The last few months have been a whirlwind of events. A sweaty, sweaty whirlwind of events. Aaron and I packed up our city life and ventured onto the next chapter, which I now refer to as ” Melissa leaves the life she knew to become a pickle making, sourdough starting, political daughter and housewife in the country”. Alright… a bit of an exaggeration, nonetheless, I have been way more domestic since moving upstate.
My biggest project besides pizza making, perfecting the art of curry, and creating the perfect dutch baby has been making bread from scratch. Bread making is quite the honorable task. Anyone who can create good bread displays patience, ingenuity, respect and a good work ethic. It may seem simple to take flour, water, and salt and create a loaf of bread but it really takes a great effort. Bread making has taught me a lot about myself, cooking in general and it has made me truly appreciate the people who make bread for a living.
The happiest I have been recently has been on my journey to sourdough. Watching flour and water come together, over a handful of days, and transform into a living, breathing thing is remarkable. I started with the MOST helpful and reliable sourdough starter recipe from http://www.thekitchn.com/how-to-make-your-own-sourdough-starter-cooking-lessons-from-the-kitchn-47337 . The kitchn gives you a play by play of each day with your starter and how to maintain it after it ripens. Watching the flour and water mixture enter a cocoon over night and come out a ripened starter butterfly was the most inspiring and life affirming event I have experienced in a long time. The fact that you can turn such simple ingredients into a living entity is incredible. It’s like taking care of a baby…sort of. You have to feed it, clean it up when it explodes on the counter, it smells sour sometimes but when you look into it’s bubbly eyes you feel this connection of pure joy and hope. I named my starter Mick Jagger. Why? you might ask. Well, I love classic rock and it’s a sourdough STARTER, one thing led to another Mick Jagger sang “Start Me Up” and a name was chosen.
I’ve now been taking care of my starter consistently for about 3 and a half weeks. I’ve made bread twice and will try again on Saturday. The first time I was a complete noob, as expected, and it was good but (k)needed work. I didn’t fully understand what it should look and feel like. So when it was very wet I added more flour which was definitely a bad move. I didn’t let it rest fully and was slightly impatient. I also only used bread flour for the recipe which made it super dense and almost too chewy. Don’t get me wrong the result was still delicious but it definitely needed work.
On my next attempt I used only AP Flour and let me just tell you the result was incredible. I also had a way better understanding of what I needed to do. Bread making is a trial and error process and it has really made me appreciate the time and effort that goes into it. With my second batch of bread, I made one original sourdough loaf and decided for the second loaf (because I’ve been making two at a time) to fill it completely with about a half pound of Challerhocker. Let me just say, if you have never had warm bread with oozing cheese coming from the center, do yourself a favor and try that soon. It was unbelievable and was a legitimate full breakfast.
I will certainly continue on my bread journey for as long as possible until I perfect sourdough. My hope is to keep my starter for as long as possible and eventually pass it on to my kids and then their kids and so on. It seems like a really fantastic tradition to start(er).
This is the sourdough recipe I’ve been following ( http://www.thekitchn.com/how-to-make-sourdough-bread-224367 ) with slight tweeks of my own. But the kitchn has been killing it and is hugely helpful with their visuals!
As for Jagger, he is sour as ever and doing very well. I couldn’t be happier! Proud mama!
(He’s gazing into the distance pondering life)