Monday, June 29, 2020

Adventures in Baking

Pillsbury and King Arthur should give me a commission, considering the amount of flour I’ve gone through in my pursuit of sourdough bread.
I’ve at least stopped trying to create a starter, a long process that requires a cup of flour at a whack daily (or if you listen to King Arthur, twice daily), discarding and re-feeding until you achieve something bubbly enough to lift that dough.

          My starter is still a bit wimpy but it can’t hear my disparagement, tucked as it is now in a corner of the fridge. Both of my baking attempts so far have produced edible loaves, although they have the density of a Civil War cannonball. When you eat a slice, you know it. Maybe that was the idea – bread with the heft you needed for weeks and months of walking alongside that Conestoga wagon.

That's my starter lurking in the background. The tomato is there for scale so you can see how little and cute the loaves are
          Not wanting to sacrifice six cups of flour to what might turn out to be a doorstop, I cut the recipe in half and baked it in cutesy little loaf pans. The bread was okay, but had an odd flavor due, I think, to the weirdly large amount of sugar called for.

          On my second effort, I used a different recipe calling for no sugar, and I added some whole wheat flour in place of ½ of the white. It had a better “sourdoughy” flavor and the color was more interesting, but afterwards I remembered from my early bread baking days cookbooks’ warnings against using all whole wheat because it doesn’t rise as well.

          I noticed that many of the sourdough recipes out there also call for yeast, in my opinion defeating the whole idea. Yeast is still the unicorn of the grocery shelves, bringing great merriment to the clerks when I ask for it.


  1. I do love sourdough and someday will be brave enough to try and make it. Yeast is invisible here too (as is toilet paper again). You are right though - sourdough and yeast???? Weirderoonies.

  2. I don't know enough about baking to know why yeast is weird in sourdough bread. I don't think I've bought a packet of yeast in about ten years!

    1. I'm not certain about when sourdough actually got started, but I always thought it was created because there was no yeast available. Magically, all you do for a starter is mix water and flour and wait for it to ferment. This creates enough oomph that you don't need yeast.

  3. Yeast has returned to my grocery, limited to one three pack per cusomer. I'm just finishing off a focaccio from a week ago.

  4. I don't remember what type of bread I ate as a small child, I do know it was brown, with a good texture, tasty and filling.
    We can buy yeast here, but it's the dried kind in tiny sachets, five to a box.

  5. I don't bake any more because somebody would have to eat it, and I seem to have plenty of calories in my diet as it is. And I too find it odd to think of putting yeast into sourdough bread. Isn't that the point of sourdough, that it rises on its own?

  6. I'm amazed at how many people have tried baking bread while under containment. it hasn't tempted me one bit.

  7. I tried straight sourdough bread and it was so leaden and way way too 'nutty' tasting, so I just use about a half cup and half my regular yeast in my favorite recipe. It makes a coarser bread, but amazing toast.
    I think true sourdough bread is for the truly dedicated.


Thanks for stopping by and I'd love to hear what you think.