Monday, 13 September 2010

Resurrecting Veronica

A few Sundays ago now, I woke up with this real strong urge to bake some bread. Which is unusual because normally my initial urge upon waking is to pass some vehement form of wind. After which I'll squint at the clock, roll over, pull the duvet over my head and gently prod my wife in the back because the kids are screaming from their cots, wanting to go downstairs. But on this particular day, the compulsion to knead dough and fill the kitchen with heavenly smells that soothe the nostrils rather than offend took precedent. As I am often in the habit of making bold declarations, my announcement to the household that I intended to bake kind of fell on deaf ears. The twins were far too engrossed by the antics of Mr Tumble, shoveling bananas into their little mouths and Mrs FU was dozily fumbling around with the coffee machine. So I jumped onto Twitter in the vain hope that out least one person out there would be interested in my plans. Almost immediately, Marky Market, the man who gets you meat, fish, whatever, tweeted a recipe link for an easy white loaf technique that seemed to be too easy to be true. OK so the recipe came from the Reverend of the Leaven himself, Dan Lepard but the notion of knocking up some dough and then giving it just a few quick 10 second bursts of kneading and then leaving it to prove didn't make any sense. The computer said no. Was it really that simple? The chorus from Twitter seemed to suggest it was and even Dan himself got in on the act with a communique that had a tone of "yes it does bloody work, just do it!"


So I did. I followed his instruction to the tee and blow me down, it worked. After very little effort I was rewarded with a simple but very tasty loaf of bread. And furthermore, it has lit a spark in me to do some more baking and I've knocked a fair few of them out since, ahem. I would love to get to a point where we eat nothing but home baked bread but alas time constraints of hectic family life don't allow it, even with a recipe as easy this. We still make visits to the supermarket to buy additive laden, plastic wrapped monster bread which does pain me but what can I do when tiny mouths scream "Toast Daddy! Want more toast!". Unless Dan Lepard can come up with an ingenious 30 second, all in, absolutely no messing about, bang, crash, whallop loaf. It would be great if he does.

However, something else has been weighing more heavily on my mind recently but still all connected to themes of baking, paternal duty, time and neglect. And that is the current state of my sourdough starter 'Veronica'. She is not looking good. Given the initial effort I put into making her and the ensuing fanfare on discovering that she actually worked, it's fairly disgraceful that Veronica has been left on the shelf at the back of the fridge, stewing in her own hooch. Actually before you get the RSPCS (Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Starters) onto me, I have been using her quite regularly to bake sourdough and feeding her, she hasn't been totally abandoned. But I must admit, the last time I took her out of the fridge for refreshing was possibly.......erm......ah...well let's see............er 4 months ago? On previous occasions, all it took was some pouring off, some fresh flour and water, a warm area, a repetition of the exercise a few times and boom, she would spring back into life. This morning however, looking at her listless, palid surface and her body, a slightly purplish, bloated mass of sodden gloop, Veronica now resembles some curious alien specimen, pickled in a Victorian jar. Is this the end? Have I in fact.......gulp.....killed her? God save my soul if I have but if anyone out there has any ideas on how to bring her back to life then I shall be indebited to you forever.

Help me Dan Kanobi, you're my only hope.

Dan Lepard's Easy White Loaf

Healthy Veronica

Unwell Veronica

I've killed her dammit *sob* I've killed her.........................hey neat chopping board

16 comments:

fingersandtoes said...

Very neat chopping board. I killed my starter too :(

Helen @ Fuss Free Flavours said...

Make a large jar of flour and water paste. Get half a teaspoon of Veronica, from the middle avoiding any mould on her surface and stir into the new jar, leave somewhere warm (I use the oven with the light on) for 24 hours then feed again. You should get enough of the original culture and dilute the acidity and alcohol in the current jar.

If if does not work, try a slightly large amount of the original.

Kavey said...

Coo poor V... Less a starter than an ender perhaps? What is that wood with. Foodurchin carved in it?

The Shed said...

Oh noes, commiserations.
Though that is the best chopping board I ever did see, so not all is lost, eh?

Catherine said...

Who did your chopping board? (Want one).

Agree with Helen. Get rid of the mould on top and give a very big feed. I'd use a bit more than half a teaspoon, in fact, I'd probably take off the top layer and salvage the rest. You could do both and see what happens - you'll have another set of twins that way ;-)

Catherine said...

@fingersandtoes surely not the one I gave you?!

Helen @ Fuss Free Flavours said...

Fingers and Toes - wasn't that the baby of my starter?

Lisa said...

That bread looks beautiful! I wonder, could you make a few loaves then slice and freeze? Handy for the Toast! Toast! monsters...

Alas, poor V, I hope she recovers.

Food Urchin said...

fingersandtoes - I am glad that I am not alone!

Helen - thanks Helen, I shall try that. Do I need to wear a white lab coat and scream "it's alive! IT'S ALIVE!"

Kavey - yes har de har, what use is an ender to anyone? Some sympathy please!

The Shed - She ain't dead yet! There's still hope yet, isn't there?

Catherine - Cheers, I shall give it a whirl but now you mention it, do I really want another set of twins?????

Helen & Catherine - what you both gave fingersandtoes some of your starters? And she's killed them both??? Call the RSPCS!!!!!!

And for those who are interested in the chopping board (and it's sounds like everyone) Mrs FU got it for me from http://www.durhamboards.co.uk/

The Ample Cook said...

Is your starter 'Brown bread?'

Did you see what I did there? Did you?

gastrogeek said...

RSPCS - brilliant! That Dan Lepard is bit of a genius no? I thought bread making was some sort of magical mysterious dark art before discovering his practically foolproof recipes. (Nice chopping board btw)

Food Urchin said...

Lisa - Freezing! I should do that yes indeedy, why didn;t think of it before!

The Ample Cook - boom boom, ha haha ahaha ahaha.....ha! oh dear, listen Jan, let's get serious here, Veronica is in peril.

Gastrogeek - Yes Dan Lepard is very clever but he still hasn't responded to this post!

Jane Mason said...

Hey man, good for you and it is a very worthwhile ideal to make all bread at home. I have super super easy recipe (even easier than Mr Dan's). Alas, it only makes bread rolls but on the plus side - no kneading, bake in 20 minutes which almost anyone can do in the morning......it is here: http://www.virtuousbread.com/make-bread/recipies/bread-to-amaze-and-amuse/ all the best, Jane@virtuousbread.com

ginandcrumpets said...

Ah, Veronica doesn't look that bad. Mr Bubbles sometimes wears a face like that and do you know what I do? I just stir all the watery stuff back in and crack on with making the sponge bit of the loaf. He always comes back to life – I think it helps that I warn him that if he doesn't work, he'd going down the drain. And I bet all those mouldy bits are good for you. Give the family's immune systemsa bit of a boost.

Nick Baines said...

I killed my starter, I have been toying with the idea of starting a fresh one and being a little more disciplined, but so far I have been lazy. I will do it soon though, I will.

Food Urchin said...

Jane - wow that recipe does look easy, easier than Mr Lepards even, get this be true?

Gin and Crumpets - I love the fact that your starter is called Mr Bubbles, slighty creepy in a Michael Jackson sort of way but I like it

Nick - yes, discipline is required when you are in the care of a starter, discipline *coughhacksplutter*