Bread, Glorious Bread!

Sourdough Bread #1

I had no plan to learn to make bread from scratch this year, but I just did. It all started with a challenge. Troy and our friend Joe told me that I could make my own sourdough bread if I wanted to. Our friend Matt does. Told them that I’m sure I could but the thought of all the germs and bacteria growing in the starter that are there for the eating kind of turned me off (I’m a bit of a germophobe, you see). Then they started scolding me, telling me that human race has been eating bacterial poop since the dawn of time and we’re still alive and kicking and that all the germs and bacteria will die in the 500F oven and on and on they went.

Fast forward to the next day, there I was, a germophobe and totally not a big fan of bread, in the kitchen, making not one, but TWO sourdough starters that I had to try to fill with germs bacteria which I’m supposed to keep alive for, like, ever. I just kept telling myself that I’m doing this because Troy loves sourdough bread and I love Troy (I do!). Anyway, I made one of the starters with flour, milk, honey, and a bit of yeast and called it Yeasty McGee (recipe). The other one was made of just flour and water and I called it Floury McWaterson (recipe)

Floury McWaterson is how you’d conventionally make a sourdough bread starter. You try to catch the yeast floating around in the air and then grow it in the starter for at least 11 days. Yeasty McGee is more like the I-Just-Want-Something-Quick kind since by the fourth day, it’s ready to use for baking bread. By the fourth day of its growth, Floury McWaterson was alive and bubbling but then I made the mistake of transferring it into a sterilized glass jar that was still warm, warm enough to kill all the bacteria in it. RIP, Floury McWaterson. :( On the bright side, at least Yeasty McGee was still alive.

Yeasty McGee was ready for baking on the fourth day, but alas, we had no dutch oven for baking the bread. On the Saturday of last week, we picked up a brand new dutch oven from a store. I think it’s made of clay. It’s matte black on the outside and glazed off-white colour in the inside. It has the word “cocotte” on the lid, which is French for prostitute. Har-har. Okay, so “cocotte” also means “small ovenproof dish”, but it’s just not as funny. And yes, I’m twelve. While doing our thrifting round that day, we picked up two more dutch ovens. One is made of light metal (enamel, maybe?) and the other one made of cast aluminum and is bigger than the other two. We used that last one for the baking our first sourdough bread.

The picture above is of our first sourdough bread. It was glorious! I have baked another bread of the cheesy kind since and have learnt a few lessons. First lesson, non-sticky dough makes bread with a texture that I prefer. Soft, spongy but not gummy and not too many holes in the inside. On the contrary, sticky dough makes holey and rather gummy bread in the inside. Not my favourite. Second lesson, using two cups of starter makes distinctly sour sourdough bread that some people really like, but not me. It just gives me a nasty heartburn. Third lesson, before baking bread with a lot of cheese in it, line the frickin’ dutch oven with a sheet of parchment paper! It will make it easier to get the bread out of the dutch oven when it’s done baking. I learned that lesson the hard way.

I’ve got Floury McWaterson The Second growing in a glass jar in the kitchen. Today is its third day. Still eight days for it to go before its prime time. Meanwhile, I’m just going to learn how to play the kazoo. The kazoo package read, “If You Can Hum… You Can Play!” Hey, I can hum like a mofo! Should be a piece of cake!

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