Sunday, February 03, 2008

Sourdough Experiment

I've insisted for years that I am not interested in baking sourdough as I don't particularly care for it (outside of the "sourdough" rye bread, which doesn't utilise a traditional starter. Well what do you know; I have a lovely starter bubbling happily away on the counter waiting to be turned into bread tomorrow.

My main objection to maintaining a starter is the timing and planning one's baking so far in advance. No, I'm not setting alarm clocks for the middle of the night or neurotically checking its temperature (already sounds like caring for a newborn, doesn't it?) but there is the constant feeding (again, like a newborn, though without all the spitting up). I'm almost certain it won't be worth it and I'll end up giving the starter away or letting it die a forgotten death in the back of the fridge.

If I do end up using it regularly, this will produce quite a bit of starter. Today I tried passing some off on a neighbour-but no one around here bakes. Believe me, it was painful tossing away that extra cup of starter that needs to be removed before the next feeding.

The bread I'm making tomorrow is a very simple, traditional sourdough. The directions suggest a fermentation period between 2-8 hours, the longer producing a more sour loaf. I expect to compromise and go for four-unless I suddenly need to leave the house for eight hours. As we have freezing rain predicted for Monday, I doubt I'll be heading out anywhere.

It really does feel as though I'm on the precipice of something that may potentially become an all-consuming kitchen obsession (like canning). Wish me luck.

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