The Accidental Loaf
After taking a week off from baking last week, I returned yesterday to the kitchen to bake some more bread, among other things. My plan was to make a rustic french sourdough recipe from Leader’s book, Local Breads. It was a recipe with a little of everything: a little rye, a little whole wheat, and some added wheat germ. I was imagining a nice brown, nutty, tangy loaf of bread.
I set about mixing up the dough. It was pretty rough at first. The recipe instructs you to mix the water with the flour first to give you a shaggy, kinda stiff pile of dough. Then, you mix in a very liquid-y sourdough starter. Have you ever tried mixing something very runny with a very stiff dough? It’s not easy and it’s not pretty. The mixture is really lumpy and ugly at first.
It was very tempting to add some more flour, but the recipe specifically says to resist that urge. So I did, sorta. I may have added a couple of extra tablespoons in a moment of desperation/frustration. After almost 10 minutes, the dough was still lumpy and I had to remove myself from the kitchen to keep myself from pitching it or dumping a whole lot more flour in it. Sometimes, I am really impatient like that and it gets me into trouble, so I left the kitchen with the mixer running.
When I came back,
eons 10 minutes later, the dough looked like this.
I know it’s hard to see with the dough hook in the way, but basically, the dough had smoothed out, come together in a nice ball, and the sides of the bowl were clean. It was a really stretchy, lovely dough.
So, here is lesson #1 of bread baking: It pays to be patient. Do not be eager to add stuff or give up too early. Stick with your dough and you may be rewarded with a beautiful dough (or it could be a disaster, but I’ll cross that bridge when I get to it).
At this point, I was feeling very pleased with myself. I had a great looking dough and I had persevered. I went back to look at the recipe and that is when I discovered my blunder of the day. Remember how I said I was going to make a rustic french sourdough? Well, somehow, my page had gotten turned over and, though I thought I was making the right recipe, I actually followed the recipe for classic baguettes. All my smugness evaporated in that instant.
I should have known something was wrong. I remember when I was making the dough that I thought there was supposed to be some rye and whole wheat, but there was none.
I’m going to take a second here and tell you what was going on in the house when I was putting this dough together: School was in full swing with one boy doing math at the dining room table and one playing the piano. I was also prepping a cake that I was making for a meeting that night. My head was hurting a little and it was before 10am. I do not function well before 10am. I know what you’re thinking: I’m just making excuses. Well, ok, maybe I am, but I’m only human. Anyway, there was nothing wrong with the recipe I followed. It just wasn’t what I wanted. I had to take a big step back and Sigh.
Lesson #2 of bread making: Check your recipe multiple times before doing anything, aka, Pay Attention!
Well, I decided to go ahead with the recipe–why waste it? But, I still didn’t want baguettes, so I decided to just make it into one big loaf of bread. And instead of giving it a 24 hour rise in the fridge, I proofed it for a couple of hours and baked it the same day.
It looked great, but better still, it tasted great. It has a beautiful crumb and texture. It is sproingy and moist. It is slightly tangy from the sourdough, but since I chose to bake it the same day, it is not really sour. The crust is thin and I love how it has those little bubbles in the cuts.
It’s the perfect bread for a sandwich, panini, and just to eat plain. I am in love with this bread. This is a mistake that I will certainly be making again and again. I may even double this mistake next time.