One of my favourite pieces of advice came from a cheese making course I did with Katherine Mowbray last year.
Katherine said: when you make cheese, don’t get too stressed out if things go wrong because (within reason) no matter what mistakes you make, you’ll still end up with cheese. It might not be the cheese you intended to make – but it WILL STILL BE CHEESE.
I remembered this advice today when I was making bread. This was not the bread I intended to make – but it IS STILL BREAD! (I’m sure the general principle behind this reassuring advice could be applied to many things, food and otherwise.)
The trouble was, I made a very moist dough and then attempted to cook it on an oven sheet without putting it into a container. In the oven it began to spread, rather than rise.
I wasn't sure what to do. I wondered whether I should just leave it, and accept that it would be a very wide, low bread - but I didn’t really want to.
I wondered whether I should shore up the sides with a couple of ovenproof containers - but I could only find one that was the right shape and size.
Finally I decided to scoop it all off the oven sheet and put it into a loaf dish! I'll leave you to imagine how that went.
I ended up with a very rough, crumpled pile of dough in the loaf dish, and as it rose and cooked it didn’t smooth out.
So – above is the end result. I call it Uglybread.
I was going to say that it still tasted very good despite how it looked – but actually I think it its roughness added something ... I’d smothered it in olive oil as it cooked (because I like the way it makes a crunchy crust). And with all those bumps and folds there was plenty of extra surface area to go crunchy.
Anyway – thank you Rebecca! This is the first loaf I’ve made with your sourdough starter. It proved beautifully, and the flavour is divine – with a strong sour tang that I’ve been missing from the sourdoughs we’ve bought in stores lately.