I had a disappointing bread experience a couple of weeks ago, and that’s not the bread I’m showing here today. That particular bread was the result of a time-consuming, all-day kind of baking project even though it wasn’t a sourdough bread. It required several folds and turns of the dough, and a nice, long proofing time. It did have a delicious, if tedious to prepare, filling of whole garlic cloves and balsamic syrup. Three heads worth of garlic were separated into cloves, boiled, and peeled, and then the garlic simmered in thick balsamic syrup. That syrup and the garlic were layered into the dough before the final folds. The bread smelled amazing as it baked. And, after all of that, it tasted, well, just alright. The crumb wasn’t what I’d hoped it would be, and while the flavor of the garlic was great, that of the bread itself wasn’t. That left me wanting to bake a really, really good loaf of bread, and that’s when I found this one on the Wild Yeast blog. Susan said this continues to be her favorite sourdough, and now I know why. There was of course some time involved in making it, but that was mostly fermenting or proofing, waiting, time. The active steps were actually very straightforward and quick compared to other sourdough bread recipes I’ve made. Outside, this bread was golden and crisp with a good, deep, crust taste, and inside, the crumb was flecked with color from rye flour, nicely chewy, and flavorful from the sourdough. Yes, this was a bread that was worth the wait.
The dough was made with only white starter, no commercial yeast, and I used bread flour and rye flour. The flours, starter, and water were mixed and left to rest before salt was added and the dough was mixed again. Then, it was transferred to a wide, oiled bowl. A wide bowl is a good choice so that the dough can be folded without removing it. The dough fermented for two and a half hours and was folded at 50 and 100 minutes, and this was so easy. Leaving the dough in a wide bowl and just coming back to fold twice was a breeze. After the two and a half hours, the dough was divided into four parts which were shaped into balls and left to rest for 15 minutes. Batard loaves were formed from the balls, and they were covered with plastic. The loaves could have spent the night in the refrigerator, but I left them at room temperature for a couple of hours and then baked them. I baked the loaves on a stone and sprayed water to produce steam during the first twelve minutes of baking time. Then, for the last five minutes, they baked with the oven door propped open, and last, the oven was turned off while the loaves sat in it for five more minutes. I love the crackling sounds you hear when the loaves have just come out of the oven. They sat on a cooling rack and made their noises, and I waited not so patiently to have a taste.
The crust was the deep, brown color that it was supposed to be, but I thought the surface was a little smooth. There’s a note in the recipe stating that if the formed loaves were refrigerated before being baked, the crust would be more blistered. I would have liked that, so I’ll plan for it next time. There will definitely be a next time. I timed it so the bread came out of the oven and cooled just before dinner. As dinner was being prepped, we cut into a loaf and dipped a few slices into seasoned olive oil. Then, we cut a few more slices. This delicious bread could easily become our favorite too. I’ve already almost forgotten that other experience, but I won’t rule out the possibility of one day layering some cooked garlic and balsamic syrup into this sourdough recipe.
I’m submitting this to Yeastspotting where you’ll find some seriously well-made bread.