And it's back to Reinhart's bread recipes, mostly because I lacked the ingredients for my next idea, and because the promise of a bread with all the "comfort and satisfaction" of a croissant or brioche without any butter was intriguing. This recipe is from Crust & Crumb, which I ended up purchasing after I returned it Bread Baker's Apprentice to the library. I chose this one, even though it's a bit older, because it seemed to have more sourdough recipes, which interest me. The baking instructions differ in the two books: Crust & Crumb says to mist the oven twice, in two minute intervals, while Bread Baker's Apprentice suggests more mistings at 30-second intervals. I think my usual practices fall somewhere in the middle of that.
Finally an update! I just started a new full-time job this week, so I have been trying to figure out how to work baking into the schedule. The best I have come up with so far is to start bread in the morning, use my 8 hours at work as an "overnight" rise in the refrigerator, then bake in the evening. In practice, it's not quite so simple, with lots of breads needing to sit at room temperature for 3~4 hours before being refrigerated, but I should figure out something eventually.
I have been really enjoying baking from Peter Reinhart's books, and have learned a lot, but at the same time, it almost gets boring to make delicious, flawless bread every time. The instructions are clear and detailed, and though I've made his ciabatta and cinnamon raisin breads in the past few weeks, it seemed silly to take pictures and write up an entry that basically says "Yup. Baked it to instructions, came out great". Fortunately for me, what I baked yesterday was miles away from that sort of experience so I have lots of tips to share on how not to make this one.
It feels good to finally make a successful French country sourdough bread after three failures. This is also the first time I've used my whole wheat sourdough starter, Mulder, in something edible. Most recipes use something more along the lines of my white flour starter, Scully, but there are a variety of different flavours that can be achieved through different starters. Even using the same recipe, Mulder would make a very different tasting bread from Scully.
Then there's also the possibility of a starter made with rye flour (or even something more unusual), one with grape skins or beer yeast added, or sourdough cultures from different parts of the world. (San Francisco sourdough is pretty different from French or German.) From as best I can tell, Mulder has a much milder flavour than Scully. Apparently Europeans tend not to like a strong acidic, sourdough flavour, so there are recipe differences to account for, but I'd say the smell of the starters supports that statement. Breads I made with Scully are more easily recognisable as sourdough, though both make good breads and are equally powerful leaveners.