Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Chocolate Bread (For Debbie-My-Egg-Lady #3)

Baked on January 22, 2012

Years ago, a colleague of husband Peter's made a copy of this NYT article for me when she found out that I liked to bake pizza.  She thought I'd be interested in the recipe for the pepper-crust clam pizza that was mentioned there, but it never appealed to me.  I was much more intrigued by the recipe for the chocolate bread, and I happily baked it several times over the years. I wanted to bake another loaf pan bread this week, so I thought this would be a nice surprise for Debbie.  Well, to be honest, I was hankering for a slice of this dark, not-too-sweet bread slathered in sweet butter myself. It is a very interesting recipe.  Unlike a chocolate quick bread, which is heavy with fat and sugar and tastes much more like a dense cake than bread, this bread does not scream "dessert!"  Instead, this yeast-leavened chocolate bread has more in common with challah.

Here is the exact recipe, with my changes noted below.  Debbie reported to me that she was forced to share this loaf with her daughters.

Chocolate Bread with Vanilla Butter (from Jane and Michael Sterns' Square Meals)


 1 c milk                                                                        2 T butter
1/2 c sugar                                                                    1 t vanilla extract
1 pkg dry yeast in 1/4 c warm water w/ 1 T sugar       2 eggs, beaten
3 1/2 c. flour                                                                 2/3 c  sifted Dutch cocoa
coarse suger

Vanilla butter:  cream together 1 1/2 sticks butter (12 T), 3/4 c powdered (confectioners') sugar
Beat in 2 T vanilla.  (Yes, that's TABLESPOONS!) 

               Method, Mixing, etc.
Scald milk, remove from heat, stir in butter, sugar and vanilla.  When lukewarm, stir in yeast and beaten eggs.  Place flour and cocoa in large bowl. Add yeast mixture and stir vigorously.  Turn dough out onto a floured board and allow to rest 5 minutes.  Clean and butter bowl.  Knead dough gently 3 to 5 minutes, adding flour if necessary.  Put in buttered bowl, cover with a damp towel and let rise in a warm place for 2 hours or until doubled in size.  While bread rises, make vanilla butter.  When bread has risen, punch down and knead again, 8 to 10 times.  Shape loaf.  Place in well-greased 9 x 5 loaf pan, cover and let rise 45 minutes. Just before baking, pat the top of the loaf with the coarse sugar, pressing it on gently but firmly.  Bake in a preheated 350 F oven for an hour.  Place a piece of foil over the top of the bread for the last 30 minutes to prevent the crust from burning. Let cool 10 minutes in pan before removing to a rack to cool.

My changes: 
doubled all ingredients for  two loaves
cake yeast instead of dry, using 3/4 oz total
added 1 t of salt to the dry ingredients.   
used turbinado ("raw") sugar to pat on top of the bread

Placed  dry ingredients in the bowl of my stand mixer; dissolved the yeast with a little sugar (2 T) in the water and let it sit for a few minutes.  Combined all the rest of the bread ingredients with the yeast mix and added this to the dry.  Mixed on low for a few minutes, then changed to the dough hook and kneaded it in the machine for 3-4 minutes.  (Held back the last two cups of flour, adding enough until the dough was no longer extremely sticky.)  Kneaded it by hand for about a minute more.  Followed the rest of the recipe as written, although I took the bread out at 55 minutes.  

Other notes:  
You can use rum instead of vanilla in the sweet butter.  Or experiment as you like.  I recall having used Droste Dutch process cocoa in the past as that's what I seemed to have on hand.  However, over the years, the cost of Dutch process cocoa has soared.  Nor can I recall what the differences are between Dutch process cocoa powder and the "regular" type (meaning Hershey's).  I think I remember something about alkalinity.  Frankly, I don't know how much it matters in the end with this recipe.  For this particular batch, I actually had enough of each to go half-and-half. It would be interesting to bake a batch using each type of cocoa side-by-side to see what the difference, if any, is.

