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Matthew has been busy this week feeding his starter, infusing his flavored olive oils, baking ciabatta, and getting ready for our class on Thursday!

And our cat Bimota is here helping me blog tonight!

Below are the flavored oil concentrates Matthew has made.

Hm, wonder how Matthew will feel about Bimota taking center stage in this post?

His flavored oil concentrates ARE beautiful, and delicious!

In our class on Thursday we will be handing out jars of starter, flavored oils, and lots of ciabatta!

And if you can’t make it, we will blog more on the making of ciabatta after the class, so stay tuned!

– Jill

I like to use starter for my ciabatta, and actually for all of my breads.

Starter is a simple pre-ferment consisting of flour and water.  Many recipes will call for poolish, sponge, levain, or biga; these are all starters. Most of these starters are made in the hours before making the bread. A step that you can skip when using a sour starter that you already have on hand.

Starter is a way to produce natural yeast.

Where does the yeast come from? It is in the flour, the water, the air … it is all around us.  You are breathing it now.

To make starter, you mix equal parts of water and flour together. Yeast starts to eat the natural sugars that are in the flour and produces carbon dioxide, which causes the bubbles you see on the top of the starter. As well, the natural holes that you see in bread are produced by carbon dioxide.

Here is a photo of the starter after five days. Note the bubbles of carbon dioxide on the surface. I feed the starter every day with equal parts of water and flour (organic, unbleached is the best).

You will have a usable starter in five to ten days, and you can keep the starter going for many many years.

I prefer to put my starter in glass containers. However, you can also use a variety of containers from stainless steel bowls to ceramic or plastic containers (commercial bakeries often keep their starter in large plastic totes) — these will all work perfectly well.

It is good to put a top on the starter to prevent it from drying out. Make sure you leave plenty of room because it will grow as fermentation takes place.

It is best to keep the starter in the refrigerator after it has started to ferment.

This kind of starter, or pre-ferment, can be frozen. Just be sure you pull it out a day or two before feedings. The longer you have it out and the more often you feed it, the stronger it will become.

Throughout this process you will need to throw out some of the starter.  As you add flour and water it will continue to grow.

Our Baking Ciabatta at Home class is just next week!

Join us on Thursday evening, January 13, and learn to make ciabatta and infused oils at home!

Ciabatta is a delicious rustic Italian bread. The name literally means “slipper.” A little information from The Professional Pastry Chef: Fundamentals by Bo Friberg:

Breads that are made from a very sticky dough, such as this one, are often categorized as rustic due to their rugged appearance. Because the consistency of what you are working with is closer to a paste than a dough … the shape is a result of the baker’s decreased control over forming these loaves compared to traditional bread dough.

Check the CLASS SCHEDULE tab above for more details, or click here.

And Matthew is getting ready, preparing a starter for this wonderful bread. He wasn’t happy with the flour we had, so we went to the new New Frontiers store in SLO to pick up some good “dirty flour,” as Matthew calls it (meaning organic, unbleached bakers flour).

This is a photo of what the starter looked like after three days, before we added the good “dirty” flour.

The starter grew like crazy overnight!  It loved the new flour (sorry, didn’t take a picture of the starter overflowing onto the counter and making the mess it did!).

We will write more on making starter here, or come to our class next Thursday!

Ciao!

Jill

Dessert Demonstrations treated the human guests with Kisses (candy) and cookies at the Woods Humane Society Open House on Saturday, December 11, 2010.

All proceeds going back to Woods Humane Society, of course!

We had a blast seeing all the dressed up dogs in line for a picture with Santa!  I even got Matthew to wear a Santa hat.

– Jill

We had a booth at the Wiggle Waggle Walk for Woods on Saturday — it was a gorgeous day!

We served up some much appreciated, and donated, Starbucks coffee to visitors, along with cookies and some of Matthew’s delicious and gooey cinnamon rolls.

I even caught a picture of him eating one, which is rare!  He has spent 30+ years baking sweets and there are just a few sweet delicacies he will indulge in.

His own cinnamon rolls are one of them!

– Jill

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DESSERT DEMONSTRATIONS

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Baking emergency? Call or e-mail any time, any question.

Matthew Mimmack
Arroyo Grande, CA

Phone: (805) 305-9709

E-mail:
mimmack@charter.net

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