The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Hello from England

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Chickpea's picture
Chickpea

Hello from England

Mel RimmerHello,

 My name is Melanie and I live in Cheshire, England. I am interested in self-sufficiency, sustainable living and vanishing crafts and skills. I blog about these things at www.bean-sprouts.blogspot.com.

 I make my own bread and soda bread, although I view it as a workaday business. The "artisan bread enthusiast" strapline of this site doesn't feel like it describes what I do.

 I have recently got interested in sourdough bread. I have tried making my own starter from scratch (it's day 4 now and although there are a few bubbles in the mix, it's not "climbing up the side of the bowl" as the instructions say it should). I am also awaiting the delivery of two different established starters which a very kind person on the Yahoo Sourdough Group has mailed to me.

And I'm thinking of buying a Fibrament baking stone http://www.bakingstone.com/.

So that's me. Nice to meet you all.

Darkstar's picture
Darkstar

Hello and welcome Chickpea,

 

I think you'll find this to be a good site full of knowledgable helpers. As with all forum-based sites it's a good idea to search first if you have a question before posting it. Other than that I'm sure you'll be helped out by good people.

 

I have been too lazy to get a good sourdough culture started from scratch but there are plenty of people here who have. From reading all their posts I can only suggest patience and perhaps check out SourdoLady's info and Floyd's Sourdough Lessons.

 

I can speak to the Fibrament stone though; I am very happy with mine. I don't leave it in the oven all the time as it can really slow down the speed at which things cook without a good preheat but for bread I personally like the extra spring I feel I get from putting my dough on a hot chunk-o-rock.

 

Cheers!

Darkstar

AnnieT's picture
AnnieT

Hi Melanie and welcome from a fellow limey. I know you will love this site and learn a lot from the great bakers who never seem to mind answering questions. I thought I knew how to make bread but since joining TFL I can't believe how much my baking has improved. Be warned, though, this site is very habit forming! What part of Cheshire? We lived in Wilmslow and my eldest son was born in the Barony Hospital in Nantwich. That was 46 years ago - maybe the place isn't even there now. Have fun with the baking, A.

andrew_l's picture
andrew_l

another from England here. Had my narrow boat at Northwich for a while...
To make  a starter, I would recommend Maggie Glezer's book "A Blessing of Bread" - it makes a very good firm starter which is simplicity itself to keep and maintain. If you do a search for Zolablue's posts, she explains the methods very well.
I'm sure you'll find loads of good advice here - ace site.
Andrew

andrew_l's picture
andrew_l

is here
http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/2390/firm-starter-glezer-recipe
with lots of comments and advice - worth printing out the whole thread and following it!!
Andrew

Chickpea's picture
Chickpea

Thanks everyone for your warm welcome. I will certianly chek out hose threads and links and learn all I can.I tried to make my own starter using instructions in Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall and Fizz Carr's The River Cottage Family Cookbook. So I mixed organic white bread flour with organic wholemeal flour, the juice of half an orange and bottled water. I fed it more flour and water every day for four days. The book says it should become frothy and climb the side of the bowl. It was certainly bubbly, but nothing like that active. I went ahead and made it into bread as the book described. Most of the starter went into a sourdough loaf with white bread flour. A few teaspoons were made into another white loaf described in the book as "semi-sourdough", which also included fast acting yeast. I made them both last night. The semi sourdough behaved just as normal yeast bread. It rose well, I punched it back, proved it again, baked it. It tasted like white bread (I don't like white bread). I gave it to my husband as toast for breakfast this morning. He ate half a slice and left the rest. "It doesn't taste of anything", he said. The "pure sourdough" loaf didn't rise. I left it overnight to see what would happen, and this morning it had doubled in size, but had developed a tough crust. So I was pleased that there is clearly some life in the starter - the bread did rise, but slowly. The crust was a bother, though. I removed the crust, kneaded the dough and put it in a baking tin for a second rise. That was an hour and a half ago. So far it has done nothing. I think I'll leave it. It will rise eventually because I know there is leavening in it. Then I'll bake it. I'm hoping it will taste different than the tasteless white bread, just because of the wild leavening in it. I expect the texture will be dreadful though, from the way it has behaved. I'm pretty much considering this experiment a failure so far. Brits will recognise the author of the book I used. Hugh F-W is a famous TV chef and his books are excellent, but he's not a bread specialist much less a sourdough specialist. I've just got hold of Nancy Silverton's "Breads from the La Brea Bakery" and I'm thinking of trying her instructions for a home-made starter. It's daunting though. The instructions take up 9 pages just for making the starter. And the quantities seem immense - the finished starter is 7lbs. Then the bread recipe takes 16 pages of close text, with only one photo. And there's a section titled "Before You Eat" which is a form she wants you to fill in recording every aspect of the bread-making process before you're allowed to taste you own bread. Jeez! So it's all a bit scary, but then again I feel more confident that if I followed her instructions they'd work, and I'd end up with bread that behaves as she says it will, and that will taste of something. Or I could just wait for my established starters to arrive in the post.

