Tuesday, February 03, 2009

My Sourdough Turned White!

I've been happily tending to my new starter for some weeks now. I notice with pride its every milestone, watching misty-eyed as it develops character, strength, and smooth digestion.

This morning, like many mornings, I rose early and got a batch of bread going. The starter was chafing at the bit and the dough rose steadily. When I put it in the oven, it gave a yare spring and wafted up a fragrance savory enough I could hear the upstairs neighbors' stomachs growling. And then I noticed the crust was blanching. Like this:

Does anyone know why? The crust is thin but crisp, the crumb moist, a little bubbled, and tender. Perhaps I should start it in a hot, steamy oven to ensure perfect browning. Perhaps I should clean my room, which has evidence of a hundred ongoing projects:

Can you find (1) the bread, (2) the bicycle chain ready to be covered with waxed canvas & leather for a homespun anti-thievery saddle-leash, (3) W. Crawford's briefcase, tin cloth pants, and pinstripes, (4) Dogfish Head's chicory stout, (5) the flaky-ass router, (6) the milk crate holding my mending queue, (7) two of three bicycles, and (8) the recently-pruned Mystery Mint, plus the recently-repotted jade, dieffenbachia, and rapidly-rapunzelling ivy. All of which need constant, unwavering attention. And that's just one corner of my room.* No wonder my bread turned white -- my hairs aren't far behind.

I will not give you my bread recipe until it stops turning white. Instead, I will go cut another thick, warm slice and slather it with butter, which will melt, pool, and slowly saturate its velvety, spongy crumb.

*Actually the picture shows four of the twelve corners in my room.


WCrawford said...

Butter darlin, that's your ticket? How could you forget?

A nice ample brushing of butter (and some honey!) will brown those loaves up in no time.

Jennifer Jo said...

While putting The Baby Nickel down, I did some research. From the Bread Builders (a highly informative, detailed book---I recommend it): "In an oven that is too cool and too humid the crust gel will be too deep, making a thick, excessively chewy pale crust with little flavor. A hot, dry oven will make a thin, crisp, dark crust with a poorly baked crumb, while crust flavor may be poor because the crust burned too fast for good development of flavors. An oven which is moist and hot at first, and dry and slightly cooler later, will produce a moderately thick, slightly chewy, and moderately crisp crust with full flavor..." (pg. 102) And, "If an oven is never hot enough to dry and bake the crust sufficiently, bread will cook through without forming attractive crust color or flavor." (pg. 96)

Keep us posted, and good luck!