Saturday, June 14, 2008

Crackly goodness

A short while ago I heard the most beautiful noise. The loud crackle of bread, fresh out of the oven. This is a big deal for me, because I don’t ever recall hearing it before, even with all the zillion loaves of bread I’ve made over a lifetime. It was really loud. That’s why I noticed.

This morning I decided to bake some regular sourdough bread using the barm I had created several weeks ago for the Poilâne Miche. That barm is tough stuff! When I had to take a brief baking hiatus recently, I shoved the container into the refrigerator and basically ignored it. Thursday night I took it out of the refrigerator so it could warm to room temperature and I could monitor its health. Yesterday, I added a small amount of flour and water to wake it up. It was happy.

I wanted to make the regular sourdough from the Bread Baker’s Apprentice; however, I played with the recipe a bit, substituting the barm directly for the firm starter, and spiking it with some instant yeast, mainly to reduce the time allowed for proofing. I’m impatient today.

Oh, the dough was lovely. It rose beautifully. The bâtard was near perfect. And the oven spring was right on the mark. At the end of 25 minutes, I removed the loaf from the oven and took its temperature. 205° on the dot. I placed it on the cooling rack and proceeded to shut down the oven.

That’s when I heard a very loud, crackling kind of noise. Where was it coming from? I stared at the loaf of bread, which stared back at me, and as I leaned closer, I was nearly deafened by the noise. My bread was crackling! I know, get a life you say, but that sound just made my day. I can hardly wait to slice it and slather butter all over it.

Next weekend I’m catering a friend’s birthday. I think I’ll bake this sourdough again and add it to the menu.


Engineer Baker said...

I completely understand about the crackling! It wasn't until a couple weeks ago that I heard my loaf crackle - I swear it made my day. Congrats on your crackly bread!

Gretchen Noelle said...

Oooh...I wish you'd share the recipe! I keep using the seed starter from the poilane...but to make a chocolate sourdough cake. Mmmm! I do need to get some real bread going in my kitchen!