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Tastes like success.

The return of Pongo has been anticlimactically swift and successful.

100% Pure Pongo.

I scraped out everything dried and wrong-smelling (oddly, nothing smelled really rank or rotten, just like *very* mature cheese), and over a couple of days, Pongo woke up and started foaming up to the lid of the pickle jar in which it resides. Today, the truest test (actually, the only test: if Pongo can’t win at this, there’s little point in the whole exercise): bread.

I tried making sourdough in the past, with limited-to-absent success. This low rate of return, combined with a few years of travelling, house-moving and health stuff pushed Pongo to the back of the fridge. Meanwhile, I mastered basic bread making and learned how kneading worked, and today I was ready to see if Pongo and I can work together.

Rise, noble Pongo.

I think I’m onto a good thing. This was an adaptation of Wild Yeast‘s go-to sourdough, the Norwich Sourdough
My adaptations: I halved the recipe (Pongo’s lively, but limited), substituted wholemeal wheat flour for the rye, and kneaded by hand. (I also made a boule rather than a batard, but let’s not quibble over appearances.)

Match.

Pongo performed beautifully: the dough rose on schedule and was lovely to handle. Smooth, pliable and dry, like a fat bald cat. Sourdough dough takes significantly longer than dried yeast dough. When working with dried yeast, I usually fold the rising dough at 20 minutes, and then shape at 40 minutes and bake about half an hour after that. On a good day, I can get from dough to whoa in under 3 hours: when making Pongo bread, 3 hours gets you to shaping, and there’s at least 2 ½ hours rising to go after that. You wait a while — maybe you settle down with some Proust or watch the full series of Cosmos, you know, feed your mind — and it is worth every paused moment:

Pongo rewards patience.

Look at that even, springy crumb. Look at the light, crackly crust. I am incredibly proud of what Pongo and I have produced. Mostly because it’s amazingly delicious. Seriously good; robust and textured, toothsome and tasty. It has a strong bread flavour, without moving into tangy or seriously sour. This is good shit.

Serving suggestion.

So far tested plain and toasted, with butter, jam, and Promite (not all at once. Don’t be a fool) and it won every round. Full marks Pongo! I will watch your future career with interest.

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