Tasting Local Sourdough Bread
I had the fun of tasting local sourdough breads here in California while visiting relatives. Of course I kept my eye out for any new brand of sourdough I could find. I was lucky enough to find three new ones that I had not tried before.
The first find was called “Brian’s Bread” and it was baked locally out of Atascadero. They did not have a web site which was too bad because an online presence would have been nice.
Their bread was quite good and got raves from the family and friends at home. The loaf weighed 24 oz and was a nice size. The ingredients were:
Unbleached Wheat flour, Water, Sour Culture, and Salt.
Pretty basic stuff. The bread was chewy, very sour, fresh, soft and delicious. The crust was soft and chewy but that was because it was bagged. Fresh out of the oven it would have most likely been nicely crispy, chewy.
The crumb indicated that it was a low hydration dough, it was also soft with a tender crumb and close hole structure. It was a favorite for sandwiches.
I really liked the bread and give it high marks. I would recommend it to anyone. If you are in the area around Atascadero or the five cities area, try to find some, it is well worth it!
The next loaf I found was called Raymond’s Fine Sourdough Bread” It was a very long baguette at 24″ and it weighed 24 oz.
The ingredients were:
Enriched Flour,Doh-Tone, Vitamin C, Vitamins, Water, Salt, Yeast.
This bread had a nice flavor, slightly sour tang but you could taste the commercial yeast in it. The crust was nice being lightly blistered and crunchy.
The crumb was also indicative of a lower hydration dough with a close soft crumb. It seemed to me that a smaller amount of the yeast was used and a longer fermentation utilized because although the ingredients don’t say that the bread contained any real sourdough culture, it did have a complexity of flavor indicating a longer than usual fermentation process. It was a good all around loaf for a barbeque.
The final loaf I found at the local Farmer’s Market. A local bakery plied their wares and the bread really looked good. I was excited to find the bread and bought a small loaf weighing a pound. It was a baguette. There were no ingredients listed but the lady I bought if from said they used real sourdough culture.
There was a variety of many different shapes of loaves there. I did get the business card of the bakery and intended to give them a little exposure here. However, the bread did not test out too well. The crust was nice and crunchy, the bread looked great, but the flavor was very disappointing. There really was no flavor except the strong taste of commercial yeast.
As most of you who bake your own sourdough know, once you have tasted real sourdough and gotten used to it, there is no mistaking the flavor of commercial yeast in a bread unless a poolish is used with a tiny amount of yeast and a long, cool ferment, in which case you can sometimes be fooled.
There was no mistake this time. The bread was not long fermented, there was no flavor of sourdough, there was no texture of sourdough, just a French bakery style loaf heavy with commercial yeast. If they used sourdough culture in the dough, it was a small amount for flavoring and the flavor did not come through once they used the commercial yeast.
From the crumb texture which was dry and airy, it seems certain to me that there was no long fermentation at all but a rushed loaf. To say the least, I was disappointed. The family and friends test pretty closely followed my own tastes.
The Brian’s Bread was rated the highest, the Raymond’s bread followed suit, but was not eaten up quickly as the Brian’s Bread. The Farmer’s Market bread was a disappointment to everyone with people not even finishing their test piece.
When you travel, take the time out to look for and taste the local breads, many of them are really terrific!