Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Sourdough Saga

I was given a jar of sourdough starter from a farmgirl friend.  We learned about starter and how to use it at last month's Farmgirl meeting.  One of the ladies has been using the starter for years and makes bread for her family a few times a week; I, on the other hand, would be so happy just to make one good loaf.  But alas, it seems I am lacking whatever it takes to make it work.  The starter (I learned that my starter is a daughter and that the original starter it came from is a mother - and I will refrain from making any smart-alec comments here) sat on my counter and bubbled away happily.  I fed it every morning and kept it covered with a damp towel all the time.  I scraped the "black stuff" from around the edge and threw it out (I learned that "black stuff" is normal....if however you notice any pink or red stuff, your starter has become deadly and must be thrown out completely, leading me to wonder "just what kind of stuff am I making here?").  The night before making bread, I added the appropriate flour and water and let it "sponge".  And then I began making the bread.....and nothing happened.  No bubbles.  No rising.  No action whatsoever, even after 30 minutes of kneading (mostly by hand, because my Kitchen Aid mixer, although it does fine with all other breads, for some reason doesn't like sourdough and refuses to knead it).  Two times I tried, and two times I made nice bricks of sourdough.  The first time, I threw it away.  The second time, I thought the chickens might enjoy pecking away at the brick, and put it in the coop.  It stayed there, untouched, for about four days, until I broke it in half.  With a shovel (I couldn't break it by hand or even stomp it with my boot).  The chickens were a little bit interested.  Finally, hours later, I noticed Max-the-Dog working at a half-loaf like it was a piece of jerkey (he must have reached his head through the tiny coop door to get that thing out).  So while I have greatly failed at making sourdough bread, it seems I succeeded at making the world's most expensive and long-lasting dog biscuit.

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