Friday, November 8, 2013



Dearest Readers,
Behold my beautiful loaf of home-made white bread–warm, crusty, aromatic, and earthy.  It’s been a two-month journey of trial and error, several failures and adjustments to bread recipes to arrive at this successful loaf. 

I love bread. Good bread. It’s comfort food from my childhood. Living in New Jersey as a youngster in the 50’s, my Dad brought home crunchy deli Kaiser rolls, and long loaves of Italian bread. Mom refused to buy the fluffy white brands of sliced bread, allowing only Pepperidge Farm. When we moved to Rutland, Vermont in 1962, Mom often bought bakery bread. 

Here’s my rocky journey to this golden loaf:
King Arthur Flour Education Center, Bakery, Cafe, and Store
September 15: I took a 3-hour sourdough class at King Arthur Flour Baking School in Norwich VT.

Sharon O’Leary at King Arthur, demonstrates how to mix, handle, form, knead and bake sourdough.
Grab, lift, flop and turn the autolyse (first mixing of the ingredients)
Folding ends of dough into the center after first rising

Hands on experience in rolling the dough into a ball

Placing the pre-folded dough in cloth lined bowls to rise again

Shaping the dough into batards (and round shapes)

The class's final baked round sourdough loaves

Each of us in the class leaves with a loaf we baked, a small amount of starter culture and the phase 1 batch of dough we mixed. 
First mix of sourdough ingredients and the starter culture

Sept. 16th: I begin my car trip back to Georgia with the dough and culture in a cooler in the car.

Sept. 23: I leave Brooklyn heading south again. It dawns on me in Delaware that I’ve forgotten the culture, the preliminary dough, and the cooler in my daughter’s apartment in Brooklyn.

Around Oct. 1st I email King Arthur Flour’s help site and they send me another starter culture via UPS free of charge. The living blob of wild yeast and flour arrives healthy, and happily ready to grow.
New batch of sourdough starter culture

 Three tries at making my own sourdough bread ends in flat failures, sticky dough and a final tough culture starter. I did something wrong!
sourdough bread #1-flat and misshapen
sourdough #2-barely rising
sourdough #3-sticky and tough

 I release from my mind the romantic notion of maintaining a live, friendly  sourdough culture in my fridge that I will feed weekly with flour. Goodbye idea!

Friend and bread baker Julie Puttgen sent me a link to a delicious no-knead bread recipe that she used to make a couple of round loaves when I visited her home in Lebanon, NH this summer. It's cooked in a dutch oven in the oven:

I adjusted this recipe three times, trying, and finally succeeding at the right proportion of ingredients. Maybe altitude has something to do with the necessary changes??? 

No-knead bread #1-flat and small

No-knead bread dough #2-rising nicely
No-knead bread dough #2-second rising on a smooth towel per the recipe

Scraping off the dough from the second rising stuck on the cloth
No-knead bread #2-tiny loaf due to so much dough stuck on the towel

During the preparation for Bread #3, my oven dies, but my neighbor with a nice digital stove comes to the rescue. 
My oven refuses to light completely
Neighbor Mary Alma saves the day with her new stove

Another look at the wonderful no-knead bread #3

 The King Arthur Flour site has plenty of bread and pastry recipes. Here's King Arthur's recipe for kaiser rolls:

kaiser rolls picture from the Taste of Home website

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