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This weekend will see me take the first tentative steps in to the world of Sourdough and naturally leavened breads.  My barm (pictured above) that I fondly refer to as ‘Susie’ is strong and ready to go.  It’s scary but also very exciting to be taking the first steps away from my comfort zone of using fresh yeast – I feel I get better results both is action and taste with fresh -  and the yeasted loaf which in comparison is quite predictable and going in to this new frontier of Sourdough. 

I am really enjoying the rediscovery of my passion for bread baking and feel it is one of the best things I have done this year.  I love the relaxing rhythmic motion of kneading and the excitement of each stage of the bread baking process, will it ferment as expected? Will it hold its shape?  How will the slashes open?  What will the oven spring be like?  All these elements are a joy and if I’m honest an adrenaline rush for me.  I, although not artistic in nature, love the fact that baking gives you the opportunity to create something truly unique and often tasty.  I have been blessed that no matter how my loaves turned out with each formula tweak I have made, I have been fortunate enough to create an ever more flavoursome loaf that both my family and me have really enjoyed sharing.  I refer to my loaves as “yeasty loaves”.  Why I call my loaves “yeasty loaves” is a long story and I will save for a future blog entry.  


I am very much a novice and am nowhere near the level I was at when I baked on a very regular basis 5 years or so ago but I am improving.  Although I am impatient to get back to my previous baking level and go beyond it, I am enjoying the journey, the practice which I use as an excuse to bake and the fact that I no longer have to “suffer” the commercial shop brought loaf.


I am currently baking all my own and my families breads and have experimented with the formula of my ‘Yeasty sandwich loaf’ which is currently the staple in my household and I am really happy with my current formula.  As per Peter Reinhart’s advice I have tried to perfect one bread experimenting with formula form and shape and whilst I do not profess to have found the perfect loaf it is my best result yet and I am happy to move on to my next adventure of Sourdough.  I’m sure I will continue to tweak my sandwich loaf formula and technique as I learn and progress gaining the all-important un-teachable experience.


I have dipped my toes in to flavoured breads with my ‘Celebration Loaf’ and ‘Fiery Chilli Loaf’ but I really want to concentrate on the staple in my household which is the unflavoured loaf where up to now the flavour has been provided by enrichments as in my Yeasty sandwich loaf but I am so excited about creating flavour using my barm and fermentation with Sourdough.


My Barm is a mix of Rye and White flour and I am hoping that this may add a little something to my Sourdoughs.


As you can see I’m a waffler and if you have stuck with me and read up to here, let me give you the good news that this entry is almost over (I hear the sighs of relief). 


I just wanted to say that I had a bit of an epiphany last night.  I realised that I was getting hung up on the whole “is mine as good as yours”, is my slashing technically correct etc etc and was forgetting to enjoy the journey as I did before the age of internet when I was on the bread journey again.  I want to enjoy the whole learning process, my progress as (hopefully) my loaves improve, the feel of the dough in my hands and the smell and taste of the homemade loaf.  That said, with The Fresh Loaf I have the added advantage of a wealth of knowledge I can drawer on from like minded bakers who love bread who I have found are always willing to help out and advise and I can share my enjoyment of learning, baking and most importantly eating my bread with.  So to all the Fresh Loaf Bakers THANK YOU.


Cheerio for now and Happy Baking,


Yeasty Loaf


(I will update my blog with my Sourdough adventure)

Baking log:


³    14/10/2013– standard direct enriched dough white bread my first loaf and ‘Yeasty Loaf’ mark #1 (2 [1lb] Loaves)

³    17/10/2013 – Yeasty ‘Celebration’ Loaf – Cinnamon, Sultanas & Nut Bread.  Based on the BBA Cinnamon, Raisin & Walnut Bread substituting the Raisins for sultanas and the Walnuts for a combo of Cashews, mixed nuts and chopped walnuts.  (2  [1lb] Loaves)

³    18/10/2013 – Yeasty ‘Fiery Chilli’ Loaf – Same dough formula as my standard direct enriched dough white bread with 1oz of dried Jalapenos added.  The Chillies are chopped and added in the final stages of kneading.  Note: Future bakes I will only add ½oz of Chillies to tone down the heat. (2 [1lb] Loaves)

³    19/10/2013 – standard direct enriched dough white bread ‘Yeasty Loaf’ mark #2 (3 [1lb] Loaves)

³    20/10/2013 – Yeasty ‘Sandwich’ Loaf – (MARK #3) – Experimenting with the formula I reduced the enrichments (Buttermilk, egg & butter) in my opinion the result was a lighter springier texture to the crumb whilst maintaining an improved more complex flavour.  (3 [1lb] Loaves)

³    22/10/2013 – Yeasty SandwichLoaf – (MARK #4) – Further experimentation with the formula in addition to the reduced enrichments of Mark #3 I further reduced the sugar and butter.  In my families and my opinion the result was the best tasting sandwich loaf with the lightest crumb and best crust we have ever had.  Therefore, at the moment this is THE Yeasty Sandwich Loaf.  On a separate note this is the first time I used my Lame, oval Bannetons and shaped a Batard (I normally make Cob/Boule shaped loves. (3 [1lb] Loaves)

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I've been playing about with my enriched direct dough formula. I reduced the enrichment and the result was a lighter, springier texture to the crumb whilst maintaining a good crust and flavour.  I wish I could post a picture but I don't know how to post more than 1 on a post. I would go as far as to say the flavour was slightly improved by the reduced enrichment.  I think next time I will reduce the butter & sugar a little more. I also want to try not just finishing them off on the shelf to crust up the bottom but finish the baking upside down for a crustier bottom to the loaf and see which one works best.   I'm aiming for the best texture with the fuller flavour.  This is the 5th bake I've done since rediscovering my passion for bread making again. I love the feel of the dough and the excitement and anticipation between each stage of making bread.  Overall a very successful bake and I managed to get a loaf for the freezer. I am one very happy chappy with the results. Especially with my Banneton. I love the lines on the finished boule. With a bit more practice I should get an even nicer looking loaf. And with the other 2 on order all my loaves will soon all have the 'banneton look'.  My baking leaves a lot to be desired with a lot of room for improvement but I'm hoping I will with practice get even better than I was when I baked almost everyday and my loaves look as good as the others posted on this site (Gotta aim high).   My scoring still needs work. It's messy. I have ordered a lame to see if having the proper tool helps.  But I think it's a confidence thing. Iron hand in a velvet glove as they say. I just need practice. Practice is a good excuse to bake.  I plan on giving my starter 'Susie' a try soon with my first adventure in to sourdough. I have previously when I baked bread all the time dabbled in sourdough but never much more and this time I want to really see where the dough leads me.  Cheerio for now & Happy Baking Krisps I'm not sure why the picture has uploaded upside down?!

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