A photo of Anna, covered

Bread is a Bitch, But it Ain’t My Bitch

Dedicated to the song It Ain’t My Bitch by Metallica, one of my favorite bands!

I belong to a few Facebook groups dedicated to Sourdough (and other slow fermenting dough) groups. I don’t know why I endure salivating over that bread porn (I swear you can inhale the intoxicating must the yeast expels when it’s roasted alive in the oven) but to replicate the bread in those pictures?

My sordid history with bread began near twenty years ago. It was before I met my wife, I bought a fancy bread machine with the crazy idea that I would be able to make all these different kinds of breads. (Fucked if I know where it is today. I probably sold it. This was way back before I had a basement for my culinary treasure hoard.) I can bake a loaf that is somewhat not shitty, but consistently? If you were to ask my wife about my bread, she’d probably compare it to when I burst out in melodious song–I should stick to my day job. 

A couple months back, an old friend of mine posted a video on Facebook of him about to bake his first sourdough loaf. It didn’t work out for him, and I’ve since learned that he scrapped his plans because of real work commitments. Sounds like his sourdough suffered the same fate as mine; natural yeast bread was too complicated to realize, unless you have the time, or you’re a savant. 

One day I was scrolling through my FB feed, mindlessly as usual, and came across a photo of the Tartine book. The load the person posted looked so good, naturally I bought the Kindle version. My plan to read through it, and give natural yeast breads another try.  

It didn’t take me long to read the book (it is a cookbook after all.) I couldn’t get over how simple everything sounded. All you needed was nothing more than flour, water, and salt. The kicker is that it literally said not to worry too much about the process, that aspiring bakers should apply their attention to learning how to control the process of fermentation.

I figure I should give the bread a try. If I fuck it up–which is likely–at least I’ll only be out five pounds of flour. The cookbook is written in baker’s percentages, which is good, because that’s how I learned in school. In theory, I should be set.

The problem, like what a chef on the apprenticeship board told me, was that I had book smarts, but I was beyond clumsy. I should have been an engineer, because I’m too smart to be a cook. Yeah, believe me, it floored me too. There is a thing to learning from your fuck-ups, I’ve learned many lessons on what not to do
It only cost five or six dollars for the flour mix.

Here is the process that I used, through pictures. I am a visual, hands-on person. I find it fun to read recipes, but more fun to play around and fuck things up learn.

Mix the two together, and it’s the new 50-50 bread mix.
I like to use my Cambro for that
The starter culture requires a small bowl of tepid water.
a handful of the flour mix,
You mix the flour into the water with–get this–your hands!

I get it, but I couldn’t help but think “why the fuck?” while I’m massaging the flour. The idea is that you want to introduce the essential bacteria from your hands into the starter. That’s great, and all, but I’m reminded of this experiment I did while in Bio 20 class where we had this Petri dish we had to put the contents of a swab. The teacher explicitly instructed us that under no circumstances were we to swab any area that was biological. So, of course, we swabbed our ballsacks and swiped the Petri dish. I’ll never forget what that shit looked like. What if I forgot to wash my hands good enough after taking a piss, or scratching my ass?

All to say, I washed my fucking hands. (Can’t have genital bread, unlike that woman making yogurt out of her vag..[and that’s another post for another day. ])

Eventually, while you’re playing with the slurry, you’re gonna say, fuck that–we’re done. I was thinking, in the five minutes of massaging, that I was just going to pass it through my tamis…but I resisted the urge, and I implore you to do the same. As long as you didn’t just scratch your nether regions, you’re introducing a good bacteria.

Anyway, When I think this is what it’s supposed to look like when you’re finished.
All that’s left is to cover with a kitchen towel. This is my MIL’s dishcloth, and I thought since her cloth is part of this process, the starter shall henceforth be known as “Anna.”
Let it sit in a cool, dry place (18°C for a couple (three) days. 

I’m going to check back in a seventy-two hours and hopefully we’ll see some action. 

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