"that’s quite pungent…. it *stings* the nostrils"

My latest foodie obsession – a subset of my quest to to become a competent bread-baker – is mastering sourdough. Talk about weird. Yesterday on target I had a rye starter mix is bubbling and frothing away. I’d moved it kind of everywhere in the house to find a good spot (who has a 80 degree place in their house 24 hours a day?). Problem is, the starter was giving off quite an odor right away, one curiously reminiscent of some of the more filthy underbelly aspects of a wood pulping operation (memories of 2 AM shift walks… [ shudder! ]). Had my starter gone bad? How could I tell if it did? What next? Why am I trusting the internet for all this information?

So very early on in my sourdough-making experiment the process turned from exact recipe following (my preferred method) to a half-assed scientist’s experiment. Using a combination of this know-it-all’s elaborate recipe, the sourdough starter available to me at the local health food store, salt, yeast, and flours (three in total) I made a loaf. The whole family kept tabs on it all day – the kids checking each rise and the baking thereof – and we waited until Ralph got home to try it.

Success! It was a tasty bread. The loaf, once cooled (it was quite pretty) was promptly divided and ravaged in a total of four different households (a tiny heel remains in my breadbox). As for me, although I had a piece, the smell of the starter lingered in my olfactory memory and it was basically a mental taint.

Also baked: chocolate rye coffee cake, pumpernickel rolls. Today: homemade marshmallows.

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