These directions are for one small loaf or boule. You can make larger loaves simply by scaling
the ingredients up.
WHAT YOU WILL NEED:
A digital scale
Lactic acid powder (available through
Bread flour (found in many supermarkets)
Instant or "rapid rise" yeast. VERY
IMPORTANT!!! Do not use "active dry"
yeast. Make sure the yeast is "instant" or
"rapid rise". If Fleischmann's yeast is used,
look for the bright yellow packets.
Water and salt
An electric mixer is helpful but not
Some knowledge of artisan baking techniques
As you can see, we are dealing with very small quantities. It is thus extremely important to measure the ingredients as precisely as possible. I use an eyedropper to measure the vinegar drop by drop.
Start by making the following "cocktail":
92 grams water
3.5 grams (one half packet) instant dry yeast
1.5 grams white vinegar
Now combine the following dry ingredients in
your mixing bowl:
1 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
2.5 grams lactic acid
Disperse the dry ingredients by stirring with
a wire whip or fork.
Add the "cocktail" to the dry ingredients and
mix until a dough ball forms. DO NOT
Place the dough ball on a towel or flax linen cloth and allow to proof for 2 hours.
With a sharp knife or blade, make some slits in the top crust, about 1/4 inch deep. These slits allow the crust to expand while baking.
Bake at 400 degrees F for one hour. You can steam the oven in advance of baking by placing a shallow pan of water in the oven as it heats up, or bake in a cast-iron Dutch oven.
During baking, the slits you have cut into
the crust will open up. This is an indication
of oven spring, or the degree to which
the yeast has raised the bread.
VERY IMPORTANT: It is very important
to let the loaf cool completely after baking.
This will take some time, anywhere from
one-half to one hour or even longer. The
flavor is still developing as the bread cools,
so for the best flavor it is very important to
allow the loaf to cool completely.
GARLIC BREAD: Combine one clove of crushed
garlic with 1 stick (1/4 pound) of softened
butter or margarine. Cut the bread into slices
and spread with garlic butter. Optionally,
sprinkle with grated Parmesan cheese. Toast in
your still-warm oven at 350 degrees F (this
may be done in lieu of allowing the loaf to
cool completely), or you may toast the bread
under the broiler.
Residents of the San Francisco bay area who
prefer to buy rather than bake their own bread
can get an acceptable sourdough in several
local markets. I have sampled many brands of
sourdough from the bay area; Acme sourdough,
though significantly milder in flavor than the
old-school sourdough bread for which San
Francisco is renowned, has the distinctive
tanginess that comes from the blend of lactic
and acetic acids. None of the other
present-day sourdoughs I have sampled in the
San Francisco area -- none of them -- comes
close to the old-school sourdoughs such as
Larraburu, Parisian, Colombo, Toscana, Baroni,
Pisano, etc. Acme bread can be found at the
following retail locations and possibly more:
Piazza's, Draeger's, Whole Foods, Mollie
Stone's, Andronico's, Lunardi's, Costco.
Here is the formula in baker's percentages:
Instant yeast: 2.4%
Lactic acid powder: 1.75%
White vinegar: 1.0%
Final hydration: 64%
This very technical article is the basis for this recipe. The researchers obtained sourdough samples from the popular Larraburu bakery in San Francisco which closed in 1976. It follows up on research conducted by the USDA in the late 1960's. It identifies lactic acid and acetic acid as the principal souring agents in San Francisco sourdough bread.