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What a difference a Really hot oven makes!

After a final proofing of 3.6 hrs, the loaf was baked in a very hot oven! The total prep time for this is about 16 hrs.

Why does it look so good? Yesterday, the heating element in my oven was replaced. Look at the cracks! Look at the dark color of the crust (this has intense flavor)!

This is the lightest loaf I have made. I had to explain to my husband why it was special. Then he tasted it and I didn’t have to explain anything else. The crust is crispy, the interior light (sandwich worthy). Most of my previous loaves were a bit denser. Honestly, I don’t know if it is going to make it to Monday.

Ah Sourdough

As a microbiologist and home baker I have always wanted to make sourdough. I have made regular bread on a number of occasions so why not.

Step 1-Cultivate a good starter. This is my starter. It has taken a few months of trying but now it happily bubbles when fed and watered. A bit of King Arthur all purpose flour, a smidgen of organic rye flour, a smidgen of King Arthur sprouted whole wheat flour + water + time. It is fragrant, gooey, and quite active. I have learned that too much rye flour increases the acidity. I have a huge jar that I keep the flour mixture for feeding

Step 2-Use the starter to make sourdough bread. When you say it out loud, it sounds really easy-right? Sourdough bread is just starter + water + salt + flour. That is it. Oh, and you need a really hot oven with a source of steam. I have all of these things and yet, my loaves are not consistent. This one turned out well, but any bread expert will see the large hole right below the crust. It was tasty!

I recently purchased Flour, Water, Salt, Yeast by Ken Forkish. The book has been helpful. I have figured out that I don’t develop the gluten enough. I also flinch on the proofing. At least 2 of my loaves were underproofed. I also just found out that my oven (though it says it is at temp) is far off. The other day, it said it had reached 450 F but it was only 400 F. This makes a huge difference when you are baking bread. It is being serviced this Friday.

So for now I am in a holding pattern. Perhaps I will have a better loaf next week.