Bread 2.0 (and 2.1)

Three days after I wrote about Bread 1.0, I began Bread 2.0. That was more than a month ago. Making bread ain’t a sprint, kids.

Between the mixing and kneading and proofing and waiting and punching down and restarting–well–it’s a good thing bread smells and tastes so good or nobody’d ever bother.

Bread 2.0, from page 70 of James Beard’s book, is simply called “Sourdough Bread.” It begins with a note from the head baker and author decrying the popularity of what he deems an “overrated” bread that is “difficult to perfect at home.” (No kidding.) Sourdough bread is one of my favorites. I have tried many times with many recipes to make it because if it tastes so wonderful from the store, imagine how delightful it will be warm from my oven. Spoiler alert: Beard’s recipe isn’t so great. It isn’t even good. So just save your pennies dollars and buy Publix sourdough and live an easy life.

I promised to tell my journey, so after that grumpy intro, let’s see if you keep reading to see the pictures.

I made the sourdough starter for 13 days. For the first nine days it sat on my counter wreaking like death. I mixed and stirred and checked and remoistened the cloth cover. Finally I capped it and stored it in the fridge until I found time to make the actual loaf of bread (a 2-day process.) Here’s the starter. I had to hold my breath while I held my camera so close for you to peek in.

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The recipe requires a sponge made the night before the loaf. I made a half batch on my first try. The next morning the dough is made with yeast and more flour. My favorite part (kneading) went well and the dough felt stiff as directed.

The dough rose nicely in the bowl.

I formed the loaf and placed her in a buttered pan to rise. It was getting late, so I only let it rise for an hour. I think I should have waited three hours. I boiled water and poured it in the pan on the bottom shelf of the preheated oven. This is for development of a crusty crust. I baked her forever (35 minutes). During the bake, she continued to rise, seemingly in competition with her developing crust, until she burst through that armor crust. I don’t normally care if bread looks ridiculous, as long as it tastes amazing. Here she is.

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The crumb was dense and almost tasteless. Disappointed but determined, a week later I tried again. This time I made a full batch. The sponge and subsequent dough seemed fine.

The kneading went well. The recipe says it should be a stiff dough and in Bread 2.0 it was. For Bread 2.1 I didn’t add as much flour and let the dough stay a bit softer.

She rose like a champ in the bowl.

I formed a huge loaf and decided to let her bake on a flat pan this time, unconstrained by a loaf pan. I was a little concerned how flat she looked on that flat pan. But I persevered. Boiled water. Baked forever. Endured DH’s comments about 1. how it looked, and 2. how it didn’t smell great while baking. You’d think for sourdough bread a not-so-great odor during the bake could be laughed off–hey, it’s supposed to smell sour. It didn’t even smell like sourdough bread. It just smelled bad. Anyway, she baked up pretty.

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Bread 2.1 came out much softer inside than Bread 2.0, and had a nice crust. Despite her lovely appearance, the aroma and taste were not sufficiently sour and required a lot of butter, not quite salty enough for me. I try and I try. I follow directions (mostly). I tossed away half the loaf a week later. That’s a bad sign: homemade bread is never discarded at my house. My friend says I should wait and try a different sourdough recipe in July when it’s good and steamy outside. I’ll take advice from anyone who ever succeeded with sourdough bread. And somehow someday I’ll make a good one. Until then, there’s Publix bread.

Disappointed, I flipped in the book, desperately seeking hope, and I found a coffee cake to try. Stay tuned for Bread 3.0. Early predictions are that it’ll take 10 hours to make this next concoction. In light of the more than 20 days to make Bread 2.0-2.1, it’ll feel like lightning.

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One thought on “Bread 2.0 (and 2.1)

  1. Oh man! The restaurant we ate at this weekend had good salty sourdough and I thought of you. Thank goodness for Publix bread and pizza dough! Love you.

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