I’m not sure what prompted it, maybe a post-holiday / post-vacation rut, but I spent an unusual amount of time working with dough and trying to figure out sourdough levain in February. The intent was for the two activities to be linked. Step one: perfect a levain. Step two: use it once a week to make either pizza or a loaf of bread. A good loaf of bread makes a good sandwich great and elevates a bowl of steamed mussels or a steak with chimichurri to a next-level of deliciousness. Sadly, a good loaf of bread seems to be one of the hardest things to find at the grocery store.
With plenty of support from the family (we are a “high gluten” family after all), I tried making a levain and failed a few times. Concurrent with these failures was a steady diet of Netflix and chill with Meredith after the kids went to bed. Glass of wine and some Chef’s Table: Pizza put us in our happy place this month. Unable to wait for levain success, we cranked out some pies with the new techniques (and some commercial yeast). Off the charts good!
With a happy tummy, I retooled and did some more reading. Things started to look a little better on the levain front. While that project chugged along, I decided to try my hand at some bread. Still commercial yeast but the loaf turned out pretty spectacular. Overnight poolish, some good steers on shaping and proofing the dough, and a well executed bake inside the Le Creuset. Boom! The second most satisfying thing behind eating the bread is hearing it crackle right when you pull it out of the oven. Well, maybe the second is smelling it cook and a close third is hearing it cool but we’re splitting hairs at this point.