Monday, July 02, 2007

BREAD: Bake and Learn

I've just taken my first loaf of sourdough bread out of the oven. Of course, had to try a piece while it was still hot.

The texture, taste and crust were good, but I'd made the mistake of sticking with the second rising time specified in the recipe. When I looked inside the proofing box at the appointed time I found a spongy pizza shaped disc. It had over leavened, bubbles burst so that it collapsed in on itself. Baked it anyway.

Will try again. Next time I want to try a technique I found for allowing it to develop more of the sourdough taste. And I'll check it sooner, trust my instincts.

Live and learn. Bake and learn.

©2007 Kay Pere ~ Effusive Muse Publishing


Thought I'd report on my "creative" project of the weekend. Adventures in baking bread.

I got sourdough starter going for the first time, for making Italian sourdough bread!

Frothy colonies of happy Italian yeast and their symbiotic bacteria friends have been growing in quart canning jars on my kitchen counter-top, inside a homemade proofing box. Began with a powder I ordered from Sourdoughs International. This sourdough comes originally from a 300 year-old bakery on Ischia Island in the bay of Naples, a little piece of living history.

I initiated the process of activation on Friday. Woke up this morning at about 5:00 AM, thinking I could smell sourdough. When I looked in the kitchen, I had a Steve McQueen moment (lead actor in "The Blob" 1958). One of the jars of starter had grown so much that it overflowed (originally only half full) and poured out onto the heating pad keeping it at a steady 85-90F. That's exactly what's supposed to happen, sort of, after about 3-5 days of feeding, so I considered it a celebratory mess.

It's been a wonderfully earthy science experiment with potentially edible results.

Now there's a ball of dough sitting in a bowl in the proofing box, slowly rising for the next 5 hours. There'll be yummy bread by dinner time! The jars of starter are resting in the fridge where they'll go into a temporarily dormant state.

Here's what I've learned on this latest adventure: Sourdough starter supplies the yeast for making bread in place of store-bought commercial yeast. Starters are infinitely renewable, given feedings of flour and water. The combination of a special bacteria and yeast live together in a slightly acid environment, which keeps harmful organisms from growing. Different strains of yeast and bacteria have developed in different regions of the world, each with it's own unique flavor.

This is a piece of our human heritage that goes back to the beginnings of bread-making. I like the sense of connection it provides with the past. I like the self-sufficiency of being able to make bread without having to buy yeast.

Pretty cool in a hippy geeky sorta way.

I'll let your know how the bread turns out.

:-), Kay

©2007 Kay Pere ~ Effusive Muse Publishing