No photos, sad to say.  It is the color of dark pumpernickel and has a beautifully high, domed top. And, speaking of pumpernickel, my brother Mark was very disappointed one time when visiting us.  I had offered him a piece of this bread, not thinking anything other than that he would assume it was chocolate and who would turn down a slice of chocolate bread?  He took one bite and was shocked that it wasn't pumpernickel.  Turns out, he'd seen the dark loaf sitting there and was hoping to make a hearty sandwich with ham and cheese and mustard.... That was the only time this bread had not absolutely thrilled someone.  But in retrospect, if you had grown up in Erie, PA as we had, eating the best imaginable rye, pumpernickel, bagels, semi-hard rolls, and challah from long-gone Baker's Bakery, you too would still be looking to find something as good.  But that's another post for another Sunday's baking.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Bread for The Feast of St. Anthony or Crackling Bread!

Baked on January 19, 2012  (although the Feast of St. Anthony the Abbot is January 17)

One could almost mistake the crackling bits for golden raisins! 

In her wonderful book Celebrating Italy, Carol Field describes a bread made with pork cracklings and a bit of lard in honor of St. Anthony Abbot, a hermit who lived to 105 and died in the fourth century. Earlier in the chapter, she goes into great detail about the ritual hog-butchering done for this feast and all the tasty dishes that are cooked for the occasion in many regions of Italy. 

I loved the idea of this bread, and I tried it twice in the past, with OK results.  My problem has been how to make pork cracklings that don't break your teeth.  I remember Dad cutting off the skin from a picnic ham and rendering it until it was crispy.  However, my attempts to repeat this have been disappointing.  For New Year's pork and sauerkraut dinner this year I had a fresh pork shoulder with a good bit of skin on it.  I cut off the skin with as much of the fat as possible, divided it into strips,  and put them into a cast iron frying pan with water to cover.  I then put it in a low oven for several hours.  (I had read several versions of the "best" way to make cracklings and this one sounded interesting.  Good news is, it worked!)  I chopped up the strips of skin into bits and poured off the rendered fat into a separate container.

I must give total credit to Carol Field for her recipe, which you can find in the link above.  I followed the recipe pretty closely, using Pete's starter, as her recipe calls for both biga, or starter, and yeast.  I even had fresh yeast available this time.  Since cracklings keep for a very long time in the fridge, as does the rendered lard, I had that part already done on New Year's.  

What I did this time was bake the boules in lidded pots as I usually do instead of on a stone.  I used the 1 1 /2 quart le creuset Dutch ovens, preheating them in a 425 F oven, baking the breads (with the lids on) for 20 minutes, then baking them at 400 F for another 15 minutes, then lids off for about another 5.   Since this is an enriched bread, the lower oven temp keeps the bread moist and the crust easy to cut.

This is one tasty bread!  The cracklings were chewable instead of tooth-breaking, and the bread has a rich smoothness to it that is quite different from a buttery bread. You truly do not need any butter on this stuff.  Toasted up, the bread regains its best qualties even after several days. 

I am glad I made it with the cracklings and not with bacon.  I think that the smokiness that is found in bacon can make the bread taste like something else all together.  This bread is more nuanced than I think a "bacon bread" would be. 

Also called "pane con i ciccioli"

PS #5 Italian Durum Semolina

Baked on January 19,  2012


1 1/2 c. very fine durum semolina flour         1 c AP flour
1 c. bread flour                                               10 oz. newly refreshed PS* starter
1 1/2 c. purified water                                    1 T liquid barley malt
1 1/2 t salt

Mixing, Method, etc.

