Sourdough Tales: Overbaked But Not Ruined

What happens when – somehow – the oven timer doesn’t go off and your sourdough bakes for twice as long as it should? You might be surprised…I was!

We love, love, love our sourdough here, and make loaves twice a week. Every once in a blue moon, though, something weird happens. This time, the happy dough was baking away, filling the house with that distinctive fragrance of fresh-baked bread, and we attended to other tasks, as we normally would. Except that the poor loaf just kept baking…and baking…

Until Mr. fMf (the baker) suddenly realized that the oven timer hadn’t sounded its normal alarm to announce that the bread was finished baking. Rushing to the oven, he was braced for the worst: would it be a black loaf, burnt beyond recognition? The idea that Audrey’s contribution and perfectly good ingredients might be charred into something inedible was saddening.

Upon opening the oven, it was clear that the loaf was very “bronzed”, shall we say, but not charred. Whew. No smoky odor emanated from the oven, either. Also good. The real test, however, was to sample the bread to determine if it tasted funky or was horribly desiccated. Even if it looked edible, a smoky flavor would definitely be off-putting.

What hue comes after “golden brown”?

We typically try to avoid slicing into a freshly-baked loaf because it (1) squishes the tender loaf and (2) can accelerate the loaf’s drying-out process, both at the point where it’s cut and throughout the loaf. We made an exception this time.

Slightly squished in the corner during slicing

I won’t deny that the loaf was very crusty. It was like it had a 1/4″ thick crust all the way around. I like crust, so that wasn’t a problem, and the bread inside was tender and surprisingly moist. Over the next couple of days, it did seem to dry out faster than a normal loaf, but still made great toast.

Looks surprisingly normal on the inside

Given that these were partially “croutoned” already, they’d easily lend themselves to this application…or breadcrumbs. And even if the loaf had turned out too dry for us to eat, our poultry and/or pigs would have made short work of it. No waste. But next time, we’ll be setting a backup timer.

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