Saturday, May 2, 2020
Day 47, The Last Days of Sourdough or the $200 Loaf
Once I got into reading about sourdough, which I thought would be fun, and simple, I realized that, no, this was a long term love affair, that I was not ready for. Since all I have is time on my hands I started reading recipes and watching videos and the terminology and the equipment are beyond my capacity to get into this full bore.
First of all, the only flour you can seem to find these days is all-purpose, and the true sourdough-ers that I've read say it's the Anti-Christ. If you can't use some leprechaun hand-milled bread flour, you are just making Wonderbread. And, if you started that sourdough starter with all-purpose flour, then what you have isn't authentic enough for the purists. Give me a break---life is short, get on with it. Today I decided to take one more crack at this, I took some starter to make a recipe from this guy using all-purpose flour, he seemed to realize that no one could make his recipes since there isn't much bread flour to be found---it was almost like he was lowering his standards.
So I started with the ingredients weighed in grams (don't get me started on that) and made a nice dough. The instructions say to cover it for "bulk fermentation"---looks that up---oh, just let it do its thing. He takes the temperature of the starter, water, dough, at each step. I'm sorry, who said this was fun? This is a pain in the you-know-what. And, if you get into this, you need a myriad of equipment to complete one loaf of bread: proofing baskets, a bulk fermentation container, Dutch ovens, a lame (aptly named) to mark the dough, parchment, and other accouterments that make this one loaf of bread a pretty pricey loaf. I'm done. I've got the dough in to its bulk fermentation, I will probably not make a loaf out of it, I saw a recipe for garlic knots and that has intrigued me, so we'll see what happens.
When I think of my Nonna and her bread baking on Fridays to share with her family, she didn't weigh anything, she just mixed the dough together, let it rise, and then voila, bread for the week. OK, it wasn't sourdough, but it was sublime.
I don't want to scare you away from making sourdough,The Perfect Loaf is a good place to learn, but the terms are confusing, and you get an amazing amount of starter once you get going. It will sometimes blow off the top of your container. The sourdough-ers that I've read online wax poetically about how feeding their starter is almost a religious experience, they fall in love with it each day. I'm just not there, and I don't want to waste any more flour on something that I probably won't do again for a while. I'm actually having a lot more fun making focaccia using yeast and making dinner rolls that are also delicious slider rolls.
As I've said before, I'm not a baker, it's not part of my DNA; I find the science fascinating, but I'm really a one-bowl cake, and cookie girl. A reporter once asked me what was the thing I wouldn't have in my house, and I said a dessert that took so many steps to prepare that by the time I got to eating it, I was not interested. It's the same way with sourdough, for me, I'd rather make a yeasted dough that gives me an amazing result. Cooking should be fun, it should make you happy, and teach you something. My sourdough lesson is that I've made it, and it was OK, but I'm not sure I'm going there again. I'll be back with the garlic knots or whatever I decide to make later. Stay safe and stay home.