Pan Boule sans Commercial Yeast

This is the sweetest action I’ve seen in a long time.

After starting the starter and feeding it and coddling it all day, I thought I’d give it a whirl! Really see what it can do!

So sort of half following the directions (only a stupid idea because now I don’t really know how I pulled this off) I mixed I think a cup of flour and a half cup of water with a cup of starter and a hefty pinch of salt – I think.

I let it rise for 2 hours, but it didn’t get very big, so I let it sit in the oven overnight. This morning it had more than doubled, so I turned it onto the bench, lightly floured (very very lightly floured) and gave it a knead or two.

I shaped it into a ball and placed it in my 8″ cast iron skillet that had been dusted with corn meal. I let it rise in the oven for 3 hours, but it only rose maybe 50%. Disappointed, I took it out of the oven, sprayed it and thought “Aw, hell.. I’ll just bake it off and see what happens.”

Because I wasn’t really into it, I wasn’t paying attention to the directions and heated the oven to 400 instead of 450. I let it heat up for a half hour, then slashed the top and put it in. I checked it after 5 minutes, sprayed it with water and noticed it hadn’t a lot of oven spring then realized the 50d difference. I turned the oven up to 450. Wow! The loaf sprung right into action, doubling almost immediately. I was shocked. The kitchen started to smell… good! Like *really* good.

And when I took it out.. this is what I got! A+! Golden Ticket! Blue Ribbon! Shiny Star! This is better sourdough than I’ve had in years – the only loaf I can immediately think that would rival it was served at a place our friend Joe took us to in San Francisco – and it was a pretty nice place. I wish I could remember the name of that place cuz they had a Lobster Pot Pie that rocked immensely – and at the time, lobster was one of my least favorite things to eat.

The crust is chewy and crackly and thin – delightfully thin. The crumb is buttery (without ANY butter) and soft with big, glossy, airy holes. I couldn’t be more ecstatic.

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