But the more I learn about sourdough, the more I realise it's a bit like hi-fi's (or whatever they're called theseadays). You can get to the point where you finesse, finesse, finesse so much that you're still going long past the point anyone else stopped caring.
I remember standing in a hi-fi shop with a hi-fi geek friend of mine, who was trying to show me the difference between one system (and we're not talking those vertically racked systems, please, we're talking individually bought and unmatching components) that cost £5K and one that cost £7K. "Can you hear the difference?" she asked.
No, I couldn't. This is where I feigned an epileptic fit and asked to leave the shop.
There are a couple of questions I have at the moment about sourdough. I'll have so many more, but at the moment a few are really bugging me. What I want is a really technical, but hand-holdy book (and if you know of one, please let me know) that will explain the science in a bit more detail than The Handmade Loaf.
And as I try to find these out on the web, I get more drawn into super-geek bread sites (trust me they make this look like Grazia) that make me feel like a miserable failure.
Even though, I have to remind myself, I think my bread is great and it does everything a good loaf should. It rises, it looks lovely and it tastes wonderful. What more could I want? At which point does it get good enough and people stop wondering if the addition of one extra ice cube will make for that super-perfect crust, or if they'd just turned the dough another 180 degrees during their crumb improvement proof, it would have had elongated holes to rival a natural sea-sponge.
Does it matter? I'm beginning to suspect it does. But I also want to scream at some of these sites and say:
"Are you shagging enough?" because surely you can't be. I can't believe anyone who is having enough sex can get that into bread.
And I include myself in this. But look. I have an excuse.
Must go now, have a loaf in the oven.
A completely gratuitous picture of Sofia Loren NOT baking bread.