Wednesday, April 15, 2009
Cynthia Bringle Anagama pots
Here's another group photo from one of Shane Mickey's anagama firings. The two large jars in the foreground are Cynthia Bringle's - a well known, respected potter who lives and works at Penland.
The smaller jar between and behind Cynthia's is one of Shane Mickey's gnome jars and some of the mugs in the front are also Shane's.
Yesterday seemed to fly by, taking it's own direction. I've been investing time this week, in researching sour dough starters. My first starter was ready yesterday and I used it to make my first, small batch of pizza dough. Unfortunately, the recipe I used must have used very wet starter, even though it didn't state that (mine is firmer). Even after adding extra water the finished dough wasn't as wet as it should be to get the best, lightest, pizza. It's tacky enough that I hope it will still make an edible crust. I figure it can't be worse than frozen pizzas!
This dough has to sit for a few days before using. I also started my own San Francisco type sour dough starter the day before. It's very simple: Let a cup of whole milk sit out,uncovered, for 24 hours, then add and mix in a cup of unbleached, white flour. Leave uncovered up to 5 days until it gets a nice sour smell. You can add a bit of milk if it looks like it's drying out. It has to be in a warm environment (in the 80F range).Since I'm not about to turn the house heat up to that temperature, I have it sitting on a heat pad, set on low. I hope it's not too warm!
Ron Slagle, another of our wonderful, local potters came over to pick up some of my starter. He looked at my finished dough and said that it wasn't as wet as his. Ron's been experimenting with these starters and pizza making for quite a while and Shane tells me he makes great pizzas as well as being an overall fine cook. We spoke about these starters and cooking in general and the possibility of getting our own wood burning pizza ovens. Down the line (maybe later this summer or early fall)I'd like to get one of those built since the best pizzas are supposedly cook in just about 3 minutes in an 800F oven.
Besides pizza, I want to make my own crusty, sour dough bread. I've ordered a couple of other starters and a sour dough book which should give me a good place to start. I also have a few books on artisinal bread and pizza making which I loaned to Ron. It's really nice to have someone with his experience and enthusiasm, to exchange information with and compare results.
My other tiny package of dried San Francisco sourdough starter went walkies and I had to get on line and order another one. Here are some of the sites I've ordered from and found useful:
This site has a lot of recipes for everything from home made bagels, pretzels and just about every type of bread you'd want to make. They also carry special flours for making some of those great,heavy, crusty European breads as well as various starters and other baking tools and even have their staff available for answering questions, solving baking problems, etc.
Two other sites I found with recipes, forums, wood pizza/bread oven plans etc are:
This bread/pizza making project took half my day yesterday. A nice visit with Ron, getting in some planting and weeding in between the rain, cooking, email, blogging and poof, the day was gone and there was no energy or time for the studio other than going in there to water plants right before bed time.
We went to bed early and Bodhi, our Jack Russell woke us up at 6am throwing up on the bed, so our day started early this morning. In hindsight I probably shouldn't have given him that leg of lamb bone!
Time to get to work!