Melanie Rimmer

www.bean-sprouts.blogspot.com

andrew_l's picture
andrew_l

I quite like "Meat" by Hugh F-W but for bread - you need a specialist. The Glezer starter recommends  much longer than 4 days before trying to use it - and you won't end up with 7lb of starter!!!!
Naturally leavened bread (our UK name , as opposed to sourdough) takes much, much longer at each stage to do anything. When I first made my starter, the 1st loaf took 18 hours from shaping to be ready to bake. It gradually gets faster and more full of flavour. If you follow this link 

http://www.danlepard.com/forum/

you will get to a good UK site - Dan Lepard is one of the UK's top bakers and his book "The Handmade Loaf" has  a lot of really good stuff on making a sourdough starter and how to make loaves - it is an excellent book and simple, logical instructions.
Also, on the site, any of Bethesdabaker recipees are good!  Here's a very straightforward and effective one which I use a lot
http://www.danlepard.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=652&postdays=0&postorder=asc&highlight=micks+sourdough&start=0
But do read the Lepard book - your library might have it.... It turns making naturally leavened bread into a really pleasant and easy process!!
Andrew 

andrew_l's picture
andrew_l

Melanie,
if you follow the bethesdabaker recipe I gave a link for, but halving the quantities, then use the method in this link
http://www.breadtopia.com/sourdough-no-knead-method/
it all becomes foolproof and a doddle - once you've got your starter up and running! And I'd happily send you some of my starter with a written  method for keeping it if you like...
Andrew

Chickpea's picture
Chickpea

I baked my sourdough loaf. As I expected it had the density of a brick and the consistency of glue. But it tasted of something, something different than baking yeast - something sharp and complex and interesting. I chewed a bit of it to think about the flavour but the rest of it went in the bin.

I'm going to keep playing around with this. I'll probably try some of the techniqes in the links you have given. That rye starter seems much more sensible than the one in the Silverton book. I don't mind waiting 2 weeks but I do mind using five bags of flour for nothing.

I've still got a bit of the starter for the gluey loaf. I know it has yeasty beasties in it and I know they can leaven bread and they taste good. Maybe I can build up their strength by adapting a feeding regime from somewhere else, like the Silverton book or some of the links given here. Then they'll have the power to raise bread properly.

 Melanie Rimmer

www.bean-sprouts.blogspot.com

AnnieT's picture
AnnieT

Melanie, I have a really great starter recipe if you can't find one. It uses whole wheat flour and plain yogurt (live culture) and skim milk. Easy to make and gets wonderful results. Let me know if you would like me to post it, A.

qahtan's picture
qahtan

 

 hi Chickpea, I also come from UK, Sussex very close to the ocean.;-)))

I have found a big difference in the flour sold here in Canada and the flour used in UK......

