Tuesday, September 24, 2013

A Litany of Disasters Leads to Sourdough that Tastes Like Angels Singing...


Ta da! OK, the title contains a teeny spoiler, so as there is no sense trying to build up the tension, I will tell you now that I truly accidentally made some of the best bread I have ever, ever tasted. Truly. I am (almost) speechless.

But the day did not start well. You know how I decided yesterday that my sourdough starter was ready, with all that bubble action? And Fran said in the comments that I would really know when it was ready, because the starter would foam up? And I decided it had, and started in on making a bread sponge anyway? Well, this morning I woke up to discover that my starter was well and truly, perfectly ready. Foaming and airy, and unmistakeably looking just how a starter should look when it is begging to be made into bread. Not just bubbly, but positively perky as well.

That is the end of this loaf I thought as I looked at my bread sponge. I will have to try again tomorrow. Sigh. But the sponge was spongy, so I thought I would give it a go. For practice. I took the sponge out of the fridge and let it come back to room temperature during breakfast. Then I poured it into the big mixing bowl. It was encouragingly glue-like. Those long strings of dough are where the gluten has developed beautifully and is holding the dough together.


Then I turned on the computer to check the recipe. DISASTER! The King Arthur Flour website was OFFLINE. Why, technology gods, WHY? The only thing I could remember was that I needed two more cups of flour. Gulp. So I added that. And some salt (not quite enough as it turned out). Oh lord. Then I guessed. I knew it needed to rise, but did I knead it? Couldn't remember, so I did anyway, my usual ten minute knead for bread dough. A bit more than the recipe requires as it turns out. Then I let it rise for about five hours because I had to go out.

After kneading:


After rising:


This time I didn't knead, because I seemed to remember that that is not what you do with sourdough. Website still not working. I just shaped it into loaves, and hoped for the best.


Now it needed to rise again. I went to dancing with Posy. Just in case you are tired of photos of bread rising, here is a nice picture of comfrey, or possibly borage in my garden. This is the old blue watering can we use to defrost the car windscreens in winter.


OK, ready for more bread shots? Here are the lovely risen loaves of bread. At this point, I am using baking instructons from Joanna's gorgeous bread website. Joanna and Fran are having arcane discussions about kefir bread, but I am only up to basic sourdough, and need all the help I can get at this point. She holds my hand and tells me how to slash the bread, and pour boiling water onto a tray in the bottom of the oven to make it all steamy for the first ten minutes of baking, which helps the bread rise better. It works! And here is something I did not know - bread is baked when it registers 92C in the middle. I took it out when it looked done, and it was 94C. Fascinating!


Now I know you have seen this photo already, but LOOK at this bread. It is amazing. Perfectly chewy crust, beautiful, even crumb, with that wonderful tangy sourdough flavour. Apparently, you are supposed to let the loaf cool completely before you cut it. HA. As if that was ever going to happen. There was pumpkin soup ready, and Rosy had to run out to her school social, so we had to eat it right there and then. Oh my. This bread is gold. It could be used as currency. It is my new retirement plan.



I only hope I can make it again....

PS The website finally came back on-line, and I had only forgotten to add sugar. Seriously, sugar? In sourdough? And although the angels did sing, it needed more salt. I can do that.

12 comments:

Heather said...

Congratulations! Sourdough is something I have never attempted, because I am way too intimidated. Yours looks glorious. Great job!

theroadtoserendipity said...

Can you hear me "SQUEE!" from the city? I must admit, as it is 5.12am it is a very quiet squee...mostly mental to be honest and entirely less obvious than the rooster under the deck that is going at it like gangbusters...Your bread looks amazing! I am SO jealous! I never managed to bake wonderful sourdough bread in all of my attempts. Herman gave me vinegar bricks (too much lactic acid and not enough yeast)...then Audrey (R.I.P.) gave me "bread" but "MEH" bread...I don't even know that giving the meh capital letters would do justice to the banality of that bread...now I am inspired to re-try the equation and follow Joanne's instructions. She is amazing isn't she? :). SO glad it worked out and that your bread was amazing and that you are now going to start a bakery in Launceston "Jo's on High Street"... might be best to get a food van, I can only being to imagine a High Street address rental! ;). Incidentally...if you DO get a food van, do you reckon you could do a few drive by's a month out Sidmouth way? ;)

Jo said...

Thankyou Heather, I am so excited! I was intimidated too, which is why it took me two years to start!
Fran, I'm so glad you are sharing the excitement! I was never so shocked in all my life when it worked! Come on over and collect some starter any time you want some, and I think I'll continue to follow the King Arthur recipe (sans sugar), and Joanna's wonderfully detailed baking instructions.
And yes, a van. Will get onto that immediately!

lucindasans said...

How exciting! It looks delish!

And I love your intermission/diversionary photo!

Jo said...

It is delish, am eating some now, am going to get enormously fat!
It did occur to me that there were lots of photos of bread rising.. which may not be exciting to anyone but me!

Lynda D said...

Good Grief! You truly are on your way. Making Sourdough, how cool. OK, so im going to wait for the post when you make it again and it turns out, hopefully, just as good. Funny how when we are stumbling along, we make magic in the kitchen/ That flower is borage and i have a big tub of it too. Pretty flower and they tell me that its good for chooks and also that you can eat the very young leaves and flower (before the fuzz grows) but truly, id rather eat your bread.

Jo said...

Lynda, you've read my mind. I am a little wary of beginner's luck.. who knows how it will go when I do it again. I have to go buy more flour, then it's on!
Thanks for the flower identifiction - I knew it was one or the other! Borage flowers in ice-cubes for summer drinks - de rigeur in vintage afternoon tea circles. Good to know I can now join the posh drinks club!

GretchenJoanna said...

Glorious! So happy that your efforts paid off - and I fervently hope along with you that you can do it again. It's good that you are eating it up because the more often you experiment, the faster you will learn what works.

I just finished off a loaf of sourdough from the freezer that I made back during Lent, which is also when I decided, perhaps too rashly, not to bake bread anymore. Maybe all I should have concluded is that Lent for me is NOT a good time to bake bread, because without butter....

Jo said...

What, no butter? I guess that's one way to become slim.. it's true, there isn't much point eating bread without butter. Well, Lent is comfortably over now so....

e / dig in said...

OOOOH! i hope you ate that with lots of butter! (oh just read your above comments and you obviosuly did). yum! well done jo!
an i also say, well done on growing comfrey (nice break out pic). do you use it in your compost?

Jo said...

Hi e, yes, lots of butter. It's very good for you! And yes, whenever I prune the comfrey/borage I throw it in the compost, where apparently it does marvellous and magical things!

farewellhackneyhipsters said...

Super exciting. And butter is great for your soul which is pretty much good for your health. :)

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