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Not As Good As Pork Cracklins

misadventures in cooking

Friday, October 12, 2007


My first experiment with my sourdough starter is complete. It's been a week-long process! I have tried to meticulously follow Nancy Silverton's directions for Country White in her book Breads From The La Brea Bakery:

Monday evening - starter comes out of the refrigerator for 2 hours, before feeding. I feed it before I go to bed.

Tuesday morning - Jess (who grew the starter from organic grapes 7 years ago!) asks me if it's bubbly. "Yes..."

Tuesday evening - the starter gets it's second meal. I hate throwing away the excess.

Wednesday morning - wow! It's gone bonkers! Grown like crazy. Apparently liked its second feeding. Jess says it's nickname is "the Beast".

Wednesday afternoon - Gary notices that it has shrunk. Emergency email to Jess who reassures me that it is "just doing its thing". I begin to regret not taking pictures of things as they go along.

Wednesday evening - it gets its third feeding. More excess starter goes into the compost pile. waaaa!!!!!

Thursday morning - Dough time! More emails to Jess: "I think I am lacking in self confidence today. So I'm just going to acknowledge that and move on. This may not be the best 2 loaves of bread, but I have to start somewhere. Things seemed ok until I sprinkled on the salt. The dough didn't "want" it. It acted like it was rejecting it. I was patient and it finally accepted it, but wasn't happy. So I keep kneading, kneading, kneading, and way more than 5 minutes go by. It's not "tacky", it's downright "sticky". I add tiny amounts of flour, wanting to err on the side of too wet, not too dry. But this goes on forEVER. I took it's temperature a few times; it was barely going up. Finally, I thought "screw this" and threw it in the KitchenAid. It kept climbing up the damn dough hook. *sigh* It's temperature finally got to 78, but it still seems like it's on the sticky side of tacky. Definitely no stretching to a window pane. I let it machine-knead a bit more and called it quits. Now it's in it's plastic container, fermenting. I don't have high hopes..." She sends reassuring and encouraging replies and reminds me to flour the heck out of my new bannetons. They came with a little note to spray them with Baker's Joy, Pam For Baking, or similar grease/flour spray and then to flour on top of that, so that is my plan. Then they go into the fridge to retard the fermentation process.

Friday morning - Baking day! The first banneton comes out of the fridge to proof at room temperature for about 3 hours. My oven isn't large enough to bake 2 loaves at once, so I'm giving the first one an hour headstart before I begin proofing the second one.

It's time to slash and I'm too timid with it. I've forgotten that the slashes turn out better when I just go for it. I spritz the oven and the first loaf goes in. Oh the waiting! Thank goodness I had permission ("DO IT!!!") to cut into it after only a short time...

It's fabulous!! The crust is crusty, crunchy yummy, the crumb is chewy but tender, the sourness is spot on. Thank you, Jess!! Couldn't have, wouldn't have done it without you.


At 10/12/2007 1:58 PM, Anonymous Julia said...

eeee! What an adventure!!! Your sourdough looks marvelous. I bet it tastes great, too. Yay!

At 10/13/2007 9:40 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Absolutely perfect!! Good job!

At 10/13/2007 11:48 AM, Blogger Sheri said...

You can't say you're not an expert in baking bread any more. It looks really delicious!

At 10/13/2007 1:14 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

What a wonderful loaf you have there! Beautiful job.

At 10/13/2007 2:36 PM, Blogger Amy said...

Julia - I'd love to share some with you next time. This time I've eaten more than my fair share :)

Anonymous - Thank you!

Sheri - I'd never have been brave enough to begin baking bread if it hadn't been for you!

Karen - Is that "wisekaren"? Thanks for the compliment! I love your blog and still remember that we share a birthday.

At 10/13/2007 11:37 PM, Blogger Nana J said...

Lizzie, that looks fabulous! You know how your mom likes homemade bread too.
It is picture perfect!
Love you, Mom

At 10/25/2007 1:09 PM, Anonymous Andrea said...


I know how it is when you wonder about every little step. I never could get that "windowpane" effect either!

The loaf is gorgeous. Did you say how you got that circular effect on top? (I admit I don't always read as carefully as I should). It's cool.

And I also have enjoyed hearing about your cake decorating class. I like the one with flowers. :)

You are just having too much fun.


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