I can’t believe I’ve never tinkered with sourdough. Till the Josey Baker Bread Book. I’m checking out everything I can get my hands on, but Josey’s is the bee’s knees!
Six Thousand Years of Bread
This book is NERDTASTIC. My dear friend Megan McRobert sent it to me and I can’t get enough. History, ancient cultures, the bible, science, chemistry, yeasty goodness…it’s amazing to learn about the place bread occupies in human history. “At last came the day when Jesus Christ made consummate all the spiritual significance that had become attached to it, saying: ‘Eat! I am the bread!”
The Bread Maker’s Apprentice
A classic, in-depth and exceptional book by Peter Reinhart- a serious bread authority who also wrote the introduction to my copy of the book above. This is a pretty scientific, specific and somewhat intimidating way to start baking bread if you’re a newbie, but if you’re ready to go a bit deeper and brainier, go here for everything you wanted to know about the enzymes and chemical reactions and knitty gritty of the process.
The Josey Baker Bread Book
Swoon! Quite different from the Peter Reinhart book above. Josey is conversational and accessible. He’s surfer-ry- as in, “I sort of accidentally started making bread and it was accidentally far out, man! Just let the dough work its ‘magic’….” It changed everying for me about natural yeast.
Update on My Bread-Making Tools:
I got a proper bread knife. It really does make all the difference when it comes to sandwich bread because I can get right in close with each new cut and shave off thin slices. With a dull, low-quality knife I was mutilatating my product. Bread just holds together infinitely better during slicing these days.
The next tool I want to obtain is a sexy lame/razor for slicing the top of my bread- just like Josey’s. Right now I just use my bread knife.
Olive and Herb Hearth Loaf
Isn’t she incredibly beautiful? Here is the big conundrum I’m running into with JB bread recipes. He suggests that you crank the heat up really high to get a beautiful crust, but then the insides are constantly underdone. I am continuing to play with this because I’m so happy with the crispy, chewy crust I get from this method! Josey specifically invites you to really push past your comfort zone and let that top brown in order for it to be perfectly done. In fact, according to the pictures in his book, I’d say the olive loaf I picture here is still under. Look how dark he goes here. There are a few reasons I suspect the innards of my loaves aren’t keeping up with the crust in cooking times:
A. The dough is dense and wet, requiring extra time to cook all the way through.
B. I’m using a baking stone instead of Josey’s suggested dutch oven and parchment paper method.
C. My oven runs hot.
I AM SOLICITING ADVICE ON THE DILEMMA ABOVE! I’ve just been playing with starting my oven out at full heat and dropping it 10-15 degrees halfway through. Thoughts??
First Sourdough Loaf
There she is, folks! If you’re new to sourdough, there’s no store bought yeast in that bread. You are simply seeing water and flour. By fermenting a sourdough starter, I capitalized on the bacteria in the environment to cultivate wild yeast. The “crumb” or the pattern of air pockets in the bread is created by the lift resulting from the fermentation process. From Six Thousand Years of Bread:
Bread is a product baked in a properly constructed oven from a dough that has been raised by yeast or some other leavening agent. Some of the gases produced by the leavening are imprisoned in the dough. The pores containing these gases are hardened and made permanent by heat.
This first loaf is therefore fairly dense as I need to further build my sourdough skills. It looks pretty under baked in this picture as well.
Tassajara Seeded Whole Wheat Sandwich Bread
I so love this sandwich bread. I make a big, fat loaf every week or two and put half of it in the freezer and toast it every morning for breakfast. I pretty much just follow the Tassajara recipe *except* I add millet, flax seed and sometimes chia and or caraway seeds too.