St. Anthony bread, left, and PS 5 loaf, right
I mixed as usual in my stand mixer, kneading  with the dough hook for 4 minutes.  Durum semolina can be a little tricky- it tends to "liquify" after several minutes of kneading and you don't want to add too much extra AP or bread flour.  I was going for a very basic Italian style loaf that was leavened completely by starter.  This bread still took longer than using yeast to rise, but it was ready to punch down after about three hours.  My notes are incomplete- not sure exactly how much the dough weighed, but I shaped it into one boule and one oval loaf.  They proofed in towel lined baskets for about an hour or so. I preheated  the 1 1/2 quart le creuset dutch oven and the small graniteware roaster pan with their lids on for the last 30 minutes in 450 F oven.

I popped the loaves into the hot pans, docked them and spritzed them with water, then  sprinkled them with sesame seeds and put the lids back on. They were done in 25 minutes.  Great oven spring, nice golden crust, crispy with a fine crumb.  


I can say that with this batch of bread, I am finally more confidant about using the starter without a rigid recipe to follow.  I now know that 10 oz. of a newly refreshed batch of starter will make a well-balanced Italian loaf.  (I mention this because the first time I baked an Italian loaf with this starter, I think there was too high a ratio of starter to the rest of the ingredients, and the crumb had a kind of rubberiness to it, for lack of a better description.)  Of all the breads that I bake, I find that I crave a crispy crusted Italian style loaf more than any other.  However,  I think that the coarser semolina flour adds more crunch than this silkier, finer durum semolina. I will have to check that out with the next loaf of Italian.  

I took the oval loaf over to Francesca along with a section of the St. Anthony loaf (crackling bread, pictured above.)  See the next post for more about that bread. 

*PS: Pete's Starter

Monday, January 23, 2012

Coffee Yogurt Bread (For Debbie-My-Egg-Lady #2, 2012)

Baked on January 15, 2012

Oh dear- my notes are sketchy on this one, but here goes:


2 c WW flour (Bob's Red Mill)      about 2 c  bread flour
1/2 uncooked fine bulgur               2/3 c leftover very dark, strong coffee
2 T brown sugar                             5/8 oz. cake yeast dissolved in 3 T warm water
1/2 c. plain, lowfat yogurt              1/2 c  Greek style vanilla yogurt
1 T olive oil                                    1 1/2 t salt

Mixing and Method

Standard procedures that I use in my stand mixer.   (Fine bulgur can take being added to dough without soaking or cooking first.  It adds a little crunch. When bulgur is cooked first, it loses this nice crunchy aspect that makes it an interesting addition.)

Dough was a tiny bit sticky but firm.  It took about 90 minutes to double.  Weight: 2# 7 oz.  I shaped it into one oval loaf, 1# 8 oz, and one 15 oz. boule; these were set to rise a second time in my floured-and-towel-lined baskets.  I preheated one "small" roaster (my 13" lidded graniteware ) and a 1 1/2 qt. lidded le creuset pot in a 450 F oven.

Set into the heated pots and docked and misted breads before covering.
Baked at 450 F for 18 minutes and 7 minutes at 425 F.  Bread temperature was 200 F (instant read thermometer).

This was a delicious, highly flavorful, moist loaf.  Nice crumb, even rise.  I'll make this one again. 

No photos of these, but they could be mistaken for a dark rye or pumpernickel.

PS #4 (Pete's Starter) French-Vietnamese Style Baguette (My Banh-Mi #3)

Baked on January 15, 2012

A little history:   I have been enjoying a very particular kind of sandwich: the Vietnamese "Banh Mi", a sub that is greater than the sum of its parts: a baguette - inspired, crispy-crusted toasted hoagie shaped bun filled with a few variations of pork, some pickled vegetables, a savory mayo, some thinly sliced jalepenos, and some cilantro.  Every bite is DELICIOUS, and I am always wondering, "How do they get it to taste SO good?"  The bread is particularly intriguing, and not like anything I have ever seen in a bakery around here.
A web search (surprise!) showed I was not the only one wanting to replicate these rolls.  The best websites that have inspired my two previous experiments to date can be found below:

Banh-Mi Baguettes from Drfugawe

Viet World Kitchen recipe

A Bread a Day Blog

The last link also has great recipes for the sandwich filling components.  I am not sure if I will ever go to the trouble of making them myself, but who knows?  I just bought a couple of them the other day for Peter and me at our favorite little Vietnamese joint,  Mi Li Cafe, Columbus Square shopping Center. (161 & Cleveland Ave., Columbus.)   There seemed to be less filling than what I remembered from previous visits, so I might have to start making the entire sandwich afterall.

