The Fresh Loaf

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AnnieT

I think it was Rosalie who commented on the confusing amounts of information found in all of our baking books. Forgive me if it wasn't you, Rosalie. Since I bought my instant read thermometer I have been careful to bake my loaves to 105*, give or take. I just got Kiko Denzer's book "Build your own earth oven" from the library and I really want to build one. However, in her chapter on sourdough bread his wife says that we should aim for 190* and anything over 200* is overbaked and the bread will stale quickly. So who do I believe? A.

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AnnieT

I have been merrily plodding along with my version of sourdough starters ( 2 at the moment) but took some time to re-read Bill's posting on maintaining a starter. To my horror it seems I have been doing everything wrong, so I decided to start yet another one from Bill's recipe. I have to admit I had been using what I consider to be inferior flour because our store was out of King Arthur, and my starter didn't look too happy. I measured out the required amount and added KA all purpose flour and spring water and stirred like mad. The mixture was thicker than I expected, but I put tape to mark the level and left it on the counter. It did develop bubbles but hardly rose at all even after sitting all day, so last night I tossed half and fed it again. It is now 12.30pm and there are bubbles but no sign of rising. Bill, if you are out there and not too busy, could you please tell me what you think I did wrong? I gave my unhappy looking old starter some Bob's Red Mill organic rye and it perked right up. Maybe ignorance was bliss and I should have muddled along? A

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AnnieT

I have been wanting to make the White thyme bread from Dan Lepard's "The art of handmade bread", and today was the day. I bought some fresh thyme last week at the farmer's market but didn't buy olives until this last Friday. Naturally the store didn't have the picholine olives this week, so I bought kalamatas because all of the others had "stuff" in them. DL calls for fresh yeast which I have never seen here and although he gives a way to replace it I decided to use my instant yeast along with the starter and it worked just fine. I learned it isn't easy to do the French fold with a dough full of olives so I tried his oiled counter method. Thumbs down. Ended up with a dusting of flour and the dough was much easier to manage. Several stretch and folds later I had a nice soft dough to dimple on an oiled baking sheet. Cornmeal on the sheet and on top of the loaf so the crust was crisp. I will definitely make it again and hopefully with the picholine olives as the kalamatas hid the flavor of the thyme. Some friends went home with a chunk of the loaf - I figured they could snack on it if the ferry line was too awful, A

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AnnieT

For the first time in my entire baking life I got ears!!! OK, they aren't the most elegant ears I have ever seen, but for me this was a big deal. I made Susan's Norwich Sourdough loaves and nearly ruined the dough by trying to knead in kosher salt by hand. Had to do some extra kneading and stretching and folding to get the dough to what I thought it should be, and eventually it was a delight to work with. So my four dear little loaves weren't picture perfect but to me they are beautiful. Made pizza with some of the leftover dough, and also baked a fine steelcut oats version of the NKB. A happy baking day, A

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AnnieT

KipperCat, a friend of mine asked me whether I could remember seeing a round cooling rack on TFL - she saw it and couldn't remember where. I went back through some blog entries and noticed that you have one. Could you tell me where you got it, please? I am assuming that is the one she meant and she really really wants one. I led her astray into the breadmaking world and she says she may never forgive me - but she is making sourdough bread with my starter. I would love to put her on the right track for the rack, many thanks, A

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AnnieT

Today I made Will's baguette again because I love the tender crumb and the good flavor. I held back some of the water and was really proud of the dough. Did the French fold, yay, and 2 stretch and folds and made 2 batards on parchment with rolled towel "couches" The dough was full of big bubbles and I kneaded each piece to degas them. I slashed pretty deeply and baked them on the stone and turned them and removed the parchment halfway through the baking time. So far, so good. I used my handy dandy instant read thermometer and they were 205* and looked ready, but almost as soon as they were on the rack the crust softened. I know this has been covered before, but can anyone explain why this happens? Should I have left them to bake longer? The crumb is great with nice holes, but the crust isn't crunchy. Not a big deal as far as eating them, but I don't think I have ever had a crust that crackles. Maybe one or two of my NKB loaves. Maybe I am too timid and need to let the crust really brown, European style. Any comments gratefully received, A

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AnnieT

Hi KipperCat, I had just about given up on the photos, but if I can remember how to get back to them I will try again. Many thanks for the info. Hate to be so pitiful! Had my grandaughters for a sleepover last night and we made individual pizzas. I had the dough ready and helped them with the stretching and they chose their own toppings. They liked seeing the dough slide from my cardboard "peel" to the hot stone but by the time I had cooked 3 the cornmeal was well and truly black. So tonight I made one for myself and used parchment, much less smelly. Time for bed - girls are exhausting - but I will play with the pictures tomorrow, A

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AnnieT

I decided to take the experts' advice and use my (what would have been) discarded starter and made myself a pizza for supper. Of course as this was a last minute thing I didn't have Mozzarella cheese so used Monterey Jack and Parmesan. Also cooked some Italian sausages from the freezer and sliced some mushrooms. I took 1/2cup of starter and added 1/2cup bread flour and 1/2cup water, mixed it well and let it sit for a while. Then I stirred in 1 cup bread flour and some salt, kneaded it briefly and let it sit again. Did a couple of stretch and folds and preheated the stone. Things I learned: use more salt - it was too bland. Use more cornmeal on the back of the old cookie sheet I was using as a peel. The pizza stuck so I just dropped sheet and all on the stone. Divide the dough and make 2 thinner crusts - it rose well but the center was a bit doughy. I ate 1/2(!) and put the other 1/2 back on the stone so that I have supper for another night. Probably not kosher but I felt very creative and will definitely do this again. A.

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AnnieT

I don't know what I have done to my sourdough starters (I know, one would be plenty) and I would really appreciate any help or advice. I decided to feed one ready to do some baking this week. They have been languishing in the refrigerator for a couple of weeks since I sent a jar of starter to my friend in Eugene. I had decided one was the runny one and one was the thicker one, but this evening when I tried to stir them they were both more than thick. No hooch on top where 2 weeks ago there was a good 1/4" on each one. It took some effort to stir them and dig out the 1/2cup I was going to replace - long strands, very stretchy. I really don't understand the firm starter concept and would prefer to keep my starter (s) liquid. They smell good and appear to be very healthy, but what the heck did I do to bring on the change in texture? Should I increase the amount of water? Have I created a monster? They are both sitting on the counter and I will watch to see what happens, but our weather is warming up and I want to put them back in the frig. Any ideas, anyone? A

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AnnieT

I am so close! Finally found the little camera icon, duh, but still can't transfer a photo to the server. I'll keep trying, A

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