Norwich Sourdough & Lessons Learned
I've been experimenting with different sourdough recipes lately and decided to go with Susan@Wild  Yeast's Norwich Sourdough, which has gotten a lot of attention both on her blog and on TFL. I made the whloe recipe (which, by the way, is a LOT of dough) and made a batard, a pizza crust, and a boule. I followed the ingredients exactly but kneaded the dough instead of the rest-and-fold method, although I will be trying that soon. I made the batard on the first day. It came out of the oven with a nice brown crackling crust and a lot of rise. I was happy with it.
The pizza was the next day. I shaped and baked the crust first, which was kind of funny. I have never pre-baked a pizza crust, I always just pile everything on top of the dough and throw it in the oven. Because there was nothing to weight the dough down, I ended up with a huge puffed-up crust - kind of like a large pita bread. I took it out of the oven before it had time to set, topped it, and put it back in the oven. Turned out wonderful. Because I prebaked it, the crust was a bit thicker, which I love, and it was just the right amount of crisp.
The following day (today), I made the boule. I just took the leftover dough straight out of the fridge, slashed it, and baked it, this time in a dutch oven. After the two-day refrigeration (I'm not sure what length fermentation is acceptable, but two days seemed okay) the resulting bread was very different. It tasted much more sour, didn't have quite as crunchy or thick a crust (I may have left the lid to the dutch oven on too long) but definitely "sang" when I took it out of the oven, and had wonderful oven spring. This one was my favorite of the three.
Now for the lessons learned - Slash evenly. My cuts were much deeper on the side where I started cutting, so the bread rose unevenly. The back side rose up to a point, while the front stayed low. Oops! On the other hand, the places where I did slash deep enough turned out beautifully. Hopefully I can duplicate this on my next loaves. That brings me to a question - I can never seem to slash evenly... Any of you have a good suggestion or website with a tutorial?
Another lesson - letting the sourdough flavor develop over longer periods really improves the flavor of the bread! I will be doing this from now on.
And finally, here's the pictures :)