Time to catch up a bit from the Christmas whirl. Last weekend, I baked Leader's pain au levain again, from his Local Breads. I keep coming back to this bread, because of it's lovely flavor. It is only mildly sour and the rye and whole wheat components add to the depth of flavor. Since temperatures in my kitchen were hovering in the 63-65F range, it also benefitted from a long, slow fermentation. Here is a picture of the finished loaves:
The slashing suffered from a lack of mental mise en place. I'l have to pay better attention to that in future.
Here's a shot of the crumb:
The crumb is great for sandwiches and for holding spreads, but a bit fine-grained for this style of bread. I'm still working to get all of the factors done right in a single loaf. This one has great flavor. I thought it had ample hydration, but it could probably have been pushed a bit higher. And my handling during shaping was a bit ham-fisted. One of these days . . .
The second bread on the agenda last weekend was Reinhart's New York Deli Rye, from BBA. No complaints about the bread itself; it is a moist, flavorful (I substituted dill seed for caraway seed), sturdy bread and makes wonderful sandwiches. The only quibble, which is purely cosmetic, is the blotchiness on the crust caused by the oiled plastic wrap that I draped over the pans to keep the dough from drying during it's final proof, as seen here:
And, since I was on a sourdough kick and had company coming, I also made the sourdough English muffins from the KAF 200th Anniversary Cookbook. I never got around to snapping a picture of those. They turned out very well. I think I finally got the right combination of hydrations, time to rise, and griddle temperature. They ballooned up to more than an inch in thickness, without trying to turn into spheres. There are plenty of nooks and crannies for trapping melting butter or juicy jams. They are so moist that they require a second pass through the toaster to brown up enough.
Sometimes it is hard to decide which is better: the enjoyment of making bread, or the enjoyment of eating it.