Seven Days of Sourdough, December: Days 5-7

I finally stopped taking out the same pound of butter every day. Now only a half-pound is left. I still haven’t started on any cookies. However, on the seventh day of sourdough I made chocolate cupcakes. So on the eighth day, I made mint frosting. With some of my conveniently already warm butter.
Since we had a lot of bread, and plenty of sweets still sitting around, I tried to scale down a little for days five and six. 

There are worse problems to have.
Conveniently, King Arthur Flour had posted a recipe for sourdough popovers on their blog recently. I hadn’t made popovers since I was...13 or so? All I remember is that I had a lot of fun making them then - and that my mother didn’t particularly appreciate all the chaos I left behind. (I was not, and probably never will be, a neat baker. I am not sure they exist.) These days I clean (most of) my own bowls, and if there is fun to be had baking, I'll consider it a worthwhile trade-off.
Popovers are as fun as they were once upon a time. The way they rise in the oven is almost magical - and a great example of why chemistry is so exciting. This recipe is a little eggier than I remembered them being, but that could just be my memory. They were quite good, slightly crisp on the outside with a custardy inside. I tried them covered in honey and as they were, I would recommend both. A little jam or some nutella would probably also be quite delicious. Our muffin pan was indisposed, so we had mini-popovers instead.
Due to the fact that King Arthur Flour uses a fairly liquid starter and I usually don’t (mine is more the consistency of a wet bread dough), I wound up with a few more popovers - instead of thinning out my starter and then measuring the right amount, I measured first, then thinned it out, increasing the total volume. I also almost forgot to put in the hot milk. So I had a moment of confusion at my rather thick batter before realizing what I had forgotten, retrieving the milk from the microwave and adding that after I added the flour. Still, it worked out, they didn’t seem to toughen up from it. It might be because I under-mixed them in the first place, it might be that I just got lucky, it might be that this recipe is exceptionally tolerant of scatterbrained mistakes, or for all I know they did toughen up and are usually even softer, I don’t really know. More testing may be needed. I know this will be hard on everyone.

When I went back to take another few photos of this one, both the plate and the popover were just...gone

On the sixth day, I made muffins. There’s really no good reason for that. Another of those “seemed like a good idea at the time” things. The recipe I usually use calls for yogurt. Which is somewhat acidic. So is sourdough. You see how this ends with sourdough muffins?
I had a few apples lying around, so we had apple muffins.

Looks like a muffin to me.
To properly substitute the sourdough in, I mixed some of my starter with enough milk to make about a cup and a half of thick liquid, about yogurt consistency. (The original recipe calls for one cup I think, but I almost always wind up adding more. Maybe my all-purpose flour is higher in gluten than hers, I don’t know, but one cup always leaves it very dry.) I let it sit for an hour or two, just to give it some time to warm up a bit and have some fun. 
On a side note, if you do try to mix a less liquid starter into more fluid and it won't dissolve well, or can't get a non-lumpy batter, I "fix" this problem with my immersion blender. It works well for starters/waffle sponges/crepe batter etc, though I wouldn't recommend it for batters where the flour goes in as the last ingredient and then straight into the oven. (Gluten development and all that. We can talk about that some other time, perhaps).Since the recipe already uses baking powder and baking soda, I didn’t really need to play around with that too much. (Baking soda neutralizes acidic things like yogurt - or sourdough.) I like apple muffins to be a little bit chewier, so I replaced ¼ cup of the all-purpose flour with whole wheat. You can take out a little bit more than that, but at ½ cup I found they started getting a bit dry and wheaty-tasting instead of nice and chewy and a little bit denser than usual.
Apples also go well with spices, so they got a teaspoon each of cinnamon and ginger. Then we mixed, and the whole thing went into the oven. 
As far as I could tell, they tasted like regular muffins, which was what I was going for. They went well with butter, as muffins do. So as experiments go, this one worked out pretty well. I will probably make these again, keeping my starter refreshed is currently easier than keeping yogurt around. (Not that we don’t try. We just tend to eat it, and then we run out. Nobody has, as of yet, tried to eat my starter with a spoon, which is a definite point in its favor.) Also, muffin possibilities are endless, so we can have some fun.

On the seventh day, I made cupcakes. Which then got covered in mint frosting and fed to tango dancers the day after.
That is not mint frosting!
I ran out of time and so didn't get a photo of the mint-frosted cupcakes, but these are the same cupcakes from sometime around Halloween - except for the frosting, which in that case was peanut butter.

So, here is the recipe for the muffins, since it so far only exists in my head and as a vague memory of what muffins are made of:

Mix about:
1/2 cup sourdough starter
1 cup milk

Let them sit for an hour or two, then add:
1 egg
1/3 cup vegetable oil (or melted butter, if you prefer)

In a separate bowl, mix:
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup whole wheat flour (Or if that is too complicated, two cups of all-purpose flour are just fine too)
1/3 cup sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger

Cut and peel one apple (more or less - depend on how much apple you like in your muffins and how big the apple is).

Mix the wet and dry ingredients, mix in the apple bits - it's fine if the batter is still lumpy.
Scoop the batter into greased muffin tins, and bake at 375°F for 15-20 minutes, or until a knife or toothpick comes out clean.
Remove the muffins from the tins, let them cool on a rack, or just eat them while they are still warm.
This should make about 12 muffins.

I hope everyone enjoyed the Seven Days of Sourdough as much as Hubert and I did, I'm looking forward to the next time! 
If anyone decides to embark on the challenge, do let me know how it goes for you, I'd love to hear about it.


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