I am getting the hang of sourdough bread, but it is hit and miss.
I have been experimenting with a few recipes for sourdough, and few ways of forming loaves, different baking pans, and different ratios of spelt, rye and hard red whole wheat flour.
Not being one to waste, I have long been building a tolerance for ‘eating my mistakes’ so to speak.
Here is my story about a recent bread experiment….
My friend (who reads this blog! Thank you! Hi Friend! ;-)) *made* her husband lend me his FAVORITE enameled cast iron casserole, as the recipe I selected called for baking in a dutch oven (which I do not have). It was a beautiful, blue, gorgeous dish. I have to say, I could probably just stare at it, somewhat (okay, not totally, but a little bit) like you could stare at a newborn. Wow. Nice.
This crazy awesome bread recipe called for a total of 4 days of fermentation. I found it on the Weston Price newsletter archive, and it is a fairly authentic Russian rye recipe. All that fermentation makes me happy – and makes the gluten content lower, and just makes everything deliciously healthy!
But, 4 days? That’s kind of a long-term commitment, for something as daily as BREAD.
Well, I do the little bit of mixing, adding, and just ‘letting it sit’ for the 4 days, and then grease the beautiful dutch oven for the final proof, and then take out, slash the developing loaf, and put it back in the oven. Something gnaws at me when I make my slash marks – the bread just seems….flat.
All along, I had good yeasty, bubbly action. It was good. It smelled good, even before it was baked. What was up?
But, I was past the point of no return. Bake it must, and the consequences dealt with. Maybe it was nothing. Maybe it was….
….the fact that a 2 qt. dutch oven was called for, and this delightful piece of cookware, through no fault of its own, was a 6 qt.
A flat, brown, rye pancake was pulled out of the oven, and I stepped back from all things sourdough for about a week and a half. I started looking up recipes again, but just felt overwhelmed each time I searched out a new one.
I went back, finally, after my hiatus, to the simple recipe I started with a few weeks back.
I couldn’t have had better luck. I even, get this, KNEADED and SHAPED my sourdough loaves, like I used to with my whole wheat bread, and which I though, due to the way sourdough seemed to be working for me, I would never do again.
There is a simple life metaphor in all of this — and a faith aspect as well.
‘Give us our daily bread’ — we pray. We plead. We knead. We shape. We ARE shaped — by the things in life that challenge us, that sometimes flatten us (or, in the case of the bread, ARE flat). Like a fine sourdough starter, its okay to have a little dormant spell in the fridge. Take it out, warm it up, and feed it something good — and it will be all right again.