Now that the major disappointments with our Jane Mason starter are finished (I hope) and we have decent wild yeast bread at last, I feel strong enough to recount the woeful tale of what happened with my 2nd Try to make significantly less sour bread, playing with our new pet given to us by Jane Mason.
I think I know where I went wrong and why the bread became so sour. It had to be those 24 hour periods of resting for “8-12 hours”. We’ll try again soon and report back.
– me, blog from OUR kitchen, ISO not-sour Sourdough: We’re getting closer…,
Chalk it up to experience and be a bit more patient next time.
– Jane Mason, All You Knead is Bread, p23
Excited about making bread with the bubbling starter, I eagerly mixed more dough, this time making enough for just one loaf.
Ha. By afternoon, it was clear that nothing was happening with the dough I had put together that morning. Not even close. It just sat like a murky glob. No bubbles. No motion. Its most significant trait was to smell sour. Clearly, this turbid sludge was NOT going to turn into anything that would create bread.
Aside from filling our kitchen green bin with the sticky mess, what could be done with it? We racked our brains.
And thinking about recalcitrant dough, I remembered the passage in the wonderful memoire, “Anything Can Happen”, by George and Helen Papashkily:
“Let’s we be practical,” Vallodia said next day. “Think over. In America what’s everyboday doing all the time? Eating! If they’re not eating they’re chewing on gum to fool themselves they’re eating. Cook some kind of food and sell. Make big money.
But what to cook? We thought and thought. […] Finally we decided on Khinkali […] The hard part is the dough. Vallodia said he knew how.
“A hundred times I watch my mother make,” he said. […] “Flour I need,” he said, “and water and egg. That I know.”
First time he tried turned to paste. Second times was more like putty; third time, chalk.
“Nothing to do,” he said at last, “but ask our landlady.”
So Anna Feodorovna showed us how mix and we watched her and it came nice. We wrapped meat, cooked few. Excellent! Almost we ate the whole thing.
– George and Helen Papashvily, Anything Can Happen, p45-46
Hmmm, no yeast?? So why do they go to a baker to get yeasted dough in the next part of the story? I know that Khachapuri (also Georgian and also stuffed-ish – it’s open-face rather than closed and baked) DO call for yeast. Maybe the Papashvilys decided not to introduce yet another Georgian name into the mix….
Now I packed few dozens in box and went out to sell to restaurants. […] Finally I came to a Greek who had cooked in Yalta and he was man who understood value of Khinkali.
He tasted. “O.K.,” he said. “I’m gonna take fifty dozen for trial because tonight I have banquet party from Russians. […]
“We can’t ask Anna Feodorovna no more,” Vallodia said when I told good news. “So we do this way. Go you on other side of town to the Russian bakery. Explain him our problem. Buy good bag of dough […]” […] The baker understood what I needed. He took a piece the size of a head out of his mixer and wrapped in paper. “Keep in cool place,” he said when I paid him, “and you gonna be O.K.”
Trolley was crowded and hot like a devil’s cook oven. Long before we came even to Dickerson Street I could feel the dough begin to grow under my hands. Man next to me got off and a lady sat down beside. By now dough was size of wineskin. I pushed down in few places and it was quiet for couple minutes. More people climbed in. My dough was breaking through the paper in the corners. No matter how I held still got bigger and bigger and again bigger. My God, I thought, pretty soon it’s gonna fill the whole trolley.
– George and Helen Papashvily, Anything Can Happen, p46-47
Happily, Naomi Duguid supports Valhlodia’s first thought about the dough for Khinkali being unyeasted:
Khinkali are Georgian classics, found in small eateries and devoured by the bowlful, hot and steaming. The dough is a simple combination of flour, salt, and water that needs to rest before it is rolled out and cut into wrappers. […] To eat khinkali, you pick one up by the topknot handle, nibble a hole in the dumpling, and suck out all the juices before eating the rest. Then you set the dough handle aside rather than eat it. You want to leave room for the next dumpling, say the Georgians.
