Well, I had a very intense week last week. On June 23 we celebrated the wedding of our eldest daughter. During the reception, my sister and I had to take our 71 year old mother to the emergency room of the hospital. She had travelled from central California which was a two day drive and had not fared well on the long trip. She has recurrent pleural effusion and was in a lot of pain. We ended up having to leave by Monday to take her home. I stayed two days in California and was able to get a hold of some La Brea Sourdough and some San Luis Sourdough while I was there. I tried to get some Boudin Sourdough from San Francisco but it was too far out of our way… too bad!!
There were nine people at my mom’s house and I gave them all a taste test of the two sourdoughs and asked them to compare. I actually had three loaves of bread. There was a loaf of Rosemary Olive bread baked by La Brea also, but we left it out of the taste test because it was a bit too stale to compete.
Here are some pictures of the San Luis Sourdough:
The San Luis Sourdough was a nice chewy loaf of sourdough. It was made with real sourdough culture and no commercial yeast added. The crust had a glaze and was chewy and thick. It had a great sharp sour. However the crumb was somewhat crumbly, dry with a marginal open texture.
The Ingredients are:
Bleached Flour, Water, Sourdough Starter, Salt, Soy Lecithin, Soy Flour. It was a 1.5 lb loaf.
Here are the pictures of the La Brea Loaf of Country White Sourdough:
The La Brea Country Sourdough says right on it that is supposed to be mildly sour, it was. However the crust had a slight crunch and the crumb was terrific. It was chewy, soft, springy and had a great chew satisfaction.
The Ingredients are:
Unbleached Flour, Water, Sourdough Starter, Salt, Wheat Germ, Semolina. It was a 14.5 oz loaf.
Here are the pictures of the Rosemary Olive Sourdough:
As stated above, the bread was too stale to compete. I thought you would like to see it though.
Here are all three loaves together:
The Rosemary Olive Loaf is on the left, the Country White is in the middle, and the San Luis Sourdough is on the right.
Now for the results of the taste test:
Seven people liked the La Brea Country White the best. Two people liked the San Luis Sourdough best. I liked the La Brea Country White the best of the two, however, the San Luis sourdough made a better toast. The flavor of the San Luis was better to me, but I like sour bread. The all around appeal and chewy crumb of the La Brea gave it the winning edge and most people agreed it was the winner.
When I got back home, the local Safeway market had put out a line of Artisan bread that really looked great so I bought two loaves to compare them to the bread I had bought in California. I bought a Pugliese Loaf and a Renaissance Grain Bread.
Here are the pictures of the Pugliese Loaf:
Here are the pictures of the Renaissance Grain Bread:
Both breads scored very high marks for crust and crumb texture. The Pugliese, as you can see in the crumb picture has a terrific open crumb. The Renaissance Grain bread has a great texture for a whole grain type of bread and the crust had a nice slight crunch to it. However, I would say that the Pugliese missed totally on the flavor. There was no development of grain flavor, no bursting out of the wheaty flavor at all. I looked on the package for the ingredients and saw it was just a commercial yeast bread. I really felt that the bread was such a disappointment after how beautiful it looked. Still it was better than most regular bakery loaves. The label “Artisan Bread” can certainly be deceiving if you think it means a sourdough.
The Renaissance Grain Bread also was missing the burst of grain flavor development that comes with the fermenting of the dough and also was just a commercial yeast bread. However it had some whole grains and seeds to at least give it an interesting flavor whereas the Pugliese had almost no flavor at all.
I certainly had an interesting week. Mom is resting comfortably at home and is getting medical care. I am hoping to get some Boudin Sourdough to put on the blog in the future, I hope you found the taste testing interesting, it was a lot of fun for me.
I mixed up a batch of basic white sourdough with my San Francisco Starter yesterday. I allowed it to bulk ferment for eight hours. I shaped the loaves and put them into the refrigerator overnight for about 12 hours. This morning I took them out and let the dough raise for about 3 more hours. The bread came out great and after several hours of cooling the taste developed into a really sharp sour! I am very happy with this batch. Here are some pictures:
I baked up four loaves, two two pounders and two 1.5 pounders.
Here is the crumb of the first loaf:
The San Francisco Starter is at it’s best when you do the long slow proofing and retarding overnight. It is slow, but that is the only way you can get a really good sour. Any proofing too short and you will lose out on flavor.
Leave it to me to do the unthinkable, morph sourdough starters ! I know it is unconventional, but I can’t help experimenting in any new way I think up. I have for some time morphed together Desem starter and Northwest starter. The results have been very good. The already fermented wheat kept cool in the Desem starter adds a new dimension of flavor to a basic white recipe. The Northwest starter is such a vigorous all around starter that you can do just about anything to it and it keeps on going with gusto. Anyway, with the family wedding bearing down on me in two more weekends, I have been trying to bake more and freeze enough so I don’t have to bake while guests are here. Yesterday I had a marathon bake that lasted from 1:00pm to 7:00pm ! What was incredible is that I had all seven loaves plus a small baguette, that actually held up great all that time waiting their turn in the oven. I started with an overnight ferment using both Desem and Northwest starters. I made up a huge batch of sponge and let it set overnight at outside porch temps in the 50’s. Next morning I brought in the sponge and split it into two batches, mixing up each batch the same in the dough mixer and then putting the two batches together in a large bowl. I ended up with 14 lbs 12.5 ounces of dough! I made up seven loaves of bread at two lbs each and a small baguette at 12.5 oz. Here are some pictures of the dough just docked and weighed (the 12.5 oz dough was on the scale and not in the picture) :
Here they are after their first shaping and bench resting , waiting for their second shaping:
Here they are proofing, you can see all seven loaves and one baguette:
I baked the baguette first, as I was waiting for the full heat of the oven to come up:
Here are various pictures of the seven two pound loaves:
Here is a closeup of the first loave’s crumb, as it was one of the first, it was slightly underproofed, a compromise so the last loaf doesn’t fall from overproofing:
I was pretty worried about staggering the loaves for baking. I had three loaves in the kitchen proofing, two proofing on the outside porch in the 60’s degrees and two proofing in the refrigerator in the 40’s degrees. I moved the loaves out of the refrigerator and to the porch as the baking proceeded and then into the nicely warm kitchen as the day went on. I had great luck as the last loaf came out terrific and did not overproof at all! The morphing of the two starters turned out some great loaves of bread. I called them Wheatwhite loaves.
