Disaster struck on Saturday morning this weekend. I got up as usual at 8 am and went down to the kitchen. I knew what I had to do. We were planning to eat pizza that evening, and I wanted to mix the dough as early as possible. Pizza dough always becomes better with long fermentation time in the refrigerator. So the first thing I did was to check my sourdough starter. I had fed it before I went to bed, so I expected a lively, bubbling starter.
To my dismay, I saw that unlike me, it hadn’t woken up yet. And that’s bad. Very bad. Because as most of you know, it can take some time to wake up a sleepy starter. I didn’t have time for that.
I swore about lazy, ungrateful, useless and grumpy sourdough starters while I furiously glared down into the glass jar. A puny little bubble rose up to the surface and burst in front of my eyes.
I got the message.
“That’s all you will get, asshole, so why don’t you let me go back to sleep?”
I have been baking with a sourdough starter for many years now, and I know how to get my starter in a perfect, good, mature mood. Most of the time I should add. These things happen, I know. It happens even to professional bakers. Still, there are few things that make me more frustrated. You have planned everything in detail, but when it’s time for action, everything is ruined by a starter that makes a mummy appear like a playful foal.
I realized that there was only one thing left to do. I had to use commercial yeast. Now, before anyone starts to feel offended, I would like to point out that there is absolutely nothing wrong with using commercial yeast. I do it sometimes, depending on what kind of bread I want to bake. It’s just that we sourdough nerds are a bit special (or weird). If we have decided to bake something with a sourdough starter, it feels like a failure if we have to use commercial yeast.
And it was thoughts like that that ran through my head that morning. But then I remembered something. A few weeks ago I watched a cooking show about how they bake real Neapolitan pizza. A Swedish chef went down to Napoli to try to learn how to bake the famous dish. I remembered that he failed most of the time. But I also remembered that they used fresh, regular yeast.
“If the Italiens can use it, so can I,” I said to myself.
“You hear that you son of a mold-infested, hooch overfilled jar of shit” I shouted in triumph to my starter. “I don’t need you.”
My starter responded with silence.