Bread - Number 18: Like a teenager, a starter cannot be woken by an alarm and be instantly happy and productive
Sleepy starter + changing gears mid way = hockey puck
Hockey puck = inedible
How Not to Make a Bread
Start with a sleepy, just defrosted starter; decide to throw it away; waken it too many hours later with a somewhat more awake starter; knead for the first time, having no idea how or really for how long; watch the bread not rise well at any stage. Buy something else for breakfast.
My apologies to the River Cottage Bread Handbook for an absolute failure of the sourdough recipe.
167g white whole wheat flour
5/6 cup water
about half a ladle full of starter
200g whole wheat flour
1 2/3 tsp salt
1/8 cup water added to recipe
Made 1/3 of recipe for one loaf.
Instructions - though not the right word
Mixed the lackadaisacal sponge ingredients. Let rise overnight. Did not rise. Sponge sitting on counter not risen and waiting to be thrown in the compost. Added the half of the starter during feeding time before throwing the whole thing in the compost.
Sponge with added starter began to bubble. Muted hopefulness. Mixed in starter and let sponge rise for a few hours. No real rise.
Mixed in dough ingredients. Dough was very dry and added an extra approximately 1/8 cup of water. Have no idea what a kneadable dough should look and feel like. Let sit for 10 minutes and began to knead, if what I did could be considered kneading.
River Cottage instructions called for 10 minutes of kneading. Kneaded for 13 minutes, somewhat loosely following the River Cottage kneading instructions, and for longer than recipe called for because assumed my hands not nearly as strong as big guy who wrote the River Cottage Bread Handbook.
River Cottage author said dough should be "smooth and springy" when kneading is completed. Have no clue what that means for a whole wheat dough, which responds differently than white flour dough, and never produces the nice window-pane effect when kneaded.
Won't even recount rest of instructions, except for highlights.
Sensing disaster after kneading, left home and bought bread for dinner at a friend's house.
Dough seemed dry, so before placing in oven, sprinkled top with water. For good luck, cut a cross into the top. Used baking stone and top of la cloche. When removed top of la cloche after 30 minutes, bread looked pretty. Sprung enough for the top to be classic in appearance, though tiny because of minimal spring in oven.
Could not cut the bread. A nice, bread-shaped, large hockey puck. Anxiety setting in.
Bread - Number 19: Sponge imploded
Trying to make up for bread number 18, made almost the same recipe, but with a tiny bit of added commercial yeast. Let promising-looking sponge rise overnight. Too long. Had imploded by the next morning.
Glad the teens are finished because breads number 11 to 19 have not shown themselves to be a stellar group.
Time to reach out for assistance.