Friday, October 10, 2008

Making Sourdough Bread

Making Bread

My dear wife has made bread for years, and when she makes it, it is to die for...light, soft, and delicious. So last week, I get the wonderful idea to try and start a sourdough.

Now for those of you not into sourdough, the idea is to get some yeast, give it something to eat, and let it sit until it starts to ferment and turn sour (NOT spoil, but to ferment). There are several ways to get the yeast......the cheater way is to buy commercial yeast, and let it gradually turn wild again. Or you can get some starter sourdough from someone else and use that yeast as a starting point. Or, you can try your luck at capturing yeast from the wild and starting your own strain.

Since my wife had been baking bread for years, I was almost sure that I could capture the yeast that was floating around from her previous bread-making ventures. So I made up the necessary starter, let it sit out for a few days, and sure enough, it began to bubble and looked like some yeast had started to multiply in it.

After letting it grow for several days, it began to take on the sour smell that said the dough was becoming sourdough, so I mixed up the necessary ingredients, added the starter, and put it aside to start rising. Lo and behold, it actually DID rise, so after the necessary rising and re-rising, I shaped it into loaves and into the oven it went. About ½ hour later, I took out the loaves.....they were golden brown. Each one seemed to be a bit on the heavy side (I'd estimate somewhere in the range of an equal size of depleted uranium) but it was easy to overlook that if one just thought about the warm moist interior underneath that crust. The next problem was how to gain access to that moist interior.

Now I like to keep my kitchen knives really sharp, but even they were no match to the crust of those loaves. They couldn't even dent the crust. Finally, I was able to hack off one end of a loaf, and gaze upon the warm, moist, airy bread within.......sort of.

The inside was a pale off-white, sort of like a poorly set concrete, with a texture and taste to match. To say that it was inedible would be charitable to the point of lying. So now what to do with the loaf, or as it was now labeled, the cobblestone? I drilled a hole in one end and hung it from a limb in the front lawn least the squirrels would have something to eat beside my birdseed.

If you want to see something REALLY funny, watch a squirrel try to gnaw through a crust that has a Mohs hardness of at least 8.5 on a scale of 10. These squirrels who think nothing of eating through metal cans to get to my birdseed gave up in disgust and didn't even dent the crust!!! If I had a few more loaves, I might consider repaving the driveway.

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