The Bread Baker’s Apprentice: Sourdough and book review

We finally have sourdough bread! This has felt like a never ending task, but I knew Peter Reinhart would come through for me in the end. It turns out, my  attempt to revive dehydrated starter and my first attempt from scratch were sabotaged by flour that was probably bleached and so I tried one final time with new flour and lo and behold it worked! The process has been taking a bit longer than I’ve experienced in the past because our kitchen is so cold at this time of year. I’ve got the microwave proofing box helping now though and I think we’ve had good results for our first round of baking.

I cut back the barm to 16 ounces so the day that the barm needed to be refreshed I had a lot of active starter to use. I ended up making the Poilane Style Miche, which is a hearty wholemeal loaf, and the Basic Sourdough Bread, which I added blue cheese, walnuts and craisins to.

Both of these started out by making a firm starter with a portion of barm, left refrigerated overnight and then made into the final dough. The rate of proofing meant that it took a good 3 days to get them made from start to finish, but the wait was definitely worth it.

Today we cracked open one of the blue cheese sourdough loaves to accompany our afternoon tea of cheese and crackers and it is delightful – and I just love the purple streak that the walnuts give the bread. I am commissioning Aaron to make some of his pumpkin soup to go with the other loaf because I imagine the flavours are going to complement each other perfectly.

As for the wholemeal loaf, I’m still trying to decide if we just cut it up and toast it or if we should turn it into a “cob” dip for game night. All I know is, we’re eating a lot of bread this week!

The Bread Baker’s Apprentice is a classic for a reason: it is practically an encyclopedia on all things bread and its explanation of the methodology of bread baking and the sheer variety of different bakes in the book keep people coming back to it again and again. I love this book and was hoping to try out more than what I have this month (maybe if I’d had quicker success with the sourdough I would have) and I’m especially keen to make the English muffins and to try the cinnamon rolls in order to compare them with the ones from Bravetart that I love so dearly. There is no doubt that this book will reappear on this blog in the months and years to come. Thanks, Peter Reinhart, for teaching me to love baking bread!

To see my other two posts from this book, click on the links below:

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