This was a happy moment.
Sourdough has been dogging me for weeks. The starter I, er...started...early in March, has been fed daily. Lately, it has been fed twice daily. After that first bright and peppy starter instruction I read, I realized that things were A Little More Complicated. I have felt persecuted, yet driven.
And after three disappointing attempts at loaves (although each was an improvement over its predecessor) I started to read more widely, and with more insight as my familiarity with the starter-beast grew. I have been glued to the kitchen. Literally. Starter has to be the stickiest substance on the planet.
Then I stumbled upon a sourdough tutorial, on Stella Culinary, and I learned more. Especially about stretching and pulling. Or is it slapping and tickling? Anyway. During the course of an evening I slapped that dough around, before turning and folding it, and allowing it to rest, just the way the man said, as many times as he said, and remembered a word I haven't thought about in a long time: technique. A word I absorbed from the old school French books that taught me to cook. If you don't have it, ain't gonna work.
At last, I put the tender raw loaf into my largest Le Creuset pot, which had been heated for 45 minutes in a raging oven.
And the result was gorgeous. It even sang, as its crust cooled. I taped that. It was 1.26a.m. and I nearly woke the Frenchman, but I restrained myself.
So now I get what the fuss is all about.
It is huge. A week's worth of bread.
And it tastes wonderful. For breakfast I ate it with the last of my black currant jam, from last year's fruit.
For supper it was grilled sandwiches - cheddar and mustard, and wilted dandelion with prosciutto, the hot bread rubbed with garlic as I lifted it from the cast iron pan.
So - thanks to Sarah, and her BK17 sourdough loaves, and thanks to Upstairs Wolfgang who asked me to feed his starter while he pressed olive oil last November, and thanks to Jacob Burton, the chef who made that video. I would also like to thank the Academy, my dog and my mom.
The sourdough bug has bitten me, and our bread life will never be the same again.
And to quote a Cape Town chef, who utters this phrase with a beatific smile, as often as he breathes: