God's Word for Today

Monday, November 9, 2009

Third time is a charm…at least I think it is, well maybe NOT! Fall Into Flavor – The Great Sourdough Bread Disaster of 09!

Here is my contribution to this weeks Fall Into Flavor hosted by Linda at 2nd Cup of Coffee.

However some days in the kitchen are not pretty and this is one of those days and as Alton Brown says “Great Chefs have bad days and I’m sorry to say that you will not be the next Iron Chef!”

Well folks this was a bad day!

The Great Sourdough Bread Disaster of 09!

After savoring all the wonderful sourdough bread in San Francisco I decided to do a bit of research on sourdough starters. I found copious websites and multiple recipes for starters.

I began this journey into sourdough fully confident that as an experienced bread baker I would be able to achieve some measure of success. I have actually made sourdough starter before. It was years ago and the bread it yielded was wonderfully flavorful and had that unique sour taste and chewy texture.

How hard could it be to recreate? I always love this question, don’t y’all?

There seemed to be some rare fungal issue or lack thereof to be more specific going on in my house. My first attempt at cultivating a starter crashed and burned so to speak. Things started out fine but then for what ever reason simply fell flat. Undaunted I began again only to succumb to failure yet again. I began to wonder if there was some bizarre yeast killing cloud hanging over my kitchen.

It’s a good thing that flour is inexpensive or I would have given up after batch number 2.

Reluctantly I watched my second batch of failed starter swirl down the disposal. Upon further reading of the recipe there was a small tip hidden in pages of the instructions. It suggests that you not use a metal utensil to stir the starter with. 

What was I using to stir my starter…my trusty wire whisk, major bummer!

I began again FOR THE THIRD TIME!


Here is my theory!

Sometime you just aren't holding your mouth right or…keeping your kitchen blinds open.

Having stirred up the third batch and set aside on my kitchen counter, for what ever ransom reason I chose to set the container on the very end of my kitchen counter. I returned home Wednesday afternoon to find that the sun was coming right into my kitchen and falling directly across the jar of starter. This apparently was just the boost it needed. As I walked over to investigate I was excited to see that it had nearly tripled in size, it was frothy and bubbly on top and had that distinctive sour yeasty aroma.


It doesn't look very attractive but if I am reading the direction properly this is what is supposed to look like.

So after three tries success at last!

Once the sourdough culture has been achieved then you move on to step two which is to make what is called a sponge.

I follow the directions which are extremely complicated (NOT) by adding  more flour and warm water and then stirring and set aside AGAIN!

Bread making is an exercise in patience, a lot of patience.

Any how here’s a visual for you. I am standing in my kitchen gazing down into the bowl of starter intently. A minute passes and then another minute and I’m still staring down into the bowl looking for signs of life. I step away from the bowl and give it a few more minutes and then return to my trance-therapy with the bowl.

“Is that a bubble?”

“Is that a white frothy foam appearing?”


I cover the bowl with plastic wrap and fall back on the trusted and tried secret spot in my kitchen.

Then I wait.

Occasionally I will wander over inconspicuously to peer into the bowl. At one point I even threw caution to the wind and moved the bowl to a wonderful ray of sunshine that was falling across the kitchen table.


After about an hour or maybe it was closer to two this is what it looked like!

I’d call that a white frothy foam wouldn't you!


So at last…I add a little flour, a little sugar,  a little olive oil and two cups of proofed starter and well …


you get something that resemble this.


Once your dough is sufficiently kneaded you place your dough ball into an oiled bowl and then wait (again with the waiting) for it to rise.


I place a pan of really hot water in to oven under the bowl to help with the proofing. The instruction I pulled off the internet also said to turn your oven on for a few minutes and then turn it back off. When you can comfortably place your hand on the side of the oven it is just right to proof your bread. If it is to hot to touch then your oven is to hot and you need to keep the oven door open for a few minutes until you can touch the side.


More waiting…


Then seeing as I had several hours to kill that gave me ample time to clean the mess in my kitchen.


Almost three hour later…


The dough has doubled in size…


Punch down the dough and turn out onto a floured board.


Kneed for a few times to form into a small round loaf.


At this point I had slipped in to what can only be describes as a sourdough haze.

I place the dough in a greased pan and with a sharp knife I give the loaf a few nice decorative cuts across the top and then place back in the oven for the second proofing.

No pictures, why you may ask?

Well aside from being in my sourdough haze my granddaughter arrived and well taking a picture of a raw ball of dough sitting in a pan just went out of my head.

Anyway…once the loaf has been formed and placed in the pan (y’all can just use you imagination here) then…you guessed it. More waiting. The loaf has to go through yet another proofing.

Enough with the proofing already.

Finally…at last…and they lived happily ever after the bread comes out of the oven.


It smells good, it looks good…

but wait there’more…this labor of love that was labor intensive in preparation was finished.

I pulled it from the oven it looked like this..


however if felt more like this


I used my serrated knife to slice it however it would have been better served to have used the hubs chainsaw to hack through it as it had the texture 0f this…


I may use the remaining chunk as a door stopper or paper weight!


The moral of this bread disaster.

It would have been easier to get on a plane fly back to San Francisco, drive down to Fisherman's Warf, buy a loaf of sourdough bread and then fly back home in time to serve it for dinner.

The reality of this bread disaster is that now I am upset frustrated, irritated, down right angry and determined to bake a successful loaf of sourdough bread. I feel like Kim and her No Bake Cookies.

People have been baking bread for  thousands of years, I have been baking bread for over a two decades and I will not be defeated.

I am baker hear me roar!

I will be reviewing recipes on line, looking at my cookbooks and trying to figure our what went wrong.

So until then keep me and my kitchen in your prayers. A bread obsessed perimenapasual woman can be dangerous!

So this is my contribution to this weeks Fall Into Flavor only I would not recommend that you let this loaf fall on anything as sever injury may occur.




Sassy Granny ... said...

Crack me up! And it wouldn't have been so funny had I not done similar things myself.

Hang onto your creation. It may not serve well as edible fare, but quite possibly it'll work nicely as a weapon.

Bless you and your patience!


Thena said...

Your bread sounds familiar. I want to make bread and cinnamon rolls from yeast so badly. But everytime I try it is so dry you about choke.

skoots1mom said...

i'm eager to try my starter...will let you know how it goes :D

Kim said...

ROFL :-)
I'm glad I served as inspiration to KEEP ON GOING!
Oh my, it does my heart good to laugh and I did plenty of that while reading your post!
I will look forward to reading about SOURDOUGH SUCCESS!

sonja said...

I just happened onto your post and laughed out loud! I have to agree, I think for me, I'll just fly to San Francisco and get it there! That just made my day! You have far more patience than I do. I remember yearrs ago trying to make my grandmother's cinammon rolls and nearly broke the disposal trying to flush the heavy mess down.

Thanks for the fun post!

KD said...

Keep trying. I have suceeded once or twice with sour dough, but on a whole, I will take French bread or cottage bread anyday. Much easier! :D

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