 Maybe you will have to jiggle about to find one that works similar to what we use here and in the US....

 just my 2 cents worth..... qahtan.

expatCanuck's picture
expatCanuck

Melanie -

Greetings from a former Commonwealth resident who's also new to this site.

I don't doubt that Ms. Silverton is an eminently excellent baker, but I think that one would have to be off one's nut to use 5 bags of flour to create a sourdough starter.

I created mine here in Brookline Massachusetts (adjacent to Boston) just by exposing flour & water to air. I started with about a cup of flour & a cup of water (I think I used 50/50 all-purpose and whole wheat).

If memory serves, I don't think that anything happened with the first batch, but 3 or 4 days into the second, a few bubbles. I may have used grapes or blueberries to help things along. And I definitely used fresh bags of flour. Ongoing stirring, halving & refreshing, and I had a decent yeast beast in two weeks or so, a family pet that I kept going for a year or two ('til one day I forgot to reserve some). And I used well under a 5-lb. bag -- probably closer to 2 lbs.

I hadn't found this site yet, but found the instructions at Baking911 helpful:
http://www.baking911.com/bread/starters101intro.htm

But in any event, it wasn't hard, and it was a lot of fun. Patience is key.

Enjoy!

- Richard

www.oldwithoutmoney.com

hullaf's picture
hullaf

I've had a sourdough starter going for the last three years (it's name is Bubba) and the original recipe is from "the Bread Bible" by Rose Levy Beranbaum. I followed it exactly, using fresh milled rye flour and it's been alive ever since. I do feed it every 7-10 days depending on my baking days with half rye flour and half white bread flour. It does take time to learn how to make sourdough bread, and I am continually learning, but it'll come. Just keep on with the feeding schedule (I even had a friend take care of it while I was away.) Good luck, Anet

Chickpea's picture
Chickpea

Hi everyone, I'm so touched by all your comments - the time you have taken to help me to make sourdough bread, and even offers of starter. What a great group!

I made some more sourdough bread today, using the starter I made from the instructions in the River Cottage book (but fed 3 times a day for a couple of weeks - soooo much more active now than it was at 4 days old, when I first tried to use it to leaven bread). I also followed the instructions in the Silverton book for country white loaves.

Big difference. Still a long way from perfection, but at least I have made bread now, not bricks of glue. My loaves are a funny shape because I proofed them in mixing bowls lined with tea towels, and the bread took on the shape of the folds and creases in the towels. I also used too much flour when dusting the towels so the loaves have quite a crust of baked flour on them. I'll use less next time. I've ordered a cane proofing bowl so when that arrives hopefully I can achieve the pretty spirals associated with sourdough loaves.

I've ordered a Fibrament baking stone but it will take a little while to arrive from the US. What difference do you think it will make to my bread?

I slashed the loaves with my sharpest kitchen knife, but the bread was tougher than I expected and the slashes were ragged. I'm going to try a craft knife next time - see if I can improvise something like a lame. And the bread was darker than I expected, even though I didn't bake it as hot as Silverton said - my oven doesn't go up to 500F. It doesn't taste burnt though. Is this just the colour sourdough bread is supposed to be? Much closer to brown than to golden.

I have already made my dough for tomorrow's bread. I'm going to keep trying this recipe until I can correct the errors and imperfections of this first attempt. I'm not looking for a whole new recipe or technique now, I want to perfect this one.

There is a picture of my bread at http://bean-sprouts.blogspot.com/2007/11/sourdough-loaves-attempt-2.html

It's a bit ugly. I could have made much handsomer yeasted loaves with a fraction of the effort. But I'm happy to be learning a whole new technique, and I'm having a lot of fun.

Melanie Rimmer

www.bean-sprouts.blogspot.com

ehanner's picture
ehanner

Hi Melanie,

I have been following your sourdough thread and thought I would toss my 2 pence in.

