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,
(I will update my blog with my Sourdough adventure)
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 ‘Sandwich’ Loaf – (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)