So I really have had no interest in widening my scope; having accomplished my goal in sourdough and WW sandwich bread, the only ones I was really interested in. A few weeks ago, to kill time, I went to the Pearl bakery in NW Portland, OR to look around. The Pearl is mentioned in Maggie Glezer's book and it's the only local one with enough fame to catch my attention, not that I care about someone's 15 minutes, but how else do you learn of the few and far between? I am initially unimpressed with a bakery that doesn't do what I think are the basic breads and nothing really stood out in the afternoon when I was there, so I bought a loaf of ciabatta for dinner. I had to go back to class in the evening so it really was dinner. It was good but I wasn't about to abandon what I was doing in the kitchen... But there you are, I had to order up Maggie's book because someone here mentioned Craig Ponsfords recipe included in that book (and I have been to his bakery in Sonoma, CA). Got the book and waited a few weeks for the time, which brought me up to this last weekend.
I started on Saturday and followed the recipe as closely as possible, except for not having specifically course ground ww or rye, and no parchment. Oh, and I didn't do the yeast thing, I just tossed in a TINY pinch of instant. The biga didn't do anything by Sunday morning so I applied heat to kick it into gear, which helped. Then I did the dough and managed to handle the wet stuff pretty well, not like a year ago would have been before racking up some measure of experience. Tossed the loaves onto baking sheets with plenty of flour to last rise and baked on my stone. Magic really does happen:
This is the first loaf, the other is quite similar. The taste is quite excellent, the crust is as expected. Really, it is as good as the Pearl's, in my thoroughly humble opinion.
The only thing wrong is that for me this is specialty bread. It's too holey for daily bread, too thick for sandwiches for the family. I could make pulled pork/beef sandwiches out of it, or dip it in soup all day long, but I think it will be a once in a while bread. I have an extra loaf that I can't figure out what to do with. I guess I'll have to freeze it. I'd give it to Cody but he's in SF right now...
Life is tough all over, but bread is getting easier as time gives me more experience. For those who are struggling to figure out how to make it all work, keep trying. Have faith in yourselves. Don't get hung up on too many details that seem to conflict. Try it one way, then another, and don't worry. Eventually it will happen. Just take notes so you remember what you did when it works. And remember this too: flour is still cheaper than gas. Stay home and bake.
That's my story,