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Happiness is Sourdough Bread

an exhausted looking Mark posing in front of a bench full of bread

Happiness is sourdough bread

Man am I tired. It's been a long week so far but a pike of fun too. The loaves in the picture were made on Tuesday, for Day 2 of the Artisan 2 course. It was an interesting exercise since each shape contains a different sourdough starter.

The batards at the back contain a liquid levain (levain = sourdough starter.) The extra water in the levain results in more lactic acid development -- think yogurt or buttermilk sour as opposed to vinegar. -- and a light, gassy dough. I find the smell to be powerful but the resulting loaf to be very light and mild.

The boules in row 3 contain a stiff sourdough levain, and 40% of the dough weight is made up of levain. The stiff levain causes more acetic acid development (ie. vinegar sour) but only adding 40% still gives a mild sour flavour in the final loaf. One note about the shape -- it's called a "chowder bowl" cut since the score line is a nice guide to cut off the lid and hollow the loaf out for a soup bowl.

The 'bacillus' loaves in the front right are made with the same stiff levain as the boules, but the dough contains 70% levain. This results in a much more sour loaf of the type that most people associate with San Francisco Sourdough. Its not my favorite -- I prefer a milder sour taste -- but it's certainly true to the loaf's intent. Quite tasty. The scoring is a really attractive 'S' cut with big ears. My scoring technique was going really well with that batch.

Finally, the loaves in the front left are also made with a stiff levain, but the levain is only fed once per day (the other is fed twice per day.) The resulting loaf is the most acedic of the bunch.

It was an interesting experiment with different proportions of the same three ingredients as we could get very distinct flavours from each loaf.

We're tasting bread with the intensity that some people taste wine, and my palette has developed quite a bit over the past 10 days. I'm thinking that when I get home my sourdough will be a little milder than what we're getting here, and I'll have the skills to make the right adjustments to make it so!