I am a low carber. I can eat MAYBE one thin slice of bread a day. So why do I spend so much time baking bread? I refer to my bread baking days as my moments of Zen. Really. It is meditative. My concentration is totally on that bread. While I work I anticipate two things - seeing the "oven rise" when I take the lid off the baking vessel, and slicing into a baked loaf to check the crumb.
The oven rise refers to how much the bread rises during the time it is baking in a closed vessel, and the higher the better. A loaf that rises well will have "ears," the best indicator of a good loaf prior to cutting into one.
Since I sell half loaves at my booth at the South Bend Farmers Market, I always get to check the crumb before bringing my bread into the market. What is the big deal about the crumb? You see, the crumb is the mark of a good loaf of sourdough. If it is very even, about the texture of a cake, I have failed. Think Butternut sandwich loaf. :( If there are random holes here and there, I am happy, and if there are some BIG holes scattered here and there I am ecstatic!
I am now baking two days (maybe three this week) a week. When I started bringing in bread on Thursday, I rarely sold more than a loaf or two, sometimes not any at all. But of course, practice makes perfect. And word gets around. There is someone at the market making real, LOCAL sourdough bread of good quality, or so I like to think.
Today a gentleman bought a loaf after questioning me --
- Did I get my original sourdough starter from San Francisco? (Nope, caught the yeasties in my own kitchen.)
- Whose recipe is it? (Mine, after much experimenting on what worked best in my oven, etc.)
- When did I bake it? (Last night - and I'll be baking again tonight!!)
He bought a sourdough baguette, said he was going to go to the restaurant and get a bowl of soup to go with it. I saw him in the restaurant and went in to see how he liked the loaf. He was delighted with it, claimed he had not tasted any better in San Francisco, nor in Paris.
Grinning from ear to ear! Just as happy as when a person with a French accent comes in to buy a second baguette!!