 The fun challenge here was to use Pete's Starter and to continue to fiddle with the amount of rice to be incorporated.  The crust was very crispy, although a bit thick on the bottom.  The loaf had a LOT of flavor. I'd like to bake this side- by- side with an Italian loaf that only differs by not having any sugar or rice flour in it, everything else being equal.  That would be the only way to really know if those two ingredients make the difference.  The other thing I need to try is to use all AP flour, since it has a lower protein content than durum semolina.  That was one variable that seemed to be common in the recipes I found online: use a "soft" flour, not a "hard" flour. 


14 oz. Pete's Starter (PS), refreshed overnight      
2 1/2 c. fine durum semolina flour (from Carfagna's)
1/2 c cooked medium grain white rice slurry *     
3 T finest white rice flour  
1 T sugar                                                                
1 1/2 t salt

 Method, Mixing, etc.

I mixed all in my big stand mixer on slowest speed with the bread hook and kneaded it by machine for about 5 minutes.  I let it rise in a plastic proofing container with a lid.  The dough weighed in at 2#  3oz.   It rose nicely in four hours, a soft dough that was easy to handle even though a bit sticky.  I shaped an Italian-style loaf and let it rise in a floured towel-lined basket for about 45 minutes.  30 minutes before baking, I pre-heated the Caphalon fish poacher with lid in a 450F oven.  After using the towel as a sling to slide the bread into the hot pan, I gave it a long slash down the middle and spritzed it with water.  I covered the pan with the heated lid and baked it for 25 minutes, then lid off for five minutes more. 

Lots of oven "spring"- it kind of exploded.  I didn't bother to take the temperature of the finished loaf- it's possible I could have taken it out 5 minutes earlier. My notes said this: "Nice, crispy crust, gorgeous color, soft inside, nice, even crumb, GREAT flavor!"   I also think this is a perfect ratio of starter to flour/slurry. as the texture is not rubbery in the least.  (Which is what I think happens when there is too high a ratio of starter to other ingredients.)

*rice slurry:  I cooked a few tablespoons of leftover cooked medium grain rice in about a cup of water until it made a thickened "slurry" liquid.  I used the stick blender to turn it into a kind of a loose paste. Hard to be exact here; I guess I should be measuring a little more exactly - but the point is, some rice gets incorporated into this recipe in an invisible fashion.  You won't be able to taste it or see any cooked grains. 

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Raisin Cinnamon Poppy Seed Swirl

(Baked on January 12 while husband Peter was recuperating from his cochlear implant.)

This is a sweet -ish loaf, inspired by the last little bit of eggnog left from Christmas.  Eggnog and buttermilk seem to have a much longer life than indicated by the date on the jug- sometimes it's "sell by",  sometimes "use by".  

Bread Dough

5  c. AP flour  - more or less                          1 extra large egg                    
1 c. eggnog (commercial, low fat)                 2 t salt
7/8 oz. cake yeast dissolved  in 1/2 c lukewarm water

1 c. raisins plumped in 3 T warmed cointreau

soft butter (several tablespoons)
1/2 c. poppy seeds ground w/ 1/2 c sugar, 2 t cinnamon (used spice -coffee grinder)        

Mixing, etc. 

