My sister and I spent a fascinating afternoon at our friend’s house learning all about sourdough artisan bread making.
I learned about wild yeasts and how to grow them. Each one, grown in different parts of the country, had a distinctly different odor and flavor depending on the kind of yeast naturally occurring in the air of that region.
We didn’t knead the dough, we gently folded it at regular intervals to slowly develop the gluten.
We shaped it into rice flour lined baskets.
We slashed the loaves with surgical precision, and then partially baked them under a dome to keep the steam in to allow the bread to rise before the crust hardened.
Our bread came out of the oven with gorgeous deep brown crusts etched with the lines from the baskets.
I came away with a huge respect for breadmaking, there is quite a science to it, especially with sourdoughs. Our afternoon session involved chemistry, history, geography and aesthetics along with the baking. All this from a simple mixture of flour, salt, and water.
Apparently there are very specific goals as far as the shaping of the slash marks on the crust, the distribution and size of air pockets, etc, but those nuances were a little lost on me, I thought it all looked and tasted amazing.
I’m going to be taking home my very own TSA friendly 3 oz jar of wild yeast starter, and I’m excited to see what kind of yeasts are floating around the Great Island.