Happy Dance

Last weekend I did something that I have never done before.  It was always something I dreamed of doing, but was afraid to try.  But, I guess I was feeling adventurous or brave or maybe just willing to fail.  It’s hard for me to get myself motivated to do something if I am not reasonably assured of good results.  Sure, I have tried some recipes that have totally bombed (see my last post) and some of my knitting ideas or crafting ideas don’t work out quite the way I’d like them to, but I chalk them all up as “learning experiences.”  Usually, in these instances, though, I am following someone else’s directions or trying to apply a technique.  Very rarely do I begin a project without a set of directions nearby to refer to, especially in cooking and never in baking.

But, during our long rainy weekend, I was suddenly taken by an idea.  I walked into the kitchen, took out all my sourdough starters and began mixing.  I really did not know if I would succeed.  In the last however many years I have been baking, I have made countless loaves of bread and since December of last year, the majority of them have been sourdough.  Sourdough is a strange and sort of unreliable creature, especially if you don’t feed it regularly, which I have been lax about lately.  My starters had not been fed in almost two weeks, but for some reason, this did not deter me.  I was feeling positively cavalier!

Here was the picture I had in my mind:  a hearty, brown loaf of bread, flecked with all different grains.  I wanted something that would be soft enough for PB&J, but hearty enough for a panini.  I wanted it to be healthy, but also a little sweet with honey.  I wanted something that would crisp well in the toaster.  I wanted two large loaves of bread so that it would last more than a day.  I wanted all this and more.

I was not so naive to think that I would succeed on the first pass.  My hope was that I would produce a great loaf of bread, but I would be satisfied with edible because I hate to waste time, effort, and food.

This is what came out of my oven about 24 hours after I started.

Friends, I hope you will not begrudge me a little jumping up and down and clapping and patting myself on the back.  I was SO excited when I saw these two loaves of bread that I made with a recipe that I made up as I went along.  Of course, looks are not the important thing here.  Tasting the bread would determine whether I had truly succeeded, so I cut it open.

It was good!  It was moist, perhaps a tad too moist, but we cut it while it was still warm.  The crust was perfectly crispy and it was not overly sour, which surprised me and made me happy.  The boys liked it.  It toasted up well for breakfast and was sturdy enough for PB&J sandwiches for lunch.  It pretty much fulfilled all my desired requirements in an all purpose, multigrain sourdough bread.

Now, I am under no delusions of grandeur here.  I know that there is no way I would have been able to do this without spending a lot of time learning about bread making and trying lots of different recipes from lots of different master bakers.  I don’t believe anyone can create in a vacuum.  We all learn from and inspire each other.  I hope that I can inspire you to try something new or learn something new.  It’s never too late or too hard to learn new tricks!

I will definitely post the recipe here, but I think I have to make it again before I do, just to make sure that it can be replicated.  I will be doing that pretty soon because we are already deep into our second loaf and I will be sad when it is all gone.  Until then, we will enjoy every successful bite!

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Posted on September 6, 2012, in Baking, Sourdough and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 13 Comments.

  1. Hurry!! That looks great!

  2. Wow! Super impressive! I am ready for that recipe!

  3. I have a crazy question. How do you start sour dough? I love sour dough bread but don’t know the first thing about starting it.

    • I have had mixed success with my own sourdough starters, so this year I bought one from King Arthur Flour. It’s been great! I highly suggest this if you want to get started with sourdough. It comes with instructions and there are lots of recipes on their site to get your feet wet.

  4. This is a good time to admit that I let my starter go over to the Dark Side while vacationing this summer. If you could bear to part with some, I would gladly take a batch of starter off your hands. I’ll even throw in a bag of KA flour to cover all your feeding for the last year.

  5. What fantastic looking loaves!

  6. Those loaves are over the top gorgeous! I am a sourdough baker also & I love experimenting with different types of bread. I just added Tartine Bakery by Chad Robertson to my cookbook shelf- cant wait to try out his techniques!

  7. your loaves look beautiful inside and out! I’d be doing a happy dance too!

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