This Summer I’ve vowed to myself to try to make the perfect sourdough loaf. Having once attempted and seriously failed, this new resolution was to turn things around – freshly baked bread is one of the pinnacles of a successful baker’s repertoire. But during my learning process I have learned a few things…
1) You might get sick of bread
Kneading for 10-20 minutes a day takes its toll on you; constantly checking on your bread and how it’s doing and how it’s rising punctuates your 24 hours; sampling each loaf, failed or successful, can burden your palette until you almost can’t take the taste anymore. Alright, I exaggerate, but I am prone to getting sick of certain foods extremely fast.
2) You might get sick of cooking
Perfect timing is key to bread baking. A little too much rising and your bread is dead; too little rising and bread’s crumb is far too tight, and you might end up with a brick-style loaf (although over-rising can do this too). Too long in the oven and your bread is dry and extremely brown/burnt; too little time in the oven and the crumb is sticky and under-done; too little steam in the over during the first 10 minutes and your crust is left soft and lacking that satisfying crunch you long to hear and sink your teeth into. It’s a stress-inducing, nail-biting process to say the least…
3) Your bread becomes your pet
Sourdough starter is the magical key to successful sourdough; the starter is basically a mixture of flour and water that gathers the wild yeast found in the air around us to create a bubbly, sour, fermented mixture than leavens your bread dough. Although quite robust, your starter requires love and care, much likes your pet hamster or goldfish (I was only ever allowed small animals… *sniff*). It can be kept on your kitchen countertop or in the fridge, if you don’t plan on baking often, but nevertheless requires feeding – a replenishing of flour and water for the yeast to chomp on and sour up. If you forget about the starter it can go dormant (which can be saved) or even start growing mould (which I hear can just be scraped off), so much like Sammi the hamster (*tears*) don’t forget to look after the magical mixture.
That being said, there’s nothing like that feeling you get when you slice into the perfect sourdough loaf after weeks of practice and (slightly angered) love and care.
Perfect served warm with organic salty butter and a bowl of homemade chicken broth with tarragon.