Friday, August 27, 2004

Strike two!

sourdough sponge

I tried to make sourdough bread again last weekend. I had better luck with the sponge this time, but that was it for the good news. I repeated a mistake from last time – I started too early in the day. I did it without thinking, but then I decided that I would just let the sponge rise for a really long time (the recipe says to let the sponge rise for at least 8 hours or overnight). I got started somewhere between 10 and 11 in the morning. I checked my sponge before going to bed and it was really bubbly. I was very optimistic at that point – this was much different than last time.

In the morning I found that the sponge was still very bubbly, but that it had deflated somewhat from the previous night. The picture above was taken after I had stirred the sponge down, but even then it was bubbly.

It was downhill from there. I added more flour and some salt to make the dough and then left the dough to rise. The first rise was supposed to take an hour or an hour and a half, but I left it quite a bit longer. I checked it from time to time but there was little progress. At some point I decided to go ahead and shape the loaf and start the second rise. I tried putting it in a slightly warm oven, but it did nothing. I let it go for several hours, but there was no sign of life. I decided not to bother with baking it.

I’m going to give it one more shot – I’ll let the sponge rise for 12 hours or so and see how it does. I’m also tempted to try it without the salt. After that, unless I get a decent loaf of bread, I think I’ll be tossing the starter – either that or start charging it room and board.


Reid said...

Hi Cathy,

So sorry to hear you're having so much trouble with this. =( I think maybe that's why I've never attempted to make sourdough. Good luck to you though! I'm sure you'll succeed! =)

Cathy said...

Hi Reid - oh well, it's been an interesting experience in any case. I may even try again sometime using different directions. I think once I have a lively starter making the bread shouldn't be a problem. Thanks for the encouragement!

Anonymous said...

Sorry to hear about another disappointing attempt. I applaud your decision to keep trying, though! You'll be so much more thrilled when it finally does work out just right!


Zarah Maria said...

Hi Cathy!

I've tried doing the starter-thing a dozen times as well, using all kinds of different recipes and instructions - The first 4, 5, 6 - 10?!? loaves are poor excuses for a sourdough bread - but then things start shaping up! PATIENCE is definetly a key word!

What I tend to do now - even though I actually managed to start a REAL sourdough once or twice it always dies on me - is to just pinch a cup-full of bread dough off, when I do a normal yeast-based batch, and use that as my sourdough. I know it's not the real REAL McCoy, but it's still really good and not as difficult to get started. And I guess you could say that after a while, there aren't that many of the original yeast cells left...?

Good luck with your house guest ;-) and thumbs up to you for not giving up!

Cathy said...

Hi Alice - thanks, you're right - when (if) I eventually succeed, it will be thrilling! In the meantime, though, I sure am throwing alot of flour down the drain. Oh well, I guess it's no worse than spending alot of money on a cooking class AND it's probably more instructive!

Hi Zarah! welcome to my blog and to blogging (I took a peek at your new blog)! It is encouraging to hear that you've had a starter work after a number of failures. I'm actually on my third attempt today, so we'll see what happens. Something has already happened that has given me a glimmer of hope for a possible fourth try - normally I leave the starter out of the refrigerator for about 4 hours after feeding it. Since this time I fed it right before going to bed last night, I left it out overnight. What a difference! It had visibly risen in the bowl. My sponge looks about the same as last week - although it hasn't deflated as it did last week. So keep your fingers crossed...