“Feed the b***t… or she’ll die!”
This comical line comes from the chapter “Adam, Real Name Unknown” in Anthony Bourdain’s book, “Kitchen Confidential”. Here he tells a story of a deranged person who possessed the genius to make the best bread and pizza crust in town. Despite the person’s great talent with dough he was a physical and mental mess. At the most inconvenient of times he would find a way to have others in the restaurant handle his tedious daily task tending to his dough starters… or as “Adam, real name unknown” stated… “feed the b***h”. For Mr. Bourdain, when your restaurant has the best bread in town you’ll put up with the antics and chaos for the result – outrageously delicious bread!
I love bread. Any kind of bread…sour, wheat, sweet; I love it. Served plain, melting butter, cheese or jam, bread is a wonderful thing! Carbs…phewy…I’ll happily jog another 30 minutes on the treadmill to make up for all that tasty bread!
The best bread is the freshly baked bread just out of the oven. These days our family is operating on a fixed budget so purchasing fresh-baked bread every couple of days is not feasible. The next best thing to buying fresh-baked bread… is baking your own.
I am fortunate that although my schedule is at times chaotic, it is flexible and allows me the opportunity to make more meals… from scratch. I decided that to save my family some money I would start making our bread versus buying it. Plus, I will know every single ingredient that goes into the bread and where it comes from.
I decided to start with sour dough, which means I’d need to develop a starter. A starter is a fermented liquid consisting of flour, water, yeast and other yeast developing contents, in a pancake batter consistency. A starter must be handled with care and tended to often. If you do not continue to feed the starter, it will die and you will have to start over from scratch. The starter helps to develop the to-die-for “sour” flavor you taste in sour dough bread.
In our house we now refer to the starter as “the b***h”. It will be a few days before you may use the starter, when preparing it for the very first time. You have to feed the starter twice a day for over a week before you can test your first batch of sour dough bread. My husband commented daily… “So, when will we have bread? How long does this starter take? We won’t be having bread until Christmas at this rate!”
“Baking” is a science. It’s not like “cooking”…add a little of this or that. Baking is specific measurements and temperatures – it’s not difficult but if you don’t take the time you’re in for a long trial and error. The first batch of sour dough came out heavy and not much rise. I’m learning that the more yeast added will lessen the sour flavor of the dough. The second batch came out better.
I know you’re thinking, “bake bread weekly…who has the time?!” Just like anything else you attempt to fit in your schedule – if it’s a priority, you will make time. It usually takes me 15 minutes of prep in the early morning to get the dough to its 1st stage. After prep it will sit for 8 hours or more. The longer it sits the more the sour flavor will develop. I will take another 15 minutes in the evening to get the dough to its 2nd stage, at which time I place the dough on a parchment tray in the fridge over night to finish proofing. The next morning we
have fresh-baked bread. 30 total minutes of prep and another 30 minutes of baking time.
I’ve been through roughly a month of bread making now. I’m still attempting to perfect the sour dough; keeping the sour taste and light fluffy texture all the way
through. Once I achieve sour dough success I’ll attempt to make wheat and from there the possibilities are endless. One thing I know… I won’t buy bread
again if I can help it!
RANDOM ITEM # 29 on THE LIST: “To save $$…start making fresh breads…”