Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Sourdough Bread

Several months back I posted about a new book that had come out, "Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day.' Great book, I highly recommend it.
That book inspired me to get back into more "hands on" bread baking, and I ran across a great site for bakers, The Fresh Loaf. Through that site, and a couple of excellent books I have gotten,
(Dan DiMuzio's Bread Baking) and (Jeffrey Hamelman's Bread) I have learned a lot of new info on making some very tasty "artisan" bread.
There are many opinions as to what constitutes "artisan bread", but to me it is bread made by a slower process than what I had learned when I first started making bread 20-some years ago. Then, the idea was to make the bread rise as fast as you could. With artisan the emphasis is often on slow fermentation.... allowing the bread to slowly develop, bringing out the subtle flavors of the grains. The exact opposite of "fast food." Often the loaves are hand shaped and baked on a stone instead of in a pan, though that is not always the case. I believe to, at least for myself, there is an emphasis on natural ingredients, you won't find the dough conditioners, high fructose corn syrup, or unpronounceable stuff that you find in store bought, mass produced bread.
Artisan bread can practically stand alone, the center of a meal instead of something to hold a sandwich together or slather with peanut butter and jelly.
Several times over the years I have tried to get a sourdough starter going. Each time I failed. I tried again a couple weeks ago. Due in large part to info and advice I received from The Fresh Loaf, and the books I now have, this time my starter succeeded! Its alive and well sitting on my kitchen counter.
Yesterday I used it to make a loaf of sourdough bread. I used Hamelman's Vermont Sourdough and I am pleasantly surprised not only in how it looks but also in the taste. This one is a keeper for sure!

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