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Shepherd's Bread

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breadsong's picture
breadsong

Shepherd's Bread

Hello everyone,

Shepherd’s Bread, from Beth Hensperger’s book Bread for all Seasons, is the May challenge for the Bread Baking Babes baking group.
Thank you to Karen of Bake My Day for hosting the challenge - this bread caught my interest, seeing the beauty of
Karen's loaves and having enjoyed reading Ms. Hensperger’s book :^)

In the introduction to this book’s Springtide chapter (Shepherd’s Bread is included in this chapter as a ‘May’ bread)
the author wrote “On Memorial Day weekend, the Basques…hold their annual picnics. They are descendants of shepherds who came to the United States and settled in the agricultural communities of the California Sierras, Idaho’s Rocky Mountains, and the Nevada foothills...”.

We took a trip once to northern Nevada - I remember reading about Basque culture and the history of sheepherding there. This is a link to an old photo of an actual Basque shepherd in Nevada – the countryside looks bright and snowy, just as it was when we visited.

I imagine it must have been a hard life in that territory, raising and herding animals, and wonder what it would have been like cooking and baking ‘at camp’. Ms. Hensperger notes “Shepherd’s bread is traditionally baked in a cast-iron pan submerged in a small, ember-lined pit covered with dirt.”
This bread was baked in a cast-iron dutch oven and I baked it dark to try and emulate what might happen,
baking with coals :^)
   
                                                     a close-up of the crust:

Thinking the shepherds might have baked with sourdough, I made this bread with sourdough, following Susan’s (wildyeastblog) Norwich Sourdough formula ( I just saw MC’s wonderful Meet The Baker post profiling Diane Andiel and Diane’s version of Norwich Sourdough – thanks to MC for writing about Diane and her bread, and Susan and Diane for baking it, inspiring this effort!):



The bread has a softness (olive oil having an effect?) and a sweetness; the crust is dark, but not crisp –
very pleased with the flavor and the softness of the crumb:

My husband loved this bread, and said, “Mmm, this is really good brown bread - should be having this with 
some baked beans with molasses”. 
Sounds like good camp food, doesn’t it?

Happy baking everyone!
:^) breadsong

Submitted to YeastSpotting :^)

Comments

isand66's picture
isand66

Beautiful looking bread.  I bet it tastes as good as it looks!

breadsong's picture
breadsong

Hi Ian,
Thank you - the flavor really is quite nice - and I love the soft texture of this one (makes for perfect sandwich bread)!
:^) breadsong

dabrownman's picture
dabrownman

some kind of fine SD from a DO.  So many folks like the Norwich SD recipe and have had great resulting breads as a result.  The crust and open crumb of your example are just perfect.  The DO is to blame :-)

Fine baking

breadsong's picture
breadsong

Hello dabrownman,
This is only the second time I've used my DO to bake a bread - next time I might scale for more dough for the size of DO (5 qt) I'm using.
Seeing how lovely the Norwich SD can be, I should give the original formula a try!
Thank you for your kind comment!
:^) breadsong

 

Baking Soda's picture
Baking Soda

Great baking ! I love the combination with sourdough and whole wheat, they give the crumb a different twist with the holes. Lovely!

breadsong's picture
breadsong

Thanks so much, Karen! :^)
Your Shepherd's Bread was really gorgeous - the scoring on your loaves opened up beautifully!
Thank you for hosting - it was fun to participate and good to make this bread - we are enjoying it very much.
:^) breadsong

Franko's picture
Franko

Your loaf has such a lovely open and soft looking crumb to it for a 50% WW content, I'm wondering if you used your own Cedar Isle Farm soft WW flour for it. Whatever you used, the crust and crumb look excellent breadsong! I'd certainly go along with your husband on the baked beans with molasses as an accompaniment for you're bread, maybe a few slices of bacon as well ;^) 

