The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Howzit from South Africa

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Luc Strydom's picture
Luc Strydom

Howzit from South Africa

Howzit everyone

I'm a complete newbie bread baker. Been baking for a about month now, and absolutely enjoying every minute of it. Its kind of taken over my life really. Havent bought any store-bought bread for 4 weeks.I live in Port Elizabeth, South Africa and thankfully there is a great stone ground flour mill close-by that supplies me with really nice flour.

My equipment is fairly rudimentry - a few big bowls, a wooden spoon, a wooden table, some serious elbow grease, a serated knife and a conventional oven with a single baking sheet (and a vuvuzela used as a funnel to pour water into my steaming pan at the bottom of my oven!). Not the epitome of a great bakers kitchen,  but it works for now. I would love an big outside wood-fired oven, but that will have to wait for now.

Anyways just wanted to make my presence known, hope everyone had a great weekend and that some great breads were enjoyed :)

Here is picture of one of my first loaves I baked. (unfortunately theres no crumb shot, but I'll try get a few this upcoming weekend). Hope to learn as much as I can on this forum and keep on improving.

 

littlelisa's picture
littlelisa

Hi Luc

I'm in Cape Town - great to see South Africans getting interested in good bread! If you can, try make it to one of Markus Farbinger's courses in Knysna: http://www.iledepain.co.za/events.html - he totally transformed the way I understand and work with bread.

Bake on!!

Lisa

Luc Strydom's picture
Luc Strydom

Hi Lisa

Thank-you for the warm welcome, and thanks so much for the ile de pain URL, I am very interested in joining in on a workshop sometime soon. I don't know anyone who bakes bread apart from the occassional xhosa potbread or "braai-brood" and it will be fantatstic to learn under someone who is experienced and can show me where I'm going wrong. Thanks again.

Luc

Luc Strydom's picture
Luc Strydom

Hi Lisa

I know you attended one of the workshops at Ile de Pain, but did you perhaps also purchase the DVD set? Unfortunately the workshops are completely full for the year and realistically completely nowhere near my budget range (unless I sell my car or something). The DVDs on the other hand are within a reachable budget and I just want to find out whether they are useful or if I should rather spend my money on a bread baking textbook?

Your help will be greatly appreciated.

Thanks

Luc

littlelisa's picture
littlelisa

Hi Luc
I did buy the DVD set... they are gorgeous DVDs, but if you're on a serious budget, I'd say they aren't necessarily your best starting point.

You can find tons of info on this site plus by picking a bread book of your choice. What are you using at the moment? Also, what kinds of breads are you interested in making?

Lisa

Luc Strydom's picture
Luc Strydom

Hi Lisa

Thanks for your reply. At the moment the only resource I am using is TFL. I am now busy deliberating whether to get a good bread baking book (or textbook) or the DVD set from Ile de Pain. The reason I am leaning towards the DVD set is that reading can only teach you so much, and I find I understand things a bit better if I can visually see the correct methods and then practice those methods hands-on. I am interested in baking artisan breads mostly. Although I've only been baking for a little over a month now, I've eaten every loaf I've baked and they've all gone down a hit with my girlfriend and family, so I know I must be getting some things right, I just want to refine and improve my basic techniques to make sure I am doing everything correctly.

Is the DVD set a good resource to use for basic artisan bread baking techniques? I am looking to get the basics right not really for a book with tons of recipes for various breads with vague explanations on the important techniques, but if you know of a great book that you think would be better then the DVDs please let me know.

Thanks for your help.

Luc

PMcCool's picture
PMcCool

And welcome to The Fresh Loaf.

PE is a lovely place, as are so many others along the Garden Route.

Love the use of a vuvuzela in baking!  That might just be the first practical application ever found for the otherwise useless things.

Is the mill you speak of Eureka Mills, by any chance?  I had the opportunity to visit there once and enjoyed seeing their process.

