That's fine with me. I got caught up on my housework yesterday, and so I can spend the whole weekend finishing up the quilting for Gingerbread Square. I'm hoping that when I go to bed on Sunday evening, it'll have the binding sewn on. But let's not get ahead of ourselves, shall we?
As some of you already know, the sourdough baking adventure was a bust yesterday. Things were going along pretty well until the bread finished it's first four-hour rise. After that, I was to divide the loaf in half and then shape it into two batards. If you make them right, they end up looking kind of like this:
Then I was to let it rise again. Given the equipment I had to work with, my best choice for this was a parchment-lined baking sheet. Only, the dough was so soft, it was impossible for me to shape, or even to seal. Part of the goal in shaping bread is to create "surface tension," which gives it that nice crisp crust. My loaves were like working with so much jello. I forced it into as close an approximation of a batard as I could, and then laid it on the baking sheet. There, it wanted to spread out like a pancake.
Taking a cue from the book, I decided to try getting it to hold its shape using rolled up towels. I sprayed the loaves lightly with olive oil and then set them up thus:
And this seemed fine for a while. After several hours, they hadn't budged when it came to rising, and so I got the bright idea to put them in my warming drawer. If you're not familiar with a warming drawer, it's just what it sounds like...a drawer that pulls out, in which you can put plates to be warmed, or cooked food to keep warm. And, I'm thinking, that should work. As it turns out, I'm quite sure it was too warm, and it probably killed the yeast. From there, I decided to toss the whole shebang into the trash. Then I discovered that it stuck to those towels despite the olive oil. Oy. It probably sounds like a bigger mess than it was. Once I got the towels extricated from the dough, I picked up the whole sheet of parchment and threw the whole thing away.
And that took the wind out of my sails.
Undaunted, I got onto the Sourdough Bread Baking group on Facebook to inquire what I might do differently. As it turns out, I could have used loaf pans on those formless jello loaves. Others have done it with successfully. Besides, it might actually be better for sandwiches that way. So, having my optimism restored, I decided to get another firm starter going. When we went to bed last night, it was ready to be refrigerated for this morning's do over.
Travel back in time with me now to these little piggies. We'll just pretend yesterday never happened, okay? These are today's little piggies, and we're going to have a better bread-baking day today. Don't they look optimistic? That one over there on the right might even be smiling.
After they've warmed up some, we're going to go ahead with a whole new batch of dough. The only thing I'll be doing differently today is to substitute some of this whole wheat flour into the mix.
There is only enough regular bread flour to cover 75% of the amount needed, and so I'll make up the difference with good old Bob's Red Mill whole wheat. You can see right there on the label that it is "superb for breadbaking by hand or machine." Sounds good enough to me. If I can form it into batards, I'll try that again. If not, I'll chuck those babies into loaf pans. Let's see them spread out then.
Bread-baking and quilting may be incompatible. I was hoping to get all the way around the inner border yesterday, but only made it 3/4 of the way. (Query: if I travel back in time for the bread-baking, can I still keep the portion of the border I've already stitched? Something to ponder.) I'm hoping to finish this up this morning, and then I'll stitch in the ditch on either side of that border.
If I can get that far, I'm planning a holly leaf and berry motif in the green border, and I'll try to get a start on that today. It's getting pretty close to being finished.
So there you go...bread-baking at its least finest. Perhaps I need some cats to help out.