Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Failure to Rise

Well, after a recent successful run, it seemed almost inevitable that the year would end in failure. Erica and I couldn't get our schedules to match up this holilday season, so I was left to cultivate the starter on my own. One would think that being in San Francisco, home of both the original sourdough and Tartine Bakery, I'd have a leg up on this challenge.

Instead, I got a hockey puck.

I dutifully mixed my stoneground wheat flour and water every morning. I checked for that wonderfully yeasty smell, and was vaguely satisfied by a sort-of sour smell instead. But I knew once I went to bake it that it wasn't going to work - I suspect my apartment was far too cold (being in SF, we're not the type to have a heater, just flannel sheets, which sadly don't warm starter up to the necessary temperature). But I had a schedule to stick too (Will's family was coming over for dinner, and I was going to bake bread goshdarnit), and very little extra time to coax the bread into rising.

The second I plunked it onto the baking stone my suspcisions were confirmed. It just sort of spread out in a runny mess - no visable bubbles or other sign of loft. And after the requisite amount of time in the oven, I pulled out a veritable brick. Round, completely flat, and about 10 pounds, it most directly resembeled the baking stone I pulled it off of. Without letting the family know of my failure, I quickly subbed out some Acme loaf (purchased with this potential failure in mind), and our hors d'ouevres continued without problem.

To be fair to me and Erica, there was a period in law school where I cared for (and baked with) an excellent starter from my brother for almost a year. And I know Erica has had much success in this area as well. This just wasn't the month for it to work in our house. Another time!

Happy holidays to everyone!

(Pictures are coming. My computer is having some difficulty at the moment, so I can't pull them off my camera. Will repost when ready).

Our Daring Bakers Host for December 2011 was Jessica of My Recipe Project and she showed us how fun it is to create Sour Dough bread in our own kitchens! She provided us with Sour Dough recipes from Bread Matters by AndrewWhitley as well as delicious recipes to use our Sour Dough bread in from Tonia George’s Things on Toast and Canteen’s Great British Food!

1 comment:

rocksaltuk said...

What a shame - it seems like sourdough really hates the cold. Better luck next time!