The baking stone will help you get a more authentic crust on the bottom and they are great for Pizza. If you haven't looked at the "Eye Opening Techniques" yet I think you might find it interesting. Here is the link but it is on the most active links on the front page. http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/2882/eye-opening-techniques

Many people on this site have stopped using a stone for most baking of breads. Personally I only use a stone if I am planning on more than one baking session with several loaves. The stone will give you a better bottom crust but the energy it takes to pre heat the stone is considerable. Plan on allowing at least an extra 30-40 minutes after the oven is up to temp before your first bake and give the stone a chance to recover after you pull the first loaf.

I started baking sourdough in an attempt to re-create the San Francisco bread that has been written about and become a standard in the US. What I discovered is that using some sourdough in a mix will raise the acidity of the dough, improve the flavor and help with the keeping quality on the counter. The part of the mix that is allowed to ferment will dramatically improve flavor overall. Some people have good luck allowing dough to ferment in a cold environment for longer times to arrive at a more sour taste. The problem is that the most favorable temp range is around 50 degrees F (10 C) and that's too warm for a safe setting for your fridge. A wine cooler works well if you want to pursue "Sour-Sourdough".

One last thing that will help with getting your loaves baked well and have the right color is to use steam or a bowl or some type of cover for the first 15 minutes of the baking time. Search here for Susans SD Under Glass post. The bowl creates a closed environment that gives you a great oven spring and a nice Carmel color and the flavor that comes with it.

 I hope this helps. Welcome Chickpea/Melanie, this is a great place to do just what you seem to be after. I'll look forward to seeing your posts.

Eric

expatCanuck's picture
expatCanuck

Melanie -

Which River Cottage book contains the sourdough starter instructions?

Thanks.

 - Richard 

www.oldwithoutmoney.com

Chickpea's picture
Chickpea

It was The River Cottage Family Cookbook by Fizz Carr and Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall. I have done a few of the projects in the book - making butter, making salt - but I have to say the sourdough instructions are pants.

Basically they don't allow enough time or enough feedings to get a really active starter. And then they say "use the starter in place of yeast in the white bread recipe on page yada yada". But now I know you can't just switch sourdough for yeast and expect it to act the same. You need different proving times, and different proving conditions.

It's a great recipe book and one of my favourites, and I suppose you can't get everything right. But they can't possibly have tried their own instructions or they'd have known they just don't work. Which I think is very naughty.

Melanie Rimmer

www.bean-sprouts.blogspot.com

KipperCat's picture
KipperCat

I've noticed that about sourdough in some bread books as well. Not necessarily recipes that won't work, but recipes that aren't quite what I'd consider a sourdough. Often there are instructions to make a "sourdough starter" from commercial yeast. Then when the starter is a day or two old, add it to a bread recipe that also contains commercial yeast.

Btw, welcome to The Fresh Loaf, Melanie :) 

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

and it can also improve flavour dramatically but it's not really sourdough.  If something is in there that's sour, like milk or lacto beasties then perhaps but I'd be tempted to call it a "quick" method.  

Mini O

andrew_l's picture
andrew_l

but most books do that. If it isn't by a specialist - in their own field - doubt it!  Plenty of good books, methods available - and what you can't find here is probably not worth knowing! (Though many warm dissagreements about things - all adds to the fun / learning curve!)
You'll get there...
Andrew   
(Have you tried the cold oven start??!!?? - My favourite...)

Chickpea's picture
Chickpea

No-knead, French fold, under glass, frisage, steam, cold start - I'm getting a bit overwhelmed. I was to try these techniques, but not all at once! Where should I start? 

Melanie Rimmer

www.bean-sprouts.blogspot.com

sphealey's picture
sphealey

I agree that given how the membership of this site has developed over the last 2-3 years that it can be confusing to ask a simple question: many very enthusiastic people will jump in with strong opinions/suggestions - all different!

