The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

FangAili's blog

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Last night my husband and I made a faux-Thanksgiving meal (turkeys were on sale). We made stuffing from homemade-bread crutons. (Yes!) Anyway, I saved the potato water from when I prepared mashed potatoes, because I remembered it being called for in some bread recipes. Here's my question -- given that I have potato water and lots of fresh thyme, what can I bake with them? I also have a functioning sourdough starter (I've baked with it once!), and a modest assortment of kitchen staples. (All-purpose flour, bread flour, whole what flour; commercial yeast; corn meal; chocolate chips; butter, sugar, milk...)

I'll take pictures and make a blog report on whatever I bake. :-)

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my first sourdough

Ok, so it's not going to win any beauty contests, but it tasted great! It was really sour, with a crunchy crust, and moist inside! I am very pleased!

Starter technique
I liked the idea of making a starter from just flour and water (and no juice or other stuff), so that's what I did. I used whole wheat flour, because I was less likely to run out of it in the near future! (I live in a rural area and can't always get to the supermarket.) I fed it 1/4 c whole wheat flour and some water, twice per day, and let it sit out on the table. I just sort of eyeballed the water amount. Later on I decided I had been under-watering it, and gave it a bit more. I don't know if I was right on this count, but anyway, it worked out fine. It took about a week before I was satisfied that the starter was fully bubbly and mature enough to use.

Bread recipe
My recipe was simple: Starter + flour + water + salt
1 1/2c Starter
2c Bread flour
3/4 tsp Salt
as much water as I thought looked right...

It took some 3 hours for the bulk rise, then another 2 for the formed rise. I don't have a bread peel so getting the round from my cutting board to the baking sheet was a little tricky--I used two large spatulas. For steam I put some water in an old pan and set it on the bottom rack of the oven. I left it in there the whole baking time. (I've since read that steam is only supposed to be present for the first half of baking, though it turned out great anyway.) I don't have a baking stone either, so I doubled up two cookie sheets and baked it on that.

Given this success, my husband has started talking about chocolate sourdough bread, so that may just be my next challenge. Oh, that, and figuring out how to maintain my starter.

FangAili's picture

I'm a beginning baker. I started baking my own bread for a few reasons. One reason is that I like baking. I enjoy being able to produce something home-made. Another is that I hate spending $3-4 on a decent loaf of bread. I knew that I could learn to make good bread myself, given some time and effort. It would be cheaper, and taste better, than anything I could buy.

There's also something primal about making bread, something that recalls an earlier time when all bread was made by hand. People have been baking bread for thousands upon thousands of years. All of my ancestors, with exceptions only for relatives born in very recent times, baked bread with their own hands and ingenuity. There's no reason I can't do it too.

I only started baking bread regularly a few months ago. I am self-taught. I have one sandwich bread recipe I've made over and over, and I've started playing with it a little to improve its taste and appearance. In my mind, my first "milestone" as a baker occurred a few weeks ago when I used up my first jar of yeast.

Second milestone: I created my own sourdough starter! It's been bubbling and growing for about a week, and my first sourdough loaf is proofing right now. Maybe I will post an update once it is baked.


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