Paul

habahabanero's picture
habahabanero

Wamkelekile Luc. I like the look of your loaf, what was the crumb like? It would go really well with a big piece of Kareedouw wors hot off the fire... I'd like to know what the quality of the bread flour is like in SA these days - I'll be back there to visit for a few weeks (currently in Oz - hence the fruitless longing for Kareedouw wors) and will be bringing my starter along with the hope of making a few loaves for family - I'm hoping the flour won't be too difficult to adapt to.

BTW are you of the Baviaanskloof or Langkloof Strydom family?

Cheers,

Dave

 

Luc Strydom's picture
Luc Strydom

 kunjani? Thanks for the welcome.  The crumb was actually really nice, about 80% hydration so it was similar to a ciabatta's usual crumb. Sasko and Snowflake still dominate but Eureka Mills is producing some really great, pure flour that is unbleached and free of preservatives. Since I've started using them I won't be going back to good 'ol Sasko Sam bread. I would definitely reccommend using Eureka mills flour if you can while you are out here. I get it from the my local organic food shop but Ive seen it at a few spars around PE too so Im sure it's not that hard to come by.

Wow! Small world. I am part of the Baviaanskloof Strydom family. How do you know the family?

Sala Gahle

Luc

habahabanero's picture
habahabanero

Hi Luc, it is indeed as small world! I suspect we're distant relatives, I remember my mother mentioning a connection.

I haven't been back to SA for 3 years - sadly I've heard the quality of shop bought bread has gone the way it has everywhere in the world. I grew up on Duens Dumpy loaves (don't know whether you got these in PE) and the Dutch and German baking heritage was always very apparent - but now I hear even Duens have changed, ostensibly to suit customer demand for lighter bread (read cheaper to produce with longer shelf life). The other great bread I remember was the seed loaf, now Cape Seed Loaf - hopefully still the same - but bizarrely a commercial baking chain based in Oz have now trademarked that name and taken it international! Of course the bread they've attached the name to is nothing like the original. I have been forced to develop my own formula for seed loaf which I think comes close to my memory of the original. The only question is whether anyone knows who made the original Cape Seed Loaf.

I'll be trying to get my hands on decent flour in Cape Town - anyone have any suggestions - I suspect the bread flour isn't bleached? I hope the mill in Rondebosch is still producing?- I think it's the oldest working mill in Africa (Mostert se meul). I'm looking forward to trying to make a potbrood with sourdough.

Cheers,

Dave

 

PMcCool's picture
PMcCool

That's who carried Eureka Mills flour when I lived in Pretoria.  And I think others have said that Spars in Cape Town also carried it.  Good stuff!

Paul

Luc Strydom's picture
Luc Strydom

Yes! It is Eureka Mills. My first 2 loaves I used Sasko and then I switched to Eureka Mills and what a difference! Must have been an interesting experience visting the mill. We often head up to Cape Town to see family so I will try and make a plan to stop off there on our way up next time.

Luc

All at Sea's picture
All at Sea

... for a lovely russet-crusted loaf. One month in and you're  clearly baking up a storm!

Never been to Port Elizabeth, but sailed by it on our trip round the Cape, from Durban to Cape Town.  Had a blast in SA - your cheery hello above, an instant reminder of good times and great people.


All at Sea

Luc Strydom's picture
Luc Strydom

Thanks for the welcome. You should have made a stop in our friendly little city or did the wind push you past without a chance?

Thanks for your kinds words re my loaf.

Luc

PeteBlenk's picture
PeteBlenk

Hi all in SA.

I have been using fully stone ground flour from Valley Bakery in Champagne Valley, Drakensberg. Of the commercially ground (and relatively unknown) flours, this is of the best tasting I have ever had either locally or internationally. And it has great properties for crumb structure. I am familiar with the Eureka Mills and enjoy using it as well.

One of my current quests, since I home grind as well and am currently having a good measure of success with some miches on home extraction (c. 95%extraction), is to find good quality wheat and rye berries at a decent price. Can anyone out there make some suggestions for the PWV area?