Best wishes,

Franko

breadsong's picture
breadsong

Hi Franko :^)
Bread, Beans and Bacon...my husband would never be sorry to see that on the dinner table.
Baked beans and bacon are some of his favorite foods :^)
I did use Cedar Isle flour, but the hard wheat flour, for this bread.
The softness in this bread is just like that of an Oat and Honey bread we tried recently - would love to replicate its soft texture and sweet flavor -will try to use what I learned here, when I try to make one.
I have tried using 100% Cedar Isle soft wheat for bread twice now - first time was not good!, second time a bit better but still room for improvement. May try again this week.
Thanks so much for your compliments on this bread, Franko!
:^) breadsong


 

PiPs's picture
PiPs

A beautifully baked bread and I love it's name!

I do love a boldly baked crust ... so this post suits me down to the ground! 

The olive oil would would give a really gentle softness ... and 50% wholemeal the perfect amount of 'brown-ness' :)

It must have been the weekend for diamond pattern scoring as well.

Cheers,
Phil

breadsong's picture
breadsong

Hello Phil :^)
This bread had a lovely aroma when it was out of the oven and I thought I could almost smell a smokiness...
or was that my imagination, thinking of campfire baking? Glad it darkened up during baking, wanting this to be what I think a 'camp bread' might be...
I thought the diamond scoring looked suitably rustic after the bake; I had in mind David and Syd's lovely diamond scoring, and of course the scoring on your Tarlee Miche looks marvelous!
Thanks Phil, I really appreciate your comment.
:^) breadsong


 

 

ejm's picture
ejm

What beautiful bread! I really like that you made sure the crust got dark to mimic the charcoal pit. And what lovely slashes in the diamond shape.  I'm thinking that using the natural starter really improved the crumb (and flavour too, probably) on the bread. The holes are much less uniform and tight than on the bread made with commercial yeast.

Many thanks for baking with us!

-Elizabeth

(Thanks as well for posting the photo of the sheep farmer in that beautiful terrain. It never occurred to me that horses would be used for herding.)

 

blog from OUR kitchen | Shepherd's Bread baked under a cloche (BBB May 2012)
etherwork.net/blog/?p=1505

breadsong's picture
breadsong

Hello Elizabeth,
Thanks for you nice comments about this bread :^)
It was really pretty country in northern Nevada - we did see ranchland and some sheep but no Basque riders on horseback.
As an aside, when we were on the Big Island in Hawaii visiting the Parker Ranch area, we learned about Hawaiian cowboys (called paniolos - after Español - as herding on horseback was taught by Spanish horsemen that came to the Island).
I guess the Spanish have exported their riding tradition all over the place!
:^) breadsong

breadsong's picture
breadsong

Hi Elizabeth,
I got so carried away writing about horseback riders I missed your link to your lovely cloche-baked bread.
Your loaf had wonderful oven spring, and very pretty scoring - you baked a beauty!
:^) breadsong

ejm's picture
ejm

I keep forgetting to come onto The Fresh Loaf so didn't see all these comments until now. Thank you!

I'm in the process of capturing wild yeast now (I hope I'm in that process, anyway) and will try to remember to make the Shepherd bread with a natural starter rather than commercial yeast. I'm pretty sure that using sourdough must make the flavour superior.

-Elizabeth

breadsong's picture
breadsong

Hi Elizabeth,
I hope all is going well with starting your sourdough culture!
It took me a few tries to get mine going, but in the first attempts I may have given up too soon.
I'm so glad the last try 'took'. I've really enjoyed the flavor levain brings to the bread.
Wishing you the best for your sourdough baking,
:^) breadsong



 

ejm's picture
ejm

I almost threw it out - the first loaf was impossibly sour for my taste. But friends disagreed with me and said they LOVED the flavour. (Go figure.)  The gory details are here: 1st Attempt at Tartine Bread: Looks good, doesn’t it? (this is a link)

I'm giving it one more shot and if it works, will try to remember to make the shepherd bread again with the wild yeast starter. :-)

