Time Travel

We were expecting temperatures into the teens last night, which is very cold for us here in the Northwest corner of Oregon. When I got up, the thermometer read 26°F. In my mind, I said, "Oh! Warm!" It's all in your perspective. Here's our weekend forecast, and it doesn't look like it'll warm up before Monday.

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.

13 comments from clever and witty friends:

WoolenSails said...

Good weather to make bread, in. Our snow stopped and now it is raining, so good day for me to sit and stitch.


Cheryl's Teapots2Quilting said...

It's 21 degrees here, and it feels almost warm. We are supposed to get down to -21 on Sunday night, with a high of 1 degree. It isn't even winter yet, and our 3rd snowfall of the season. I'm tired of winter already. Wish I could make bread. It just doesn't turn out for me.

Quilting Babcia said...

I'm pretty sure Sadie and Smitty wouldn't be nearly as interested in traipsing across your rising dough as they are your quilts. I think there are special batard pans that are half-round long cylinder shaped metal. If I recall they're two connected half rounds. That would probably contain the soft dough as well as give you the desired finished shape.

Vroomans' Quilts said...

Oh, sorry the first batch was a bust - I would have scooped it into a pan and baked it anyway - just to tell it off! We are shoveling and plowing more new snow but a heat wave from -9 to a 20 today!!

Ann said...

Just wanted to let you know that my fat quarters arrived today. They are so beautiful. Thank you. Wish you had better luck with you bread. I always had trouble making bread from scratch even with a breadmaker.

claudia said...

I would be baking bread today if I wasn't on WeightWatchers and know that I would be tempted to eat the entire loaf. Good luck with your bread baking today!
We got a little dusting of snow this morning! I was out feeding the outside critters and my daughter came out to talk. I noticed that individual flakes were landing on my gloves and staying, so we got some pictures. Of course those are on my phone and I can't transfer them to my computer. They are the cutest little flake! I think I'm spending time in my sewing room today. It's cold...although it has warmed up to 34 degrees now!

Janarama said...

Hopefully your second batch of sourdough bread will work out. Tomorrow's high here is supposed to be only -1 and Sunday night it's supposed to get down to -16 with a -30 wind chill. I'm sick of Winter and Winter doesn't "officially" start until Dec. 21!

crazy quilter said...

Goodness the weather sure seems right for bread making and quilting or anything on the inside. Here in North Texas it was in the 70's today but we are getting a polar vortex too and the height tomorrow is only supposed the 31... Wow Did I tell you this is Texas??? Way early for us to be this cold. The wind is whipping everything around and it is already 27 now?? Planning on sewing all day tomorrow. I hope this passes very soon. I am just not built for super cold weather. Sorry about the bread but I am sure the next batch will be wonderful. Keep the kitties indoors, or their little paws will freeze. I do think they might want to help with the bread making. Stay Warm up there!

Brown Family said...

I hope today's baking went better! I am setting high goals for next Saturday of making candy, fudge and divinity. Never tried, but nothing ventured nothing gained!

Synthia said...

I'm so sad about your discarded bread dough. It's very difficult to believe that you could have such a failure. But now we know you could have baked it in bread pans!! Why didn't the author put that little vital piece of information in the book; that's what I'd like to know!!! I've gone from grief to MAD!!

quiltzyx said...

Who knew there were so many ways for bread dough to fight back? I'm with Synthia, why didn't they mention using pans in the book??
Stay warm!

Angie in SoCal said...

Your bread adventure reminded me of a time when we baked bread here. The dough was way soft and I got them shaped and in a bowl to for the second rising. They were having none of that. I placed them on a flat pan, lightly brushed them with olive oil, then sprinkled some spices over it and let it rise. Result foccacia like bread. Love the quilting. Stay warm, Barbara.

Kate said...

Live and learn, you didn't make a mistake you experienced a learning opportunity with the bread. My Guy's had a few of those two in his bread backing career. We are supposed to get into the 40's today for highs. It's been so cold that 40 sounds practically balmy.