No. The sourdough is not done yet. Always a work in progress, always a project that keeps me busy, the sourdough is getting close but might never be there. Good. I would feel so empty inside if it was done, both from lack of that driving force to constantly improve my craft, and from an empty belly. Creating food as a hobby means those around you always get something fresh and hopefully tasty on a regular basis. This weekend I turned out four loaves of sourdough and said, “Damn the ovens, full heat ahead!” as part of my new fearless approach to baking. Here’s what I learned: it’s possible for the oven to be too hot, especially if the baking surface is close to the burners. All four loaves got pretty dark on the bottom, which is a nice way to say they were burned. Not badly and certainly not enough to preclude enjoyment, but I learned that a few extra minutes in an oven not quite hot would yield me the results I want: dark caramelization and a crispy crust.
I’m more driven to bake a good sourdough since I’m giving a talk on bread next Wednesday the 20th for Pecha Kucha Night San Diego. This event brings together folks from all walks of life though it tends to focus on those in the arts, design, and architecture fields. The night is a chance to hear on a range of topics in rapid-fire succession: each presenter gets twenty slides at twenty seconds a piece to present a topic. Six minutes and forty seconds—if you can’t say it in that time it doesn’t get said. A few presenters do an incredible job, making it look effortless. Some are dragged along by their own slides: “Okay…this next one is me doing a painting of…um…okay, so this next slide…” and others are an unedited stream of consciousness, chasing after their slides like a toddler after a wayward balloon. With only six minutes and change, the good ones are an amuse bouche, lasting just long enough to excite the appetite, and the bad ones are over quick enough to not bring the collective mood down. I did this a few years ago and it went over pretty well, so I’ve got to top my performance from last time if there are any repeat audience members. If you’re in the San Diego area that night and want to have some drinks and hear good stories, come on by. You’ll get to meet Handmade Blog in person and see pictures of bread projected on an enormous screen, and I may have a surprise for the audience. It is possible it will be bread related.