– Naomi Duguid, Taste of Persia, p130
Yes, indeed. This so-called Wild yeast dough, sticky and flat as a pancake, seemed perfect for making khinkali!
Mushrooms make a wonderful substitute for meat in many dishes, and they come into their own in the fasting (meatless) recipes of the Armenians and Georgians. […] Serve with lightly salted thick yogurt or the garlic-vinegar sauce, or with red or green ajika.
– Naomi Duguid, Taste of Persia, p132
I don’t know if our khinkali look very much like Georgian khinkali. Admittedly, they look pretty awful, don’t they? Even garnished with a nasturtium flower in an attempt to make them look a little more appetizing.
And they’re quite stodgy. But, as soon as I discovered the wonders of looking away before putting any part of them into my mouth, I quite liked them.
Yes, indeed, a dish of mushroom khinkali is one more good reason to dine by candlelight. Perhaps just one candle. Placed far away. Some of the mushroom filling escaped as these horrifying-looking dumplings were cooking.
In spite of their spectacular ugliness, I might even consider making them again. But with regular khinkali dough, rather than failed sourdough….
We served the khinkali with left-over slices of grilled pork swimming in Bazha (Georgian walnut sauce), steamed rice, and ajika (Georgian chile paste). And avocado halves and bread with tomato salad. Because avocados and bread salad (made from slightly overly sour 1st attempt Jane Mason bread) are so Persian.
Ajika, one of the glories of the Georgian table, is a chile paste that comes in many versions: red and green, chile-hot or milder, thick and dense or else more liquid like sals. What all ajikas share is that they are salty, delicious uncooked condiments made of peppers, herbs, and aromatics. […] Red ajika is usually served with meat, but you can also mix it with yogurt as a flavoring or dressing for cooked or raw vegetables. Green ajika is for serving with beans or vegetables. It can also be used to flavor bazha (Walnut Sauce).
– Naomi Duguid, Taste of Persia, p42
To be entirely truthful, I’m not actually positive about the stew. I’m also not exactly sure about where we got the recipe. It was either in “Taste of Persia” by Naomi Duguid, or “A Taste of Persia” by Najmieh K. Batmanglij. Both books are excellent resources.
And I can’t ask T. He loathed the khinkali and has done everything in his power to erase the nightmare from his memory.
Naomi Duguid’s photo in “Taste of Persia” (Clockwise from top: Georgian Topknot Dumplings, Fried Eggplant Roll-Ups, Red Ajika and Garlic-Vinegar Dipping Sauce) shows beautifully pleated khinkali.
But. I still think that I’d want to eat nicely pleated khinkali by candlelight. And I bet you that T doesn’t want them at all….
- Workman Publishing: Taste Of Persia: A Cook’s Travels Through Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Iran, and Kurdistan by Naomi Duguid
- Tara’s Multicultural Table: Taste Of Persia Cookbook Review And Khinkali (Georgian Topknot Dumplings)
- Georgian Recipes, A True Taste of Georgia: Khinkali; Ajika with Walnuts; Bazhe Sauce
- Georgian Journal: Juicy khinkali with mushrooms and spices; How to eat khinkali – Follow the instruction and enjoy every bite; Ajika sauce – Very Georgian and very spicy; Bazhe – Smooth Georgian Walnut Sauce
Dough made with Sourdough is sticky, isn’t it?
I cannot get over just how sticky the dough is either. I looked to see what Mason had to say about it. How’s this for a nice scientific explanation?!
Sourdough dough has a sticky texture that may be unfamiliar. This sticky texture does not come from the amount of water in the dough. […] The stickiness comes from the fact that refreshed dough has the consistency of sticky goo. When you add sticky goo to a perfectly normal flour and water mixture, you get sticky dough.
-Jane Mason, Demystifying sourdough, All You Knead is Bread, p41
Don’t be afraid to make a mistake […] the ingredients are cheap.
-Jane Mason, All You Knead is Bread, p90