Those of you out there who are among the followers of the Holy Sourdough know that the only rite of passage that allows you to qualify for a gold-plated bread-scoring tool is to make a San Francisco sourdough bread… I admit I had always wondered, somewhat skeptically, if San Francisco yeastie beasties would be much different from the ones in the Spanish plateau (the rain in Spain doesn’t stay mainly in the plain…). But I’ve been lucky enough to get some of these bugs from my generous friend Bea… so that I could check myself. I haven’t reached a definite verdict though.
Here’s what baker Peter Reinhart says about the bugs and San Francisco sourdough:
(…) a wild strain of yeast called Saccharomyces exiguus is used to make sourdough bread, as opposed to S. cerevisiae used in regular breads. But the complex sour flavor is not created by the wild yeast. Other bacterian organisms, specifically lactobacillus and acetobacillus, create lactic and acetic acids as they feed off the enzime-released sugar in the dough, and these are responsible for the sour flavor. San Francisco sourdough bread, for example, has a particular type of local bacteria called Lactobacillus sanfrancisco (…) that gives this bread a different quality, more sour with a thicker crust, than any other wild-yeast bread made in other parts of the world.
If Reinhart says so… The peculiar flavor that this sourdough imparts comes from one of those bacterias, from the lactobacillus type. Well, I only know that I have baked two breads with this sourdough so far and either I’ve finally learnt to bake decent bread or this sourdough is really special. Both breads were wonderful, with a delicious flavor that caused them to disappear in no time. The recipe I used is nothing special:
- 200g San Francisco sourdough, fed with spelt for several days (baker’s percentage: 100%)
- 300g water
- 500g white bread flour (I had to add 50g more)
- 2 tsp salt
- Mix all the ingredients and knead by hand or in a stand mixer, till the gluten is well developed. Make a ball and put it inside an oiled bowl, cover with a plastic shower cap and put in the fridge. Leave to proof overnight.
- Take the dough out of the fridge the next morning and leave it to temper on the counter and to further proof. It must double in bulk. It will take at least 2 hours.
- When doubled in bulk, tip the dough on a well floured counter and shape in whatever shape you like. Then put the formed loaf on a floured cloth, a bannetone or a large bowl, depending on the bread shape, and leave to rise again.
- I usually bake my loafs in a Dutch oven. Preheat the oven to 250ºC (that’s the maximum reached by my oven) with the Dutch oven inside. When the loaf is doubled, take the Dutch oven out on the counter and slide the bread into it. Score it, cover with the lid and put it back into the oven. This bread hardly took 30 minutes to bake. Check the inner temperature, it should be at least 92ºC (large tears rolled down my cheeks when I opened the Dutch oven to find such a stunning bread… I had never baked such a beautiful bread before… so well risen, with such an appealing color…).
- Then let the loaf cool on a wire rack and… devour it. I can’t express how delicious it was with butter…
And being that I am a studious little girl, I’m more than willing to try this sourdough again just to check if its flavor and aroma are really special or not… as many times as needed. Sorry, I must be going, I’ve got some baking to do. Bye.
I almost forgot! I’m sending this bread to Susan’s Yeastspotting… don’t forget to check it tomorrow for a weekly showcase of breads!