Thursday, November 12, 2009

I can't believe I did it, but I did it!


Last night I baked my first ever batch of sourdough bread. I had been working on the starter for about a week and, although I sort of botched it by not saving enough to keep the thing going post-bread making, the bread turned out amazingly. Not to toot my own horn or anything, but this bread was a-may-zing. Is amazing.

I used Peter Reinhart's The Bread Baker's Apprentice to make the starter and the Basic Sourdough. This book is incredible. It's by the same guy who wrote Brother Juniper's Bread Book, which is what we used as a guide when I worked in a bakery. I took this one out of the library about a week ago after seeing it on shelves and hearing it was awesome. I'm telling you, the book lives up to the hype. I am going to need a copy for Hanukkah or something (hint hint!)...

Not only are the recipes amazingly easy to follow, but Reinhart's commentary and description of the Stages of Bread have are indispensable. For instance, I never knew that what makes sourdough sour isn't that it is made of wild yeast but instead because of the bacteria it attracts during fermentation. I also didn't know there was a unique bacteria in the San Francisco Bay Area that is named after it: Lactobacillus sanfranciscensis. Who knew? This book has copious amounts of information--everything I ever wanted to know about baking hearth breads. Even the esoteric method of steaming bread in the oven in order to create a great crust with adequately baked bread beneath.

Following Reinhart's method in the book is advised (by me). I took mine basically straight from the his, except my starter was 100% organic whole wheat, and the bread dough itself was a mix of white and whole wheat, about 3 to 1, which is unusual for me, but I thought I'd go more by the book or this one.

I will post my own recipe for other sourdough in the coming weeks, so be on the look out. For now, revel with me in the sourdough skills! Thank you bacteria!

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