Refreshing my Sourdough Memory
One of the things that drove me to learn to bake bread was a memory of traveling to San Francisco in the late 60's with my parents. We went to Fisherman's wharf, sat at a table and ate a loaf of the best bread I had ever tasted. It was just amazing and in fact my 83 year old father still remembers how tasty it was.
I thought it was time to refresh my memory of that bread so I could make adjustments to my own sourdough process and improve my product. I searched for SF bakeries that were known to produce a high quality bread and also would ship me a couple loaves. I'm not a frivolous person and know that this is ridiculous, shipping bread half way across the country for what turned out to be $30. But, in the name of science and to improve the quality of life of all those around me, I took the plunge.
The bread arrived on Wednesday last and was fresh, with instructions to warm it at 375 F for 20 minutes or until warm and golden. It looked slightly pale out of the bag and I suspect it might of been just a little under baked in anticipation of being shipped. After heating it was golden, shiny and slightly sticky to the touch. I suspect it had been sprayed with something to enhance the appearance. As you can see, it was a beautiful looking loaf, although not more so than many I have seen here. The aroma coming off the loaf after cutting into the bread was, well, like a combination of vinegar and some other aromatically altered chemical. Nothing remotely connected to the sourdough smell I am familiar with. Honestly it was awful. My family turned their noses up at it saying it had a foul artificial smell. The crumb was more like a sandwich bread than what I strive for with SD. I toasted a few slices and made some Bruschetta which seemed to lessen the sour aroma and make it more palatable. Bottom line is I tossed the last half of the first loaf in the garbage and the second is in the freezer awaiting it's destiny.
My experiment was a flop. There is no way that my taste has shifted that far off center that I would have loved that artificial flavor as my first experience with sourdough way back then. My Mother always said if you can't find something nice to say, keep quiet. So, I won't mention the name of the bakery. I find it hard to believe anyone could use that product as a cornerstone for a famous bakery. I must be missing something.
So it's back to the drawing board for me. Trying to make a bread that tastes as good as it smells and lives up to an old memory. Maybe I'll try another bakery once I recover from the bruising I took on this one.