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The sad tale of sourdough baking while camping

October 25, 2010

I had great plans to bake sourdough bread while we were camping. I bought a little baking tin that fitted inside the camp oven (which is basically just a big cast iron pot with a lid), and I packed a container of sourdough starter into the camping fridge. For the first two weeks of our trip it either rained or we camped in places that did not allow a camp fire. So the starter languished. I must admit that I totally neglected it and did not even bother to feed it. Then finally we were in a spot that was going to work. I fed the starter and coaxed it back into life. The problem with SD baking in this sort of environment is that you can’t predict the weather or even our location two days in advance. But I was not going to be deterred. The starter got two feeds and it was looking good to go. I did a very odd sort of ‘kneading’ in a big tupperware container – basically just grabbing handfuls and stretching. Looked a sorry mess but I had faith. What I didn’t have was time – enough time for it to have the required bulk proving and then slow rising. I had about three hours after kneading and decided that I would give it a go anyway. I didn’t think Andrew would be too willing to light another fire for me the next morning, and rain clouds were gathering making the whole next morning thing doubtful. Never mind. I managed to shape the loaf and get it into the hot camp oven. Put a few too many coals on the lid as you can see from the burnt top. To my delight it rose beautifully, and was not burnt in the slightest on the bottom. Since it was well and truly bed time by the time I got it out, I decided to wrap it in a tea towel and put it in this zip up part of the trailer that swings out to form part of the kitchen. I figured that would keep it safe from the ducks and other birds that were coming around in the morning trying to get into the garbage and scrounge for food scraps. It ended up being right below my head and the aroma of freshly baked bread wafted up as I tried to go to sleep. You can see where this is going now can’t you?

A few hours later I was woken up with sounds of an animal scrabbling around below me. I kicked Andrew out of bed and insisted that he go and check and try to save my bread. There was a huge marsupial (probably a bush rat) trying to eat my bread!! I cannot tell you how cross I was. All that effort and I didn’t even get to have a slice out of it. Andrew chucked it in the car for the rest of the night and the next day even though we could not see bite marks, the thought of a “rat” was enough to put us off even risking it. Straight to the bin.

Never mind, I consoled myself. At least I know that it can work. The next loaf will be perfect….

And then Andrew decided to clean out the camping fridge. In true Andrew style which involves throwing out something precious to me, usually something I have just bought at some fancy food market….he threw out my starter. He thought it smelled like something that was off. So no more sourdough baking on this trip. How sad is that?!

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6 Comments leave one →
  1. October 25, 2010 8:05 PM

    Oh for goodness sake. Don’t let that man of yours throw anything else away! And don’t let him near my fridge or pantry either! 😉

    Great effort though – I can’t believe how well it rose after only a few hours prove and two weeks of being ignored! How long before you’re back?

    • spiceandmore permalink*
      October 26, 2010 8:41 PM

      Week and a half to go. How sad. We are all wishing it could go on for a few more weeks.

  2. October 25, 2010 9:21 PM

    Oh no! What a tragedy! At least the rat thought it smelt better than your husband thought it did, I guess that says something.

    • spiceandmore permalink*
      October 26, 2010 8:37 PM

      Well to be fair to Andrew, sourdough starter usually looks and smells like something off. He did call out to me to ask if he should throw out the coconut cream. I was lazing in my hammock and thought “there’s no coconut milk in the fridge” but said “yeah whatever” because it was easier than getting up. So I should share part of the blame. It sounds better when I just blame him though, don’t you think?! 🙂

  3. October 26, 2010 5:33 PM

    I love this story, I know I shouldn’t say that, but it makes a great read! Many years ago I came home from college bringing my trusty student sleeping on the floor mattress with me. I woke up the first night in a new apartment to someone chewing earnestly on my hair !!!!. A town mouse, not a rat, but it was enough to make me go out and buy a proper bed the next day and investigate humane methods of catching mice. I have one involving a round bowl and a bevel screwdriver that works quite well.

    I have been enjoying your holiday posts so much 🙂

    • spiceandmore permalink*
      October 26, 2010 8:34 PM

      Eeek! A mouse chewing your hair?!! That beats my story for sure. Do you still jump everytime you feel a tug on your hair at night? Curious to know what your mouse trap looks like.

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