A couple of years ago, before I started my little blog, my husband told me that I was like the Michael Jordan of cooking. I let that go up and inflate my head for the 2.5 seconds after he said that, until he explained what he meant. Michael Jordan wasn’t initially great at basketball. He got cut from his high school team. But he practiced, and worked and worked at it, and became one of the greats. So Matthew basically told me I’m not really that great, I’m just stubborn enough that I won’t give up.
Bread and caramel have confirmed the part of the analogy that I’m not naturally great at cooking. When it comes to understanding what flavors go together, I do that because I’ve been eating for over 30 years now. I can say “wow this doesn’t taste very good.” But when it comes to anything that requires technique…I suck.
Let me tell you the tale of Sourdough bread, and the tragedy of wheat bread.
Since my mother got me that awesome 200 year old sourdough starter for my birthday, I’ve made loaves and loaves of sourdough bread. I think I started to develop an unhealthy relationship with my starter. Greeting it every morning so I can lovingly feed it unbleached flour and distilled water. Labeling how many grams I have every day, and using my food scale (I bought specifically for the starter) to measure the exact amount of flour and water, and using the small plastic spoon to mix it all together. Then covering it back up with plastic wrap and placing it in a warm spot in the kitchen so the bacteria can feed and grow. It was like my little pet. I fed it in the morning before I even fed my kids. I can acoss a video of these ladies that joke that they date their starter or these other ladies that named their starter, and I though “Oh, mine needs a name too!” What do you think I should name it?
All this success in bread baking gave me a false sense of security, so I thought to myself, “Self, sourdough might as well be artisan bread, you got this! Let’s make something else with yeast.” Well, sourdough is not technically hard to make, there are just a lot of rules. Feed the starter every day; don’t use metal bowls or spoons; only unbleached flour; the starer is ready when it floats in water; and when you’re finally ready to make bread…patience is key. But there is no kneading, so you don’t have to worry about if you kneaded enough, or too much. And the proofing times are extremely long, so it’s hard to overproof your dough.
Wheat bread, specifically 100% wheat bread, is a different story.
A bit of me rolls my eyes at the moms who make their own baby food and fruit snacks, because who has time? But secretly, I want to be like them. I would love for every item of food in my house to be something that I made. But one step at a time. I’ve wanted to make my own sandwich wheat bread for a long time, but the few times I tried, I ended up with something that looked more like a doorstop, than a soft bread you would want to make a turkey sandwich with. So I did some research, watched some videos, and found a few highly rated “100% whole wheat sandwich bread” recipes. They both ended up as dense stodgy breads that would be fine with some butter and jam, but you would never use them to make a sandwich. But with all the positive reviews these recipes got, I wondered if it was the recipe, or the user (me) who had the problem. So though I have mastered the mystique of sourdough, I am still on my quest for a good whole wheat bread recipe. Do any of you have any good recipes for 100% whole wheat sandwich bread?
And don’t even get me started on caramel!!! I’ll talk about the next time I post an update to my culinary home schooling, because y’all, I will not be defeated by a bit of sugar and water!
Happy baking everyone!
BONUS: Recipes tried and approved in the Breedlove kitchen.