In the beer world, there are a bunch of beers around the Belgian area known as Payottenland, or, less formally, Lambic land. Lambic is essentially a beer that is fermented by the yeasts that grow wild in the air around a brewery. Old lambic is mixed with new lambic to make the drink called Gueuze.
The resulting beer is sour like vinegar with a complex aroma and taste. It's akin to some of the most sour sourdough you've ever had. Most people I know cannot handle it- I even had a bunch of my friends taste it and immediately spit it out. I know, that's some recommendation. And but- I absolutely adore it, I just love the sour but subtle flavor and the slight funky "barnyard" aroma.
If you're ever in Brussels, and are curious, I suggest you visit Cantillon, a working brewery that is also the Gueuze Museum. If you're only sort of curious, but don't want to commit to the whole experience, look for some Orval, or, the more affordable US version: Matilda from Goose Island. These last two beers are infused with some wild yeast after primary fermentation, and are good starting points, though they're more like sourdough bread that has been leavened with commercial yeast for the first rise. Both are world class beers, but neither are as mouth-puckering wonderful as a real Gueuze.
So, just like with a true lambic, we start off with no commercial yeast. The basic ingredients here are flour, salt and water. We are however adding the sourdough, which is a mixture of water and flour. Before Pasteur, a bit of old beer was saved and poured into a new batch in order to ferment it. The reason? They didn't know about yeast, and it was the only method for fermenting the new beer.
For this recipe, I used Elite Weizen, high gluten flour, as dictated by the recipe. I wasn't too thrilled, because I knew it would make a variation on white bread, and I've now become used to darker flours and darker breads.
With regards to technique, though, I usually mix everything together at medium speed, let it rest, and then knead at the lowest speed.
In the end, the dough was rather slack. It flattened out in the couche and pushed away the boxes of parchment paper roll.
I was also very bad at slashing the loaves. I was unfocused and just sort of slashed away. It looks like Wolverine had his way with them before I slid them into the oven.
In any case, I wasn't too thrilled with these.
But even though I was somewhat hesitant about them, they were really flavorful and lasted less than a week. In that week, though, they were just as good as the first day. It's truly one of the benefits of baking with sourdough.
And here's two slices- one with Maille mustard with Chaumes cheese, next to one with plum jam and the same cheese. I ate these both as a quick on the way to having dinner, much to Amy's shock. Yeah, I know. I spoiled my dinner. But
I have to say that, though the bread was good, I really would have prefered to have made it with the Type 1050 flour that I usually use for everything. But they would have been darker. For some reason, I thought the high-gluten flour would make it somehow special, but that was not the case. I think I'm just too used to eating darker, more flavorful breads so that whiter breads just don't do it for me any more. Well, unless they're enriched or mixed with Semolina.
Other Sour Dough Handlers include:
Anne Marie from Rosemary and Garlic
Oggi from I Can Do That!
Paul from Yumarama
Janice from Round The Table