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This week's seasonal recommendation

 

What to cook this week?

Sun, 14 May, 2017

I've been inspired by some excellent bakers posting their goods on various social media - and I mean the breads. Sourdough is a bit of a cult and, as my mother used to say and I never listened, you have to know what you're doing with sourdough. My latest obsession is yeast water - which is basically random stuff fermenting in water for a few days, producing wild yeast. When bubbles appear, you're in business. My fig water is only a day old so no bubbles yet but I'm hopeful.

For the beginners, or those less foolhardy than me, I have an easy wheat sourdough starter instruction incorporated in my French country bread recipe. Another method, using pineapple juice for sugars and producing a bit more doughy starter, is described in the sourdough no-knead bread recipe. And the breads are not too bad either.

Top marks for taste definitely belong to my San Francisco style sourdough starter and bread recipe, if you're at the 'know what you're doing' level. It's been called a hipster method, using apple juice and raisins to feed sugar to the wild yeast, but I promise the recipe pre-dates hipsters, although not quite by 160 years.

If you want excellent bread but don't have a sour on the go, use commercial yeast - homemade bread will still be better than anything you buy. Get the fresh stuff though if you can, I swear the rise and the taste is better than when using instant. The coccodrillo ciabatta for example is a joy to eat. The recipe is relatively quick and the experience not quite like trying to shape water into a loaf, which ciabatta making often feels like.

But man shall not live on bread alone, so let's put something in that sandwich. Fermenting again? Oh yes. It is surprisingly easy and unsurprisingly rewarding to make the beet cured salmon, a feast in just three days. And what about zinging up some bacon for the Sunday breakfast or brunch? Brown sugar bacon is so addictive it should be illegal.

The week of baking can't be without cake, and since the apricot season is starting, an apricot upside down cake will fit in well. Or end as you began and take up a challenge of laminated yeasted dough, aka Danish pastry. My easy Danish is seriously doable and it doesn't involve rolling out pats of cold butter so see for yourself. Happy folding!

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