Today’s mail brought me a new book, Tartine Bread. Yes, that Tartine. And in the chapter on baguettes, I’m already reading about how, in the early twentieth century, bread bakers got away from using wild leavening (a.k.a. starters) with the advent of commercial baker’s yeast and the realization that on the normal scale of commercial baking the yeast gave a much more consistent, and quicker, result.
Of course, what was lost was the flavor that was created by the traditional long. slow rising process that the wild leaven required. So it was in the 80s that bakers began to experiment again with the old methods-just before the original knowledge of the process was nearly lost.
I’ve recently gotten a sourdough starter from wild San Francisco yeasts from a friend, and have been doing some baking with it. Now I’ll be getting deeper into this, to see how close I can come at home to bread with the texture and flavor of breads from Semi Freddi, Tartine and Acme.