Becoming a Better Baker – Part I – Sourdough Bread Baking for Doughvember

Early this month I was inspired by Nicole, Pinch My Salt, to participate in Doughvember, which she started with Linda, Salty Seattle, to encourage us to bake all things sourdough.  Please check out Nicole’s great post on how to make sourdough bread, here.

If you’ve read my blog for awhile, you probably guessed/know that I cook more than I bake, but I’m striving to become better at baking….so when found out I could get some dehydrated sourdough starter from Nicole at the International Food Bloggers Conference earlier this month,  I jumped at the chance.  I did have some old starter that languished in the freezer for 2 years (but didn’t come around when defrosted).

So, I met Nicole (who was extremely nice, by the way),  tucked my little packet of starter in my bag and soon I was back home  beginning my Doughvember adventure.

It started out well, I kept feeding, the starter kept growing.  This went on for days…feeding…growing, until it was pushing out of the top of the Mason jar.  I figured now was the time….except it was Thanksgiving morning and I didn’t have that extra oven I was going to need.  But, I made the sponge and it grew just like it was supposed to.  Then I popped it into the fridge for the day so that I could concentrate on making Thanksgiving dinner for my family.

I took it out the next day and set about making the bread.  I let the sponge warm up and then added the flour, salt and water and started kneading (wish I had watched a video…am I doing this right?).  It had been a very long time since I had seen my aunt do this.  Funny, the directions say it’s going to be very sticky, but it’s really not…is this a problem?

I put it in the lightly greased bowl, cover it, and wait for it to rise…and nothing happens. I leave it in there an extra 2 hours…maybe it’s just a tad bit bigger.  OK, time to divide and conquer…right?  Not really, the 2 little (boules) that I make don’t rise either…uh oh!

The oven is on and I pop them in…what do I have to lose at this point?  Maybe they’ll just be a bit small.  Hubs calls out for me to check the oven, it smells like something is burning!  Burning…they’re not even brown!  The flour on the sheet is brown, but not those little loaves…they are very pale…and very small.

What happened?  Did the sponge lose it’s life when I put it in the fridge?  Did the salt kill the yeast because I didn’t whisk it with the flour well enough?  Didn’t I knead it properly?  I certainly gave it enough time to react…and it was kept in the same warm place I kept the starter.

I’m trying not to be discouraged…I have feed the starter again, and it is doing  well.  To be continued…



4 Responses to “Becoming a Better Baker – Part I – Sourdough Bread Baking for Doughvember”

  1. 1

    Carol Sacks — Wednesday, November 30, 2011 @ 3:34 am

    Susie, kudos to you for writing about your experience. I’ll stay tuned to see how your second effort goes. When I was growing up, my father kept a sourdough starter in our fridge for years. We ate sourdough pancakes a few times a month and he had a recipe for the most delicious sourdough cornbread baked in a cast iron pan, so it was crusty on top and luscious in the center. I’ll see if he has any tips.

    Hang in there!

  2. 2

    juleee — Wednesday, November 30, 2011 @ 3:57 pm

    and that’s just another good example of why I don’t bake!

  3. 3

    Kate Leahy — Wednesday, November 30, 2011 @ 9:32 pm

    I’ve been there – keep trying! I think the secret is not doing too much to the dough, as hard as that can seem to be. Here are my thoughts:

    I got started on Nancy Silverton’s first bread book, and unfortunately I loaned the book to someone ages ago and never got it back. But her basic levain recipe became my starter kit.

    • Susie replied: — December 2nd, 2011 @ 4:10 am

      Kate, Thank you so much for your comment and link. I read your great post on bread making and I’m now eager to try the different techniques that you suggest! Thanks again. Susie

Leave a Comment