(For this bread, I used my old Joy of Cooking (1980 or so edition) as a reference  for their cinnamon/raisin bread/coffee cakes master recipes. This was helpful for proportions, suggested baking times and methods, etc. )

I mixed all but the raisins and poppy seed mixture as usual in my stand mixer.  This is a nice, soft dough, not as fancy or rich as other similar doughs used for breakfast-style sweet breads.  I prepared the raisins and poppy seeds during the first rise.  I then punched down the dough and mixed in the raisins for the second rise.  After the second rise I stretched out the dough on the floured counter to about 9" x 14".  I spread a thin schmear of soft butter evenly on the dough, and then sprinkled and spread the poppy seed filling over that, as evenly as possible, almost to the very edges of the dough.  I rolled it up short-wise, forming about a 9" long cylinder.  I tucked and pinched the edges and gently fit it into a well-buttered 9" x 5"  aluminum loaf pan. 

Per Joy of Cooking, I preheated the oven to 450 F and set the loaf to rise with a towel on top.  Since this is a very large loaf, around 2# 5oz or so, the dough was already close to the top of the pan.  It rose well above the top when I put it in to bake, about 45 minutes later.  I did NOT dock or score the top of the loaf.   I baked it at 450 F for 7 minutes, then lowered the oven to 350 F for about 30 minutes. It rose even higher during baking, and when done, I immediately removed it from the pan and let it cool on a rack.

After the bread cooled, I made a glaze of 1/2 c powdered sugar, 2 t hot milk and 1/4 t vanilla extract and drizzled and spread it over the top. 

Results:  the dough rose so high that there was a gap between the filling swirls and the bread.  I suspect this could have been prevented by baking the loaf in a pullman loaf pan with a lid.  The bread was tasty, but a little dry.  Either I let it bake too long, or I should have baked it at 350 F or 325 F for about 35 - 40 minutes.  I did not take the finished temp, so I'll have to check that next time.  Also, the glaze made it difficult to get a handle on the bread properly for slicing.  Not sure how that could have been prevented, unless I just put the regular milk and sugar glaze per Polish Sweet Bread while the bread was still hot from the oven.

The poppy seed filling is very nice- not too sweet, but just enough to be special.  Same with the raisins.  Just a nice touch without being overly anything. It toasted beautifully.

The loaf was too large, IMO, to make it easy to cut.  I should have stopped at about a 1# 8oz loaf.

Now I am curious about the pullman loaf pan. It would be fun to see if a lid would prevent the bread from over-rising and separating.  

It is fun to bake some of these pan loaves for a change.  I have been baking free-formed loaves in lidded pots at high temps for the last 3 or 4 years, almost exclusively, so I was feeling a bit out of practice with lower baking temperatures, open pans, and softer-crusted breads and rolls.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Butterless Buttermilk Dinner Rolls (For Debbie-My-Egg-Lady #1, 2012*)


 7/8 oz fresh cake yeast
2 1/2 c buttermilk
2 large eggs
1/3 c warm water for yeast
1/2 c sugar
2 t salt
about 6 c. bread flour

Method, Mixing, Etc.

Used my big stand mixer, put in dry ingredients first, adding all the rest, mixed with beater until well blended, then switched to dough hook for kneading about 3-4 more minutes.  I usually knead  by hand for about a minute before putting the dough in a lightly oiled, lidded plastic tub to rise on top of my stove- usually ready to shaping in about an hour if I am using yeast.

Yield: 3# 12 oz dough, or two pans of  seven 4 oz rolls each and one extra roll in a custard cup.  Baked at 325 for 30 minutes.  Just the right amount of time and the lower temp made for light, high, soft rolls.  Buttermilk added loads of flavor without butter or sugar.

No photos of this one; they look like unglazed Polish Sweet Bread rolls.  (See banner photo, above).  The other tip that I used from baking biscuits is that if you pack them in close to one another, the only place they can rise is UP, which they do!

One more tip:  Use 8" aluminum pie pans from the grocery store. (Or in my case, at Marc's they are 6/$1.00!) The pans are sectioned for six rolls around one center roll to make a "daisy" of rolls.  I remove the rolls from the pan immediately in order for them to cool off.  Once they are at room temp, I cover them with a "shower cap" cover or some plastic wrap and then I can easily give them as gifts or freeze in the pans.

*Becky introduced me to her friend Debbie who runs the Art Studio at Columbus Goodwill.  She has chickens- 20 or so- and we arranged a bread-for-eggs exchange through Becky.  So every week, I receive a gorgeous dozen of extra large-to-jumbo size brown, blush, or pale green eggs.  They have bright orange yolks and are quite delicious.  Debbie gets a loaf of home baked bread or rolls from me in return.  She said that she loves to be surprised, so I am happy to accommodate her.  I usually aim for a 1#  10 oz loaf or larger.  A lot of the time it is something that I pull together with odds and ends in the fridge such as leftover potatoes,  bean cooking liquid, yogurt, cottage cheese, juice from olives or pickles, or leftover cooked rice, etc. etc.) I try to keep track of what I bake so that if she ever requests a repeat of something I know which bread she is talking about. 

PS 3 Stout Buttermilk Rye

about 17 oz. starter
2 3/4 c rye flour
12 oz stout (Stockyard Oatmeal Stout, to be exact)
12 oz low fat buttermilk
3 1/2 T potato flour (Bob's Red Mill)
about 4 1/2 c. bread flour
1 T olive oil
1 T mild Brer Rabbit Molasses
3 t salt
3 1/2 T caraway seeds

yield:  4 # 13 oz. dough:  shaped into one 2# 3  oz. long loaf baked in the fish poacher and two boules,  each 1#, 5 oz. and baked in the 1 1/2 quart le creuset pots.

The night before baking I brought the refrigerated starter (PS, Pete's Starter) from my fridge and let it stand on the counter overnight,  It was light and bubbly in the morning.  I mixed per the last time, with 2 c. bread flour and 1 c + 1 T (room temperature, filtered) water.  I measure out 6 oz of this, returned it to the small container, and refrigerated it.  The remaining sludgy mass was left to rise on the counter, shower cap on top of the bowl, until risen and bubbly, about 5 hours or so. Yes, I should pay attention to how long this stuff takes to rise nicely!

Once it was risen and spongy, I put it in my stand mixer bowl with the rye flour.  I warmed the stout in the microwave and added the cold buttermilk to it.  I added the liquid to the mixer bowl and mixed on low until combined.  I then added all the other ingredients plus the two cups of the 4 1/2 C bread flour.  I mixed on low for a few minutes until all was well combined, scraped the insides of the bowl down, and then added most of the rest of the flour, one cup at a time, until I had a soft dough.  I changed to the bread hook and kneaded it for about 3 minutes.  I then dumped it on the counter and the rest of the flour, kneading by hand.  It went into my proofing bowl, covered with the plastic lid, to let rise.

It took about four hours to double.

 I shaped the loaves and let them rest in their baskets for about 1 hour; the last half hour I put the pans and lids in the oven and preheated the oven to 450 F.  Bread was docked and spritzed; covered and put into the oven.

Baked for 25 minutes- temp of baked bread was well over 200 F.  (I use an instant read thermometer in the top middle of the biggest loaf checks to check for doneness at 25 minutes.)

Very nice flavor.  Bread had a dramatic oven rise, so even though loaves were docked, the long loaf was a little ugly- kind of busted up looking.  Good crumb and moist on first and second day.  Better toasted after that.  

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Oatwheat Bread from Pete's Starter (PS #2) January 3, 2012


17.75 oz of bubbling starter from batch made this morning, stirred down
2 c. whole wheat flour
1.5 c of finely ground old fashioned oats
about 2.5 c bread flour
1.5 c. buttermilk
about .5 c water (filtered)
about 4 T molasses
2 t salt


Mixed everything in the big stand mixer, adding enough bread flour to make a slightly wet dough.  Weighed a hefty 3.5 #!

