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Sourdough FAIL (As the Kids Say)

Sourdough FAIL

Holy crap, people, that is the worst-looking loaf of bread I have ever pulled out of my oven and sliced open with a knife.

When I heard that Mike was going to be away for this past weekend, I thought two things. First, I need to come up with some girly stuff to do since I am usually not doing any girly stuff. Second, I should make that long and complicated sourdough bread recipe in Rose Levy Beranbaum’s The Bread Bible. Because Mike wouldn’t be around to try and get me to do other things that would interfere with the bread schedule. Because the bread schedule was long and onerous.

It started last week when I converted my liquid sourdough starter to a stiff starter at her urging.

Stiff Sourdough Starter

Stiff Sourdough Starter

I got this sourdough starter from King Arthur Flour, and if you think I didn’t also get the matching sourdough starter crock, then you haven’t been reading this website for very long.

KAF Sourdough Crock

Then on Saturday, I got up early and fed and divided my starter and let it rise. Then I fed it again and let it rise. Then I fed it again and let it rise. Then I refrigerated it overnight.

By the way, I have photos of all of this, but I am so depressed by the end result that I don’t have the will to post them.

So Sunday morning, I mix the dough, rest the dough, mix in the sourdough starter, let it rise for an hour, fold it, let it rise for another hour, fold it, and then let it rise for until doubled. This is supposed to take four to five hours, but it is hot on Sunday, and it is doubled after three. This may be important for the final result.

I shape the dough (badly) and set it to rise while I go pick up Mike and Zac from the airport. Now, I am only supposed to let it rise here for 3 to 4 hours (again, in a hot kitchen), but it ended up being more like four and a half. Important? I don’t know.

I think the most important thing, from my internet investigations, is the oven temperature. She says to start it at 475 and then turn it down to 450 after 5 minutes and to bake for a total of 25 to 30 minutes. Now before it was even 25 minutes, I took it out and it was more than hot enough on the inside, and the outside was dark and the bottom was burnt! I think this temperature must be wrong; trying to figure out what went wrong, I read today on the internet that too high an oven temperature can cause that separation of crust from crumb. And my other recipes for these kinds of breads are around 400 degrees. So if I do this again, I will definitely bake at a lower temperature.

It was very disappointing because I had sandwich plans for this bread, and after all the work that went into it, I was very invested. Also, I tasted the inside and it was really good, with a strong sour taste that my other sourdoughs had not had, probably because of all the feedings and risings. So I have been defeated temporarily, but I plan to make a triumphant comeback. Just as soon as I recover.

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