Yesterday’s food journal entry was about bread #3. I was so encouraged by the improvements I saw in bread #2 that I prepped my autolyse right away to make another one. I met someone online who is generous enough to guide me through the whole process from making a starter to baking, and he told me that I should be prepared to make mistakes but more importantly, I should learn from the mistakes. I definitely learned a lot from the first two attempts, and made some adjustments to get a better outcome. I especially made some progress with the shaping, so the bread looks aesthetically better than the first two. It really did turn out like a taut butt cheek after the cold fermentation. Then sprung up into a beautiful boule after baking.
This time I really waited before cutting into the bread. I think I waited about 4 hours before I sliced it. The bread tasted awesome. Surprisingly, if I cut it a bit thinner than the usual size of store-bought loaves, the flavor becomes more pronounced. The crumb was open, though there are parts that are not as open as others. The skin reminded me of pork cracklings. You can see the little air bubbles on it. It made the crust crunchy but not too thick that it’s hard to chew. The crumb is chewy but not sticky. The texture is very different from store-bought bread, and again I’m reminded that in my mind, I’ve fallen into the habit of comparing homemade bread against a commercial product. I’m used to bread that’s perfectly symmetrical, cloyingly sweet, and becomes hard and stale quickly. Sourdough bread actually stays soft whether it’s in the fridge or not. It’s not sweet, and I don’t experience hyper acidity after eating it.
I toasted a couple of slices this morning and ate them with pumpkin soup. It’s so delicious and filling. It’s true that the bigger the holes, the more complex the flavor of the bread. How awesome is that? They should just be filled with air but no, they’re filled with wonderful flavors.
My online friend who guided me through this journey is now teaching me how to strengthen my starter. How fascinating that, much like our little herb garden, the sourdough starter will provide you with delicious things as long as you take care of it.
I’m grateful that there are people online who are generous with their time and knowledge. From the people who answer questions about baking bread to those who post tutorials and recipes, there are a lot of people who love to share what they know. As awful as social media has been these past years, this is the part that I enjoy most. Social media makes sharing knowledge with other people a lot easier than before.
I’m getting ready to read that new book I bought (Omnivore’s Dilemma) by Michael Pollan. I can say that his writing changed my attitude about food in a more conscious, mindful way. His books Cooked, and In Defense of Food are the reason why I decided to learn how to bake my own bread. I’m ready to curl up in bed and read the weekend away.