Thursday, August 25, 2011

Sour Flour

The last couple of weeks have been pretty busy around here; I have a few upcoming posts that I am very excited to share with you all.  As I mentioned a few weeks ago, I volunteered with La Cocina for their 3rd annual SF Street Food Festival.  The event was crazy, this was my first year experiencing it since we moved here and I had no idea just how big it was going to be.  There was so much amazing food and the variety was even a bit overwhelming, I'm almost a little glad that I spent a majority of the day volunteering and not stuffing myself into misery.  I also got to briefly celebrate the birthdays of two very lovely ladies, happy birthday Romy and Shiao!

Last week I had the opportunity (thank you Groupon for the sweet deal) to take a bread starter workshop with Sour Flour.  Sour Flour was started in 2008 by Danny Gabriner; his goal is to create the highest quality bread and at the same time help educate the community about the art of bread making.  Community is a big part of what Sour Flour is all about and they spread the love by giving out free bagels every Monday!!  You can learn more about Bagel Monday here.  I really enjoyed the starter workshop; I have no experience with using dough starters but had been wanting to learn about them for a while.  This introductory class teaches you about what a starter is, how to create one and how to care for it.  That being said I'd like to introduce you all to...
Gary is the handsome starter I made during the workshop and brought home with me, he comes from a long line of well known starters; his mother is Danny's Costa Rican starter Dulce.  You might wonder why the sad face Gary?  I promise I have been taking good care of my little starter guy, feeding him regularly and playing with him occasionally but I think the frown is due to his lackluster home...

Sorry Gary, rent in SF is expensive! Once you start putting out daily bread I promise to upgrade you.

In the class we also made a quick flatbread using the starter, it was slightly chewy and had a nice nuttiness to it.  There are few things more delicious than fresh baked bread, especially in the shape of a heart.

Between making the flatbread and my pizza loving boyfriend, I was inspired to begin my first starter adventure.  Having a dough starter on hand in your kitchen makes it much easier for impromptu pizza making; all you need is flour and water to get started.

Pizza dough recipe:
-dough starter
-2 cups of flour (I used 1 cup zero zero flour and 1 cup white whole wheat)
-3/4 cup warm water
-1 tsp salt
-1/2 tbsp olive oil

Using your dry ingredients, create a mound on your counter.  Next create a large well in the mound for the wet ingredients. Tear your starter into small pieces (sorry Gary) and add this to the well.
Add in your wet ingredients
Mix until you have a loose ball of dough
One of the most important things I learned in this workshop was to be patient and not overwork your dough otherwise it will be too sticky.  If you know me then you know I seriously lack patience, letting my dough rest is very difficult.  If you have the same problem, I recommend just walking away from it for about 10-15 minutes.  Using various techniques we learned in class such as flipping the dough and folding the edges over, work your dough until it is smooth.
Once I got it smooth, I let it take another longer rest (I would never hire dough as an employee; it requires way too many breaks).  After the lounging is over the fun begins, stretching out the dough.
And then the topping: I used a red sauce, fresh spinach, sliced tomato, quattro formagio and (because I love a meat-obsessed man) a little bit of salami.
I baked the pizza on our pizza stone at 450 degrees and it only took about 13 minutes for it to be nice and golden.
13 minutes in the oven and only 5 minutes to devour : )

Sour Flour offers other classes including a bagel making workshop, so if you are local I suggest you check them out.

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