I decided to bake this rather exciting pain aux pommes recipe from Ortiz’s The Village Baker, which you can find paraphrased here. You start by fermenting cut pieces of apple together for 8-10 days until it’s smelling strongly tangy and alcoholic.
It was all going swimmingly until the night before I was due to bake. My apple had fermented nicely in the heat without even producing any mould to scrape off. Then I came back from a night out rather tipsy and tired and followed what I thought ought to be the recipe rather than the actual recipe.
With pain aux pommes, the leavening agent is meant to be the apple itself. Ortiz adds a package of dried yeast later, but I suspect that’s one of his additions. He’s rather apt to present what was originally a 100% rye sourdough, for instance, and then say, “Hey, I added some wheat flour and 2 tsps yeast to make it easier.”
Anyway, I added a dollop of my existing starter to the newly-made apple one instead, creating a delicious soup of yeast fungi and taking the recipe totally off-piste. After that, the consistency was all different and I made lots of other changes: no yeast, less water added later, followed normal sourdough process rather than his apple starter build method, baked it as a single loaf rather four batards.
It turned out quite nicely:
I would like to try bread risen purely with an apple starter in future, but I still enjoyed my sourdough hybrid approach and I suspect the variety of starter you use doesn’t make a whole load of difference in the end.
This bread is very moist, almost a little on the claggy side, and feels like a whole meal in itself with the large chunks of apple (a nightmare to knead with, let me tell you). The flavour was less apple-y than I was expecting, more like a hearty country wheat loaf with an element of rye.
I’d like to try this again with the following changes:
1. Cut apple into very small pieces, possibly reduce quantity a bit. 1/2 inch pieces are still quite big enough to feel slimy and that’s not good.
2. Less water. My version retained more liquid than Ortiz’s so not his fault, but this dough was too wet. By half a cup, perhaps?
3. Add dry cider instead of water, cut the malt extract to compensate. If I’m going to bother fermenting apple for days and kneading in those pesky apple pieces, the bread has to taste of apple in the end.
4. I’d like to play around with the % of the rye. And how would it work combined with a recipe like Pierre Nury’s rustic light rye?