And sometimes I just have a hankering for some specific thing or an emotional need for some kitchen therapy. One evening last week I found that we were low on bread and that we had cream that needed to be used before it's expiration date. So I had to make ice cream to use the cream. And I had to start a loaf of sourdough bread, but since I hadn't used my starter in more than a couple days, it needed to be fed first.
Feeding a starter is a process in which one removes most of the starter and adds to the remaining starter equal parts (by weight) flour and water. The good bacteria in the starter then feast on the new food (flour and water), resulting in a nice, bubbling, active ("fed") starter within 4-12 hours. But discarding that cup of unfed starter can seem wasteful. Before I started baking with sourdough, I kind of chuckled at the blogger-bakers who felt they had to use their unfed starter somehow to avoid wasting it. I reasoned that I'd rather throw away--compost--a cup of starter, which might "waste" a few nickels worth of flour, than use a bunch of other ingredients with more monetary value to avoiding "wasting" the starter. But the thing is that unfed sourdough starter adds a lot of good flavor to baked goods. There are so many fun unfed starter recipes out there. Generally these recipes rely on a little yeast or baking powder as the leavening agent, because the starter, being less active than a fed starter doesn't have much leavening power.
So I fed my starter in preparation for making a loaf of sourdough bread, and with the unfed starter I made waffles. I used a mixture of yogurt and sour cream in place of the buttermilk, because I didn't have any buttermilk on hand. (I've been meaning to order some buttermilk cultures so that I can make my own buttermilk, because after reading all the propaganda put out by raw milk activists, I'm a little leery of grocery store milk (but I still buy pasteurized cream, go figure). I don't know why I don't just chill and buy some buttermilk. I don't use buttermilk that often anyway. It's just one of those weird moral dilemmas.) I used melted butter, not vegetable oil. And these waffles were pretty good. But, really, I don't think it was the waffles we were thinking about when we ate them topped with fresh sliced strawberries and fresh vanilla ice cream.
If you have an ice cream maker collecting dust somewhere, pull it out. And make this simple vanilla ice cream. This recipe is super-easy. It doesn't require cooking and cooling a custard. It only takes a few minutes of work with a whisk (or an electric mixer) and soon you'll have delicious homemade ice cream to top the late spring berries that are available at the market now. Once you've made Vanilla Ice Cream, you might find yourself motivated to set aside the time to make Caramel (or Salted Caramel) Ice Cream, which does require heating and chilling, but it is oh-so worth it. (With our waffles and strawberries we ate Vanilla Ice Cream, but Caramel Ice Cream would also be a great waffle and/or berry topping.)
Vanilla Ice Cream
Only slightly adapted from Ben & Jerry's Sweet Cream Base #1
Makes 1 quart, plus a few tastes
2 farm fresh eggs
3/4 cup sugar
1 cup whole milk
2 cups cream
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
In the bowl of an electric mixer, whisk eggs on medium-high speed one minute. Gradually add sugar while continuing to whisk. Whisk until sugar is completely dissolved, scraping bowl once or twice. There should be no grit if a drop of the mixture is rubbed between thumb and finger. Reduce speed to low and stir in milk, cream and vanilla. Mix well. Transfer mixture to ice cream maker and churn according to manufacturer's directions.