We got a burst of cool weather recently and it inspired me to take my Desem Sourdough Starter; out of cold storage. Since my house is so tiny, my oven easily raises the ambient temperature in my house by at least 3-5°F each time I turn it on. Therefore my oven sits unused and lonely all summer. It’s always incredible to me how fast sourdough grows. At first I planned on only baking a pie, but by the time I was ready to roll out my crusts, I realized I already had a hungry starter on my hands and two extra cups of starter to put to use! I always feel guilty throwing it out, so I decided to bite the bullet and make bread too. Honestly, I always use my starter for other recipes such as pancakes, pizza, crackers, pie, cookies, etc. In the past, it has been my opinion that it’s too much work to make bread and I don’t care to eat a lot of bread as it is. However if you’re already making a mess of the counter for pie, you might as well go all out and make bread at the same time. The last time I baked bread seems like ages ago and I always have had a friend to help the labor. At first I started to panic because the dough was clinging to everything, however using a generous amount of flour on the counter and a bowl of water to dip my fingers in helped keep the dough from sticking too much. The butter from the pie crust on the counter seemed to also help make clean up a breeze. In the future, I’d love to experiment using just oil on my hands and the counter to keep the dough under control, though this may change the finished product. The stickiness began to vanish and the loaf became soft and supple. I had a lot of trouble getting my dough to pass the “Windowpane Test”, but the windowpane test is really just a test; it doesn’t necessarily mean anything. As long as the gluten has become activated and your loaf is soft and stretchy, it’s okay to continue with the process. When things seem like they’re completely falling apart, just hang on and don’t give up. Verify your recipe and keep working with it. If you’re still met with failure* there’s always bread pudding, croutons, or kvass! *Failure happens! My pie didn’t turn out perfect for some inexplicable reason. I’ve used the same recipe many times and always get great results. For being such a spur of the moment decision, these little loaves turned out great! My opinion of bread baking has completely changed and I’m really looking forward to more this fall. After 3 tarts, one pie, and 2 loaves of bread, the thing I’m really most excited about is that my kitchen was practically immaculate less than 2 hours after the last loaf finished. Managing sourdough dishes in a tiny kitchen without a dishwasher is definitely a skill I’ve had to learn. It’s called GLUEten and wheatPASTE for a reason, so it’s best to clean it up as soon as possible. There was even extra time and energy left over for some deep cleaning projects and shopping with the ladies!
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