Have you heard about the amazing No-Knead Bread? I missed it when it first came out in the NYT way back in 2006. When I did read about it a few years later, I thought, "That's so great! I have to make it!" And proceed to do absolutely nothing (except bookmark the recipe in Chez Pim) until today.
Today was the day because Murray volunteered to make his famous sourdough pancakes for our church yesterday. He was totally jazzed up about it - if you know him, you know how he gets. On fire! I could sell tickets. He even had me go buy a 5 gallon bucket to make the starter in.
The pancake feed went great - everyone loved them (of course). He had gotten a little carried away with the 5 gallon bucket of starter though and we had some left over. Not one to let good sourdough starter go to waste, I promised I'd make some sourdough bread, thinking of the No-Knead Bread recipe.
This morning I rolled up my sleeves and tackled the bread.
I've made a fair amount of bread in my day (most exotic: in a mud oven in Papua New Guinea, most recent: about 14 loaves of cinnamon swirl bread for Christmas gifts). My mom bakes a lot of bread, but strangely she wasn't the one who taught me how to make it. My Aunt Kathy taught me one summer up at their gold mine outside of Dawson City, Yukon Territory. She was pregnant with my cousin Mike that summer and still cooking for the crew. So someone (my mom? Jim? my Grandma?) had the idea that I go up and help out. I was 18 and happy to try something new, especially with Jim, Kathy and the kids who are great fun. I honestly don't know if I was any help to her at all. Kathy is quite competent. But I did learn how to make doughnuts and bread and, even more importantly, not to get too overwhelmed by cooking large amounts of food (which has stood me in good stead ever since) - and I had a great time.
All that to say, I have some experience to judge bread dough. But this bread is not like that bread and I was curious how it would turn out. I had enough starter to get 3 loaves going, and 2 will be ready in the morning. (I did 3 slightly different methods to see what works best. I put the other 2 in our "cold room" - in a house this big there are a few of those). The first one I kept in our coolish kitchen all day and baked it this evening, intending it for dinner. I could tell it was a little too wet, so I thought I might have a just messy lesson on my hands, but it exceeded my expectations. It smelled and looked so good that Murray and I tore into it before dinner - and it tasted as good as it hinted it might.
It's actually a real sourdough bread - which I don't think was the intention of the original recipe but which I'm thrilled about. And tomorrow we'll see how the other 2 loaves turn out!