Thursday, June 04, 2009

Sourdough Bread

About a week ago, I mixed some rye flour and water together and started a sour dough bread starter. It really was as simple as that. Every day, I added some more flour and water, stirred it, poured it into a clean bowl, covered it with a towel and let it sit.

It frothed, it looked scary, it smelled rather fermented. And so forth.

After the week went by, I added more water, salt, and a lot more rye flour and made it into a dough. I hated the texture, so my daughter ended up kneading it. Rye is so different from wheat, that's for sure. It kept sticking to my hands in an unpleasant grainy way.

After she kneaded it, we had this massive lump of very dark, dense, dough. We let it sit another day.

Today she formed them into loaves and baked them. We have some very dense, very sour loaves of rye sourdough in our fridge and freezer. (I'm thinking they need to be thin sliced, then toasted with butter, a slice of tomato and some cheese. That might salvage them.)

But bread baking, for me, is like having children. I always fall in love with those loaves. I pour myself into them. I appreciate the bread I make and I want others to love it as much as I do. But these sourdough rye breads....bonding has not yet happened. I'm not in love with them. I did have a slice with cream cheese and it was dense and seemed rather nourishing, but dang, it was sour! I guess, duh, that's why it's called sourdough...ya think?

I also was not in love with the daily attention, although it really is almost as benign as feeding fish or one's worm farm. In fact, considering that sourdough is a probiotic, I was feeding the pets: microbial ones to be sure, but still...

It's a learning process, and while right at this moment I just feel like throwing in the towel on sourdough, another part of me wants to rise to the challenge and learn how to make awesome and amazing sourdough bread. Clearly there is something else that I don't know about this process, because I can't imagine an actual culture basing their cuisine around the door stops that my daughter and I produced this week.

And anyone who knows me knows that I love me some bread. I can make a mean loaf of whole wheat molases bread with baker's yeast, I can whip up biscuits like I'm in a State fair contest, and I can sure make some good European artisan style crusty bread. I'm even good at pie crust.

So, since it is my nature, I will keep trying, and someday I'll be able to blog about an excellent loaf of sourdough bread that I've made.

Meanwhile, I'll probably have to get up and make the kids some waffles in the morning. Because I KNOW they won't want that sourdough rye.


Amber said...

I've never loved rye bread, to be honest, and I've never even heard of rye sourdough.

But I did enjoy reading the whole process. I'm odd...I know it. :)

The only time I've ever made bread, there was a bread machine and a mix involved.

Marfa said...

You make it sound so easy...and fabulous, the loaves like a child...can you share the recipe? The temperature of the water and rye flour, etc.

Alana said...

I barely have the recipe for the rye sourdough, and really, they are bricks! Did not turn out well. And you know what: I failed to pay attention to water temperature, which probably accounts for some degree of failure.

Artisan that I can do: 2 cups warmish water, 1 T. yeast, 1 T. salt. Mix it. Add enough flour to make a soft dough if doing it by hand. I do it with my kitchenaid now (praise Jesus for sending that thing my way!) and I do make the dough a little bit stiffer, enough flour until it forms a clean ball in the bowl. I knead it just enough to get it all together, then I cover and let it rise, then form into loaves, dusted with flour...both the baking sheet and the tops of the loaves, let the loaves rise again, and then, here's the key: oven 450 degrees F. with a pan of water on the bottom rack so that it's steamy in there. Bake for half an hour.

Nice crusty loaves.

elizabeth said...

I think it is great that you can make bread...

I am going to be making some cookies today...

Philippa said...

I am not a fan of sourdough bread, though I do like a nice crusty Jewish rye. I have sourdough starter in the fridge and when I think enough ahead of time, I'll whip up a batch of sourdough pancakes. I freeze them, like you do, and pull out a couple here or there for breakfast or lunch.

I like the artisan bread too. I hadn't thought about a tad more flour to make it less sticky. I'll have to try that.

Bread from scratch without a breadmaker is impossible for me to do. Every single time I turn out a brick not a loaf!