I may have mentioned, that while I was in San Francisco, I went on a sourdough hunt. I’ve baked my own version of sourdough before, but to have the genuine article would be wonderful.
I wasn’t going to spend too long on it, but I did visit a few places that appeared to make sourdough on the premises. When I asked, you might think I was asking to ravish their daughter! So I gave up on the idea, and simply bought a commercial sachet of the sourdough culture to take home with me.
Then two days before I came home, I passed by a baker, with sourdough displayed in the window. It was a small bakers, and appeared not to be a chain. This time when I asked, they were more than willing to find me a container, and give me a good sample of sourdough starter. However, they did warn me that it might not stay “San Francisco sourdough” for long, as if any local yeast got into my starter, they could take it over. Anyway, I thought it worth a try.
Over the last few weeks, I have been feeding the starter and building it up. It takes a while for it to develop the tang. While doing this, I decided to take precautions, and I have already split off a few samples and frozen them. Thus if my starter gets “corrupted” (and I happen to notice!), I can go back to the original strain.
I’ve baked a couple of loaves, with varying success, but it didn’t seem to be rising very much.
On Tuesday, I made a batch of dough, with a little less salt, and left it overnight. It rose a lot – so much so, I split it into 3 loaves. On the second proving they also rose, and I was getting quite excited.
As part of the experiment, I baked one in my oven, and two in my pellet grill.
The results were ok – not brilliant, but not a disaster. The bread is pleasant tasting, but (a) lost its rise a bit during the cooking and (b) is a very cakey in texture – not unpleasant, but it tastes like bread-flavoured cake.
However, I think I know why that is – there isn’t enough gluten in there. Which means I need to do one or more of the following next time:
(a) Add a gluten additive
(b) Reassess the bread flour I am using
(c) Knead it more
(a) is the absolutely final contingency, I don’t want to do that. At the moment, my money is on (c) and probably (b). It may be that the sourdough needs a higher gluten flour than I use for normal bread.
I also need to split the difference on the salt front – not as much as my first bake, but more than this.
I reckon I am almost there, and it is terrific fun.