This month’s challenge was to make sourdough bread! I had heard terms thrown around in the past about sourdough “starters” but had no idea what this actually involved. It’s pretty gross, actually. You basically mix water and flour together and let it sit in a warm place for a while, while “feeding” it every day to keep it alive and well. It ferments and bubbles, and eventually becomes so aerated and bubbly that it takes the place of yeast in the bread recipe!
It’s pretty amazing, actually, that you can create something that’s alive from just flour and water. My starter became my little pet for the week, as I had to take good care of it, make sure it didn’t starve and wasn’t too cold or hot. It was my baby.
Unfortunately I didn’t plan it very well. You were supposed to grow your starter for 4 days and then make the bread on day 5. I knew I wasn’t going to have time to make it til I got down to Nate’s mom’s house for Christmas…so I stuck my starter in the fridge. I checked with the Daring Baker’s forum to make sure this step was ok and they assured me it was fine. I was just told to “freshen” the starter the day before I’d be using it.
On Friday I carefully packed up my starter to take to work with me, as I was going to be leaving on the train to Delaware directly after work. I knew it would be fine since it was meant to be at room temperature. The next night, in preparation for making the bread on Sunday, I freshened the starter. I think I must have added the wrong proportion of flour to water, though, as it seemed thinner than it was before. This was mistake #1 I think.
The next day I followed the directions, making the leaven and letting it sit for 4 hours to bubble. I think something happened in this step because 4 hours later I looked at it and there was no bubbling going on. I should have just given up here but I wanted to keep going.
I made the dough, but added 1/2 cup more water than I was supposed to. Oops! I tried to cover it up by adding more flour but knew this was the beginning of the end.
I left the dough to rest but it didn’t really bubble or increase in size. Because sourdough bread doesn’t use yeast, the doubling in size and aerating is kind of important. However, I knew I needed to finish what I started so I could at least get pictures of my sad attempt at sourdough…so I persevered.
When I went to put the dough on the sheet pan, I realized that it was waaay too thin and would never hold a loaf shape on a pan. I knew the bread wasn’t going to come out correctly at this point, but I put it in a cake pan instead and hoped for the best.
In the end, the bread tasted a bit like sourdough but had a dense, doughy consistency rather than being light and airy. I kind of enjoyed it as I like doughy bread, but since it was most certainly not correct, I threw the rest out.
I thought about saving the rest of the starter to attempt it again in the future, but I really don’t think I have the patience. Hopefully the next challenge will go a little better!
Blog-checking lines: Our Daring Bakers Host for December 2011 was Jessica of My Recipe Project and she showed us how fun it is to create Sour Dough bread in our own kitchens! She provided us with Sour Dough recipes from Bread Matters by AndrewWhitley as well as delicious recipes to use our Sour Dough bread in from Tonia George’s Things on Toast and Canteen’s Great British Food!
This recipe is long and involved. Rather than type it all out here, I will link you to the Daring Bakers site when it’s up.