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Friday, November 27, 2015

Sourdough Starter

I love sourdough bread because the breads and  buns that we used to get in India were always on little sour side, yet there was no such category of bread as sourdough bread there.
Here I did not like the breads at first as I found them to be always toward sweeter side, until I tried sour dough bread and I fell in love with it. I started trying different sourdough breads. For me sour the better. So far only bread in this area that really has pleased my palate is sourdough bread from Costco.
I always was very curious as to how they make the sourdough bread here.  I started researching more about and it found out that you have to make the sourdough starter, you can get one ready made, or you can make it from scratch.  I decided to look in to different recipes and some called for pineapple juice, some for rye bread flour. I decided to experiment on my own with fermentation methods that we use in Indian cuisine, and made my own starter.  I am proud to say that now I have sourdough bread starter in my fridge all the time. I have used this to make sourdough bread loaf and sour dough pita bread.

So here is how I made my own sour dough starter.
You will need total of at least  4 days to come up with successful sourdough bread starter.
You will need a tall  glass or plastic airtight jar with lid,  and following ingredients:
  • 1  cup of milk
  • 2 slices of sourdough bread (I used one I buy from Costco)
  • 1 cup of all purpose or white whole wheat flour, (I used King Arthur flour)
  • 1 teaspoon of yeast
  • 1 cup of warm water
  • 1 teaspoon of sugar 
  • 1 cup of plain yogurt (little toward sour side)
On day 1:
Break up the slices of sourdough bread dump the pieces in the jar.
Add milk and flour, mix well.
Add yeast to warm water and sugar., then add this mixture to jar with milk and bread pieces.
Add one cup of yogurt.
Mix well with wooden spatula and  with hand blender whisk  until smooth texture is acquired. (I used blade with the hand blender to break up lumps of bread in the mixture).  Cover the jar with lid and let it sit for 24 hour in a warm place.

On Day 2:
You will see the mixture get bubbly or may not see any changes.
Stir with wooden spatula and  mix well, cover the jar again and return it to warm place.

On Day 3: You will need following ingredients and follow these steps:
  • 1 teaspoon of yeast.
  • 1/8 cup of warm water
  • 1/4 cup of flour ( you can use either AP or white wheat flour)
  • 1/4 cup of plain sour yogurt
  • Add yeast to warm water,  add flour to the sour dough starter in jar, Mix well add water and yeast.
  • Add yogurt and mix well.
  • Cover the jar with lid and return it to warm place for another 24 hours.
On day 4 : Add 1 cup of flour to the bubbly mix, may add water if needed.
Mix well and return it to warm place of another 24 hours.

Day 5: you can use the starter to make your favorite sour dough bread loaf or sour dough pita bread (Recipe to follow next).Refrigerate the unused starter in fridge and feed it one day prior to use gain.
To feed the dough, you can take it out of fridge and discard some of the starter from top and then add one cup of flour and 1/2 cup of water, keep in the warm place for 8 hours before adding this to make the bread.
This method of feeding has worked well so far with me, I made this started in end of October and still good. Just took it out and fed it and will make sourdough pita bread again tomorrow.

After you use it to make the bread you can feed it in following manner to make the sourdough more sour.

So  I have two jars in the fridge to each jar I added following:
2 tablespoon of white vineger
1 cup of whole wheat flour
1/2 cup of AP flour
Plain yogurt enough to dilute the starter (however keep the consistency not very watery)

 Put the jars at room temp for 8 hours then refrigerate the starter again till ready to use next time.
When you are using it again, do not discard the top brownish liquid on top.  Mix the starter with it and use it to make dough. It will make the bread more sour.

Recipe adapted and modified by Surekha
from a recipes at
Photographs by Surekha

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Sunday, November 22, 2015

Layered No Bake Cake with Tea Bisuits like Parle Glucose Biscuite or Petite Tea Biscuits.

Those of you who are from India, know that every  child in India has a sweet childhood memory connected with Parle Glucose Biscuits.  These biscuits have a very precious memory link with my father,  who basically nurtured me and comforted me when I was very little  2 -3 years of age and my mom was very ill was in  the hospital for 1 month,.   My dad would sleep on a cot in the hospital room and did not have any family to care for me and him, so he would take me everywhere with him. He took care of me and my mom all by himself,  often he would buy me these biscuits and milk when I was hungry.
From those days on wards these have been my fav tea biscuits and till this day in my adult life I always have these in my house. Thanks Parle for continuing to make these biscuits and continuing to make precious memories for kids.
I always wanted to make a western dessert out of these biscuits and I met another person who inspired me to make this dessert using these biscuits.
In our life time we cross out paths with so many people. We always learn something from each other. I had a pleasure of knowing a lady from Serbia, who I have known for 7 years now, she is now 70 years of age, is a hard worker and still makes the best desserts : mostly Eastern European desserts. She does not speak much English, but is very hard working. She used to help me out a lot. She would always bring cookies and cake to my house, but could not get any recipes from her due to language barrier. She makes these layered cakes by baking each very thin layer of cake separately and then putting them together, she called them Dobosh, that are out of these world.