I’ve been baking using the Danish Starter again and it is really working out great! I made up some Pumpernickel bread using whole ground Rye. The dough felt kind of silky and soft. The raising power of the starter is really good. Here are the loaves:
The Pumpernickel came out chewy, moist, wonderfully flavored and not only makes great sandwiches but terrific toast in the morning covered with butter and cream cheese along with a dark cup of coffee.
Thanks to Nina from Denmark, I have a terrific Danish Sourdough Starter. She actually sent me two, but I’ve only tried one so far. I baked up a batch of Pumpkin sourdough muffins using the Danish starter which turned out great and was floored by the taste of a Danish Rye bread I baked up today! This Rye has spectacular flavor. I actually was pretty excited when I smelled the starter brewing as it smelled so good. Here are some pictures of the booty:
I have been finishing up home schooling for my kids, getting ready for a wedding and fixing up my house, besides trying to put in a garden, but I am still baking sourdough!
I haven’t had as much time to write on my blog because I am also converting my recipes and sourdough journey into a book. It will take me some time, but eventually there won’t be a “Special Recipes” online recipe printouts for sale. It will still be available for those who purchased it, but I will continue to convert it to a sourdough book instead. Here are some of the breads I have been baking while I have been away from my blog:
Here is a loaf of Basic White Sourdough(recipe on my website):
Here is the crumb from the Basic White:
I was experimenting with a bread called Freckled Sourdough. Here are some pictures of Freckled bread:
This is a Desem Flavored White Sourdough:
And this is a Flaxseed Malted Rye:
I am hoping sometime this Summer to have my boys build me a outdoor clay oven. I can’t wait!
Today was improvisation day, or I should say yesterday was. I made up a lower hydration batch of sourdough using a little of this and some of that. I also added some more of that malted Rye berries to the dough. I mixed, proofed, formed and set the dough to refrigerate overnight. Today this is what I got:
This was mostly a white sourdough with some added Whole Wheat, Rye, and some malted Rye berries. The crumb came out great and the taste is superb with the nice sharp tanginess of spiked (with Rye and W.W.) sourdough and added crunch of malted Rye berries. It is nice to have an improvisation day with no measurements, no weighing and just doing what you want to!
I’ve been wanting to bake up some sourdough bagels so …. I did. I mixed up the dough which was a stiff dough, using Northwest starter and let it proof:
I made up the bagels using 4 oz of dough for each bagel:
After they were done proofing, I simmered them in water which had salt and malt syrup added to it. Then I brushed on an egg glaze and sprinkled on a topping of onion flakes, poppy seeds or nothing. Then into the oven and:
This batch made about 28 bagels, and here is a picture of the inside:
You really need sourdough to make a great bagel!
I have a special treat this time. I made up a batch of sourdough cornbread. This is what I did:
I started with my mixer and added:
I mixed these ingredients together just enough to incorporate them. Then in another bowl I mixed these ingredients together:
In a separate bowl add:
Stir all of these dry ingredients together with a spoon until well mixed and then add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients which are in the mixer. Turn on the mixer and stir just long enough to mix all ingredients together. Then pour out your cornbread batter into a large bundt or cake pan which has been sprayed with pan oil or greased.
The batter came up about 3/4 of the pan sides. I let the batter set for one hour to allow the cornmeal to absorb the liquid. Then I baked the bread in a preheated 400 degree oven for 50 minutes. Here is what came out of the oven:
Yea, I know the pan is crooked, but it is a heavy pan that bakes great!
Here it is cut up:
This cornbread turned out great and was moist and crumbly. I served it with Poquito Beans which are a great complement to Honey Butter Sourdough Cornbread!
The Poquito Beans are native to Santa Maria California and are a hidden treasure. We get them special ordered from the coast of California in large bags. I come from that area and I make up the beans with my own special recipe which is oohed and aahhed by anyone who tries them. They have bacon and lots of garlic in them. You have never had a terrific coastal meal until you have had Poquito Beans, fresh baked sourdough and barbequed rib steaks or barbequed fresh tuna. Life is good!
I was in an in-store bakery in town, and I saw a display of sourdough breads that looked wonderful. I bought a sourdough boule to take home and evaluate. Here are a couple of pictures, one of the outside and one of the inside:
Like I said, the bread really looked great. However, once we tried the bread there was disappointment all around. The crust was tough and gummy like a piece of leather. The wonderful looking bubbly crust was a sham, it was a glaze brushed on that blistered. The texture of the crumb was just like a bakery white loaf and was a real disappointment. The flavor was just not there, there was no development of wheat flavor, it tasted just like vinegar. I believe this bread was just a packaged bakery loaf mix that had vinegar added. When you tried to chew the piece of bread, it turned into a gummy ball and was indigestible. I was actually in shock. I had no idea that the bakeries would go to such lengths to make a fake loaf of sourdough, when it is so easy to turn out great sourdough. Their bread was not fermented in any way. No flavor, no aroma, no bite to the crumb. Just plain disappointment. No more bakery bread for me, thankyou, but no thankyou!