Pandemic sourdough: baking this loaf of bread made me so happy

Read the first post in our series on making your own sourdough starter and bread.

The third loaf of bread with my new-to-the-pandemic sourdough starter was a pleasure to bake.

Putting this loaf of bread together for its bulk rise was done in a pleasant couple minutes pause while preparing dinner for my parents. I have been pretty aggressively on my One Meal A Day diet and enjoying 20-24 hour fasts during the pandemic and thus tend to prepare dinner for the family most nights.

I decided to bake an all King Arthur bread flour loaf of bread this time, but I continued to go with 2 cup sized loaves instead of 4. The starter is behaving like it is on something like a 4-6 hour cycle, so I fed it around 1:30 pm and mixed up the dough around 6:30 pm.

I time it like this so that a) the yeast should be in a place where there are many fresh, new and hungry cells banging about the starter and b) the 12-ish hour bulk rise I give my bread will not need me to wake up earlier than usual. If the dough looks like it needs more time, I give it more time. 18+ hours were not unusual in my old home. I would forget to change the thermostat and at night my kitchen would get too cold. Here I put the rising dough on the closed lid of an indoor bbq, with a potholder as insulation.

The dough was sticky and needed a bit of flour to let me work it. Even with a sealed top on the bowl, the dough formed a bit of dried skin. I tried to fold it all in and gave the dough a 10-minute rest before putting it in the banneton.

I played with oven temps a bit today. My dad has complained the bread is too crusty and I agree. I pre-heated my dutch oven to 500F but turned the oven down to 495F for the 30-minutes of closed baking. I then removed the dutch oven's lid and lowered the temperature to 450F for 22 minutes.

When bread works out well I feel so happy. I was whistling and dancing about after seeing the results of the first 30min baking. It looks so pretty and tastes wonderful.

One anxiety of mine had been my depleting flour stores. One of my colleagues here at Boing Boing pointed out a mill that will apparently deliver a very large bag of flour here via FedEx. It has been the only thing we've had a hard time finding this pandemic.

I will gladly share their info if the flour arrives and I like it as much as she swears I will. My prior experiences with fancy, heirloom flour were ok but I wasn't jumping for joy.


Pandemic Starter Day 1

Pandemic Starter Day 2

Pandemic Starter Day 3

Pandemic Starter Day 4

Pandemic Starter Day 5: Waffles

Pandemic Starter: First loaf of bread

Pandemic Starter: Second loaf and more pretzels