Shaped one 2# loaf into "cigar" shape; the other into a 1.5 # boule; put them into their towel-lined, floured baskets, folding the towels on top of the loaves.  Preheated the dark blue roaster (medium size) and the 1 1/2 quart le creuset, both with their lids on, at 450 F for 50 minutes.  Tipped the breads into the pans, docked them with a straight edged razor, covered them, and baked for 30 minutes.  (I took the round loaf's temp at 25 min; not done.  At 30 minutes it was 202 F. ) 

 * The starter was nicely doubled in a couple of hours, but I let it go for about 6 hours total.  No tangy smell.
 * Bread dough rose nicely- I let it go for about three hours.  Texture was beautiful.

I had to try it before going to bed (after fiddling with this blog template).  Beautiful crumb- texture was even, well-risen, crust nice and crunchy, tasted of molasses but not overly sweet; just an excellent loaf.  Delicious!!

Application for next loaf:

Pay attention to the ratio of starter to flour for main dough.  Looks like about one pound of starter for roughly 6 c. of flour.  However, maybe I should weigh the flour and try and keep the measurements more consistent.  I am not overly concerned; however, I'd say this ratio was perfect for this particular loaf. 

Backing Up to December 21: Or, How I Acquired Pete's Starter

My brother Peter Pilewskie, an avid bread baker since at least the time of his marriage in 1991, has kept a starter alive and well for the past 12 years.  Since he is now on sabbatical in Leipzig for 6 months, he really wanted to keep this starter going.  He froze some at home, and (I think) left some in his fridge there.  He brought some with him when he visited this past Christmas,  refreshing it at my house.  I baked a loaf of plain Italian bread from that starter- very nice rise, a kind of wet crumb, and very tasty.  I had not paid attention to the ratio of starter to flour, so it's possible I used too much starter.  Regardless, this stuff is potent and rises easily.

Peter took 1/2 c of starter with him and left me with about 1/2 cup,  stored in the fridge in a little plastic container with a "shower cap" top.  It has been in my fridge undisturbed  since December 27.  I took it out  before bed last night and set it overnight on the kitchen counter.  I refreshed it this morning with 2 c. flour and 1 c. water.  (Described in the previous post.)

See the next post for the bread that I baked from this batch.  I decided to weigh the starter I was keeping in the fridge so as to keep some of the variables manageable.  I need to look up the formulas for "hydration ratios" for bread.  It makes sense. I tend not to pay attention since I like to play around and do things by feel, but if I am to replicate recipes or at least keep track of how I preserved this starter for Pete, then I want to keep track.  Stay tuned!

Keeping Pete's Starter

I took Pete's starter from the fridge- it looked to be about 3/4 of a cup of soft biscuit-like texture. No aroma other than that of a nice starter: fresh, not soured at all.  (NB:  Carol Field describes a starter made with a 2:1 flour-water ratio as a biga.  Helpful to know when determining how much starter to use to leaven breads when yeast is specified.)

Starter was left on the counter at 11 pm. I checked on it at 9:30 this morning: lots of  little bubbles, looked good:

I emptied it into  a  pyrex mixing bowl and added roughly 1 c. water (filtered, from my faucet) and 2 c. AP, unbleached flour. Stirred well, it mixed into the same soft biscuit-y texture.

I put the empty little plastic bowl (unwashed) on the kitchen scale and set it to zero. I added roughly the same amount of newly refreshed starter as the old- about 3/4 c, it weighed in at 6 oz. I'll measure the volume amount next time.)

I covered it with plastic "shower cap" and set it back in the fridge.
The refreshed starter left weighed 17.75 oz.

It went into my 2 quart measuring cup/mixing bowl, showing roughly 1.75 cups at the measure mark. I set it on the stove, under the little stove light, with a plastic cover. I will bake something from this later today if it shows lots of activity by mid afternoon.