Well, I tried. I gave it my all. I even used two different recipes: One for a no-knead sourdough (Figured I couldn’t mess that one up…right…), and one for a traditional kneaded sourdough. Despite the fact that this is loaf-ish thing is obviously burned (why do I keep burning things? I swear I follow directions well more often than not) the bread was just not great. For the kneaded bread I even pre-heated my eternally frigid hands in hot, hot water and immediately dove in to the dough before they time to cool off (after proofing the sourdough starter and all, as per the instructions). I kneaded and kneaded and kneaded and it sort of seemed like it got to the right doughy consistency…and then I left it to rise.
The no-knead one I touched as little as possible and left to rise.
…Except neither dough rose. I covered them in tea towels and left them undisturbed in the same place I’d had the sourdough cultures growing in the first place, so I figured if the temperature was good for the cultures it’d be good for the bread, but alas, no. I waited, and waited and waited. They just never doubled in bulk. In fact they got a dry crust on top and when I finally took the dough out of the bowls and put them in pans to re-rise (“Re-” being a joke, and punching them down being ineffectual) the underside was soft and happily doughy, but I had to tear off half the hardened top.
This is probably why my bread burned. I effectively ended up baking only half a loaf since I’d thrown out so much hardened crust. So the baking time should have been less. Anyway, I’d ended up leaving the bread to rise for much, much longer than it was supposed to, hoping in vain that they would rise, and if you leave them that long the tangy, lemony flavour of the sourdough becomes very strong. So when the loaves baked up they had a VERY strong sourdough flavour, which I liked at least, but eating a knob was like eating half a loaf, and it just sat in my stomach, despite sourdough’s wonderful digestive properties and bacteria. I’m also not sure if there’s a point where it’s not safe to let the bread sit and kind of ferment anymore…Help?
I tried maybe 3 or 4 more times over the course of the next few days, and my last loaf was almost passable. Dense, but much better than the first few, mostly because I started feeding my gluten-free sourdough culture red fife wheat flour in the hopes that it would help the proofed starter rise better. Nope, didn’t work…Lets just say I’m on the verge of murdering my babies, or just letting them starve which I suppose equates to the same thing. Thank goodness I didn’t name them. It’d be harder to kill little Bettie Sue Rice Culture Watson.
God I miss my baker, Guillaume. There’s something nice about being a mom to sourdough babies, but there’s something to be said for expertise. Who am I to think I can do this bread thing better than a seasoned professional? I’ll stick to things like angel food cakes with cinnamon figs and ginger confit, logs of sundried tomato cream cheese slow-cooked logs, zabaione al prosecco, pork vindaloo, saag, dosa, caramelized onions, blueberry compote, basil-walnut spread, macademia nut ricotta, daifuku, Szechuan peppercorn-studded chicken meatballs and melamakorona Greek honey cookies…Yeah, that’s what I’ll do (more pictures to come…).