Okay, so I'm here often, looking, reading, comparing, commenting, but mostly, mostly learning as much as I can as quickly as I can, and putting that knowledge to work. I'm grateful for the skill and generosity of the members - even when thoughts or advice presents differing experience or opinion, even controversy, it's offered in good faith and helpful to so many. Thank you all.
My work and commute combine and leave me with mere shreds of time in the evenings, so practicing and baking are pretty much confined to the weekends. But I'm making progress in a real way, learning to feel the dough, sensing its development, understanding the science and applying principles, judging and adjusting to influence the outcome. Among my most challenging lessons are gluten development and assessing proofing status. I struggle with each of them.
Like so many here, my focus is artisan style breads made with natural sourdough starter, and though I truly respect those who dedicate themselves to mastering one or a few recipes before expanding to others, I can't do it... must experiment, must create, must make mistakes along the way. It's my nature.
This past week's bake was a two-fer, with one of them revisiting a past failure and the other following inspiration gathered here.
The revisit involved incorporating brown rice in bread. Not so exotic, except rather than cooking the rice, I soaked it in boiling water for a couple of hours. Oops, not good. So this time, the rice was fully cooked and incorporated into a multigrain dough, including 40% BF, 25% each Dark Rye and WW, 5% Polenta and 5% Oat Bran. I paid extra attention to developing the dough and not over-proofing. Made both progress and edible bread!
Here are the bottom and crumb...
With that one in process, it was time to satisfy my creative urge. After seeing a series of fruit-and-nut themed breads here, I wanted to take a turn and assembled my version, Fruited Earl Grey Tea Bread, with dried apricots and cherries soaked in strong Earl Grey Tea (also used as the liquid for the dough), plus toasted walnuts in a dough that included 60% AP flour, 30% Spelt and 10% WW, This one felt risky with all the fruit, so watched closely as it baked, and reduced the temperature in several increments to get a richly colored crust and have it baked through. Alas, the tea is a very faint afternote, but I'm happy with how the bread turned out, far from perfect, but acceptable and encouraging.
Thanks for looking and for your input, they are much appreciated.