Monday, May 25, 2009

Who is Baby Bobby?

Baby Bobby is neither a baby nor a person. Baby Bobby is my wild yeast sourdough culture.

I know what you're thinking. Only weird and totally obsessed people name their sourdough starter. And write a blog about baking bread.

Yes, that would be me.

Welcome to my blog.

Baby Bobby is about a month old. Two months ago, I was rekindling my bread baking hobby after many years in hiatus (attending post graduate school while working two jobs and having kids--one born in the middle of grad school--will slow down your hobbies, you know?). If you told me two months ago that I would be making a sourdough starter from scratch and lavishing more attention on it than I do on my kids (according to them), I'd have laughed. I don't even like sourdough except on very rare occasions.

But one of my goals in baking bread was to save money and stop putting out maybe $35 or more dollars per month on the various breads my family eats. Wine guy likes multi-grain bread for sandwiches & healthy english muffins for weekend breakfasts. Our kids like fluffy white nutritional disaster bread for toast and sandwiches. I'm not a big bread eater, but I enjoy an artisan style loaf with certain dinner menus. On Friday nights we have challah, which has climbed to almost $5 a loaf these days--if you want a good one.

So I set about making the breads my family eats. The artisan style breads were actually the easiest because Artisan Bread in Five Minutes per day was the catalyst that touched off my reunion with breadbaking. And I'm an experienced and skilled challah baker.

Next, I tackled the multi-grain bread my husband prefers. I thought that would be the hardest to duplicate, but to my surprise, it wasn't too hard. I tasted his Milton's Multi-grain bread to see what it was like (way too sweet for my tastes!). I searched around and found a recipe that seemed close on King Arthur's Recipe site: . BINGO! It was delicious and even Wine Guy agreed it was better than the commercial bread.

The day after I baked it, I noticed it was pretty dry and stale already. I learned why when I picked up the loaf in it's plastic storage bag the next day and it fell naked to the floor--a big hole in the bag.

But the next loaf I baked staled pretty quickly, too. I sliced the third loaf and froze the individual slices to reduce that problem, but it just seemed very solid and dry after cooling on the counter overnight.


I started researching. Was it the way I was storing the loaves? Was there something I could add or subtract from the recipe?

My reading led me to two theories that are supposed to help. First, the longer it takes to develop the dough, the longer the finished bread lasts. Second, adding sourdough starter to dough lightens the crumb and lengthens the life of the finished bread--even when the sourdough starter is not used for flavor or leavening.

OK, so I guess I needed a starter.

I followed the excellent directions here:
It was cold in our house, so it took a full 10 days, but eventually what is now known as Little Baby Bobby was born. A 2 oz. bubbling baby starter.

Why Baby Bobby? My kids have an obsession with the name "Bob". When a deer hit my husband's car and almost killed him (yes, the deer hit his car, not the other way around), my kids named the deer "Bob". And when they don't know the name of a male, it's always "Bob". So when I asked for suggestions for a name for my starter, of course, the suggestion was "Bob".

But this is a baby, and Bob didn't seem to fit. Maybe the starter will grow into that name, but not now. What stuck in my head was the name of the title character from one of my little one's books--Little Baby Bobby:

It's a great, bubbly, and rhythmic story about Little Baby Bobby in a runaway buggy running through the town. And when the breads don't work out, I can use one of my favorite expressions in the book. "Oopsa, oopsa."

So far, no oopsa, oopsa. It works beautifully (after some recipe tweaking).

That's Little Baby Bobby.

1 comment:

  1. Congrats on your new blog, and thanks for linking to my At the Very Yeast Blog.

    I'll be reading with interest. I don't have a lot of time to tend to sourdoughs as I can be out of town on short notice during warm weather months, but maybe we'll give the a go in the fall again.

    We had a starter named Herman years ago ;-)