The sourdough bread of my youth doesn’t exist, anymore. The very best – in my not so humble opinion – was Larraburu. Dark, crusty, crunchy crust and a rich interior, filled with holes. The kind of bread that when you toasted it, the butter – or peanut butter – would flow through the holes making a mess everywhere. It was a kid’s gastronomic dream come true.
Larraburu went out of business in 1976 – the result of a lawsuit over a 6 year old being hit by a bread delivery truck – and that left Parisian pretty much the sole sourdough survivor. Boudin calls itself the Original San Francisco Sourdough, but I don’t remember them at all until they started up a bakery/cafe at the remodeled Stonestown Galleria. The 1976 San Francisco Chronicle article talking of Larraburu’s demise doesn’t mention Boudin, either…
Larraburu also had the best sourdough rolls. Edgewater Delicatessen right up the street from us sold them for 10¢ each. I’d buy a roll and 25¢ worth of salami and have a feast – when I actually had 35¢ to spend.
Quite a while ago, I bought the Tartine Bread cookbook, read through a bit of it, and decided that making starter from scratch was a waste of time and energy. The tone of the book just came across as a bit elitist, to me. Lord knows I’m not even remotely opinionated or food-snobish, myself… ::ducking the lightning bolts aimed at me from the sky::
Once again, I was wrong. It’s not, and creating a starter is actually really easy. What I ended up doing, though, was buying a starter from a bakery called Breadtopia. It was after buying the starter and dealing with the 3 days of feeding and regenerating it that I read the Tartine book, again, and realized I had just done what they were talking about – minus something like one step.
Okay… I’m not the brightest color in the crayon box… what can I say? I have live starter and a loaf of really good bread – and the ability to make many more.
So here’s my take on a loaf of sourdough… It’s a bit Breadtopia and a bit me. I didn’t want to use the Dutch Oven process so I played with it and baked it on oven tiles.
- 16 oz flour
- 1 1/2 tsp. salt
- 1 1/2 cups water
- 1/4 cup starter
Mix together the dry ingredients.
Stretch and fold dough over itself several times.
Cover loosely with plastic and rest for 15 minutes. Form into boule.
Transfer to floured parchment on a peel, cover with a towel, and let rise about 1 1/2 hours.
Let cool completely on rack.
This particular bread had a very lightly-sourdough flavor. Great taste, but just a tad gummier than I like. That probably had nothing to do with the fact that we cut into it almost straight out of the oven! It is a wetter dough than I’m used to dealing with. I think future loaves will be a little less so.
The crust was excellent and had a really great crunch and texture, but the bread I remember so well had a dull crust – thick and dark and it crackled and crunched when you bit into it. And it left crumbs everywhere.
I think I may try a loaf without the steam to see what a dry oven will give me.