After that I will need some serious help in finding decent flour and grain berries in Nigeria. But that is for another day.

Cheers.

PaulZ's picture
PaulZ

Hi

I'm an artisan baker / pastry chef in Johannesburg specialising in sourdough bread and sell exclusively at the Bryanston Organic Market on Thursdays and Saturdays. I only use Eureka flour for all my breads as well as  use their cake flour and MN100 pastry flour for all my viennoiserie and sweet products. To find alternative flour, try freshearth.co.za and search under "flour." They're in the PWV area.

PaulZ

PeteBlenk's picture
PeteBlenk

Thanks a lot, Paul. I will have a look.

 

Cheers.

littlelisa's picture
littlelisa

Hi again Luc

The DVD will give you a basic recipe and technique, but you may find that you want more technical info than that to refer to. Certainly if I had to choose between the DVD and a book I'd go for a book but I'm a bit of a book junkie.

Rose Levy Barenbaum's book The Bread Bible is all you could hope for - tons of detail, pictures, great recipes and the best explanation of sourdough I've come across. Bear in mind that it's an American book so the measures are a bit fiddly when you convert to grams. Her 30:30:50 (gram) ratio of starter:water:flour for sourdough works brilliantly though. (In general, US writers are much wordier, their books are enormous and the imperial measures are a bit arduous for us metric types. If it's minute detail you're after, you will LOVE it. If it's simplicity, look for a UK writer.)
I'd love to know which UK/European books others use - River Cottage Handbook Bread is probably a good starting point though I don't have it. I've also seen glowing recommendations of Dan Lepard (I think his book is called THe Handmade Loaf). Any of those will be great.

If you're in Cape Town sometime I could also give you a bit of a breadbaking tutorial if you like.

Lisa

 

habahabanero's picture
habahabanero

Hi Luc and Lisa

If you're looking for the best beginners book The Bread Baker's Aprentice would definitely get my vote, the author, Peter Reinhart, is a tutor at the SFBI and a natural teacher. All his recipes are accompanied by clear instructions and a formula, which makes conversion to metric much easier. I don't own any of Berenbaum's books because I've read fairly conflicting opinions on this site and they're not cheap on this side of the world.  I would certainly not recommend Dan Lepard's book as a first because it isn't explanatory, it's full of great quirky and authentic recipes, but will drive you to distraction or worse.

I got the impresson you were baking with yeast, Luc? Contrary to most opinions outside this obsessive little inner circle, sourdough is a lot easier to work with than yeast, but it's not for commitment phobics!

The other mine of technique not to be bypassed is youtube, however I don't want to bancrupt you if bandwidth is still as expensive as it used to be in SA - be warned, watching bread videos is addictive.

There seems to be more activity in SA and CT than I thought, maybe you should have a TFL get together!

Cheers,

Dave

 

PaulZ's picture
PaulZ

Another easily available book in SA is Jeffrey Hamelman's "BREAD." I use it all the time and his formulas are trustworthy and the explanations, although often technical, great for understanding sourdough, which is my speciality. Hamelman is the chief baker at King Arthur Flour, USA. His quantities are also provided in metric measure.

The book is freely available from Exclusive Books as well as kalahari.com.

Good idea to hold a TFL South Africa get-together to swop ideas, techniques, formulae etc

Regards

PaulZ

PaulZ's picture
PaulZ

Also, I bought the DVD set and the level of instruction is medium level. If one is in the Garden Route area, pay a visit to Ile de Pain in Knysna. Their bread is really the best I have tasted in SA, and I found Markus Farbinger (spelling?) very open and forthcoming about his knowledge of bread making and technique.

Viv's picture
Viv

Hi - I have been baking our own bread for some time now. My interest is large white loaves (10 x 5 inch tin) which I've almost perfected using Eureka flour.

I make a perfect banana bread - light and fluffy which  I'll share with you all if you like.

Anyway It's good to be amoungst enthusiastic bakers.