I’m going to have a short week this week, as an opportunity has come up for the wife and I to head off on a rare mid-week getaway. Thus I won’t be doing a whole lot of baking. However I have been experimenting with bread starters quite a bit the last few weeks. My oven-firing technique is improving, you see, and that’s led me to take an increasing interest in bread baking. I still don’t have my timing quite down yet (which is to say I’m burning a lot of bread), however I can already see what a difference a brick oven makes over a standard home range. As I’ve discussed before, it’s the heat. Not so much the temperature, but the kind of heat a brick oven gives off. I’ll get more into that in the course of subsequent posts, but for now, suffice to say that the big discovery I’ve made is the amount of volume (what bakers call spring) you get with a brick oven. Breads that tend not to rise all that well in a conventional oven (namely sourdoughs) to do quite well in a brick oven, and breads that do well in conventional ovens (namely those with high proportions of commercial yeast) can be downright explosive. Thus I’m finally free, as I never have been before, to employ increasingly liberal amounts of home-grown starter. But before I can use it, I have to grow it. Thus this week’s topic.
As an addendum I can say that this week will further give me an opportunity to organize my microbial leavening link over to the right, which to date has been a semi-confusing catch-all of yeast- and start-related info.