Personally I would suggest that the best way to start is with a plain French-type or country bread (US terminology - may be different names in the UK) made with only flour, water, yeast, and salt, and using the folding method. You can bake it on a pre-heated cookie sheet (baking sheet) if you don't have a baking stone. Steam is helpful but this is easy to create with an inexpensive cast-iron frying pan and 300 ml of boiling water.

The reciepe should have a moderate amount of water as a percentage of the flour. Floyd's Daily Bread recipe on this site makes a very good bread but it is difficult to handle a dough with that much water until you have some experience.

The no-knead is even easier to make but I do think the videos out there are a little deceptive: you need a bit of experience with wet doughs before you can do that neat fold-and-shape. Then again it usually bakes up nicely regardless of how misshapen it is.

For people in the US I recommend that they ask their local library for a copy of King Arthur Flour's "Artisan Bread" DVD. I don't know if this is available in the UK and/or in PAL format though. It is the best and least intimidating introduction to the basics of artisan breads I have found.

HTH. Don't be intimidated about telling people on this site that their answers are too complex and they need to simplify ;-)

sPh

Chickpea's picture
Chickpea

I'm learning so much from reading the resources on this site, but it has made me dissatisfied. I have been making bread for years - yeasted bread and soda bread. My bread is always dense, much tastier than supermarket bread, and with a heavy texture. I thought that's what home-made bread was like.

A few weeks ago I heard of sourdough bread for the first time (it's not very common in the UK), and decided I'd like to make that. If I could make sourdough bread in a tin that was pretty much like my usual bread, I'd be happy. Well I did that, and more. Instead of in a tin, my loaves are round and baked on a sheet. What fun! My family likes it. Even my kids eat it, and ask for more. But I'm not happy.

Reading this site and looking at the photo galleries and videos I see pictures of bread with holes. Big, uneven holes. Not dense, weighs-you-down bread like mine. I thought that was just for commercial bakeries, using "flour improvers"and E-numbers. I thought my home-made dense bread was just as it's supposed to be (my sister calls it "dwarf bread" - fans of Terry Pratchett will get the joke). But now I see people making bread using only flour, water, leavening and salt, but their bread has holes. I want holes too! What do I do? (I'm obsessed with sourdough at the moment. My packets of yeast are going to go past their use-by date because I now have no interest in yeasted bread. So if I could kindly ask you to restrict your replies to sourdough recipes and techniques, I'd be very grateful)

Melanie Rimmer (I want holes)

www.bean-sprouts.blogspot.com

sphealey's picture
sphealey

If I were to get discontented with my bread I would be in serious trouble - breadmaking has gotten me through some difficulties the last 2 years. Occasionally a brick-like loaf does annoy me but I would urge inner calm and peace in your relationship with your daily bread ;-)

Floyd is the expert and perhaps he will chime in, but generally speaking (more water + less kneading) = larger holes. Try gradually adding water to your favorite recipe, shorten your initial kneading, and use the gentle folding method during fermentation.

A more general suggestion is to obtain a copy of _The Laurel's Kitchen Bread Book_ (available on amazon.co.uk) - they discuss what is needed to make light whole-grain loaves (both sourdough and yeast) in great detail. Dan Leader's _Bread Alone_ also has a lot of good sourdough recipes and the tale of his bread journey is inspiring.

sPh

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

Saw your loaves, lovely! If you don't like the flour, take a clean brush (over the sink or outside) to it. But I think it's fine. If white bread is too white go for the breads you like. Try (buy some and taste) sourdough bread too while you're at it, some put all the work into it only to discover they don't like the taste...  speaking generally, the older I get the more I like it.  

Mini O

JERSK's picture
JERSK

 I have heard Nancy Sivertons sourdough starter is a bit daunting. Many starters use ingredients that aren't necessarily in bread like fruit yogurt etc. Bread is basically made of flour and water with starters. There are many nutritional benefits in using a natural leaven AKA sourdough culture . I've tried in the past and had many failures. Here's an easy one I got from Dan Wing's and Alan Scott's "The Bread Builders".It's worked great for me so far.