This is not a recipe for Dobosh, but from the texture and taste and from her broken English descriptions I came up with this recipe,  which came very close to what she baked, with the exception that I did not bake the thin layers of cake and did not use any nuts in it and came up with this version of no bake cake. That tasted totally different than her but tasted pretty good, I thought I will share this recipe  with you.So first I  Thank my dear  father and then  Maria for inspiration of this recipe.I   made these no bake cake using Parle biscuits and also with butter biscuits that I bought from a local middle eastern grocer.  These butter cookies looked and tasted like Petite Beurre Tea Biscuits. I made enough filling so I can use it utilizing both kind of biscuits. You can make with either of them, only thing to remember that when soaking in coffee (which is one of step of recipe) you have to do it very quickly otherwise the biscuits will fall apart.  Parle quicker than the Petite biscuits.

Ingredients for layers of biscuits and white cream layer:
1 pack of  Petite tea biscuit
8 small (1.99 oz) pack of Parle glucose biscuits
1 small box of vanilla instant or cook and serve pudding.
1 8 oz of cream cheese softened at room temp
1 8 oz tub of cool whip
1/2 can of condensed milk
1 cup of milk
1/2 stick of butter
Instant coffee to make about 2 cups of coffee.
I made two different kind of layer of chocolate
(I used one on Petite biscuit and another one on Glucose, I used  first method to utilize the remaining 1/2 can of condensed milk  but you can just follow method 2 without condensed milk, came out good)

Ingredients for top layer of chocolate:
One bag of chocolate chip morsels divided in to  two parts
1 1/2 cup f of milk divided in to half
2 +2 tablespoon of coco powder (I used Hersey)
1 and 1/2 stick of butter (divided in to half)
Remaining half can of condensed milk.
Method to make white cream filling:
Make the pudding as per instruction on the box with 1 cup of milk , if you use cook and serve you will need more milk (just follow the instruction on box.) and let it cool down.
Add 1/2 stick of butter, softened cream cheese half can of condensed milk and cool whip.
Mix with hand blender and set aside.  This is enough filling for both kinds of butter cookies.
Make 2 cups strong instant coffee.
Take  9x 13 for Petite biscuits and I used another 8 x 11 for Parle biscuits.
Soak the tea biscuits one by one in warm coffee.
Just quickly dunk it and place them in Pyrex dish in linear fashion to cover the entire dish..
Then all a layer of white cream filling on top, spread over the tea bisuits.
Now lay another layer of tea biscuits same way and lay the cream layer over it.
Repeat the process until all the biscuits are gone.
Top layer should be of the biscuits.

Two methods of making  chocolate layer for top:
Method 1: 
Melt 1/2 bag of  chocolate chip morsels with 3/4 cup of milk and 1 table spoon of cocoa powder , 1/2 can of condensed milk and 1/4 stick of butter.
Microwave, stirring every min for total of 8 min until completely melted , and spreadable smooth texture. (you can use double boiler)
Be careful while stirring in between in microwave, it is bubbly  hot !!

Method 2 :
Melt 1/2 bag of  chocolate chip morsels with 3/4 cup of milk and 2 table spoon of cocoa powder , and 1/4 stick of butter.
Microwave, stirring every min for total of 6-7 min until completely melted and spreadable smooth. (you can use double boiler)
Be careful while stirring in between, it is bubbly  hot !!

Pour the chocolate layer on the last layer of biscuits and spread with spatula.
Refrigerate overnight.
This dessert comes out better with 1-2 days of refrigeration, so make it 1-2 days ahead of time.
Once set nicely, cut in to desired squares of rectangle. You can be as creative as you want with plating: can sprinkle cocoa powder, or chocolate shavings or chocolate sauce or whipped cream.
You can serve this with your favorite ice cream too.
You can use either biscuits, and can use either recipe for top filling,  I just wanted to experiment with both kinds of biscuits. I like the one with Parle glucose biscuit better, but was little sweet so you can omit the condensed milk entirely for both the white and chocolate toppings.
Recipe looks long and tedious. but believe me it is very very easy to make ahead of time, just in time for the holidays !
Have a happy Thanks Giving !!!
Recipe adapted and modified by Surekha from a verbal recipe given to her by Maria B.
Photographs by Surekha.
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