Three Going on Twenty Three

Birth Day 2008

We’ve got another reason to celebrate in our house – Miss A’s third birthday! Our little baby girl is growing up and way too fast for our liking. Some days it certainly seems like she’s three going on twenty three. Take her birthday meal request for instance. Here’s how the conversation went: “What do you want for your birthday dinner?” Miss A responded without hesitation, “Cookies.”

“Yes, honey, but what do you want to eat before the cookies.”

“Cookies.” (Gotta love her determination.)

“You have to eat dinner before the cookies – your special birthday dinner. You can pick any dinner you want.”

“Um. Something hard. A hard recipe. And balsamic.”

“Balsamic? You want me to make something that’s hard to make and use balsamic?”

“Yep.”

And so Miss A’s birthday dinner came to be – a sourdough bread served with cheese, fruit and summer sausage – and of course olive oil and balsamic vinegar for dipping. Miss A couldn’t have been more excited – all of her favorite foods in one meal.

So when Miss A said to pick a hard recipe I instantly thought of a homemade bread. I’ve only ever used the bread machine for fresh loaves and the few times I attempted dinner rolls from scratch have not gone well. I started by ordering a King Arthur sourdough starter. I remembered Sally over at Bewitching Kitchen had mentioned it and she’s my hero when it comes to fresh loaves of bread.

We’ve been feeding the starter for a few weeks now and it was definitely good and ready to go. We started with a cup of our starter.

Next we added some water and flour to the starter.

Then set it in a cool place for four hours after which it was time for refrigeration.

We left the sourdough in the fridge overnight (12 hours). Then it was time to add the remaining flour, sugar and salt. There is no additional yeast added to this recipe (which is why I chose it – one less thing for me to kill).

Now this is the point that I started to panic a bit. It was very difficult to incorporate the flour into the dough without any additional liquids. I thought it was going to be near impossible to form a smooth, soft dough; but after 15 minutes of literally throwing my whole body into the kneading process…voila!

I actually teared up at the results. It’s the little things in life. We then let the dough take a five-hour “nap.” We left it in the kitchen (I consulted Sally on this one – thanks again for your help Sally!) to rise at room temperature. And so far so good.

But this is where it got hard again. It was now time to divide the dough and form two nice ovals. I formed ovals, but they didn’t look so nice.

Any tips on how to do that and actually make them pretty, please let me know. So then we let the dough rest again for another three hours, made cuts in the loaves and baked them for 30 minutes at 425F. It didn’t end up looking perfect – but it sure looks like real bread!

And it rose – so that’s a success for me!

It was a success for Miss A too. She gave us her version of thumbs-up after her first bite.

At only three years old, this little one has an unlimited vocabulary and continually amazes us (and scares us) with the way she quickly learns anything new; yet, she still can’t figure out which ones are her thumbs. She has her priorities I guess. LOL.

Miss A was right about one thing though – this bread was thumbs-up! After slicing into it I was so excited to find a bread with the right consistency, texture and taste. We served it warm with the rest of Miss A’s picks and it was a hit.

We all loved the bread and it went really well with the olive oil and balsamic (as well as on its own). Although the bread didn’t look bakery worthy, it sure tasted delicious, so I’m calling this homemade bread attempt a success. It was a proud day for me. But the thing that topped it all was when the birthday girl spontaneously announced, “Mommy, you did it perfectly!” And then she ran over and gave me a hug. Needless to say, I teared up again for the second time that day. Happy birthday Miss A!

To print this recipe: Extra-Tangy Sourdough Bread

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34 comments on “Three Going on Twenty Three

  1. HAPPY belated Birthday!!
    I’m so sorry to be a few days late… I had to “rest”…doctor’s orders.

  2. Absolutely adorable. Your daughter is lucky to have a wonderful home cooked/baked meal for her birthday! I’m sure when she is older and can read your blog she will appreciate it even more- if that’s even possible. :) Happy birthday Miss A!

  3. I loved this post. I reminds me of when my kids were little. The bread looks so amazing. I can’t believe this was you first try. Miss A is absolutely adorable!

