Friday, September 18, 2009

The Art of Making Bread

I think one of the most satisfying accomplishments is making bread. Several years ago, a friend shared her Sourdough Bread starter with me, and I handled it so carefully that you'd have thought she was entrusting a living thing to my care and feeding. And now that I think about it, I guess it was.

I anxiously waited the required number of days (three to seven) until I could "feed" it, and on the third day (I couldn't wait any longer), I carefully measured its "food," and gently mixed it with the starter. Then I had to let it stand on the kitchen counter for another 8 to 12 hours before I could make bread for the first time. I probably checked it 50 times to see if it was "bubbling" and doing what it was supposed to do. It was almost like taking care of a baby.

I was very fond of my little starter and couldn't wait to make my first loaves of bread. I'm happy to say that my first attempt was successful ... and I was hooked. There's just nothing in the world like the smell of homemade bread baking in the oven, and I was thrilled when I saw my own little loaves beautifully rising in their pans. This is not a picture of my bread, but mine looked like this (well, maybe it wasn't quite that high, but it was still pretty!).

After a couple of years and many loaves of bread later, I found myself losing interest. I felt guilty every time I poured the cup of starter out without making bread, so I eventually quit.

But recently, I've been thinking about how nice it would be to have some of that wonderful Sourdough Bread again ... and yesterday, I made a new "starter."

After I very carefully mixed the ingredients, I realized that the jar I put it in was too small to give it room to "bubble."

Since I didn't have a larger jar, I poured the starter into a two-cup measuring cup to store it. I'm trying to think positively, but I'm afraid that, after all that juggling between the two containers, it may not work. It has to sit for three days, so only time will tell.

While writing this post, I came across this quote about making bread which I thought was appropriate:

"I would say to housewives, be not daunted by one failure, nor by twenty. Resolve that you will have good bread, and never cease striving after this result till you have effected it. If persons without brains can accomplish this, why cannot you?” ~~ Housekeeping In Old Virginia, Marion Cabell Tyree. (1878)

I am "resolved to have good bread," and will "never cease striving" until I get it right. After all, I definitely "have a brain," and if this starter doesn't work, I can always try again.

To be continued ...


Marjorie (Molly) Smith said...

You sound like I first received my bread starter several years ago, I handled it like a baby and even got up some nights or mornings at 3 or 4 to make it cause that was the exact you I too grew tired of making it and Hubby grew tired of eating it. So I stopped, but after reading this post I might just have to give it another try, since the Holidays are coming fast and my family loves this bread with their meals. It also makes wonderful gifts along with a small jar of home-made jelly for the Seniors in our Community.

Stacey said...

I bet it will be delicious. :) I don't actually make bread - I use a bread machine. Goodness gracious we love to smear butter on that hot bread when it first comes out!! Pure Heaven.

racheld said...

Is there any physical gift to Mankind, anything which you can hold in your hands, any object of the ages, which can equal that of Bread?

I can smell the baking of it, the kneading and the feel of that live entity, smooth and warm in your palms, as you shape it into loaves. We wagged a 2-cup Tup of starter through four houses after we moved here---a friend gave me a cup of sourdough essence which supposedly dated from 1923. And I fed it faithfully, made and shaped the rolls, kept it cool when needed, and warm for the feeding.

Somewhere in all that, it sat in the fridge door for a long Summer without any care or nourishment, and we parted with the clumps of gray sludge, container and all, as we moved into this house. I mourned the loss of it, and wished for the bread.

I envy you the starter, with all its promises, AND the friendship of the giving. Happy Baking!

Anonymous said...

Sour dough OH MY I just love will have to give me step by step instructions...I've not made my own bread.

We buy a sour dough bread out of Maine called When Pigs can be bought in the grocery store and it is so good...great for toast in the morning....

Thanks Janie, I will be back to find out if it worked for you...

K :)

Anonymous said...

Hi Janie! I have made bread several times with success but never with a starter! I don't know if I could be that patient! I'll leave that up to you and keep watching!lol Now I'm kind of in the mood to bake this weekend!lol I can already smell it fresh from the oven! Good Luck!!!lol Sincerely, Jeannette

Lisa said...

You sound like me. Baking with yeast is SOOO intimidating to me.
Good Luck!:)

Beautiful Pear Tree Lane said...

OH Janie I have been looking for a starter recipe for sourdough bread! I see the ingredients you have on your counter, would you please share with me this recipe, I would be so thankful.
I will say a little prayer that yours will do well. i had to smile , I tried to make some white bread this week and it didn't turn out quite like I thought it would, it seems my water was to hot,.
Love the quote, I now know there is hope for me! LOl.

Lady Katherine said...

This is a fun bread adventure! I made bread from starter for years, have you made the friendship bread from starter?