I have finally paid enough attention to my sourdough starter to use it again. I keep my starter in the fridge. That means I can feed it once a week when I am not in a sourdough baking frenzy. But it takes a bit of love and feeding to get it back up to standard when I am back in the zone.
I add about 60g of that fridge stored starter into just about all the loaves I bake. It adds a depth of flavour and also seems to keep the bread fresh for an extra day on the bench. It also means I don’t end up with wasted starter. More about sourdough maintenance in another post.
So with a happy starter I made Peter Reinharts sourdough from the Bread Bakers Apprentice. It makes enough for 2 loaves so I divided the dough and tried his favourite variation, blue cheese and walnut.
I used my bannetons to help shape the loaf whilst in its final proof. After much trial and error (read dough stuck to banneton and then deflated and I got really really cross) I have settled on light spray oil on the banneton followed by a dusting of rice flour. It releases really well. After some comments on another Rose Levy Beranbaums website I thought I would see if the spray oil was really needed.
The answer for me is yes. The classic loaf is the one I ommitted the spray oil on. It stuck, only in one place but you can see just on the top right hand side of the loaf where it has deflated.
I have read about care of bannetons where they don’t get washed between uses. (just knock out the excess flour and use again next time) That doesn’t work here in Darwin when it is 32C year round and with 80%+ humidity for half the year. Mine started having mildew blooms and it was a magnet to the roaches. All in all not a good situation. So I wash them in the sink. Then often give them a burl in the dishwasher. And then I dry them really well before storing them (that means sometimes in the wet leaving them in a very very low oven for a while).
I had a friend around for lunch and we tried the breads. The classic sourdough was really nice. It had a lovely crumb structure and the crust was still shatteringly crisp. The blue cheese and walnut loaf was also very good. You can really see the effects of the add-ins on the crumb structure of the walnut bread. Interestingly, the camembert really intensified the blue cheese flavour in the bread. (I suppose the fat content of the cheese allowed the flavours to carry further). I just love the colour the walnuts turned the bread. I think I will make walnut bread again but perhaps without the blue cheese next time.