Sometimes it occurs to me that I have no life.
This Canada Day, people asked me what I was doing. "Making Jeffrey Hamelman's Vermont Sourdough Number Three, with Increased Whole Grain", I answered. Seemed a reasonable way to spend the day to me. Then I realized that said friends were cottaging and picnicking and dating and such... and saw the day of bread tending as rather a lonely pursuit for a holiday.
On the flip side, there were all the people who wrote in when I posted the first two breads and mentioned not posting the third, figuring that readers might have a low threshold for multiple variations of the same bread. Not so, apparently.
So for this small sub-culture of fresh bread enthusiasts, the ones who know that holidays are the perfect time for baking, and that there is plenty of time for carousing in between building the starter, mixing the dough, letting it stand (autolyse), finishing the dough, letting it rise, folding it, rising some more, shaping, final rise, baking, and cooling... providing you have a timer with an alarm and you don't actually go too far..
And the rewards are plentiful, if not quick. Nothing beats fresh baked bread. And that stuff labeled "artisan" or "fresh baked" in your local grocery chain? Has been made quickly out of dubious ingredients, shipped frozen to the franchise and baked off there. Oh happy day.
So don't pity the lone baker, come time the bread is ready - people seem to find her.
Vermont Sourdough Number Three, with Increased Whole Grain. (Recipe here)
I love sourdough, and this was great, but I have to say number one was my favourite. Mysteriously this was the only version without big holes. Maybe the increased whole grain content? Perhaps. But it did make for some excellent Canadian bacon sammies for Canada Day!