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    Toronto, Canada

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  1. Hi all My second starter (the really active one from which I have had some good bakes with AP flour and 1 bake using whole wheat) is now acting quite strange. I confess I left it out on the bench for 2 days without refreshing and when I remembered it, it had of course completely run out of food but there was no hooch at all. So I continued as usual. Next the starter decided to act really sluggish and took 24 hours to double or more so I increased the number of feeds to speed it up and it did oblige for a while and then slowed right down again. So I switched flours to a commercial brand (Robin Hood AP non bleached for those Canadians following this thread) and it again went into overdrive to the point where my ratios are 1:4:4. At 1:2:2 the starter more than doubled in 8 and appeared to be trending down to 7 or 6 hours consistently. So I increased the ration to 1:4:4. Now the starter takes 9 hours one refreshment to more than double and 15 to 18 hours the next refreshment. Huh? This has continued for the past 4 days. What on earth is happening and can it be fixed?
  2. The Soup Topic (2013–)

    My favourite soup by Gordon Ramsay. Pea, mint with Parma ham 4 ounces lightly smoked sliced bacon 2 shallots, sliced 2 tablespoons olive oil 1 pound fresh peas in pods, shelled 2 tablespoons dry white wine 4 cups Vegetable Nage or light chicken stock 1/2 cup heavy cream, plus a little extra for serving Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper Method: 1. Reserve 4 slices of bacon and chop the rest. Place the chopped bacon in a saucepan with the shallots and oil. Heat until sizzling, then sweat over a low heat for about 5 minutes. 2. Add the peas and cook for a further 2 to 3 minutes. Pour in the wine and cook until it has evaporated. 3. Stir in the nage or stock and 1 cup of water, and bring to a boil. Season with salt and pepper, and simmer for 15 minutes. Blend in a food processor or blender until smooth, then pass through a fine sieve into a bowl, rubbing with the back of a ladle. Leave to cool and then refrigerate. 4. Meanwhile, broil the reserved bacon slices until crisp. (In the restaurant we bake the slices between two heavy baking sheets to keep them straight and flat, but you may prefer the crinkly look.) Drain well on a paper towel so they aren’t greasy. Keep warm. 5 When the soup is well chilled, check the seasoning and whisk in the cream. Season again. Serve in bowls with a little extra cream trickled on top and a floating bacon slice. I add a good hand full of fresh mint leaves before the blend and don't bother with the sieve and have been known just to add water instead of a veg nage or light chicken stock as it is less fussy to make and tastes just a yummy.
  3. I never did find out as I pitched both starters and started again, this time with great success. The smell of nail polish has not returned to any starter I have on the go now. I have two: a whole wheat starter and an AP starter both of which I have successfully baked from.
  4. The Bread Topic (2016-)

    Thank you.
  5. The Bread Topic (2016-)

    Since I am learning how to make whole wheat bread using yeast before I start making whole wheat bread using a sourdough starter, here is my first attempt at making whole wheat bread using a poolish. I cut down to a quarter of the amount of yeast called for in making the 2nd stage of the process as I like flavour over the taste of yeast. The dough is very light and yes took longer to prove because of the reduction in the yeast added.
  6. In reality recipes are only guides. You only really need yeast, water (or liquid of some kind), salt, and flour (AP or bread/high protein) flour to make bread. Every thing else added or substituted is a variation on a theme and changes the product produced.
  7. Not necessarily. The taste and texture of the bread would change but the recipe would still work.
  8. I don't see why not. You could also (if you have some) use reconstituted powdered milk or even no milk at all and up the fat (if there is added fat in the recipe) and water content of the recipe to compensate.
  9. Calling all basmati rice experts

    I prefer to eat basmati rice. But it is really difficult to eat basmati rice with chopsticks so when I cook Chinese/Japanese type dishes, the rice I do cook is a shorter grain with more surface starch so the grains when cooked are not mushy or gluey but do stick together.
  10. Calling all basmati rice experts

    The cuisine you are cooking/eating will also determine what kind of rice you need. See the following: http://www.readersdigest.com.au/recipes/types-of-rice.asp
  11. The Bread Topic (2016-)

    Here is my second attempt at baking sourdough from my starter. I increased the hydration to over 70%. Not as good surface tension but much better crumb (I think) and certainly better flavour this time.
  12. Actually I love left overs, so I always cook too many red skinned or yellow fleshed (boiling) potatoes and even baking potatoes. I use them in pot pies, potato salads, many composed salads where potatoes are just one of the ingredients, for home fries where they are fried in chicken, duck or bacon fat as a component of a meal (breakfast, lunch or dinner). I also use the flesh from leftover baking potatoes as thickener is soups. I am just scratching the surface of how I use them.
  13. I actually cook more Italian style sausages than I need for a meal and then later cut up the remainder into coins, and add them to a basic homemade tomato sauce for pasta as the meat component. I also have been known to cut any type of leftover sausages lengthwise, fry them gently to heat them and put them between 2 pieces of toast with ketchup to eat as a sandwich (childhood comfort food).
  14. The Bread Topic (2016-)

    It worked!!! Happy days. Here is my first ever bake with a sourdough starter I made from scratch. I also have never used a banneton before nor shaped freestanding loaves of bread. So many firsts today.
  15. To set the cat among the pidgeons.... I understand that the yeasts found in the sourdough levain can be and are found anywhere in the world. The difference in the bread itself is in the flour and the baker. French flour is not the same as Canadian flour which are both not the same as US flour. Anyone in the world can bake sourdough bread. The sourdough yeasts found in the San Fransisco area can be found in Toronto, London England, Bejing, and Canbera. I think maintaining the levain itself for that long is to be admired.