The Return of SF Country Sourdough
After fiddling repeatedly between last October and this March with my formula for pain de campagne, which I dubbed “San Francisco Country Sourdough,” I got distracted by other things—mostly Tartine Basic Country Bread. A couple weeks ago, we thawed and enjoyed the last of that SFCSD, a sign that it was time to return to that formula and try it again. I was curious after all this time (four months may not seem like a long time, but its 30% of my bread-baking history), to see if the product would be better due to my experiences baking the Tartine BCB.
I can say that the product was better, but—of course—I can’t say why.
I used the same formula as last posted (http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/22679/spring-air …and-oven), with the following variations: (1) I got stuck on a long phone call, so the stretch and folds were at something like 30 minutes, 110 minutes and 150 minutes; (2) I shaped the dough into three 500 gram batards, and (3) I proofed the loaves on a linen couche instead of my usual brotforms. These smaller loaves were done baking after about 30 minutes at 450 F.
What had shifted my focus to the Tartine BCB was its magnificent crumb, the perfect point for me on the chewy-tender spectrum. This bake of the San Francisco Country Sourdough was very close to that ideal, and it has the dash of rye flavor I love in pain de campagne. This one—which I didn’t retard—had a nice slight sourness.
In looking at the two formulas, the procedures are fairly similar. But the SFCSD has a lower hydration and the dough is much less sticky and, therefore, easier to handle.
I wonder now whether the improvement in this bread since my last try at it has to do with the progress of my skills in dough handling and judging fermentation, or was it just kitchen karma, or do I not remember how good this bread was in previous bakes?
In any case, fresh-baked with butter, it was an ideal accompaniment for a Summer dinner of seafood salad with homemade Louis dressing.
This bread will again be a regular in my rotation.