Last week I made an initial foray into sourdough baking that resulted in a slightly bland, but well-risen loaf of chewy, sour bread. With a couple of new ideas, I was excited to try a second round. My starter was now lively and fragrant and I was feeling proud. Ready with fresh ideas, I made up a new loaf (detailed below) and set my bread in the oven to bake. Ah… the waiting is the hardest part.
Timer on, I tackled a few projects on the other side of the house. At one point I heard a sharp noise, rolled my eyes (old house = “what now”) and decided that since I couldn’t identify the location of the noise, I’d just take my chances. The cat had been sitting on my desk stalking the wild bird feeder; perhaps she got excited and fell off.
When the timer rang I went to check the bread and discovered the source of the sound—the pizza stone that I had set my bread on, had cracked in the oven. Bummer.
Now this is hardly my first ovenware crisis. A few years back on Christmas Eve, I was roasting a couple herbed tenderloins in pyrex lasagna pans. That evening I heard a much more distinctive shattering noise. My sister and I rushed to the oven where one pan had splintered. I was panicked (“OMG, we won’t have enough food”) as the spilled juices started to smolder and smoke curled toward the fire alarm. Luckily my sister kept a cool head (as a registered dietician, I think she is blessed with genes for staying calm in food crises). We pulled the shards from the roast, washed it under running water as insurance (don’t try this at home, kids), re-herbed it and placed it back in an aluminum pan in the second oven. Party saved.
My pizza stone breakage was far less dramatic. Three cleanly broken ceramic wedges—no shards, no smoke. I didn’t use that stone a lot anyway.
Here is the second sourdough recipe:
Tomato Rosemary Sourdough Bread
- ¾ c starter
- ½ c water
- 2 c unbleached all purpose flour
- 1 T gluten
- ½ t bread conditioner
- ¼ c chopped sun-dried tomatoes in oil (drained)
- 1 T fresh rosemary
- Mix first 5 inhgredients in mixer until well blended. Remove, add last two ingredients, then hand knead until dough starts to “fight you back”
- Place in bowl, oil and let rise until doubled. Remove form into loaf and let rise until doubled again.
- Bake at 450 until browned and hollow-sounding when tapped, about 30 minutes
* * *
Interestingly, making a few, small change in the dough (adding gluten, bread conditioner and more flour) resulted in dramatic differences in bread consistency. The bread was very light—almost like sourdough Wonder Bread, which the kids loved but which I’d like to turn into something a bit heartier in spirit. My starter is now much more active and the risings were quicker; the first was done in about four hours versus overnight. I decided that I prefer the more notable sourness of the longer rise, so I’ll use less starter next time (a lower starter ratio leads to a longer rise time and more flavor development they say). I’ll also bake on aluminum or in a bread pan.
Was bread #2 successful? By the next morning, half of the loaf was gone, so I’d say yes. And better yet, it has left me psyched for experiment #3!