-Elizabeth

 

 

breadsong's picture
breadsong

Hi Elizabeth,
Influencing the flavor of the finished bread is something I'm really interested in learning more about -
I have a very limited! understanding. I am sorry you didn’t enjoy the flavor of your bread, but am interested in what happened, having experienced a very sour flavor in a bread I baked earlier this year. Personally, the flavor was (a pleasant) surprise and I didn’t know what caused it. I've read some information from two different sources over the last while that talk about conditions that can influence acid production during fermentation and resulting sour flavor in bread, trying to understand a bit better :^)
 
Debra Wink wrote a very interesting post called Lactic Acid Fermentation in Sourdough. In one of her comments to this post, she notes different factors that may impact lactic acid bacteria ("LAB") and their production of lactic and acetic acid (acetic acid providing a sharper flavor than lactic). There are some fermentation notes in Advanced Bread and Pastry that talk about how hydration, temperature and yeast activity in the levain culture affect acid production.

Based on what I read in these two (excellent!) reference sources (and please, anyone who reads this and discovers I've misinterpreted the information I've read, please correct me!):

- Stiff levain favors acetic (more sour) acid production
- Liquid levain (100% hydration) favors lactic (milder-tasting) acid production

- Low temperature in the sourdough culture slows the production of acid, but acetic acid is produced at a higher rate
- Higher temperature in the sourdough culture increases the production of acid, with a higher ration of lactic to acetic acid

- Debra notes (in general), more fermentation time means more acid

- Whole grain and higher-ash flours increase the amount of acetic and total acid
- Higher hydration in the dough increases microbiological (LAB) activity
- Debra notes lack of salt and high Ph favor LAB activity (producing more acid)
- Advanced Bread and Pastry notes 77F-78F is a good dough temperature to have at the end of mixing, to provide the best development

There might be some notes here that are helpful to you – but as Debra also wrote, it also depends on what’s in your culture to begin with!  I will consider these notes when planning the timing and temperature of levain storage and builds, and dough fermentation and see if I can determine how it affects my bread’s flavor.

Thank you so much for your comment, motivating me to try (again :^) ), to understand what might be happening in the dough. I hope your next version of Tartine Bread, and the Shepherd’s Bread, taste just how you want them to :^)
- breadsong

ejm's picture
ejm

Thank you for this. It is indeed of interest and I'll definitely read Debra's post. And if I didn't dislike throwing flour away (that's the aspect of maintaining a wild yeast starter that bothers me the most), I would try again. I'm afraid I've murdered the starter. The last time I experimented with using a wild yeast starter, I consistantly produced sour wildyeast bread. I thought it was a temperature problem - our kitchen is notoriously cold for months at a time. I played with feeding times and different quantities of flour and water until I started hating making bread. Which, of course, is exactly what I didn't want to happen.

This recent time round, I captured the yeast when the kitchen was around 20-25C and I never refrigerated the starter. I suppose it's possible that on this occasion, it was too warm and so the dough fermented for too long.

But I'm just not willing to experiment any more. While we like grilling slices of too-sour bread, what we really want is sweet-tasting bread. Not sweet from sugar though. Just flour, water, leavener and salt.

The next time I try making Tartine bread will be with a starter made from commercial yeast. I feel like I have a lot more control making a starter using a miniscule amount of active dry yeast and letting it ferment on the counter overnight.

-Elizabeth, with her tail between her legs (the second Tartine loaf was fractionally less sour but still too sour for our taste)

P.S. Here is the account of our second attempt at Tartine Bread (this is a link).

 

isand66's picture
isand66

Use a firm starter around 66% hydration and keep it in the refrigerator unless you are refreshing it.  This is what I do and very rarely have a bread that ends up too sour.  Don't give up!  It is worth the effort.

ejm's picture
ejm

I'm afraid I have given up. Maybe I'll try again another time but I just can't bear to essentially throw flour away. Decent unbleached all-purpose flour is just too expensive and hard to come by now.

