Cheat’s sourdough

I was looking at my list of easy recipes and thinking about how I made the banana bread half asleep and still caught a mistake and realized I needed a bit more of a challenge.

Originally I got my two oldest nephews to flip through the book and find me a two-spoon recipe and they found me a really good recipe, but it’s only Saturday and Monday is a holiday which means I wouldn’t be able to share the loaf and one dozen buns with people until Tuesday and that’s a full three days away. That’s a lot of time to lose bread freshness.

So instead I looked at the sourdough, or to be clearer, the cheat’s sourdough.

What makes it a cheat? Well, according to Mary and Paul, real sourdough is when flour and water is left to create natural yeasts over several days. To quote an overused meme, “Ain’t nobody got time for that.”

So this recipe is part wholemeal bread flour (let’s hope that means wholewheat flour), part strong white bread flour (let’s hope regular bread flour is strong enough), fast-action dried yeast (let’s hope that my almost-expired quick-rise instant yeast is the same thing) and room temperature water (or not-hot-but-also-not-cold water from the tap). And that’s just step one.

For some reason, you have to mix the dry ingredients with your hands and then also do the same once you add the water “to make a thick, sticky mixture” which (they forget to add) is a real pain to try to wash off.

And now I’ve covered it with a damp Downton Abbey tea towel on a worktop at normal room temperature (whatever “normal” is in a basement suite in the fall) for a total of 24 hours.

In 24 hours (tomorrow at 1:15 p.m., Future Me!), I may regret this.

Why may you ask? Because tomorrow is the day before Thanksgiving Monday and tomorrow I have to bake a gluten-free, dairy-free pumpkin pie, a regular apple pie and a gluten-free, dairy-free, sugar-free, soy-free, a-lot-of-other-ingredients-free chocolate trifle. (My family has a few dietary restrictions.)

So to add to those three desserts, I’ve now created a situation in which I also have to make sourdough bread.

It’ll be fine. I’ll be fine. Ask me tomorrow.

24 (or maybe 26 1/2 hours) later…

I’ve moved working spaces. My kitchen works fine, but I was planning on coming to my mom’s today (Sunday) as I do every Sunday to bake for tomorrow’s big Thanksgiving feast. As mentioned, my big family has high maintenance dietary needs, so I had to plan out my baking day to fit in the sourdough as well.

I also had to transfer the (cheat’s) sourdough starter from one home to another and really hope the crisp fall air didn’t do anything to damage the yeast reactions. When I opened the container at my mom’s, though, the yeast smelled potent and it did look bubbly and slightly grey, which isn’t a bad thing. According to Mar-Bear and Pauly, it’s supposed to look bubbly and slightly grey.

Yum! Doesn’t this look delicious?

I also had to transfer some of my specific bread flour since my mom has mostly gluten-free flours and a little bit of all-purpose. As I started to stir in “half of the remaining 500 grams” of flour, I realized I would not have enough bread flour to get this done.

Also, two things Mary and Paul.

  1. “Half of the remaining 500 grams of flour” is 250 grams of flour. Just say 250 grams of flour if you want me to stir in 250 grams of flour. Don’t overcomplicate this for someone who has already overcomplicated her day.
  2. Why must this entire recipe be stirred with my hands? I mean don’t get me wrong, I do enjoy it. This is what I love about bread. It’s just strange that the entire thing is hand-stirred.

But I digress.

As I’m mixing with my hands, I hear the oven timer go off and realize the first batch of these avocado fudge cookies are done.


With admirable dexterity, I got an oven mitt onto my clean left hand using my right arm, pulled the sheet out of the oven, replaced it with a new cookie-dough-covered sheet and then went back to my sourdough-mixing.

Now I have to add the salt. Fifteen grams of crushed sea salt, to be exact. I hope coarsely ground sea salt is the same. I also hope that the bunch I put in adds up to 15 grams because I definitely did not measure it. I lifted 15 grams of flour with my hands to see how much it would look like and then tried to copy that into the bowl. Let’s hope it was sufficient enough.

If people want more salt, they can add salted butter. So says I at this point.

And now comes the kneading.

Sure I could use the dough hook in the KitchenAid, but what fun is that? I love kneading bread, even though halfway through I have to try to escape my sweater because it’s quite a workout. But it’s so calming. And then, as I was looking at the clock, I realize I misread the time like a child still learning analog. I was waiting for what I thought was the minute hand to move ten minutes, but turns out I was waiting for the hour hand to move 120 minutes. So I think I may have overkneaded.

But that’s okay, because I think it looks pretty good.

Now I just wait for another three hours to pass before I can put them on the baking sheet.

And just looking at the instructions, I see this bread is going to take me well into the evening.

