A Taste of Haida Gwaii: Sourdough Trial and Error
I went from being essentially gluten-free, to making my own sourdough bread in a matter of weeks. And to be honest, my gut is doing just fine.
I was never one to buy a loaf of sliced bread from the grocery store. I never found it to be satisfying, and I would often get bloated after. But a fresh loaf from Sidewalk Citizen Bakery, or the streets of Paris, all slathered in butter - yes please! I had this idea that making that kind of bakery quality bread with air pockets and crisp crusts, was completely unattainable. I had an image of a baker kneading, slapping, pulling and waiting in the wee hours of the morning for the bread to rise. But, it doesn't 'knead' to be like that.
So far, I've eased my way into it. I started a few weeks ago making no-knead spelt and rye bread from this recipe. Seriously, so easy and it's already changed my life.
After a few loafs, and confident reinforcement from Joe which entailed him engulfing a whole loaf in a day, I decided - okay, I work from home, I can nurse a sourdough starter along. Hey, I kept my tamagotchi alive - I can do this. Well I kept it alive for a few weeks before it got lost in my desk tray. Side note: I loved desk trays.
I inherited a starter from a friend, who inherited it from another friend who claims it's over 100 years old! I then followed Susan Musgrave's recipe in her cookbook, The Taste of Haida Gwaii. The recipe spans approximately 10 pages since it's interspersed with personal anecdotes, so you end up having to search for the actual details among stories of her mother and locals. I recommend that you take your own notes from her version - you can probably condense it to half a page.
Otherwise, follow the recipe. Exactly. And you'll do just fine. Minus the tools. I used colander's instead of baskets, and an enamel roaster lined with parchment paper instead of a dutch oven. And, this is how the first loaf turned out:
I will add that my next two attempts failed. Miserably. One failed because I didn't turn and fold it enough, the second failed because it was too wet. It was a massive blob that oozed over the cutting board during bench rest. I still put it in the oven but it came out like a brick. Essentially, I got over confident after the first loaf and didn't follow the recipe to a T. Oops. What a waste of flour!