I have to start this tale by saying that sourdough is not new to us. Indeed, I had quite a fulfilling affair with it some two years ago. I was smitten.
Somewhere along the line a series of events caused me to stop baking my beloved bread.
1. The hearty filling bread, being so full of character, filled young bellies after just one (good) slice. Not wanting to appear frugal in the lunchbox department, I insisted on packing sandwiches made of two (good!) slices for the tweens' lunches. Oh yes friends, they were packed off to school everyday with a doorstop sandwich of the most generous proportions..to which, every day their bag would come home with the leftover slice. Sometimes days would go by and they would present the leftover offerings to me in the most apologetic fashion, asking meekly "Will the chooks eat these?" *sigh* This is what it had come down to, me baking hearty breads for our hens. Oh..now I was feeling particularly valued. No wonder their eggs were so good!
2. The crusts, being 'real' bread, are most appealingly crunchy. For me at least. I dare not talk for hubby's tastes, but I confess, the crusts came home just as often as the 'leftover' slices.
3. Thirdly, only the keenest homebakers continue to bake their weekly bread over the summer months when temperatures swelter into the 40's. Sometimes even the most active starter gets neglected. Forgotton at the back of the fridge *blush*. "I'll bake tomorrow evening, when it's cooler".
"Oh, I forgot to feed the starter yesterday, I'll do that now and bake tomorrow when it's not so hot". "Oh, bugger, a week has gone by, I'll just feed the starter to keep it going until I get around to baking (when it's not so ragingly hot)".
"Oh. Dear. It's the end of summer, I wonder how my starter is going...*Gasp* Mould? Fluffy mould? A hard skin? All dried out? This cannot beeee....*wail* It's dead!".
A sad tale indeed.
But my friends, there is an upside!
This time around there will be no imposing my tastes on my tweens and their lunchboxes! They may eat as much or as little of my offerings as they please, there will be no enforcements.
They can even cut the crusts off if their little mouths so desire!
And at the onset of Summer, I hereby vow to place a small receptacle of our precious new starter into the freezer to await it's emergance again the following Autumn. Perhaps I'll even continue to feed a token starter in the fridge, to bake with when temperatures permit.
My starter was created in a most cringe-worthy manner, but I have come to the conclusion it worked.
Into a glass (hubby's big beer drinking glass, to be exact), I placed: a cup (250mls) of water which had been allowed to stand overnight (to evaporate chlorine) and three dried dates. This was left for a few days but all that seemed to take place was a murkiness of the water and some unsightly shapes inside it. Unconvinced anything was taking place, I added 1 teaspoon of sugar and a tablespoon of homemade yoghurt. Another couple of days went by. It really looked like a frightful mess with curds of yoghurt and brownish liquid.
What to do?
Strain and add flour. Rye flour, organic. A day and bubbles appeared...and then some more! Another feed, at a ratio of 1:1 flour/water. We were back in business again! It was alive and frothing!
After the first couple of obligitory brick offerings and a few more feeds, it rose my loaf! (My, that sounds raunchy, doesn't it?)
But it did!
If you are at all interested in sourdough baking, I cannot reccomend the book below enough! It has been a godsend, both then and now, so full of knowledge and tips that make baking this kind of bread so much fun!
What I'm enjoying most though are the slow rise times. Sourdough is so forgiving at when it can go into the oven, not like dry-yeasted breads. Another half hour until I can bake? No problem, I'll just stick it in the cold part of the house!
Yes, it is a slow bread and planning needs to take place, although very little time is spent in the actual preparation of the bread! It's so time friendly that it can happily sit away for hours on the kitchen bench while I'm off pottering, or in and out of the house on errands.
|White leaven loaves|
..and right now, I can't get enough of our 'real' bread again, crunchy chewy crusts, holes to sink honey through and that slight tang that is so characteristic of sourdough! This is winter bliss at it's best!