Belated Sourdough Bread Quest post

Oh sourdough bread, how I try to make thee and how thy perfect taste just thwarts me.  To make a long story short, the first time I made sourdough it turned out badly and the second time it turned out ok, just ok, not particularly good and not particularly bad.  I was a wee bit sad about this, but the wheat bread is easy to make and better for us, so perhaps I will just concentrate on that.

Now the long story.  After many days of waiting for my sourdough starter and patiently stirring it each day so the yeast would have plenty of fresh oxygen it was ready to go.  The night before I mixed up some of the starter with some more flour and water to form a sponge from which I could replenish my starter.  The next morning, I got up and mixed everything up.  I even got fancy and rolled the dough with a rolling pin and then rolled it up again into fancy french rolls and put them both on a baking sheet.  I set it out to rise on the dining room table with a towel over the top.  Then I took off to Whole Foods to do some grocery shopping and run some errands.  I should note here that the recipe called for the bread to rise for two hours.  I was definitely gone for more than that.  However, in my experience bread can rise for more than what the recipe calls for without much problem.

Evidently that was not true with this recipe, I came home and the bread had risen alright, but not up, but out.  The bread was fairly flat and now covered the entire baking sheet.  I tried to cook it, but it didn’t turn out well at all.  Fail.

I was determined to try again though and that night I re-mixed up the sponge and set it out.  The next day, I mixed everything up (and this time put the bread in normal bread pans) and set it out to rise on the table again.  I kept religious watch of the clock, I was only going to let it rise for two hours.  After about an hour and a half had passed, I even heated up the oven so that it would be ready to go.  I looked at the clock – 20 minutes to go – plenty of time for a quick e-mail check.  I sit down at my computer and 40 minutes later, I realize that time is up – doh!  I rush into the living room and the bread had exploded over the sides of the bread pans.  Wonderful.  I take the sides off and put the bread in the oven and cook for the prescribed hour.  I pull it out of the oven and wait for it to cool down.  Then I cut into it to taste it.  It doesn’t really taste much like sourdough bread, but it is ok as bread goes.  Semi-fail.  So now the question is, maybe my starter is somehow messed up?  Do I re-do the starter?  Or I continue to let it sit in my fridge hopefully becoming more sour. Or do I just stick more to my wheat bread which is definitely the healthier option anyway?

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