The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

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EdTheEngineer

Today is a big day for me. Since starting baking a few months back I've known that I've wanted to make sourdough bread, but not wanting to jump ahead, and travelling a bit for a few weeks at a time, I've put off trying to start a sourdough starter. This was until eight days ago when I returned from my final awayness of the year and set to work on a starter, following a guide I found linked to from here (forgive me for forgetting the source, but it was just the usual flour + water + saltana + go for a wonder around the kitchen while whisking).


Anyhoo, yesterday it was 'Mouldy Mildrid's One Week Birthday Party' and in honour of this I cracked open a beer and set to work on my first ever sourdough. The recipe was:


 - 150g starter (should probably be 150g levain but my starter is still quite young and only just fed and I was impatient). 100% hydration.


 - 450g white flour


 - 50g rye


 - 10g salt


 - 360g water


 - probably about half a Tbsp of olive oil worked in in the process of stretch and folds


I did about 2 hours worth of half-hourly stretch and folds and then another after an hour, then went to bed leaving the dough in the fridge overnight, about weight hours. The next morning I shaped it (improvised a banneton from a fish kettle) and left it to prove and warm through in the pantry (about 12C at the moment) for about five hours. Then into the Aga.



And a crumb shot:



 


My shaping was more retard than batard and I have a lot to learn about handling these higher hydration doughs (tips gratefully received!). But the flavour and texture are enough for me to say that I'm completely hooked on bread baking now. Am enjoying it with another beer (fermentation - surely the greatest invention ever?) and then I'll have a go at the Tartine Plain Country Bread tomorrow.


Ed

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EdTheEngineer

Firstly, I have a new song to kneed along to. The lyrics are relevant - I can only assume the idea for the video was conceived under the influence of something stronger than fermentation fumes.


The rhythm is slightly faster than my usual kneading rate, but in the same way top athletes often run to music that has a slightly faster beat than they find comfortable to improve stamina, my quest to be a finely honed baking machine will not succeed without a little pain and sacrifice. 

Anyway, I wanted to make a bread for the table to go with a crunchy salad with a fairly weapon's grade french dressing and some cheeses. I made a 'bram' as described in Dan Lepard's The Fresh Loaf. This was done by taking 250g of strong bottle-conditioned ale up to 70 degrees C (I presume to boil off the alcohol) and then 50g of flour was whisked in. When cool, I added a tiny bit of pre-ferment from my sourdough starter (which is not quite ready at five days old but I couldn't resist). I left this mixture for 4 hours by which time it had doubled in volume.

Then:

 - 500g whole grain flour

 - 12g salt

 - 250ml water

 - 150g of the bram

 - A tiny pinch of fresh yeast (maybe half a gram) just because my starter is a little green still.

Mix and knead (to the anthem above) and then 20 hours in the fridge. Shaped into a batard and left to warm and prove for 3 hours, then into the oven. I didn't get a photo of it whole (mouths to feed) but here's a crumb shot:

beery-batard

It's a shame one can't upload flavours to the internet but it's got a really moist, fluffy crumb that has a lovely malty, nutty flavour. Great for soaking up the salad dressing and you can taste it along side fairly powerful cheeses. I'll make it again for sure. Pleasingly light for a 100% whole grain - I tried to be gentle during the numerous stretch and folds and shaping, and the long slow fermentation helped a lot. My sourdough starter will be one week old tomorrow so this week I'll do my first sourdough. I seem to have regressed to eight-year-old boy levels of excitement. I shall also try and find a slightly more high quality camera (with a flash!) as these grainy, blurry iphone shots are letting the side down.

EdTheEngineer's picture
EdTheEngineer

Greetings everyone!


This is my first post, having been lurking here for a few weeks. This is a fabulous website and it has accelerated my learning and increased my enjoyment of my new hobby a great deal. I started baking bread a few months ago as an antidote to revision for my university finals. My initial attempts were flat and dense bricks and puddles, more like squashed soda breads. But since finding this site a few weeks ago I've been inspired to put a bit more energy in and try out some of the techniques I've been reading about and watching on the various youtube videos dotted around.


I thought yesterday that I'd have a first attempt at baguettes, having previously been put off by reading it was difficult to make an actual 'baguette' rather than baguette-shaped sandwich bread. The first hit in the search was the Anis Bouabsa recipe. I wanted to have them ready for this evening's dinner so couldn't quite stick to the method prescribed. My method was:


- Poolish - 250g flour, 2g yeast, @100% hydration. Fridge for 7 hours.


- Allow an hour to warm, add the rest of the ingredients. Fridge for 2 hours then in the pantry (which is about 10 degrees C at the moment) for 5 hours. 


- Pre-shape and rest for 40 mins


- Proof for about 50 mins


I slit and sprayed with water, then put them (on baking paper) on the floor of the Aga, which has had a small pan of water on a higher shelf boiling away for the duration for constant steam. Took about 35 minutes to cook - a bit longer than the recipe says - the floor of the Aga is at a lower temperature than the recipe calls for but my feeling is that having them directly on a nice, big, heavy, high thermal mass aga oven floor is A Good Thing. I don't have a stone slab but I guess putting that higher in the oven would be the better way to do it.


I wasn't expecting much - this was a real step up in shaping complexity (I was guided by the <i>excellent</i> Ciril Hitz videos) and more difficult slashing than my usual cave-man technique. But I was pleasantly surprised by what came out of the oven!


Three Baguettes


You can see my shaping is a bit inconsistant (not to mention wrong in ways that are less immediately obvious to me!) but they just about look the part. They sang and crackled promisingly on the cooling rack and I had to try one before dinner. You know, just to test... it tore just like the baguettes I've had in france and biting in was a lovely crunch followed by tasty chewiness. The crumb was on the right lines, I think:


 


Baguette Crumb


 


I'm really quite excited to try this again. Next time I'll plan ahead more thoroughly and give it the 21 hours fridge fermentation that the original recipe calls for. I'll not bother with the poolish stage either (I did it as I thought it might give me the flavours and gluten development a little quicker).


I've been getting quite into using a poolish. I've just come back from a bit of travelling and decided tot to make a sourdough starter until i got back (just so I could be around to care for it) so a poolish seemed like a good stop-gap for getting a bit more flavour out of the flour. For fun, here's a photo of another recent session.


- 1kg of flour (2/3 whole grain 1/3 strong white), 500g of which was in a 100% hydration poolish overnight in the fridge. 


- 20g salt.


- 20g fresh yeast


- teaspoon of dark brown sugar.


Produced a pair of boules, finished in different ways:


Pair of boules


I cut the slashes quite deel on the nearer boule, but the loaf still sprang right up to the point of stretching them out flush with the rest of the crust. Given they have so much spring left to give, should I prove them a bit longer?


Anyway, thanks for reading, now I need to go an feed my new starter!


 


Ed 

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