Saturday, March 3, 2007

The Newbie Baker Gushes

Look at this.

Ok, I know more experienced sourdough people are scoffing at me, but come on! It's SO COOL. Right there in that little plastic tub are zillions of wild yeasts and lactobacilli, doing what they do, i.e. chowing down on available starches and sugars, excreting lactic acid and carbon dioxide and other chemicals, and breeding. The lactobacilli create acids that make the environment hostile to all but the right kinds of wild yeast, and they also eat the dead yeast, which keeps everything neat and clean. And this wonderfully efficent little ecosystem, which you can create just by mixing flour and water and leaving it alone, happens to be the magic that creates really tasty bread. This whole sourdough thing is as strong an argument for the existence of God as any I know of. It's also way cooler than sea monkeys.

I've got my first sourdough loaf rising right now. It's the same basic proportions I've been using -- three cups flour, 1 5/8 cups water, 2 tsp. salt -- plus a tablespoon of the starter, which I mixed into the water before adding it. I realize I'm tempting fate by going on about this before I know how the bread will come out. But it's incredibly exciting.

I wonder if my landlord will let me build a wood-fired bread oven in the backyard?

I also baked another by-the-book no-knead loaf last night, folding in a handful of whole pitted kalamata olives after the initial rise.



T said...

Oh. My. That olive bread is making me want to get in the car and drive down to DC immediately. Yes, this is a hint :-)

Rob said...

I think this stuff is definitely in your future. :-)

T said...

Woo hoo!

Mike said...

Jose has a wood-fired oven in his yard that's intended for cooking yeast-based things that are supposed to end up in liquid form, but I'm sure you could use it for bread now and then.

An Briosca Mor said...

Hey, if you put a wood-fired oven in your back yard, I'll be right over to make pizza. No way my HOA would ever let me install a wood-fired oven on my tiny little deck. But have you ever considered a Kamado (

Rob said...

Whoa, John that's really cool. I'm sure considering one now.

I've been trying to track down John Thorne's two essays about bread-baking (one of which discusses wood-fired ovens at great length), but they seem not to be on the web anymore, and JT's website is in a state of disarray. Too bad; he has a lot of godo thigns to say about extracting the maximum flavor from flour, water, and salt and nothing else.