Oh Jeez, Not Another One
What the hell is it?
It's what's lurking beneath this:
after mulishly refusing to let go of the pan and leaving behind this:
It was one of those mornings where I could have bounded energetically out of bed, whistling a jaunty tune. No, that would never happen with me. But if I were such a person, that is how the day would have begun. What in fact happened was I was jolted awake by the sound of the delivery man calling my cellphone from directly outside my apartment. One downside to being a girl and having to dash directly from your bed to greet someone at the door is that you have to scrabble desperately through your hopelessly cluttered wardrobe, searching for something to cover your braless state.
Anyhow, parcel received, I brightened when I remembered my sourdough bread that had been rising while I slept and was just about ready to be baked. I peeped. It was risen. Hoorah. Whenever my bread is finally about to go into the oven, I always get this buzzy, anticipatory feeling. Like waiting to open Christmas presents.
I had everything ready. Hot water--check. Spritz bottle--check. Thermometer--check. Oven mitts--check. Popped the bread into the oven. Stood on chair with nose pressed against oven window. And watched my beautiful bread rise up and up!
I admit to having felt rather confident after the previous evening's bun success (see self-congratulatory, and probably dooming, post), and was further fortified by a hot mug of tea and one of those freshly baked buns. The sun had finally come out again. I quickly got the laundry going. Danced about the kitchen with Edward a bit. Got some work done. The whole house smelled so good.
Pulled the bread out after 40 minutes. Temperature: 100'C. Almost perfect. Okay, my loaf had deflated a bit. I think I'd left it to rise too long--about 12 hours. That's okay. It was still lovely.
And then. I tried to get it out of the pan.
I have mentioned before that I own only one pan. A loaf pan. If I want to bake anything in a pan, it will come out 9x5x3, regardless of what the recipe specifies: cakes, muffins, whatever. So I have a great deal of experience getting things out of this pan. I was not worried. This was however the first time I tried baking bread in it. First I gave it a gentle shake, because from past experiences baking boules, I've noticed that bread never seems to stick. The bread did not budge. Okay, no problem. Carefully ran knife along sides. Gave it a tap. Nothing. Tried gently coaxing the bread with my fingers. Nope.
Will not continue this painful account. Needless to say, after a very long time, the bread finally released its tenacious hold on the bottom of the pan, but not without leaving part of itself behind. I guess I should have buttered the pan. The other problem was that the bread was extremely airy and didn't hold up too well under my increasingly ungentle extraction efforts.
This was in fact the San Francisco Sourdough recipe from Sourdough Home, which is very interesting in that, unlike most sourdough recipes that call for up to 1 cup of starter, this one only requires 1/4 cup. I fiddled with the recipe a bit, adding 2 tablespoons of honey and using 1 cup of oatmeal instead of whole wheat flour cause I didn't have any whole wheat. This time I most definitely should have stuck to the recipe. I think I used too much oatmeal, which remained quite gummy even after baking. Also, the bread had a clear sourdough tang--not overpowering but distinct--that would have been really good except that the sweetness from the honey got in the way.
Although Sourdough Home says this recipe works as a sandwich loaf--I want to say I disagree, but it could be my silly meddling with the recipe that caused the texture to change. The inside was very, well, flouffy and was quite difficult to slice.
Despite its flouffiness, strangely, it was also quite chewy, and I thought this bread would have been nicer had it been surrounded by more crisp, brown crust. Unfortunately, although the top of the loaf was gorgeous, the sides and bottom were very white and a wee bit unappealing, the overall effect not unlike a bad farmer's tan. As a free-form loaf, or better yet individual rolls, there would have been lots of crunchy crust to add a much needed textural contrast and a prettier overall look. And if you look at the picture above, the crust really did come out beautifully.