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S-U-C-C-E-S-S

1 February 2008

That’s the way you spell sourdough!

Picture I promised to post for Cowgirl.

I know, I know — I just posted about my Christmas loot, but you see, for my birthday, my mother-in-law gave me a card with a generous gift (aka, the notorious “cold, hard, cash”). I’ve been intrigued by sourdough bread for a while, which is why I got the brotform with Christmas money.

But when I read recipes for sourdough in my King Arthur Flour Baking book, they all called for a baking stone (which works better when paired with a pizza peel) as well. I used my birthday money for that equipment, as well as some sourdough starter from King Arthur (I had started to make some starter myself, but our house is much colder than the 70 degrees [59 during the day and 55 at night] they use as “room temperature”, so I wasn’t sure the wild yeast was growing right).

For two days I fed and rested the starter (in a small cooler, with two jars of hot water and the starter wrapped in a towel to keep the heat up to 70 degrees), and yesterday I used some for my first sourdough. As you can see, they came out beautifully. Both loaves (the one proofed in the brotform, and the second one proofed on a cookie sheet) were pretty small when I popped them in the oven, but the initial steam douse (1/2 cup boiling water poured into a preheated cast-iron pan under the baking stone), helped some, and the second steam douse 5 minutes after they started baking (I didn’t have a spritzer, so I just took 1/2 cup hot water and threw it onto the side walls of the oven — it worked!) made those loaves rise up nice and high (I had no idea how successful steam would be. I am now a steam convert!)

Now fresh starter is sitting in my fridge. To keep starter working well, you need to use it and refresh it at least once a week. Sourdough only takes some starter, flour, salt, and water (i.e., it’s extremely cheap to make once you have the equipment), so I figure I’ll be baking some every week. I don’t think we can eat sourdough every week, but I’ve got lots of neighbors I can share with. Goodwill is always important, especially as we move towards Spring when our bird-loving neighbors are going to stress about Loki’s presence all over again!

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