15 January 2010

Sourdough, Take 1

Ah, the sourdough starter -- one of nature's great miracles. You mix flour and water together and let it sit. And it becomes alive. Cool.

I'd been working on a sourdough starter for a week following these instructions. It was going surprisingly well! I'd heard so many stories from people expressing despair and disappointment over the lack of sour bubbliness in their sourdough starters. But mine smelled gross and had bubbles. Awesome!

Then, continuing to follow the instructions, I prepared to bake on Day 8. I was completely unprepared for the level of physical exertion it takes to properly knead bread. I am so out of shape. The good news is that, despite what I'm about to tell you, I will continue to knead and bake sourdough bread, so between this and holding an ever-growing baby, my arm muscles are going to be beefy.

Problem #1: I've never properly kneaded bread before (apparently). Eight to ten minutes!? Are you kidding me? So I set a timer. It totally did not look like dough by the time my 8 minutes were up. It was more like 15. Probably at least in part because I was doing it in a very amateurish fashion.

[Norman was trying to capture the growling.]

Problem #2: Leverage. The counter is about 3 inches too tall for me to really be able to bear down on the dough the way I need to. The bottom rung of the stepladder is too tall. I did a little bit of kneeling on this sewing basket/toy box thing we have, but it didn't feel quite right either. Next time I might try kneading on the dining room table.

Problem #3: I left out a step. Norman says it's because I have change-every-recipe-itis (which is true), so when I didn't consciously try to change something about it, my mind had to change it somehow anyway. After kneading it for 15 minutes, I divided it up and put it straight into pans. Yeah, I was supposed to let it rise all together in the big bowl first. Duh.

Problem #4: I didn't grease the pans. I think the lady whose blog instructions I was following left it out of her instructions. But that's not really an excuse. I mean, come on. This isn't my first time in a kitchen or using an oven. Again, duh.

Result: One aggravated sore back (I had already bothered it by moving a too-heavy box the day before). Eight small, hard, dense loaves of not-to-sour bread. And 6 pans that needed a serious scrubbing.

So, definite sourdough FAIL.

[That's right, there are no photos of the actual baked loaves themselves. I am too ashamed.]

But, I learned a lot, I have 4 cups of starter in the fridge, and I'm not giving up! I will eventually prevail, and we will have tasty, nutritious, easy(er) to slice sandwich bread! Huzzah!

[Random side note: I opened my local, farm-fresh eggs to find this. Do I have an OCD chicken farmer?]


Becky said...

Yay sourdough! Also, I leave a pattern in the empty spaces when I take eggs out. I love when I buy 1.5dozen packs because there's so much more potential!:)

bammers said...

Yo! I thought it tasted good (though I am sorry about those pans...the bread was really in there...).

Norman said...

I am still really looking forward to the ongoing development of the baked-goods-I-get-to-eat projects.

meggo said...

Loving this, especially the tippy-toes picture.

Kelly said...

Where do you get your eggs?