Guest Correspondent - Yum!
I first saw Peter Reihnart's The Bread Baker's Apprentice at Boudin's flagship shop in San Francisco. I skirted around every other part of the store before picking it up, but eventually I left the store without the book. I have too many under-used cookbooks already and I think I am developing a cookbook problem.
But I couldn't help myself: soon after I arrived home, it was added to my preferred online book seller wish list. After just six months, my favourite Santa delivered it to me on Christmas day (quiet possibly to stop me talking about it, though that has definitely backfired).
My main interest in the book was the rustic hearth loaves - dense, deeply flavoured with a lovely crisp crust and a chewy center that melts in your mouth. I quickly learned that all loaves I wanted to make require a wild yeast starter. Making a yeast starter and the barm that follows (sour dough starter) is not for the feint of heart.
After three weeks of trial and error, I finally had enough wild yeast in my seed starter to move on to making the barm. From what I gather, barm is just a name for the flour and water environment the wild yeast lives in. Because it is made up of live organisms, it has to be fed regularly, or it dies - kinda like having a new pet.
There are way too many steps to this process to outline here and keep anyone but the diehard awake.Next time will be much faster because I now have the starter.
But if you love to make bread and eating it warm from the oven you might want to give this a try. Not only will you have a home filled with the fantastic aroma of baking bread and a delicious loaf, but making the starter is rewarding in and of itself.
If you want a better home loaf, but wild yeast is more than you want to commit to, pick up a copy of Kneadlessly Simple. The breads in this book have fantastic flavours and require little from the baker. You just have to manage the stages and your time to bake the loaf a few hours before you want it. Recipes here take 2 - 4 days, but mostly in developing flavour and in extra long rising times.
Thank you Guest Correspondent Yum!