A Sour Situation

I don’t bake very much in the summer. It’s too hot to leave the oven on for all that time & the kids distract me from rising times.

But it’s cooled off a bit lately and frustrated by the whole faucet handle debacle, I channeled my energies into cooking.

In one day I made brownies, sandwich bread, blue cheese biscuits, sautéed spinach & steak with a whiskey cream sauce. I also hard boiled a half a dozen eggs for egg salad sandwiches and mixed up some sourdough starter.

I’ve had a desire for sourdough lately & while you can get a good baguette in town, decent sourdough is hard to come by in this area. So I decided to make some myself.

It took me several tries.

Apparently good sourdough is hard to come by in this house as well.

First I mixed up some starter, carefully following the recipe’s dough to water proportions & feeding it according to directions, every day for 5 days

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This is day 3 – all bubbly & good.

On day 4 it overran it’s jar creating a slick wet doughy mess on the top of my fridge.

The clean up was awesome.

On day 6 I followed the recipe & added a cup of starter to a pile of flour & what seemed to me like not nearly enough water. Even allowing for the very wet starter to compensate. It took forever to mix together. And it was supposed to be no knead. In the end I had to add some extra water just to get a very dry crumbly dough that just barely came together. But it was supposed to rise for 18 hours and I thought by then the liquid would be better distributed & hopefully have a nice rise.

I was half right. The water was better distributed but it hadn’t risen at all. It was basically the largest uncooked whole wheat dumpling I had ever seen.

Dense does not begin to cover it.

Rather than bake it, or take a photo, I cut it up into chunks & fed it to the chickens.

Then I started over again with a different recipe that seemed to me to err on the other side of the equation. The first one was 3.5 cups of whole wheat flour to .5 cups water, which struck me as odd considering just how much water whole wheat can absorb. The second was .75 a cup of water to 16 ounces of flour, 4 of those whole wheat. It also used only a quarter cup of the starter.

This produced a more reasonable dough to start with but after 18 hours was a very very wet dough indeed. It stuck to everything and oozed across the counter like the starter overflow a couple days earlier. I ended up having to knead in another cup or so of flour just to make it hold a shape. I let that rise for another couple of hours & then baked it in my preheated dutch oven to get a crispy crust.

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It’s slightly too crispy. If you eat an end piece your jaws ache from chewing when you are done.

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It has a decent crumb but probably would have had a better one had I not had to knead in all that extra flour. All I was supposed to do was gently give it a couple folds & form it into a a boule.

It has a wonderful flavor though. Absolutely excellent with butter & raspberry jam and makes a wonderful grilled ham & cheese sandwich.

When this loaf is gone I am going to make another one, adding in more flour at the start and then baking it less.

I’m just happy to have something new to fixate on. I feel good I can at least solve *this* problem.

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3 comments to A Sour Situation

  • Not a fan of Sourdough but would LOVE your recipe for Blue Cheese Biscuits!

    • Basically it was just to add a half a cup of blue cheese crumbles to whatever your standard biscuit recipe is, whether you cut butter into flour (add crumbles when you add the liquid) or just use Bisquick. I’ve done both and they are good either way.

  • LOve the line about feeding it to the chicken!
    Sourdough and bagels . . . two things we tried making exactly once!
    But, then again, both are easily available here in the San Francisco bay area.
    Rinda