Local Breads and local breads

I started a sourdough starter about a month ago, and so far I have used it to make a few loaves of bread with a variety of success rates, as well as some pizzas. I wanted to know more about sourdough, and the online resources are super helpful but somewhat limited in the way websites can be. And sometimes there's nothing better than curling up with a good cookbook (certainly not baking the actual bread!).

So I picked up a copy of Local Breads by Daniel Leader. It's a beautiful book with long, detailed chapters about his visits to a variety of European bakeries and what he learned from each one. Recipes are mixed throughout the book. I actually tried one of the recipes, but I bastardized it so much that I won't even mention its name here. In fact, I could pull a sort of reverse Julie and Julia and blog for a year about how badly I can screw up great bakers' recipes by either not having the ingredients and going ahead anyway, being too impatient to wait the full proofing time, or being in denial about the fact that my dough is Just Not Rising. But I doubt I'll have the energy after all this feeding my starter, planning recipes for days ahead of time, and other shenanigans that go into bread baking. (can you tell the honeymoon is over?)

A striking note from Leader is the idea that sourdough is invariably local. Even if you buy a starter and ship it across country or around the world, after feeding it and refreshing it and all that, it will ultimately be taken over by the local yeasts. I think it's kind of freaky how Trader Joe's tries to sell me bread from California; I try to buy local bread whenever possible, and will again after this bread-baking stage of mine reaches its inevitable crescendo of fiascosity. But now I know when I am buying from Macrina or Essential Baking or some other wonderful Seattle bakery, I am really buying something you truly couldn't get anywhere else, and that's rare and special to me.

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