Dawn Reader

Dawn Reader
from Open Door Coffee Co.; Hudson, OH; Oct. 26, 2016

Saturday, March 26, 2016

The Rise of Sourdough, 2

my starter's home (on the right) & some offspring (left)

Continued from a couple of days ago ...

My first loaf was as flat and heavy as a piece of sidewalk. I ate it all. Raved about it. (No one else in the house was likewise ... charmed.)

But I tried again--and again--and again. And was soon able to make edible loaves that my wife and son would eat not entirely out of politeness. And thirty years flew by ...

When I taught Jack London and The Call of the Wild and the Klondike Gold Rush to my 8th graders in the late 1980s and on into the 90s, I used to bake for each of them a little sourdough biscuit (old-time recipe), a "treat" that most of them would consume willingly, if not gratefully. I would flatten the dough and cut out the biscuits with a shot glass!

Over the years, as I've written before, I also added to my starter some various sorts of flour that meant something to me. I stirred in some from Lanterman's Mill in Youngstown (my great-grandfather was a Lanterman and lived nearby), some from Garrett's Mill in Garrettsville, Ohio (where my mother taught, where my younger brother attended high school), and some others I acquired on our various trips around the country.

And I gradually expanded the sorts of things I baked--from pizza to hamburger rolls to waffles to pancakes to muffins (some are rising right now as I type this) to biscuits. I never was too interested in getting too exotic. I'm baking our family's bread for the week--not competing in a King Arthur Flour contest. So my stuff is pretty basic. Usually, I bake just a traditional loaf and a round loaf for the week, storing the unused ones in the freezer. Our grandson Logan loves the round loaves, so I usually give him one when they come by--or when we go down to visit. He likes, I hear, to sneak down in the kitchen late at night and pull off a chunk--"mousing," they call it in his house.

And here's how it goes in a typical week--

  • "Feed" the starter on Saturday night (adding 3 cups of flour, 2 cups of warm water in a large bowl; cover and let rest overnight).
  • Return two cups of the starter to its crockery home and return it to the refrigerator .
  • Bake with what remains. I use local honey (from a farm in Mantua, Ohio, a farm owned by a family I knew in high school), sea salt (probably pretentious; oh well), vegetarian butter (gotta worry about cholesterol, I fear), a little skim milk (ditto). This is for the "routine" bread I bake each week. Sometimes I use a mixture of flours, too--wheat, white, oat for the "routine" stuff. For one bread, though, I use about 15 different grains. It's a pain--but, oh, the taste! These days, I do that one only about once a month or so. Takes too much out of me.
  • The rising and baking take a few hours--but near the end? When it's in the oven? Angels swoop down to see what's smelling so heavenly. 
    • Okay, that's a bit too self-flattering. What really happens: I will comment (or Joyce will): Smells great, doesn't it? And the answer is self-evident.

the usual look of my usual loaves

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