Sunday, March 28, 2010
BBA Challenge Bread #30 — Basic Sourdough
I've noticed something as I've become more familiar with cooking, baking and all things foodie. There are as many snobs as there are foods – and drinks. I think the one that first comes to mind for me and for many others is the "wine snob." But pick a food, any food, and you'll find snobs there, too. Chocolate, cheese, coffee—just a very few that first come to mind. But I've also discovered that there are many bread snobs out there, too.
Let me clarify my definitions before I really start to rub someone the wrong way. I don't have any beef with people that love wine, or chocolate, or cheese, or coffee or bread and have definite opinions on what they like and enjoy. Heck, I'm one of them. I love all of those things. But for me, a line is crossed when someone – anyone, be they a recognized expert to just some other blogger with an opinion – proclaims that what they love and enjoy is the be all end all, and that anything else is garbage and shouldn't be touched with a 10 foot pole. THOSE are snobs. The ones that don't recognize that there are, in fact, many people out there that don't share their tastes or opinions. But to them it doesn't matter. They're right, you're wrong, period.
I run from those kinds of foodies as fast as I can, because there are so many others out there that, thankfully, aren't like that at all. Sure they have definite favorites and would never personally eat or drink certain foods, but recognize that other people would and do. Those are the kinds of people I love to follow and read. They get it.
So when I read recently on a random foodie message board someone use the term "real bread," my hackles rose. To some people out there, "real" bread consists of just water, flour, salt and yeast and the rest is, apparently, fake bread.
Here's what is so wonderful about the BBA group: Nary a bread snob in sight, even though we all have our favorites and openly give our opinions. At least we recognize that they are just that – opinions, not fact. Some really enjoy sourdough bread and prefer them to commercial yeast breads, or to the enriched varieties, but they don't eschew the others altogether. We decided, as a group, to try them ALL. For me, this means making sourdough, a kind of bread I don't particularly care for, but think deserves its fare chance.
Which is why this is my second attempt at PR's Basic Sourdough. I made this the first time way back at the beginning of January, but was less than thrilled with the results. It was just OK. After finally having more time on the weekends and taking that time to make bread, I gave it another go.
My first effort wasn't a disaster. The proofed loaves looked promising.
But the hearth baking didn't produce quite what I'd hoped. The loaves were pale and the taste was nothing to write home about.
So I changed things up a bit with my next try. I decided to use my Pampered Chef stonewear baker. I've had good luck using it with other, commercial yeast breads. For full disclosure, I have to admit that I DID spike this with commercial yeast. PR said I could, and it speeds up the process, something I found very appealing.
I love how the stone roasting pan works. I preheat it in the oven just as I would my flat baking stone. Then I plop the dough in, parchment paper and all, quickly covering with the lid. I let it bake about 20 minutes with the lid on, then take it off for the rest of the time. The enclosed baker performs the same function as the steam pan, keeping moisture in, keeping the crust hyrated, letting the bread expand. It does brown up with the lid on, but removing it lets it get nice and brown and crusty.
I'm still not completely sold on this bread, but it sure looked good. The taste is rather bland and the texture is sort of ... spongy. I've noticed that with the various breads I've made with my starter.
Can someone out there tell me — is that normal? Do sourdough breads tend to have a spongy texture?
Check out these other BBA bakers' Basic Sourdough loaves:
Victoria at Goth Panda
Daniel at Ährelich Gesagt
Janice at Round the Table