sugar dissolves. Continue cooking until foam begins to appear at the surface of the cherries (5 minutes).

Stir in pectin. Return to a rolling boil. Boil hard 1 minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Skim foam if necessary. Ladle hot jam into hot jars, leaving 1/4 inch head space. Process in a boiling water bath canner for 10 minutes.

Remove jars from canner and allow to cool on a tea towel.

15 April 2018

weekend sourdough.

When April days are channeling January. When the rain continues from days to weeks, though it feels like months. When you want to heat your kitchen with a hot oven and warm your hands through a cracked oven door.

Spring will come at some point, but today we're making bread.
Quick Sourdough Starter

2 cups flour
2 cups warm water
1 packet active dry yeast

Mix together flour, water, and yeast in a large glass bowl. Cover bowl with a towel and let stand overnight or up to 48 hours in a warm place.

After fermenting, the starter is ready to use or store, covered, in the refrigerator. Feed once or twice a week with 1/4 cup flour and 1/4 cup water.
Weekend Sourdough
adapted from Emilie Raffa
1/4 cup bubbly, active starter
1 1/3 cups (plus 2 tablespoons) warm water
4 cups flour
1 1/2 teaspoon salt

Friday Evening - Make your starter
Saturday - Make the dough and let rise overnight
Sunday - Shape the dough, let it rise again, and bake

To make the dough:
Whisk the starter and water together in a large non-reactive bowl. Add flour and salt. Combine until a stiff dough forms, and finish mixing by hand until all flour is incorporated. Dough will feel dense and shaggy and will stick to your fingers as you go - scrape as much dough off your hands as you can. Replenish your starter with fresh flour and water.

Cover with a damp towel and let rest for 30 minutes. After the dough has rested, work the mass into a fairly smooth ball, grabbing portions and folding it into the center with your fingers.

Cover the bowl with a damp towel and let rise overnight at room temperature. The dough will double in size. This will take 8 to 10 hours.

In the morning, coax the dough onto a floured surface. Shape into a round, folding outer sections of the dough into the center. Line a large bowl with a towel, liberally dusted (almost coated) in flour. Place the dough, seam side up, into the bowl. Cover with a damp towel and let rise 30 minutes to 1 hour.

To bake:
The dough is ready when it is puffy and has risen slightly but has not yet doubled in size. Preheat oven to 450°F. Cut a sheet of parchment paper to the size of your Dutch oven, leaving enough excess around the sides to remove the bread. Place the parchment over the dough and invert bowl to release.

Sprinkle the dough with flour and gently rub over the surface with your hands. Score the top of the loaf as desired with a sharp knife. Use the parchment to transfer the dough to the Dutch oven.

Bake on the center rack of oven for 20 minutes, covered. Remove lid, and continue baking for an additional 30 minutes. For the last 10 minutes of baking, remove the loaf from the Dutch oven and bake directly on the oven rack to crisp the crust. When finished, transfer to a wire rack to cool.