Lately I've been asked many questions about various technical aspects of making my bread. It seems the universe decided to remind me of some of the challenges so I could answer your questions from the best experience possible.
I'm preparing to vendor at a conference in a few short weeks.
Let's set aside that I decided to revise my book so the books I sell will be the most current and needed to have that done in time to self-print many books.
Let's set aside that my editor had to let go of my project about 10 pages into the book.
(My wonderful daughter took over the editing while she was preparing to move out of my house. The first night in her new apartment she stared at her computer for many hours, faithfully editing my book. I owe her big time)
Let's set aside that the ink I bought, at a good price online, has been delayed. When it finally arrived, I wasn't home and the delivery people needed a human to sign for it so it is still in their truck. (got ink from different site, not the best price, no shipping, next day delivered. I'm printing books as we speak, or as I write)
Let's set aside the logistics of packing my car for the conference: books, bread samples, humans, our own food, (we're all on special diets) rice cooker, toaster, hot pot, special pillows.
Now we come to what I wanted to really write about: I'm making samples, Mock Rye Bread. I froze some starter last week, took it out on Friday and planned to bake on Monday. The starter was sluggish, minimal bubbles, not much ferment smell at all.
Gave it an extra dose of water kefir but it didn't really help. (someone just wrote to me about just that).
Then I had to be out for a whole day so fed the starter and refrigerated it. (someone asked about that recently).
Still sluggish, no smell. I kept feeding it worrying it wouldn't be ready or perhaps it was never going to ferment properly. (Now that it's Fall the ambient temp in the house is cooler, probably part of the problem) (3 cold aspects, frozen starter, refrigerated starter, cool house)
Monday morning comes, I hoped to have Peggy videotape a Mock Rye Bread demo for the online course but the starter is just sitting there. We switch gears and do a Feeding Technique #1 and #2 video.
Early Monday evening I feed it once more rather than dump the whole thing in the compost.
Late Monday night the starter starts rumbling and quaking and is in danger of overflowing its 16 cup bowl. (someone just asked about batters overflowing their pans)
I divide it into quart measuring cups, feed, cover and plan to bake on Tuesday morning. I'm left with 5 batches, a lot to do at once but hey, a baker's work is never done.
As I assemble the ingredients for the first loaf I see the starter is a bit too thick, so I add a little water to the next 4. They seem to be alright but instead of a slow pour into the pan, they plop in to the pan. Nowhere in my book do I mention "plop" as a batter texture.
Of course, my schedule for Tuesday does not allow for a proper rise. I will get home one and a half hours later than a 7 hour rise but I really can't get around it. As I'm driving home I visualize that the breads should stay nice and risen, hold their texture, be tall but when I come home they've fallen quite a bit. (someone just wrote about too short and too long rise times).
I bake them, they seem okay. I cut them open using a hacksaw (like someone just wrote about) Although they rose they're not fully cooked through on the top in the center of the loaf. (some wrote about that, too) I would have cooked them longer but they started to get a scorched smell.
A lot of it was usable, though, I cut off the uncooked pieces, hacksawed the rest into slices and froze them for the conference. I feel 99% sure they will be fine after thawing and toasting.
Luckily I also have some perfect loaves I made a few weeks ago.
I saved the uncooked parts and will see if they respond to double toasting. (more info for future questions)
So, All, if you thought I made perfect loaves all the time, you now know the truth. I'm still working with this fluid animal called Sourdough.
And Loving It.