(first blog post) How to use Murphy's Law against itself; sourdough tips from a newborn babe
With our second child, my wife was desperate to have the baby by the due date. Her parents were leaving for England for three weeks and they really wanted to meet the baby before they left!
It happened at that time we needed a bunch of topsoil to fill a big brick flowerbed I'd made. When the order came and we had a huge mound of topsoil on our driveway, I joked that due to Murhpy's Law the baby would come now, since we had all this work to do shoveling it. Sure enough my wife went into labour that night and had our daughter Maya the next morning. (I remember shoveling dirt like mad while she was in the early stages of labour!)
That was 2006. Fast forward to May 2010 and expecting our fourth child any day. I didn't realize what I was doing when late on the Friday night (May 21) I made up the dough for Shiao-Ping's Banana Pain-au-Levain, plus made up the soaker and elaborated a whole bunch of starter for Hamelman's Five-Grain sourdough recipe. I didn't get to bed until 1:30am!
Of course that night Kristen's water broke (around 5am) and we were at the hospital a few hours later. I was operating on less than 4 hours sleep, and calling my mother-in-law from the hospital asking her to put the soaker & starter in the fridge.
Our daughter Aria was born the Saturday night, just before midnight. I baked the banana bread Monday morning, just before heading back to the hospital to bring Kristen and Aria home. Finally on Monday afternoon I mixed up the Five-Grain sourdough (after the starter had been sitting 'active' in fridge for 2.5 days).
To my surprise, both batches turned out fantastic! Neither were overly sour. The banana bread had a lovely moist crumb with the characteristic flavour that Shiao-Ping described. And the Five-Grain rose well, which surprised me after the starter had been in the fridge so long, I didn't think it would still be so active. Thanks to the soaker, the seeds in the Five-Grain were deliciously soft, in fact the sunflower seeds cut easily along with each slice.
Five-Grain Sourdough from Hamelman's 'Bread'
I'll always remember that I baked two batches of bread the day we brought Aria home. And I learned that it really is okay to let your active starter "hold on" in the fridge for a while until you're ready to mix the dough. (I'll still try to stick to max 24 hours holding time, but knowing even 2.5 days worked fine, I won't worry about it so much!)