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April 2018 Baking Schedule

The verdict of the starter-test is in, and it’s a toss-up. Determining the quality and power of sourdough starters is a tricky business. Sure, the starter is the most important ingredient, but its influence on the taste and feel of the bread loaf is tempered by other factors, each important in its own way. There’re what I call intrinsic factors: the type and make of the flour mix, the kind and consistency of the additions, how much water goes into the dough, the amount of salt, and so on and so forth. Extrinsic factors include ambient temperature (the hotter, the faster the rise and the less pronounced the “sour” taste imparted by the starter), humidity (more humidity generally results in more—but not necessarily faster—fermentation and sourdough taste), and the bakers technique (proper timing, stretching and developing the dough evenly, shaping it without degassing), and then there’s the proverbial dose of good fortune and kindness of St. Honoratus of Amiens. In other words, you may have the best starter on the plant and produce a mediocre loaf of bread or, conversely, have an average starter and churn out one delectable loaf after another. So much, then, for objectivity of the results of February’s starter test. Nevertheless, they’re in and worth sharing, however briefly. The most popular breads were the Pain de Campagne, leavened with the “Big Hybrid” of all three starter cultures, and the Sourdough di Lucca, leavened with the “very olde” starter. In honor of their joint triumph, and so as to test St. Honoratus, this month’s baking schedule starts with a victory lap for the two breads—albeit with the perhaps not insignificant difference that the Pain de Campagne will be leavened with the “very olde” starter and the Sourdough di Lucca with the “Big Hybrid.” The following weeks feature one new bread, April 16’s Dark Rye, an experiment in using molasses to get a darker, crunchier crust. So, without further ado, here’s the baking schedule for April: M Apr 2 Pain de Campagne F Apr 6 Sourdough di Lucca M Apr 9 Sesame Semolina F Apr 13 Caraway Coriander M Apr 16 Dark Rye F Apr 20 Spelt Porridge M Apr 23 Country Einkorn F Apr 27 Bâtard 707 The pricing and subscription options remain the same; please let me know if you would like to change your subscription in any way. If I don’t hear from you by Sunday, April 1 (unless you’re playing a prank; in that case wait until April 2), I will extend your existing subscription through April. As usual, I accept payment in cash or by check (payable to Matthias Rudolf and addressed to 24 Munroe St., Somerville, MA 02143), or via an online invoice from Square.

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