do they use old socks to make sour dough?

Success at last!

My aunt Leona was kind enough to send me a quart of her famous “sour dough bread starter” this weekend, and I couldn’t wait to try it out.  I have had the opportunity to sample her sour dough bread on many occasions, often fresh from the oven, and I can say without any reservations that it is the best sour dough bread I’ve ever eaten.  My ability to make it for myself, however, was somewhat suspect as I carefully read the directions while my husband poured the ingredients into the bowl. 

We both caught a whiff of the sour dough starter as I opened the jar and both gasped at the same time.  Sour dough starter smells like old socks.  And it looks like it may have had old socks soaking in it.  I was almost afraid it had gone bad, but it was supposed to be sour.  I could only hope it would make good bread.

We worked as a team, me keeping a vigilant watch over each component of the mixture, as Mike mixed them together carefully. 

I even took it upon myself to “feed” the starter as the recipe instructed. 

I watched Mike gently kneed the sticky dough to the exact specifications required before wrapping it up for the eight hour wait while the dough doubled in size. 

I couldn’t help myself.  I checked the dough every so often to see if it was rising.  It was like that saying about a watch pot never boiling.  The dough didn’t look any different to me.  It was still just a sticky bowl of goop every time I peeked. 

“It hasn’t been long enough yet.” My husband repeated each time I complained that the dough ball was the same as the last time I looked.

This went on throughout the day until he took me out of the house to distract me. 

I quite enjoy distractions.  We picked up a few necessities at the local all purpose store, and shopped around for things we didn’t need (and didn’t buy.) When we got back home, we walked out to the garden to inspect the tomatoes and the other assorted plants that I can’t yet identify. 

I showed Mike where I wanted the pond to go, and where the greenhouse should be, and where I would like the chickens to be housed.  All things we are tossing around as possibilities for Mike’s Suburb Homesteader project.  But in the end, we just watered the tomatoes and the assorted unknowns, and went back to the house. 

The dough was noticeably larger by then, but still not ready to be kneeded again.  We had not timed our bread making in an ideal manner.  By the time we started this project, we were looking at almost midnight for the bread to be ready to kneed, and then four to six hours later it would need to go into the oven. 

Now, neither of us had a problem with staying up until midnight.  That is an easy feat.  Waking up at four, five, or even six AM, on the other hand…not so easy! 

It is no secret that I am not a morning person.  In fact, I am the direct opposite of a morning person. 

Mike woke up with the bread.  And once he was up, he had to put the bread into the oven and wait another thirty five minutes for it to bake.  It was sort of like having a baby. 

Maybe not like a baby.

Mike woke me up before he left for work.  He decided that I needed to be a productive member of society…or something like that.  He said I need the practice being a morning person. 

The first thing I did was to sample the bread.

It was almost as wonderful as Aunt Leona’s very own bread.  It was baked just a few minutes too long, and maybe it had risen for just over four to six hours, but it was wonderful.  And we had two wonderful loaves just ready for the cutting.                  

The teenage girls loved the bread.  In fact, they loved that it had been made in our very own kitchen.  They like having me home during the day baking bread and cooking meals.  Even if that means they have to help out.  We may just have to bake bread again tomorrow.  I think we’ll start in the morning this time…so no one has to get up in the middle of the night with the bread baby.  Who knows…maybe we’ll even experiment with the recipe a little, just for fun.

Until the next time…I’ll be practicing this whole “morning” thing at the farmer’s market.

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Posted on June 21, 2010 .