After last weeks Rye Soda bread the starter is ready! It didn't take long and was so easy, just a couple of days of refreshments (RYe flour mixed with tap water to a paste) and it was doubling in size within hours. I don't know if the conditions in South England are ideal or whether using fresh organic Rye flour is a sure fire technique but it amazes me how easy it seems to be to get a working starter.
I decided for my first proper bread I'd go for a Wheaten Rye, from the Recipe in Dan Lepard's Exceptional Bread Book. I'd made it before and it's a good compromise loaf being mainly white flour producing a nicely risen crumb but with some flavour from the rye and extended proove times.
The loaf was great, a hit with me and the OH although maybe a little under risen. One thing that did make me wonder was the use of sourdough culture and dried yeast. The book itself is great with a wide variety of interesting recipes and instructions for the home baker (such as hand kneading etc.) The only thing is that it often appears over complicated. This recipe for instance calls for making sponge with dried yeast then later on adding a rye culture. It is not clear what the benefit of using two yeasts is, does the bakers yeast contribute to the flavour at all? does the Rye culture contribute to the leaven? I feel an experiment is needed. Does anyone use both Bakers yeast and a sourdough culture in the same bake? If so why?
With the advent of a new job and a change of location I stopped baking bread over the last few years. A few loaves here and there but using quick and less tasty recipes. Reasons included not having time to bake (full time job and running regularly) and moving to a place with less space in the kitchen (very difficult to get my Kenwood chef out easily). Well the Kenwoods gone, I have a new 4 day/week job and I was fortunate/unfortunate enough to slip a disc over Christmas! So sat around on a sunny Sunday unable to run I decided to go out and buy a bag of Rye flour to start a new culture.
On the back of the pack I found a little recipe for Rye soda bread so while I'm waiting for my starter to, well, start I thought I'd give it a go.
Mixed results, tasty but very heavy and not particually risen. Went well with a Tuscan bean soup mind. I know 100% rye bread doughs tend to be like this but I do wonder whether the 60% hydration was a little low. It may be an overeaction but I found this recipe from doves farm with 80% hydration. Does anyone else bake 100% Rye soda bread? What hydration do you use?
When I was working part time looking for a job I found bread baking to be a fulfilling enjoyable part of my day to look forward to. Since starting work full time as a teacher however my bread baking has dropped to zero as lesson planning has taken up more and more time. Then a couple of weeks ago I found out I would be teaching microbes to year 8's (~12 years of age), so I couldn't resist the chance to combine something I love with what should hopefully be a good way to teach some of the topic.
For just over a weeks time I have booked out a food technology lab for 1:40 minutes and I'm looking for a good bread recipe to go from separate ingredients to finished loaf/rolls in this time (ideally one and a half hours but I know I'm pushing it). Has anyone ever done this before or can anyone point me in the right direction for an appropriate recipe?
N.B. My students will have access to fairly good ovens, parchment covered trays and mixing bowls. I'm looking for a fairly simple wheatflour and dried yeast style recipe but one that can be individualised so the small groups they are working in can choose to either make individual rolls or club together to make a big loaf. However any suggestions that people have will be greatfully received.
I intended to start a blog and leave a post every week with updates of a new loaf or new idea as a way to help me keep on experimenting and learning. So far, alas I have fallen at the first hurdle, after an impromptu trip to Paris I failed to update my blog the first week and haven't done so since.
It's not all bad though as Paris has been a real eye opener. I got into making bread seriously because of a lack of good local bakeries. When I moved to a new flat in a new area last year I discovered my high street had 2 greengrocers, a really good butchers and a plethora of small local independent stores, but alas no bakery! Even a trip to the nearby city centre left me empty handed but for a handful of instore supermarket bakeries and the omnipresent Greggs (a UK bakery chain that provides cheap, cheerful but ultimately soul destroying baked products). A short ferry/train trip across the channel however and it's a completely different story. Around every corner of every street in every arrondissemont the fresh smell of bread could be smelled wafting from a small boulangerie. The whole country must be teeming with bakers to be able to fill all those stores with such a variety of doughy delights. Don't get me wrong it's not as if the UK has worse bread, when you find it some of the stuff is delicious. It's just that good bread is comparitively so hard to find. And it's not as if we don't desire good bread, I recentely read Britons make far more bread at home than our french counterparts (and it's not hard to imagine why). Maybe the lack of good bakeries is a blessing, how else would I have discovered the joys of seeing the first bubbles arrive in a mixture of rye, water and nothing else (still amazes me), would I have ever even come across the words miche, banneton, lame etc. if I had not had to turn to home baking. Somehow however I still think I would prefer it if I had a friendly local bakery to buy at least the occasional loaf from.
As this blog has such a geographically diverse readership I wonder what others have to say about the provision of good bakeries in their area, and why some countries seemed to be able to have enough demand to keep a bakery in business on every street whereas others can have a whole town centre with nothing.
I decided to start a blog to keep a log of my baking and hopefully get some feedback on my efforts. Rather than start by driveling on about how long I've been baking for etc. (plenty of time for that). I think I'll get straight on to posting this mornings efforts.
It's a sourdough Pagnotta from 'BAKER & SPICE: exceptional breads' by Dan Lepard & Richard Whittington. I changed three things from the original recipe: more water; the 800g total flour to 325ml total water seemed to dry to me so I upped the water to 400ml, proved overnight at cold room temp and I proved and baked it in the same oiled silicon loaf mould. I think the texture of this loaf is superb, hard crispy crust but with a light and soft crumb. The flavour is mild enough for me AND sourdoughphobic housemates to enjoy. The only thing I didn't like was the crust was a little oily on the sides in contact with the loaf mould and without a proving basket I'm strungling to think of another way to help keep the batons shape over the long slow prove. Any ideas?
This is my first blog entry (on TFL or any site for that matter) so critisicm, feedback or praise both of the blog and the bread is very welcome.