The Secret Life and Loves of Sourdough

IMG_0735“The Secret Life and Loves of Sourdough.” Never has a documentary film had such an impact upon the life of an individual– nothing short of a religious conversion, an epiphany, and the attainment of enlightenment all rolled into one.  Fifty-three minutes that radically altered the course of a life.

Sourdough.  He would be transformed by the infusion of sourdough into every conceivable aspect of his life.  Sourdough was the elixir to elevate his mundane existence into one that could only be described as nothing short of extraordinary.

Sourdough would whiten his teeth, thicken his hair plus give it that spunky wave across his forehead he always dreamed of.  It would grant him the explosive physicality of a wrestler doing a back flip off the top rope and executing the perfect take-down, not to mention the endurance of someone who would do two Barclay Marathons before breakfast– a breakfast of sourdough croissants.

Sourdough would permeate every cell of his body, altering his DNA to be shockingly similar to George Clooney’s, only with a better sense of style.  His mind would be altered, giving him a sense of robust confidence to speak with an articulate authority not witnessed since the illustrious political career of John George Diefenbaker.

He wasn’t exactly sure of the science behind it all, but that wasn’t the point.  What mattered was belief.  Oh, sure, he had his theories about internal bodily fermentation which just made so much sense.  It was all about belief. 

His fanaticism was inflicted upon members of his immediate family who endured sourdough pancakes the consistency of semi-gelatinous kevlar, sourdough muffins with a texture reminiscent of a camping sleeping foam, and sourdough brownies that, in spite of the butter, melted chocolate, and excessive amounts of sugar, were deemed inedible even by the family’s pet goat.

The only success, and it was a minor victory, was with his sourdough bread.  Why only a minor victory?  The crust was only able to be sliced with the assistance of a circular saw.  But once sliced, the taste was something else.  And although the promise of personal transformation through consuming sourdough was never fully realized, he persisted with sourdough Christmas cake, sourdough angel food, and sourdough fritters.  And never once before his life was cut short by a fatal slippage of the circular saw while preparing a sourdough tomato sandwich, did he come to the realization and ultimate truth about sourdough:

You can pretty much make anything with sourdough, but this does not mean you should.

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Dual Personality Rolls

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Pictured Above:  A Savoury Roll.  No photo was taken of the sweet alternative as they were devoured before a camera could be raised.  

Sweet drowns out inadequacies.  Savoury is openly honest about shortcomings.

Sweet is a comb-over with a Kool-aid dye job.  Savoury is bedhead with a few passes of splayed fingers.

Sweet is a pickup truck with over-sized tires and a gun rack.  Savoury is a bicycle with a basket and no fenders.

Sweet tap-dances, Moonwalks and heal slides.  Savoury does the Downward Dog.

Sweet delivers an uppercut.  Savoury delivers a back rub.

Sweet is a tsunami of pleasure that overwhelms your senses and leaves you flattened like a lifeless bag of bones in its aftermath.  Savoury is a subtle tap on your shoulder that makes you take notice, but doesn’t knock you off your feet.

This recipe is for one roll, two fillings (not at the same time, however).  You choose which you are: sweet or savoury.

Sweet and Savoury Sourdough Rolls

(Adapted from the Unskinny Boppy)

The Rolls

1/2 cup of butter (cool in the fridge)

2 1/2 cups of all purpose flour

1/2 cup of sourdough starter

1 Tablespoon of white sugar

1 cup of milk

1 teaspoon of salt

1 teaspoon of baking powder

1/2 teaspoon of baking soda

The Sweet Filling

1/2 cup of brown sugar

1 1/2 teaspoons of cinnamon

1/2 cup of softened (not melted) butter

The Savoury Filling

Aged cheddar (or other strong-tasting cheese)

French’s mustard

Instructions

You’ll need about 8 hours or so to make these. (But don’t worry, you’re not working on them the whole time.)

  1. Cut the 1/2 cup of butter into the 2 1/2 cups of flour until it’s pretty much reduced to a sandy texture.
  2. Mix in the 1/2 cup sourdough starter, 1 Tablespoon of sugar and 1 cup of milk and make into a dough ball.
  3. Cover the dough ball and let it rise for about 7 hours (although I’ve gotten away with less).
  4. Knead in the 1 teaspoon of salt, 1 teaspoon of baking powder, and 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda.  Add more flour if needed until you have a smooth dough ball.
  5. Roll out the dough into a 1/4” thick rectangle.
  6. Spread either the sweet or savoury filling over the dough.  For the savoury, spread enough mustard to cover, then grate enough cheese to cover.
  7. On the long edge, tightly roll the dough up until you have a long tube of dough.
  8. Cut slices (and here’s the contentious part) between 1/2” and 1” thick.  (You decide what your preference will be.)
  9. Place flat on tin foiled or parchment papered tray.
  10. Cook in 400 F oven for 20 to 30 min.

The savoury rolls are great with soup, while the sweet cinnamon rolls are best eaten on their own all at once in a session of pure gluttony.

The Untapped Potential of a Genuinely Spectacular Failure

It takes a special talent to fail in a genuinely spectacular fashion.  Intentional failure is just a repackaging of rebellion, completely lacking a profound spontaneity with its disingenuousness easily sniffed out.  Intentional failure lacks the mystique of an unimaginable outcome that no one saw coming.

Most important, the genuinely spectacular failure possesses the possibility of being reinterpreted as an achievement.  All it takes is a shift in context.  Take the object pictured below. 

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Its humble beginning was that of a sourdough starter combined with a variety of ill-advised ingredients and questionable methodology that all proved catastrophic to the intended outcome– a loaf of sourdough bread.  The result was a brick-like object which is bullet-proof, sulphuric acid-proof, with a density only slightly less than a black hole.  Clearly a freak of invention that defies physics, definition, or logic.  The potential for its use is only limited by the feeble capacities of the imagination.  Of greatest concern to humanity is that this marvel doesn’t fall into the wrong hands.  For now, it is best kept in a secure, secret location, buried in the local landfill, until future civilizations can dig it up and find an enlightened purpose for this marvel of failure.