Sunday, April 22, 2007

sourdough baking

Rachel has turned into a tremendous fan of sourdough, perhaps in part because I keep referring to our sourdough mixture as "our pet." Today, after we used a generous donation from our pet to make some sourdough pizza, Rachel told me that she wanted to use our pet to make pretzels sometime.
So I have gone and found myself a recipe for sourdough pretzels. They look delicious. We'll have to try them on Tuesday, when she's home from preschool anyway.
If I can figure out how to convert bread recipes that call for active yeast packages to use sourdough sponge, I'll really be set. I'm hoping now that we have such a well-established pet that we'll never need to buy yeast again. Fifty-seven cents a packet's not a huge amount to spend, I suppose, but eliminating it from my expenses makes bread cost less than fifty cents a loaf now, about a fifth of what I used to pay at the supermarket.
Thank goodness for S. John Ross, whose web page on sourdough baking turned my passing interest in making bread the old-fashioned way into the new way to make bread products in our house.
Next step should be to find a good recipe for sourdough bagels, since bagels are about the only bread product I'm still buying at the supermarket. Although of course I don't want to end up baking nonstop, since there are other things I have to do in life. (But this is fun, and I can't deny a certain appeal to making bread the way it was made for thousands of years. I'm probably going to break off some of our pet to take camping next month so we can try making fresh bread over the campfire if we're up for it.)
The sourdough pizza, by the way, had a very strong flavor to it. I had put our pet out on the table overnight Friday, and when I came down Saturday morning, she had swollen to twice her earlier volume. It was a very striking contrast to what had happened when I made the sourdough bread, and I now suspect that it was too chilly the other night to proof the starter properly which is why the bread tasted kind of bland and floury.
I need to stop referring to this as "our pet." I need to ask the girls to give the yeast a name, since they've already decided that it's a "she."

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