August 12, 2009

Wild Yeast

Each morning when I renew my sourdough starter, I am harvesting wild yeast from the air around me, a Northeast Kingdom sourdough. So I suppose breadmaking with sourdough could be considered a form of cultivation .

A few years ago, my friends Helen and Jules Rabin of Upland Bakers decided to retire. This left me bereft: no more of their marvelous pain de campagne. The thought of learning to make sourdough bread seemed overwhelming at the time. But then I met Jeffrey Hamelman, the director of the bakery at King Arthur Flour, at their home. He asked if I fed my dog every day, and pointed out that keeping a sourdough culture was just like having a pet. So, I took a very helpful class at King Arthur, and have gone on to make bread every week.

The recipe I use is an adjusted one from Hamelman's book Bread: a mixed flour miche. You need only 1.3 oz, or around 3 tablespoons of starter to make a levain for a 3 1/2 lb loaf, which means the starter is very vigorous. The dough is quite wet, so yields a dough with chewy texture and open crumb, great keeping quality, and delicious flavor.

1 comment:

  1. Fabulous post, Altoon and the one preceding looks good too. Want to try your bread recipe. Thanks!