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What We’re Watching: Sourdough bread!

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What do you do if hockey is your entire life? Pick up other hobbies.

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Voraciously Bread Camp Sourdough Laura Chase de Formigny for The Washington Post via Getty Images; food styling by Lisa Cherkasky for The Washington Post via Getty Images

Sports do not exist for the time being, so we’re sharing what we’re doing to pass the time until they return! Each day, we will talk about our favorite TV show, movies, music and video games. We’re doing this for two reasons — because we’re bored and have nothing to write about, but also so we can potentially introduce you to something cool to keep yourself busy!

Hockey is my life. I’m a Wild fan. A Red Wings fan (thanks to my dad). A proud Gopher alumni and men’s and women’s hockey fan. I follow the Minnesota State High School League tournament. I referee youth hockey. There’s nothing that sets me more at ease than sharp blades carving into a clean sheet of ice.

I’m also a man who will soon be married to a lovely woman with a 12-year old daughter. And it’s important to our family that we keep our screen time to a minimum. So far during the COVID-19 pandemic, that has meant board games, reading, talking and walks with the dog.

And sourdough bread. Lots and lots of sourdough bread. But let’s step back for a second.

Before the idea of toilet paper shortages, self-quarantines and restaurant and school shutdowns, my lovely fiance thought that a fun project for us (I.E., me) would be to cultivate sourdough starter and make the occasional loaf of bread. As a man who recently realized he had a newfound love (and relatively decent aptitude) for cooking, I jumped in with both feet. What we didn’t realize is, like any household pet, sourdough starter needs to be fed and watered every day, and if you’re not careful, can multiply. A lot.

So one small jar of sourdough starter became two, then four, then eight... and soon most of our refrigerator was filled with a bubbly, yeasty substance. Now, a couple months later, we’ve got a pretty good system, and about a dozen ways to use the starter, from herby breads and crackers to pillowy waffles and muffins. We even developed our own simple recipe for baked apple fritter bites, which were a hit at the last pre-quarantine party we attended (less than 10 people, not to worry).

I am a stickler for recipes, and very afraid to venture too far from the tried-and-true instructions of “experts.” My lady is a creative, and loves throwing as much healthy and flavorful ingredients into them as possible. So far, she’s batting 1.000.

The point of all of this is — the chance to stay close to your family or have the time to try new things might only come once in this lifetime. Take full advantage. Yes, you can Netflix and chill, Hulu and veg, or Disney+ and lounge — and don’t get me wrong, we’re doing some of that too. But try new things, too. Paint or draw. Write. Cook. Try yoga or running.

And bake sourdough bread.

If you’d like to know how we do it (and it’s pretty darned simple, even for a novice baker like myself), here are some resources.

Note: To avid sourdough connoisseurs, I am not an expert. My methods are simple, they may not be what you do (IE, I don’t autolyze, whatever that means, and I use 100% hydration). But it’s fun, it’s pretty easy and it makes tasty bread for us.

  • We started with a kit from Cultures for Health for our sourdough starter. You can get it on Amazon. You’ll also need containers. We started with glass jars, but eventually went to plastic Ziploc bags. Be careful though, because when fed with flour and water, the starter culture puts off carbon dioxide, which can cause your bags to explode and cause a huge mess. Just follow the recipe in the bag and you’ll be fine.
  • You will need quite a bit of flour and water to keep things going. But considering grocery stores still have more flour on their shelves than bread, it’s a good option.
  • The recipe I use for sourdough bread is also from Cultures for Health. The only modification I do is that I wait to add the salt until the dough has begun to come together. Also, keep in mind the recipe calls for “fresh sourdough starter,” so you’ll want to make sure your starter is fed the day before you use it for bread.
  • I hand knead the dough, but if you have a good stand mixer, by all means use it.
  • Our baked apple fritter bite recipe is as such (modified from this recipe):

Ingredients:

* Two large, firm apples (Granny Smiths work best), washed, cored and diced.

* 1 to 2 cups of unfed sourdough discard (you’ll have quite a bit of this from the feeding process)

* Up to a 14 cup of brown sugar (we actually use 1/8th of a cup, and drizzle a little honey on at the end)

* 14 teaspoon salt

* 14 teaspoon baking soda

* 12 teaspoon cinnamon

* Butter or oil spray for coating the muffin tins

Directions:

* Preheat your oven to 400 degrees (you could also fry the fritters in oil if you want, your milage may vary there)

* In a large mixing bowl, add the apples, brown sugar, salt, baking soda and cinnamon, and stir until the apples are coated.

* Slowly add the sourdough starter and mix until the apples are pretty thickly coated. You still want to see apples, but you don’t really want to see the sugar/cinnamon anymore.

* Grease a muffin tin or small glass ramekins with the butter or oil spray. Spoon in the sourdough apple mixure.

* Bake the fritters for about 30 minutes. Test with a toothpick or wooden skewer. If they come out clean, they’re done. While still hot, you can glaze the top with honey or a little more brown sugar. Let them cool on a cooling rack before enjoying.

* Enjoy them while you’re waiting for hockey to return or watching Frozen 2 with your family.