Sourdough - the most productive pet you'll ever have.

16:49:00

Meet Gerald. Gerald is a spelt/kamut/strong white and water mush mutt and has been sat burbling away on his special shelf in the kitchen for almost four months now.



He's pretty low maintenance; every three days or so (depending on the carb cravings) I scoop out a bit to make bread and in exchange he gets fed and plopped back on his shelf to grow and make odd noises. He bubbles away, making the occasional quiet 'pffft' and every now and then, threatens to overflow his kilner jar when things seem either a little to clean or quiet. Anthony has amusing concerns of a sudden growth spurt and on the drive back from a weekend away will describe in worried tones scenes where the door is wedged shut and the walls groan because somehow Gerald has managed to fall/crawl/grow tendrils into the giant bag of flour and spread like the blob. That's technically impossible, but I haven't said it.


So, we eat his children. He gets to chow down and grow fat on luxury 8 kilo bags of organic flour which the local shop buys in especially for him (they even know his name).


Now, bread has always been something of a challenge for me. Until recently my speciality was limited to semi-burnt door stoppers with the atomic mass of lead, impressive only for their ability to have been formed outside of a reactor of some sort.

Bake off got me going again. After a particularly hard days grubbing about in the garden, I settled down to bask in the regenerative powers of  whisky mac + reruns of The Great British Bake Off.

So I got to work. I knew I wanted to eventually make anything, to be able to just 'happen' to have homemade frozen croissants tucked up in the freezer. To be able to whip out a triumphant brioche from a picnic hamper and to bask in the satisfaction of having made that puppy myself.  However, haunted by the memories of embers, plumb bob rolls and the echos of fire alarms from breads gone by, I decided to stick with one recipe though and keep at it till I made something edible.

Perhaps it was the dutch courage which allowed my optimism to swell, past Paul Hollywood's prodding finger of doom (can't find a clip of the finger, but here's a fairly accurate version of his death-stare. Don't bother with anything beyond the first 30 seconds though) and the memories of the last smouldering remains to be recovered from the oven, but, I chose to start with sourdough. Enter Gerald.

The starter was easy.  Flour, water, stir, ignore. Plop plop. Bubble bubble. Gerald gurgled into life in a matter of days and this prompted me to sort out the question of what to do with him next. Having deemed as useless my usual approach of cobbled-together recipes from dubious sources, I decided to take a different tack. Methodical and, for once with regards to bread-making, following the instructions, rather than going off piste at the first opportunity. I'd have to get over having sticky fingers and relegate my adventure to a designated area of the kitchen with the most wipe-able surfaces. Poppy the cat is thankfully not a factor here - no, no, she's perfectly fine. But we're hip and cool townies now and she's currently terrorising OH's parents in the countryside till we move back to the farm.

The look, of love...
Crust by Richard Bertinet has been a huge help and has walked me through the processes and procedures enough to be able to have home-made crusty loaves on hand for snacking and sandwiches. Hopefully, soon I'll be able to begin my deviations from the recipe so as to provide tasty ideas and recipes of my own, but for now, I'm playing it safe.

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