Sourdough in Isolation – a recipe for boredom.

With the emergence of a pandemic from COVID-19, many people were left to figure out what to do with themselves while they lived out their days in isolation. Outside of working from home and teaching our kids with my husband, I decided to use any spare time I had learning how to make sourdough. With the non-existence of yeast in the stores, and sometimes limited availability of bread products, this venture seemed like a useful one to attempt.

Sourdough is made without the use of yeast – as you first need to create a sourdough starter – the ‘yeast’ of your bread. You begin my mixing flour and water together in a tall glass vessel of some sort (I use a large A&W mug), I started with a 2:1 ratio of flour to water – say 1/2 cup of flour to 1/4 cup of water (call this DAY 1). Use a wooden spoon or silicone spatula – I read somewhere not to use metal, so I never have. 😉 Now, loosely cover it with a cloth and elastic – your starter needs to breathe and release gases – all part of the fermentation process.

On DAY 2, you are going to need to begin the feeding process. You don’t necessarily want to double your starter at this time, so you can either discard half or divide it in half into two containers, feeding both – discarding half in the beginning is the logical choice, unless you plan on growing more starter for friends. 🙂
How much do you feed it? My personal rule-of-thumb is this: estimate the volume of starter you currently have, and base your flour measurement off of that amount. So, if you have 1/4 cup of starter, you’re going to feed it 1/4 cup of flour and 1/8 cup of water. Stir it up good and recover it.

Keep feeding your starter daily, until all of a sudden your starter produces more bubbles and starts to grow. When it gets to the point where it is doubling is size after a feeding, it’s ready to use! Look at those bubbles!

Important side note: you only want to use your growing starter when it is still increasing in size. If your starter has maxed out and is beginning to deflate, you’ve missed the time to bake a loaf. Re-feed it (discarding some if necessary) and wait again until it has doubled. I tend to feed my starter in the morning, and my lunch it is ready to make dough.

Here is the sourdough bread recipe I use:

Ingredients:

  • 800g All-purpose flour
  • 560g water (70% hydration)
  • 240g sourdough starter (30%)
  • 10g salt

Directions:

  • Measure out all ingredients (a scale is the best way to ensure proper amounts of moisture levels).
  • Add all ingredients together in a bowl*tip* spray your measuring cup or bowl with cooking spray before weighing your starter, and it will be much easier to get it out. It’s very sticky stuff!
  • Stir together with a spatula – mixture will be dry at first. Once loosely combined, mix together with your hands until it’s a rough and sticky dough. Cover with saran wrap and let it rest for 1 hour.
  • After an hour of resting you are going to ‘stretch-and-fold’ your dough about twice around until the ball is smooth – if you wet one hand with water, this will be easier. Scoop your wet hand under the dough, stretch it up and over the ball, and fold it over. Repeat this all the way around the bowl 2-3 times. Cover again with saran wrap and let it rise over-night.
  • In the morning, your dough should have doubled or tripled in size.
  • Preheat your oven at 475F with your dutch oven or roasting pan already inside. Pour out your dough onto a flour-covered surface, and fold in the four sides. Flip the dough over so the seams are face down, and continue to tuck the edges under the ball until your dough is smooth and round.
  • Place your dough on a piece of parchment paper (it doesn’t have to be a big piece, just large enough to use the corners to lift your dough into the dutch oven or roasting pan. Just before the dough is placed in the oven, be sure to score it – I just use a sharp knife. Scoring your bread gives it more freedom to rise in the oven, and tells it where to expand, without splitting at the seams you created.
  • Pop it in the oven and bake it covered for 20 minutes.
  • Uncover the loaf and lower the temperature to 425F, and continue to bake for another 40 minutes (at least). I tend to add more time if the loaf isn’t to my desired darkness.
  • Remove the loaf from the oven and place on a cooling rack.
  • As tempting as a warm loaf of bread can be, let it cool completely before cutting into it! Enjoy!

 

The Magic of Golden Hour

What is Golden Hour?

Golden Hour occurs when the sun is close to the horizon, shortly after sunrise and before sunset. I guess you could say, that to photographers, it is THE best time to shoot portraits. There is no other time to get such soft, filtered, and warm light to illuminate your subjects. You could almost say that it adds a moment or a feeling to your images.

In the middle of the day when the sun is much higher above, subjects tend to squint from bouncing light, and get unusual and unflattering shadows casting on their faces – typically dark circles around their eyes, and shadows under their noses. This high contrast between the highlights and shadows can make a portrait very unbalanced. Because contrast is less during Golden Hour, it becomes easier to maintain detail in black, and highlights are less likely to be overexposed.

Another benefit to shooting during this magic hour, is more detail in your shadows. With a smaller angle between the sun and the horizon, shadows are longer, and surfaces suddenly have more texture. And if you are shooting with the golden hour sunset behind your subject, the warm glow perfectly illuminates your subject’s hair, adding texture, and detail.

So you’re probably thinking, well the sunrise and sunset change daily…if I want to book my session a month from now, how would I know what time golden hour is going to be? Well, I came across a site called golden-hour.com. You simply plug in your location, and out spits the time of sunrise and sunset. You can then click on their little calendar days at the bottom and you can see the sun graph change simultaneously.

A very handy tool for photographers and their clients. They even have an app! You can find it here: 

So the next time you’re thinking that it’s time to update the family photos, make sure to book during the Golden Hour. You may need to get up extra early, or keep your kids up past bedtime, but you won’t regret it.

Hillary