Monday, June 15, 2015

Toasted almond ice cream and a lost sourdough starter

A week ago, in a minor frenzy of sourdough baking, I forgot to save some of the starter I'd been using for all my sourdough. It was a whole wheat starter using a Josey Baker recipe, which I'd converted from a Peter Reinhart starter I'd gotten from my bus buddy Andrew.


Fortunately, I also had a white sourdough starter from Lee. I hadn't been using it much, but I'd been waking it up and feeding it regularly, thank goodness. I used it to inoculate a new batch of whole wheat starter. Interestingly, the new starter was (at least initially) much more active than the starter I'd been using. Within a few hours of feeding, the starter would rise tremendously. It didn't hurt that the weather was quite warm (for here) the two days I was feeding it; the kitchen was 75-79 degrees much of the time.

I made a double batch of sourdough Saturday. It almost raised out of the bowl that I'd used before for a double batch.

Saturday night I shaped one loaf (rather badly). Sunday morning I baked it. By Sunday night that loaf was gone.

The crust sang again!

Other baking I did in the past few days:
  • Coconut flour brownies (again)
  • Almond cake with apricot jam and browned butter frosting
    • I used the magically moist almond cake recipe on the back of Bob's Red Mill almond flour, which also calls for coconut flour
    • The coconut flavor overwhelmed the almond flavor, but fortunately we all love coconut
    • To make the almond flavor more pronounced, I made browned butter frosting (from Better Homes & Gardens New Baking Book) but used almond extract (a little over half a teaspoon, I think) instead of vanilla. The color was a bit gray; I would've added a little coloring—a drop of yellow food dye? coffee powder?—if I'd had more time.
    • I used two 9-inch round pans to bake the cakes. They came out well, but it would've been better if the cake had been thicker—the frosting dominated the cake. (Even my frosting loving husband said so.) I don't usually like frosting, but this was pretty good.
  • C.R.O.W.W. bread
    • It came out very dark, probably because I (taking a shortcut) soaked some raisins in hot water before putting them in.
    • It tasted good but seemed dry.
I also made two ice creams (from one batch of the base) from David Lebovitz's toasted almond with sour cherry recipe. They were very good but not great.

Toasted almond stracciatella

Here's what they both have in common:
  • A delicious toasted almond base. No complaints there.
  • Too much chopped almond mixed in. A few minutes before I finished churning, I add 1 cup of coarsely chopped almonds, as directed. Even for me, this was too much. Half a cup would probably be better.
  • Stracciatella. Just before the end of churning, I added a stream of melted chocolate to make little chocolate chips. I thought this was kind of lost, but others disagreed and said they could taste it. I'd rather have larger chunks of chocolate or a river of soft fudge.
The first ice cream was just the above. It was good, but had too many almonds. The creaminess of the ice cream was overwhelmed by the crunch of the almonds (and chocolate).

While dishing out the second ice cream, I added candied cherries (as directed by the recipe). I made these from the Lebovitz's Sour Cherries in Syrup recipe, using Trader Joe's dark morello cherries.

Making sour cherries in syrup

People liked the cherries but felt that they overwhelmed the almond ice cream—that the ice cream might as well have been vanilla. (Not that there's anything wrong with vanilla; it's just easier to make than toasted almond.)

With candied cherries

I'll certainly make toasted almond ice cream again, using this recipe, but I'll skip the cherries and mix in half the amount of chopped almonds. I probably won't add the chocolate, either.

The next time I make cherry-chocolate whiskey ice cream, I might well use the sour cherries in syrup instead of booze-soaked cherries.

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