Baking bread is one of the creative outlets that help keep me relatively sane. I've been baking bread for years, successfully for the most part, but not really paying attention to technique. I've developed half a dozen of my own recipes (one of which I'm going to enter in an amateur bakers contest soon), and have enjoyed baking delicious whole grain breads and white breads that are better than store bought, but never even thought about attempting a sourdough-type bread. Lately, I've been baking like a madwoman (well, ahem, I guess I technically am one of those), trying to bake the perfect loaf of bread. I want a crispy crust and a tender, holey crumb. That amazing type of sourdough French bread that makes your mouth water just listening to the crunch of the crust as it's torn or sliced.
Me wearing Greg's favorite baking outfit.
I've been reading numerous books and bread blogs and watching all kinds of videos. I finally came across a video that made it possible for me to almost achieve my goal. After watching the video, I went to Northwest Sourdough's website and found the recipe for Basic White Sourdough to which Terry, the woman in the video, was referring. I followed the directions pretty closely, but I don't have any bannetons yet, so I had to improvise.
What follows are photos of my bread, definitely not like her pictures, but I'm getting there. I still need to perfect my slashing. I tend to have a light hand, and I must learn to be brave and slash a little deeper while still keeping the angle at about 45˚.
The one on the right flopped when I was trying to flip, and in the process of trying to turn it over it flopped again. I wish I would have taken a picture of it before I baked it, it was even funnier then. It looks almost phallic.
The interesting thing to me is that the flop loaf had a better crumb than the one that I didn't screw up.
The crust was nice and crunchy and the flavor is heavenly. I was ready to give up, but this gives me hope. I'll keep trying, but today the starter goes into the fridge for a well deserved rest while I go see my grandkids in Arizona.