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Olof's blog

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I'd been meaning to make Challah for a long time but never found the courage. These breads always look so beautiful. Reading Carol Ungar's account of recovering her family's tradition, 'Grandma's Lost Challah, Found', I was inspired to have a go. I used a recipe from Maggie Glezer’s book, A Blessing of Bread, recited by TFL member Zolablue with photos from her own bake.

The bread turned out just fine, a little firm yet soft and tasted very nice. To keep complexity at minimum I opted for a three strand braid. Due to the sour dough, the bread kept pretty well until the next day. However, I sliced and froze most of what we didn't consume on the day of the bake. Lightly toasted, those slices were absolutely fabulous.


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My training in making sourdough bread continues with growing success. See previous report here. I have followed advice I received on TFL to stick with a recipe that works for me to gain experience and skill. Doing the same recipe over and over again helps me to compare the outcome and learn from it. The recipe is from Home Cooking Adventure: Easy Sourdough Bread - Vermont Bread.

This was the first Vermont Bread I made:

Here is the second bake:

And now the third bake:

The obvious change from the first bake to the second is the oven spring. The first time around I let the shaped loaves proof for 2,5 hours but only for 2 hours for the second and third bake. I think this made the difference so that the dough still had some work to do when it reached the oven. The slashing has also improved. The cuts are deeper and at a greater angle than at the first bake. For the third bake I dusted the proofing baskets with rye instead of white flour. I use my Kenwood for the kneading as my arms and shoulders are not fit for heavy duty. I tried Bertinet's method of slamming the dough on the table but it was too heavy for me with the repeated motion. I don't get the famous window pane effect, no matter how long I let the machine knead the dough. I wonder if that does not happen as much with rye dough than with white flour only. I guess I'll find out when I try my hand at a French bread later on.

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These are my first few attempts at baking with wild yeast only.

The first was a San Francisco style sourdough, recipe from Weekend Bakery. Not much rise/oven spring. The crust was crunchy but the crumb was way too chewy. The starter was 100% rye at 100% hydration

Then I tried Syd's San Francisco Style Sourdough from here. This turned out to be a Mr. Jekyll and Dr. Hyde loaf, one side rather nice looking and the other burst open. The crust was crisp but pale in color. The texture of crumb was somewhat closer to my liking though, not as rubbery as the first time around but with mine tunnels instead of well distributed holes. The starter was 100% rye at 100% hydration. Suggestions from those who have tried Syd's recipe, or from Syd self, would be most welcome.

Then there was the third time around, almost a charmer, called Vermont Bread from Home Cooking Adventure. The crust was thin and crisp, the color was more golden then in the previous breads, the texture of the crumb was pleasant yet still slightly chewy and the holes more evenly distributed. I think these bread has a more acceptable oven spring than the previous attempts. The dough after final proof has a much tighter feel. One of the two breads looks pregnant, one side protruding from a burst underneath. This bread turned against me as I was shaping it, I couldn't get the seam straight and it twirled in my hands when I placed it upside down in the proofing basket. Still, I am very happy with this recipe and think this could be the beginning of a long relationship. For this recipe I converted some of my 100% rye starter to 25% rye and 75% white flour over the course of 5 days at 100% hydration. I also changed the overnight starter of the recipe. Since my starter is used rye at mealtimes I used 40gr rye from the final formula for the overnight starter and added 40gr white flour to the final formula instead. Beginner's luck perhaps, but more of a gut feeling that this might agree better with my starter than to be feed white flour alone.


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