Ballymaloe Day 51: I may have a sourdough addiction

The jar was tightly shut with the chocolate contents teasing my stomach. My eyes wandered towards the seal and I whimsically gazed into the glass on the shelf – this was the disadvantage of being short!

It was pasta-mania here in Ballymaloe Cookery School today, and the kitchen was abuzz with energy long before 8.30am loomed around.

I was one of the few who didn’t have pasta duty, so I started working on my tira misu. Enjoying the smells of brandy and rum, I dipped my boudoir fingers into the mix and savoured the smell.

After tediously using tweezers to decorate my dessert (yes, I’m that type of person!), I finally popped my tira misu into the fridge to chill.

Realising that I had a lot of time on my hands while people were battling it out with the pasta machines, I decided to make a “stripy cat” aka a chocolate-filled soda bread.

Pretty happy with the result and with time ticking by, I finally got around to cooking my romanesco and in a totally unnecessary move, I reconstructed it (much to my cooking partner Joe’s amusement).

Satisfied with today’s cooking and getting my fill of pasta at lunch time, I headed into demo with a happy food belly.

Hosted by Rachel and supported by Gary and Pat, demo featured a variety of things including various hot curries, soufflés and delicious vegetables.

With dreams of sourdough filled in my head, after demo I headed into the kitchen again for another lash at the tasty bread (I ate a lot of Alfred last night with butter and it was pretty super).

And so, Alfred 2.1 has been born – but he’s a present for Mammy Kavanagh who’ll be visiting this Friday.

Tomorrow is lecture day so no order of work needs to be done for a while – whoo hoo!

Some random things I’ve learned on this course:

  • When making soda bread, the best flour to use is one that’s known as a “soft” flour that’s low in gluten.
  • Stoneground/roller-milled wholemeal flour is good for making brown soda, whereas cream/plain flour is best for white soda.
  • There are two basic types of raising agents: biological (yeast which is a living organism) and chemical (bicarbonate soda/bread soda/sodium bicarbonate).
  • For yeast bread, you need to use brown or white strong/baker’s/bread flour that’s high in gluten that’s developed by kneading.
  • Strong flour also works for choux, fluffy and puff pastry.
  • Gluten is the protein in the flour, when gluten is wet it becomes elastic.
  • Bread that rises slowly are more nutritious and become more digestible.

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