A long, cold, slow rise

Well, I really did it to myself last week.  I’ve let myself be under so much stress for so long that my body just gave out on me.  I caught a nasty flu bug and spent half of Memorial Day weekend in bed with the flu.  If you read my last post, you know that we’ve been eating way too much restaurant food and I was looking forward to some home cooking.  I planned to make this wonderful feta stuffed Greek chicken that I love so much.  I even rescued Herbert  (my sourdough starter) from possible sudden death so that I could bake bread. Bread is necessary for this meal to accompany the wonderful feta stuffing.  Unfortunately, Herbert looked pretty awful.  He had managed to produce a two-inch layer of dark gray hooch in the intervening weeks since I last baked.  I truly thought he was a goner. Once I poured off the disgusting, vile fluid and fed Herbert with fluffy wholesome flour and clean water, he was back to normal.  I made that great recipe for sourdough rye baguettes that I’ve been hooked on for awhile.  The dough was fermenting on the counter and suddenly; I felt like I was fermenting too.  The flu hit me like a ton of bricks.


I spent the rest of Sunday in bed with a fever and when all of Monday turned out to be much, much more of the same, I asked F. to put the chicken and some nice grass fed steaks we bought for Monday’s barbeque in the freezer.  I knew I wouldn’t be cooking for a while.  On Sunday, I already knew I would kiss bread-baking goodbye so I had popped the bread dough in the fridge.  The whole rest of the week went by and I never did get back to that bread dough. 


As the week progressed and I felt better and better I started to plan out those meals we missed.  I pulled the meat out of deep freeze and allowed it to defrost in the fridge.  I kept eyeing the bread dough wondering if I could keep pushing it or if I should give up and toss it.  I keep reading about other bloggers who are doing the whole “no knead bread” evolution thingy where you make a master dough, dump it in the fridge for up to a week and lop off chunks of the master dough for fresh bread throughout the week.  I am also well aware that a long slow rise in the fridge for a couple of days makes bread more flavorful. I wasn’t too worried. 


I took the dough out of the fridge this afternoon and let it warm up and rise on the counter.  I popped it out of the bowl a few hours later and kneaded it a bit.  The outer layer of the dough had oxidized.  I had hoped I could mix it in, but it didn’t really knead in, so that worried me a bit.  The dough smelled great and looked great otherwise so I decided that it wouldn’t kill me.  I formed the baguettes and let them rise.  When I baked the bread it rose in the oven really well.  I am out of practice though and didn’t notice the temp was really off in my crazy oven today.  The bread got way too brown.  Luckily, I decided to cover the loaves with seeds so it was hard to tell.  The flavor and texture were really nice on these loaves.  I learned a lesson this week.  I can probably have fresh bread during the week if I plan a couple of days ahead.  Make the dough.  Let it rise all evening.  Pop it in the fridge for a couple of days.  Come home for lunch the day I want to bake and take it out to warm and rise.  I’ll really need to do this.  What a luxury it would be to have warm bread and butter on a work night!


Take care everyone!  Please drop me a message if you have time.  I still check the old blog daily and love to hear from everyone.