My salt rising bread does not have the characteristic odor that I recognize from past experience with salt rising bread. I am genuinely curious why this should be the case because I get excellent white bread loaves but no cheesy odor.
I follow a recipe from McGee (popular science article) approximately. I use a thermapen to monitor the temperatures. After many attempts I have a satisfactory apparatus for maintaining correct temperatures. The starter is made with properly scalded milk - 180 F. I have used two different kinds of cornmeal including one that brags of containing the kernel and the chaff. I have tried adding potato to the starter. I have used bread flour and all purpose flour. I get excellent white bread loaves but no cheesy smell like I used to experience from bakery bread made in Friendship, NY (Allegheny County in Southwest New York State). He baked on Friday and you could smell it all over the village - locals always remarked on it. (I live in St. Louis MO which may be relevant.)
My procedure: (1) scald the milk and pour over the cornmeal, salt, and sugar; (2) maintain the temperature of the starter between 102 F and 112 F which should cause C. Perfringens to flourish; (3) let the starter ferment overnight, about 12 hours, after which time it has a very thick crust of foam with tight bubbles and they do NOT smell cheesy; (4) add hot water at 120 F plus baking soda and stir in enough flour to make a thick smooth batter to create the sponge; (5) keep this mixture at 102 F to 112 F and in 3 to 4 hours this sponge is clearly fermenting with gusto exhibiting large foamy bubbles throughout; (6) make the dough by stirring in a teaspoon of salt and enough flour to make a proper dough; (7) knead the bread for 6 to 10 minutes, shape into loaves, and put in greased bread pans; (8) set the loaves to rise in a temperature of 92 F to 103 F and in 3 to 5 hours they have nearly doubled in bulk, then bake in a hot oven (I do 25 minutes at 375 F and 25 minutes at 325 F); (9) check the internal temperature of the bread which is about 205 F to 210 F; (10) turn the loaves out on a wire rack to cool. Done.
The finished loaves are pleasingly brown, give a hollow sound when thumped, and have a crumb which is (probably) too airy. The bread is delicious but does not smell cheesy. Why is this?
Am I caught in a peculiar geographic pocket with an odd strain of C. Perfringens like Beard noted about his attempts to produce San Francisco sourdough from San Francisco starter which in a month or two deteriorated to the Bloomington Indiana variety?
Any advice would be greatly appreciated. This is a true puzzle in my kitchen.
John Sprague (firstname.lastname@example.org)
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