Enough time to try to fix the cookies I under-sweetened. Sugar-free recipes are hard!

Also now would be a good time to explain a very exciting gift I was given. A truly wunderbar co-worker of mine read my blog and ordered something pour moi:

Look familiar? The “my what I call apron” worn by Miranda’s what I call best friend in her what I call TV show, Miranda. How fantastic is this? Too fantastic, I say. Much too fantastic.

Time for the gluten-free, dairy-free graham cracker crust.

I’m a little worried about the dough. It’s only been an hour and 45 minutes and it still needs another hour and 15 minutes to rise. And it’s definitely reaching the top of the big container. I hope it doesn’t explode out the top.

I’m taking a closer look at this recipe (something I really need to get into a better habit of doing; I would fail so hard at the technical challenges), and it says to let it rise “until doubled in size—about 3 hours, depending on how lively your dough was to begin with and the room temperature.”

Well first of all, my dough was pretty lively. (That’s a lie. Or it’s not. Either way I have no idea what “lively dough” looks like.)

And second of all, I have been baking for the last several hours, so the room temperature is definitely warmer than normal. Also, I put this bowl on the shelf above the oven where all that heat was emanating from, which is also adding to the rise. Seriously it’s going to explode. This will be interesting. But first, I have to have a second go at a graham cracker crust because the coconut oil substitute version slunk down and is now a massive bottom crust, so I’m remaking it with butter and letting the dairy-free people have a thick-crusted pie.

Dang. The butter version is doing the same. Maybe the gluten-free is to blame. This is where those ceramic beans would come in real handy for a blind bake. I had to get creative.

I like how this post has gone from just a cheat’s sourdough, to a cheat’s sourdough plus a trifle plus a pie plus a crisp. And now add another pie. Two pies! The whole point of the crisp was to avoid the second pie.

Maybe I’ll make a small crisp.

Never mind. Just put that idea past my mom and she said to do a “good size crisp” because people like it.

And if my pies fail, I’ll need a reliable back-up. Oh Thanksgiving, how ridiculous you are. Also, note to self, buy those beads.

Time for step whatever step number it is.

Splitting the dough and lightly kneading it before forming two rounds. And now it’s time to wait another hour and a half. And in that time try to fix the graham cracker crust gone wrong because apparently gluten-free requires refrigeration not heat. Which makes zero sense whatsoever. So we try again.

I say “we” because my mom’s empathetic frustration at the graham cracker crust debacle means she’s now joined forces with me as we figure this out.

Rereading the instructions on the gluten-free graham cracker box also shows us that I used way too much butter. Gluten-free graham cracker crust requires half the amount of butter than glutenous graham cracker crust which, again, makes zero sense. But also explains why we had to soak up the excess butter with four paper towels. Now that that’s sorted, time to actually bake the sourdoughs.


I hope these things turn out. Also I have no idea what it looks like to put a slash in a loaf so I did this, but all I can think is how it looks like I now have two massive butts to bake. It’s a little off-putting and a lot hilarious.

Smoke alarm set off? Yup. One, two, three times. Sorry, neighbours!

I couldn’t wait until it to be 425 degrees but it was heating up from 350 so I’m sure it was probably fine. I threw them in the oven (not literally) and dumped the ice cubes into the pan underneath for steam. And now I wait 30 minutes (which will take us to 9:30 p.m.) and hope for the best. I so hope for the best. This would be a lot of work for a massive fail.

Another contributing factor to a potential fail is the fact that we had to throw open multiple windows to deal with the smoke alarm situation. I blame a day’s worth of baking spills.

C’mon, butts! On your marks, get set… bake!!

In other news, the pies are both done and looking a little crispy on the edges, the trifle will be made tomorrow as will the apple crisp.

And cue the smoke alarm to go off two more times. This doesn’t bode well. I want to check the oven but the oven light doesn’t work and I fear opening the door especially now.

What an adventure this is turning out to be!

Patience is a really tricky virtue. I don’t want to be patient but if I’m not patient I’ll ruin two loaves and 32 1/2 hours of baking prep. So I have to be patient. According to Mary and Paul, I’ll need to check that it’s golden brown and hollow sounding when I tap the bottom. And an overbaked bread is going to always taste better than an underbaked bread. It’s just so annoying to wait. My mom’s oven doesn’t even have a light so I can’t peek at it through the window.

I think I did it!

I pulled it out of the oven and knocked the bottom and it sounded hollow to me. And then I put them on a wire rack and I wish I could share the sound. They’re snap, crackling and popping.

Oh I hope they taste as good as they smell.

UPDATE: It’s a tasty bread, but it’s not overly sour. As with most things, I think it’s hard to make a cheat comparable to the real thing.

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