Last weekend I didn’t write a post. I know….every week, not really setting myself up for goal crushing. Here’s the thing. I love making and baking. But when things don’t turn out exactly how I want them to I chuck ’em, or I have a small adult meltdown, or I start over, or I don’t give the baby blanket, or pout (again, like an adult), or I swear off baking.
I don’t do “failure” well.
Now, anyone who knows me knows that my description of failure allows for no imperfections. I can turn out a great product but I will see all the flaws. I am working on being less critical, of myself mostly. I seem to have much for grace for others. Imagine that.
I am writing this blog to share recipes but also as a creative outlet. I have created recipes over the years that give the consistent results I want. I have added this or that to a recipe of my mom’s, my grama’s, or my food idols (like Julia, and Ina, and Ree). Sometimes I just keep their recipes, because they are classics. But I love to experiment in the kitchen. I love to look at few recipes and then make my own. This works well with cooking. With baking, it can be more dangerous.
Let me be clear. You can make the same recipe multiple times with differing results. Let me repeat myself: you can make the same exact thing multiple times with a differing result. Let me say it a different way. You can get a recipe from someone else and follow it very strictly and get a different result than they did. Then you think to yourself- “what did I do wrong?” or “why doesn’t taste like hers?” You could follow a recipe loosely, add your own spin, sub something, forget something, and it might turn out even better. You can throw things together and make something spectacular and look back and think, “huh, wish I remember what I put in that”. You can also follow a recipe perfectly and have outside factors like weather, altitude, your oven, or that butter that you didn’t realize was salted affect your outcome. You can also follow a recipe and create perfection. What I am really trying to say is that everything does not always turn out. That is life and I am still actively trying to learn that lesson.
Let me tell you about last weekend. I was going to post on bread. Because I love bread and I love the process of making my own sourdough. I have a “go to” sourdough recipe that is 4 ingredients. Super simple: starter, water, flour, salt. Now, in the spirit of honesty, lets talk about my 4 ingredient sourdough fiascos. I have been making sourdough for just over a year. I don’t make it every week, some weeks are feeder weeks- like this weekend. I find I make it most in the summer and in the winter. Bruschetta season and soup season. Now I would say I have probably made 30 sourdough boules or round loaves. I would say roughly 5 turned out absolutely perfect. That is the reality. I would say 10 were under proved, 10 were over proved, probably 2 were under baked, and 3 were absolute disasters for reasons I cannot explain. Rock hard, inedible, chuck it in the bin bread loaves. Last weekend I made a loaf style sourdough. I don’t make it often but I have a few recipes and they have turned out in the past. I was looking to make a healthy toast/sandwich bread. Now, I find that whole wheat flour can be more difficult to work with in a sourdough situation. I like the nutty taste of whole wheat and the health benefits to it. I do find that it makes a more dense dough and the dough doesn’t rise as much as I’d like. I will admit to sometimes adding yeast to get the rise I want.
Last weekend I did not add yeast and I ended up with a loaf that didn’t rise well. I was frustrated and almost threw it away without even tasting it. I put it in bag and set it aside. A few days later I decided to taste it. Even thought it didn’t look how I wanted, the crust was good, the crumb was good, the texture when toasted was good. It just didn’t have the lovely dome on top. I don’t know how many times I have to let the universe remind me, but just because it didn’t turn out exactly how I planned doesn’t mean it is a failure.