  4. Happy birthday Miss A and congrats mum on your yuumy bread loaf..sounds heavenly..I can just imagine how much joy Miss A will get reading these posts when she’s a grown up…maybe even with her kids

  5. Mary says:

    Very special! Such a lovely little girl – the bread looks amazing!! –
    Mary :)

  6. Awww, happy birthday Miss A! Fresh baked bread for her birthday, now that’s a girl after my own heart. ;)

  7. A_Boleyn says:

    Happy 3rd Birthday, Miss A.

  8. Caroline says:

    Happy birthday Miss A!! This bread looks delicious–homemade is the best. Can’t wait to read Miss A’s food blog in the future (as I’m sure it’s bound to happen), and you can bet I’ll be following! :)

  9. Awww I hope the beautiful and ever present Miss A had a great birthday. And she is such a girl after my own heart since all I wanted at that age was cookies too LOL. But I LOVE sourdough bread. And yes I know you’re surprised but besides that and wheat bread.. those are the only two I will eat. And your bread look amazing. Very nice and light dinner

  10. Oh your little Miss A is just beautiful and Yeah for your bread! It looks delicious, great job!

  11. Oh this is just too priceless: A hard recipe. And balsamic. Happy birthday to Miss A, budding foodie and world leader.

  12. sallybr says:

    Double congrats are in order: first to Miss A, it’s not easy to be 3, when deep inside we are 23. She is doing a great job coping with this intense inner struggle (and so are her parents ;-)

    second, for your first sourdough bread! THat’s a milestone, I can see many more loaves in your future! It is intimidating at first, but the more you use it, the easier it gets

    • ChefMom says:

      Thanks Sally! (Thanks as well for your inspiration and assistance!) LOL – Miss A definitely has an inner struggle with her older self. Today she announced that now that she’s 3 and all grown-up, she’s almost 11. I just hope she doesn’t grow-up too fast…for my sake and hers! :)

      I can’t wait to try this recipe again! I had fun making it and was so excited by the results.

  13. Kelly says:

    You know what’s so beautiful about this is that at the end of this journey, your children will have an entire catalogue of their lives – and their unique place in your lives. What a priceless gift you are offering them. The balsamic is the best – now that’s a 3 year old with good taste – and those pictures… the delicate newborn snap (with the gorgeous piano fingers), to the fierce determination of today. What a beautiful spirit you have gracing you. (And, I think your bread is definitely bakery worthy – in fact, you did it perfectly!) Happy, Happy day Miss A – smooch!

  14. Charles says:

    The final picture – wow, that looks delicious – my kind of meal! Sourdough is something I’ve been meaning to try for a long time but never got around to it yet. I love that it doesn’t use extra yeast because I always find that my bread is either too hard (not enough) or really tastes over-yeasty.

    Great job, and happy birthday to Miss A!

    • ChefMom says:

      Thanks Charles! Now I just have to muster up the nerve to make my own starter one of these days. Baby steps. Baby steps. And I’m with you on using yeast. I always destroy it. This one is practically fool-proof though!

  15. sheelbeel says:

    Mmmmm yay for homemade bread!

  16. What a beautiful post. Ms. A sounds like she knows what she wants, especially that photo of her pointing her finger! She’s so darn cute! Tell her Happy Birthday from us over at Smart Food and Fit Family!
    I have to say your sour dough bread looks good in all of the photo’s. Actually the last photo looks like an ad for a grocery store bakery!

    • ChefMom says:

      Thank you Lisa! She had a great birthday! I just tell myself that her stubbornness is her strong sense of independence and determination, and that her demanding attitude is assertiveness. Those are all good qualities I want her to have going forward. LOL! (Sometimes it’s easier to remember, or convince myself of, that than others!)

  17. A_Boleyn says:

    Congratulations on your first loaf of bread. The hardest part of bread making is a success … now comes the fancy stuff. :)

    Shaping:
    If shaping bread into a loaf, roll out each half of dough into rectangle. Starting at short end, roll tightly like a jelly roll. Pinch seam and ends. Place in pan or on baking sheet seam side down. Cover with lightly greased plastic wrap and let rise until doubled. Slash before baking.

    When I want to get really fancy, I cut the basic baguette into the shape of a sheaf of wheat or epi.

    http://blog.kitchenmage.com/2007/11/bread-101-how-t.html

    There are lots of possible methods for shaping your bread that you can learn from this web site.

    • ChefMom says:

      Oh wow! Now that’s something for me to work toward. First I’m going to start with trying to make this a loaf with a real loaf shape. ;)

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