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Happy Starter = Great Bread

I promised a few photos of my starter before and after it has been fed, so here you go.  First, here’s what it looks like right after being fed.  This is 1/4 cup starter + 1/4 cup water + 1/2 cup flour:

Here is the progression over the next 3-4 hours:

Cool, eh?  Well, I think it is anyway…

This weekend I made four batches of sourdough bread.  One plain, one rosemary olive, one ‘Herbs de Provence’, and one roasted garlic.  They all turned out really well, and I am learning to control things like crustiness through baking time and oven humidity.  The last of my four batches turned out the best and I have to say I am becoming quite pleased with the results.  Just for my own reference, I baked that one at 445 (started at 500 then turned it down) for about 33 minutes, and I removed the pan of water after initially pouring in about a cup to provide steam.  I also sprayed the oven walls twice, about one minute apart, before turning the heat down to 445.

I gave some of my bread away because I had so much and there just was no way it was all going to fit in the freezer!  Plus it’s way more fun to bake it for others to eat.

My roommate snapped this one while I was too covered in flour to get away!  Note that the bananas are hers, although the tomato is mine.  It was actually grown locally and part of farmer Rick’s delivery this week.  I forgot to ask him how he  managed to grow such a perfect tomato at this time of year, but I’ll be sure to let you know when I do.

Waiting to go into the oven:

Just out of the oven…YUM!

Finally, remember how I jokingly was calling my half-risen attempts at bread ‘sourdough biscotti’?  Well, no more!  Check out this rising action:

So it seems that I am finally able to turn out a fairly consistent product that not only tastes but looks like proper bread.  It only took me three months of trying and about 20 kgs of flour.  Woo hoo!!

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