Friday, October 12, 2007

What I Did With My Stuff

In case you thought I was just dilly-dallying around, get a load of that luscious cake fresh out of the oven this afternoon. Not just any old cake, Coffee Mates. That's a Sorta Carrot cake, made with the brand new batch of sourdough -- the starter that was built with pineapple juice.

At first I wasn't sure that starter was going to do anything. A few stray bubbles now and then would tease me and keep me from pronouncing it dead but it sure didn't act like it was going to develop any kind of muscle at all. Then, two days ago, when I gave it the next-to-last feeding, it began to bubble in earnest. Yesterday, with the final feed, it went into high gear and really began to show its stuff.

Well! I said. I do believe it's time to put this pony in the rodeo. I sorted through the various recipes on my To Try list and settled on what looked like a pretty good carrot cake. I do love carrot cake and there just happened to be some baby carrots in the refrigerator.

Okay, the first thing you have to do, when you decide to build a sourdough creation, is to set out your "fresh" starter. What I've been doing this past week is building up what we'll call the Mother starter. That's the working base that, when I'm not using it, will be kept in the refrigerator to slow it down so it won't require as many feedings. So when I want to bake something, I take from the Mother the amount I'll need for the recipe. In this case, I need 1 cup of fresh -- or baby -- starter. As it happens, since the starter is brand new, 1 cup was all I had. That's okay. Here's how it works.

To that 1 cup of starter, I added 1 cup of warm water and just over 1 cup of flour. Mixed it all up good, covered it loosely and set it out at room temperature. (By the way, I heartily recommend the use of a wire whisk when mixing in the flour. Not only gets out the lumps almost instantly, it aerates the batter quite nicely.) Now, if I had taken that 1 cup of starter from the refrigerator, I would probably have had to wait until tomorrow to use the baby, which means I'd have mixed it up in the evening and left it out overnight. As it was, that little rascal bubbled and puffed and doubled itself in about 2 hours flat!

While it was building up a head of steam, I was getting the other stuff ready. The recipe calls for 1 cup of shredded carrots, to be simmered for 20 minutes in a small pot, with just enough water to barely cover the carrots. I don't shred baby carrots. Nope. Critters that little tend to cause me to shred my knuckles right along with them so I hauled out my trusty chopper instead. A few pulses and my carrots were neatly minced and plopped into the measuring cup.

Uh oh. Only about half a cup of carrots. Hmmm. Okay. The fellow who provided the recipe said one could use applesauce instead of carrots if desired. And I just happened to have a snack pack of sliced apples I did up in the dehydrator this last summer. Cool. Whipped those puppies through the chopper and mixed them in with the carrots. Lookin' good.

Uh oh. I've still only got 3/4 of a cup of Stuff. Hmmm. Aha! I just happen to have some dried apricots. Tossed a handful of them into the chopper, mixed them with the carrots and apples and ta-dah! One cup of minced mixed Stuff. Perfect. I barely covered the mixture with water and what was left of the pineapple juice I had used to build the starter, set it on the burner and left it to simmer its little heart out.

When the baby starter looked to be at it's peak, I measured out the 1 cup I needed for the cake and put the remaining cup in its storage bowl. That is now my Mother, which will grow according to how much and how often I feed her.

In the KitchenAid bowl, I creamed 1/4 cup of butter with 1/2 cup brown sugar and 1/2 cup white sugar. Added 1 egg and beat the bejaysus out of it. Added 1 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg, 1/4 teaspoon cardamom, and 2 teaspoons baking soda and mixed it all in good.

In a separate bowl, I mixed together the 1 cup of baby starter, 1/4 cup of milk and 1 1/2 cups of flour. Started mixing it up. What the hell? It was the consistency of biscuit dough. That can't be right.

It wasn't. I'd forgotten to add the 1 cup of carrot-apple-apricot Stuff! Quickly tossed that in -- and it was probably actually more than a cup because the minced apples swelled up with the moisture they absorbed -- and mixed everything good. Much better. Dumped that lot into the sugar mixture and let the KitchenAid finish the job while I buttered a springform cake pan.

Now, the recipe calls for one of those rectangular baking dishes but I felt like using the spring form. Consequently, I had a thicker cake than I would have otherwise, which meant it had to cook longer. Set the oven at 350 degree fairyheight and slid the pan in. With the larger pan, 40 minutes would have been fine. The springform took an hour before the toothpick came out clean.

The cake is beautifully moist, as carrot cake should be, but not too sweet, as carrot cake sometimes is. After it cooled, I mixed up a quick frosting made with butter, powdered sugar, about a teaspoon of grated ginger and about 1/4 a cup of orange juice. You can see the result below. The piece that's sliced off is, of course, history.

Now I have to walk up to the market tomorrow and get some more flour. I'm out and my next project is going to be sourdough biscuits. Think I'll get some sausage, too. Biscuits and sausage gravy would be a pretty good football meal come Sunday.


bonnie said...

Here I sit 5:23 a.m. empty stomach and just wishing I could reach in the screen and cut myself a slice. :-)

bb said...

Amazon was showing a book by Ruth Allman titled Alaska Sourdough. Might be a cookbook worth rifling through for you.

Gloria said...

Oh my. A slice of that beauty would go so well with my cuppa this morning....sigh. Very interesting lesson on the care and feeding of the Mother!

Jo said...

No fair, Dee, always taunting us with your mouth-watering creations like that, hmphh. Ah, well, glad you are enjoying them. You never fail to tickle me with your innovativeness in the ingredients in these matters.

Mage And George said...

You had better get some more carrots too. Hey, here I am fighting WW, and you give me one of my very favorites ever. I think I'm just going to go adapt my old pot roast recipe to the slow cooker for tomorrow after the game. Only slow fat folks around here.