-Elizabeth

breadsong's picture
breadsong

Hi Elizabeth,
You sure do bake some beautiful loaves!

I just tried making Cliff Leir's 50% WholeRed Fife Wheat bread (made with liquid levain), from MC's post:
http://www.farine-mc.com/2012/06/50-whole-red-fife-wheat-bread.html

This bread's flavor didn't have any noticeable acidity - just like MC described.
I wonder if it has to do with the small amount of prefermented flour, and the temperature of bulk ferment (50F, warmer than regular fridge temperature)? My dough held at 56F during bulk.
After baking, we could taste the richness of the wheat and the toastiness contributed by the crust, but no sourness at all.

I wanted to send you the link to Cliff's formula, in case you might want to try it; someone who doesn't like sour bread tried a slice of this bread of Cliff's and quite liked it so I was thinking you might like it too.

But maybe it's something to do with where we live, after all, and your culture contains things that only want to be sour!

I hope your Tartine bread comes out just the way you want it when you try it again.
Happy baking!
:^) breadsong







ejm's picture
ejm

I'm thinking it might well have something to do with our house/climate/air/water. A couple of years ago, I took my wildyeast starter to the west coast and made lots of beautiful completely unsour bread at various relatives' homes. I fed the starter exactly as I had been feeding it at home. But when we got back home, the bread immediately started turning sour. And became sourer and sourer.

I became sourer too. Until I accidentally on purpose murdered the starter, made completely unsour bread with the tiniest amount of commercial yeast and suddenly my sourness disappeared. 

-Elizabeth, expert sour dough maker - if "sour" is the key word ;-)

varda's picture
varda

I love the rustic looking crust.  -Varda

breadsong's picture
breadsong

Thanks so much, Varda! :^)

Syd's picture
Syd

Lovely looking bread breadsong!  Does the sugar in the formula contribute to the colour or the flavour, or both?  There is something very satisfying about baking in a DO.  Somehow, ( I don't think I am imagining it) the bread always seems to rise higher and have a more open crumb. Nice to see what you are baking breadsong.

All the best,:)

Syd 

breadsong's picture
breadsong

Hi Syd,
The original flavor called for 1/2 cup sugar for 7-1/2-8 cups of flour (about 10%?).
I didn't want to go that sweet, but the amount of sugar that was there definitely added a sweetish taste, but not overwhelmingly so.
I'm sure the sugar helped the browning, with the olive oil lending a hand.
Thanks for your comment - I am encouraged to try baking in my DO more often.
:^) breadsong

ejm's picture
ejm

I used zero sugar when I made the Shepherd bread and even so, it got pretty brown.

-Elizabeth

SylviaH's picture
SylviaH

What a lovely bake!  The crumb looks delicious...we certainly could use some of this kind of house bread around here..I haven't been baking much lately : )  Just arriving back from Las Vegas NV..and trying to catch up on the blogs.  I loved your link on the shepards in No. NV...it does get very cold in parts!  I haven't looked into my BH bread books for awhile..it's nice to see there is such a lovely shepards bread.

Sylvia

breadsong's picture
breadsong

Hi Sylvia,
Thank you so much, and welcome home from your trip!
Hope you had a nice time in LV (just learned of a bakery there, Bon Breads, retail outlet now at Town Square - if I get back there I would like to go check out the bread).
It was crisp, clear and cold when we were in northern Nevada (late March 2008) but I will never forget the rugged beauty of that area.
:^) breadsong


ananda's picture
ananda

Hello Breadsong,

A lovely loaf baked out with great crust.   The suggested combination with baked beans sounds great.

I would have to look for an alternative to molasses and all the sugar in the bread; too sweet for me.   But, my kind of food no doubt!   Bread and Peasant Basics; love it!

