Friday, November 26, 2004

San Francisco Sourdough

Has anyone had a real SF sourdough before? Is it supposed to look like this? It's the second loaf from the yogurt culture. Smelled promisingly sour but still didn't taste quite sour enough. I haven't eaten a real sourdough bread for so long that I am beginning to think that they aren't that sour to start with. But Jason said to trust him on this one: mine are not sour enough. I will keep on trying.

BTW, we ate it with some balsalmic and olive oil marinated plum tomatos, and I imagine this is the kind of things we'd be eating if we ever manage to rent a villa in Tuscany and stay for a month (substitute SF with Tuscany). Of course, there, the tomato would be vine ripe from a neighbor's yard, and the olive oil and balsalmic vinegar would both be home made. I can always dream, can't I?


Rachel said...

Oooh, I know, I'm dying to go to Tuscany and eat real Italian food at one of those farm house that offer meals to outsiders.

Erm, what was the original question I was about to answer...

Oh, yes, the sourdough bread. First of all, I just had to say, it looks so pretty that shaved onions?...on top! Oh, Lynn, your gorgeous breads always put my homely efforts to shame. You know, I keep thinking you should start your own bakery.

As for how it tastes, first of all, every starter is different, and some will just naturally produce more sour breads than others. If you try everything and still can't get really sour bread, it's probably the starter. You can actually buy a starter--even real San Francisco starter--which is what a lot of people recommend, because you then have a strong, reliable starter that probably has been around a long time.

Before giving up on your yogurt starter though, I do remember reading that there are two different kinds of bacteria that you can cultivate, and one of them favors a more acid environment than the other, thereby creating more sour bread. The main thing that affects which bacteria you cultivate is temperature. I could be wrong but if I recall correctly, a cooler, slower, longer rise will give you a more sour bread. Have you heard of retarding your bread in the fridge? This is the final rise, right before it goes in the oven, and you can leave it in the fridge for up to 24 hours. The bread doesn't necessarily double in bulk, but if you have a strong starter, that won't matter, and the loaf should spring up once it gets in the oven.

Just one thing: did you find your loaf a bit soft? For some reason, your bread looks very light and fluffy, with a very thin crust. From admittedly hazy recollections of my trips to San Francisco, I always remember the bread being firmer, heavier, and with a thick crunchy crust.

Lynn said...

I know, I was very suspicious when the recipe told me to brush egg mixture on crust, you know that only leads to shining crusts like this. The texture is also soft, like you said, so I don't know what the deal is.

As for the starter, I actually read the same thing and let the second rising take place in the fridge for more than 24 hours, and then took the dough out and let it rise to room temp before baking it, but still, not sour enough. The starter smelled so sour in the jar though. (Sigh) I hope it'll cooperate better when I come back next year.