Best wishes

Andy

breadsong's picture
breadsong

Hi Andy,
That's it - next time I'm making this bread (better have a pot of beans ready), some blackstrap molasses (not too much, mind) is going in!
Thank you for your compliments and the suggestion of molasses - although you would omit it, I wouldn't mind just a smidge in this bread.
:^) breadsong

GSnyde's picture
GSnyde

Looks delicious, breadsong!

I will try that recipe.  

Thanks.

Glenn

breadsong's picture
breadsong

Hi Glenn,
I bet this bread would be good with one of your wonderful braises (might have to give that turkey wing recipe a try)!
Hope you enjoy this bread - I'd love to hear what you think of it.
:^) breadsong

wassisname's picture
wassisname

I’m a little late to this one but I must say, breadsong, I love what you’ve done with this bread. Shepherd’s bread has a bit of a following here on the eastern edge of California but to be honest the version(s) being sold here have never really done much for me. With the addition of whole wheat and the switch to sourdough, however, I can’t help but be intrigued. So much so that I’ve begun wondering if I could dig a hole in my yard and try baking one of these the old fashioned way… hmm… wonder if I would get in trouble for that? Might be worth finding out, I’ll be sure to post the result if I ever try it. Thanks for the inspiration!

Marcus

breadsong's picture
breadsong

Hi Marcus - Thank you so much!

If you do try baking with coals, please do post about it - I'd be really interested in seeing how it turns out :^)
I remember Paul's post which showed a beautiful example of baking with coals:
http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/23401/bread-lesotho-village
On one of Eric's posts there was a tip from David G about baking this way:
http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/21800/stove-top-debacle#comment-153890

Happy baking, hope you don't break any 'outdoor burning' rules :^)
Even where we are, where we get so much rain, we are subject to seasonal burning bans.
:^) breadsong





sherlocklabs's picture
sherlocklabs

I'm new 'round these parts.....but I must tell you...that bread looks INCREDIBLE! Absolutely beautiful!

Blessings,

Denise

breadsong's picture
breadsong

Hi Denise,
Thank you – I appreciate your kind words about this bake!
If you are new to the site I hope you enjoy visiting and participating here, as I have;
there’s a really great group of people here.
:^) breadsong






 

sherlocklabs's picture
sherlocklabs

Thank you for the warm welcome. I am so glad I found this site.

I just purchased a grain mill...and am really looking forward to learning more...and hopefully perfecting my bread skills! ;)

 

stephen101b's picture
stephen101b

Hi I am new to the forums and in the process of making this bread. It is about an hour in the bulk fermentation and the dough hasn't risen at all. 

breadsong's picture
breadsong

Hi Stephen,
How did your bread turn out? I hope it rose OK!
I hope you enjoy your visits to The Fresh Loaf - there are so many beautiful breads to see and things to learn about, on this site.
If you are new to bread baking, controlling the temperature of the dough, and the ambient temperature, are good ways to make sure your dough ferments and rises the way you want it to. If you dough was cool, the yeast will not work as quickly and rising will be slower.
Desired dough temperature for this bread would be in the range of 73-78F. You can adjust your water temperature when mixing to help you get to your desired dough temperature (formula to calculate water temperature here).
If you are hand-mixing over a longer time period, you may want to use slightly warmer water as the dough can cool off during a longer mixing period.
I hope you are happy with your bread!
:^) breadsong

 

stephen101b's picture
stephen101b

The dough turned out actually really well. The 2nd half of the bulk ferment it did rise a decent amount and during the final rise it held it shape well and rose well. I didn't have a dutch oven so I preheated a big stainless steel soup pan and put the bread on my baking stone with the pot over it to trap the steam. 

I completely forgot to take pictures otherwise I would post them since it turned out really nice for my first sourdough bread recipe I did and it was gone in a matter of an hour with the guests that were over. 

 

Thanks for the great recipe!

breadsong's picture
breadsong

Hi Stephen,
I couldn't be happier about your news and congratulations on your first sourdough!
:^) breadsong