Day one: In a clean jar mix 60 grams or 2 oz. rye flour and 60 grams or 2 oz. wheat flour(both preferably organic) with 120 grams or 4 oz. non-chlorinated water. Mix thouroughly wrapped at 60-65 degress F. Leave for 48 hours.

Day Three:You have 240 grams or 8 oz. of culture. Throw away half 120 gms. or 4 oz. Add 60 gms (2 oz.)of wheat/rye mix or straight wheat flour and 60 gms (2 oz.)non-chlorinated water. Put back into jar at rom temp. and leave for only one day.

Day four: repeat step three.

Day Five: it should be fairly active by now and probably a bit smelly. Don't worry. In 2 or 3 days it should be bubbly, active and tenacious. Meaning it's going to want to hold together and not be real slimy. It's ready to expand and use for bread at this point. Remeber to always hold some back (the mother) and feed and care for it when not in use. It's properties will improve over the first few weeks.

You might want to try using breads with bigas and poolish or other pre-ferments. They're a good way to develop flavor with out the hassles of sourdough. I've found lots of useful info at theartisan.net. It's all about Italian breads and foods. Lot's of good info here too and many people willing to offer advice and consoling when neccessary. Good luck. It can be overwhelming at first, but in time it all clicks and you can't beat well made bread.

AnnieT's picture
AnnieT

Melanie, I know what you mean about being overwhelmed by all the technical stuff. I had baked bread ( sort of) over the years but this site has really been such a help. For a good video of Streching and Folding check out Mike Avery's site Sourdough Home where he shows exactly how it's done. Then I think B.Wraith has a video on TFL showing the French fold. You will soon be tossing out words like frissage, no-knead - just like the rest of us! My family roll their eyes but they love to eat my bread. Guess they figure at my age it's better than sitting in a bar. Oh, be sure to try Susan from San Diego's sourdough loaf, the one she cooks under a mixing bowl. Spectacular holes and wonderful crust! A.

Chickpea's picture
Chickpea

I made two sourdough loaves using this recipe http://home.att.net/~carlsfriends/jimpics/Instructions.html which involves several new (to me) techniques - very slack dough, frisage, French fold, proving in a banneton and cold start. (Just to clarify, I frisaged after mixing and before FFing, and I proved it in a banneton despite the instructions mentioning a loaf tin because my new bannetons arrived in the post today). Thanks Eric for pointing out the thread which led me to this recipe and these videos. As soon as I watched them, I knew I had to try it.

The instructions say to prove for 20 hours, not retard, so I proved at room temperature overnight, rather than in the fridge as I have been doing usually. It seemed way overproofed to me - with big balloons coming out of the top of the dough. Should I have retarded in the fridge instead?

When I tried to turn the loaves onto the oven sheet, they stuck to the bannetons so the top is all weird. Is that because the dough is too slack for a banneton? Or is it because it was overproofed? Or is it because my bannetons are brand new and need to be seasoned? Or is is because I put the dough straight in the banneton without a cloth - that's what the instructions that came with it said to do, or at least as far as I can tell. The instructions were in German and I'm not exactly fluent.

There are pictures here:http://bean-sprouts.blogspot.com/2007/11/dali-esque-bread.html of the surrealist exterior of the loaves, and of the fabulous interior. Look at the holes! I have holes, and my bread is light and doesn't make your jaw ache to chew it! OMG I'm so happy to have made bread like this. It looks like Frankenstein's monster but I can fix that.

Thanks to sPh for saying "(more water + less kneading) = larger holes". That gave me the confidence to keep going with this weird slack dough that I had no faith in. Honestly, I thought this dough was a disaster at every single stage until I tried to cut it, and it felt unusually springy. When I saw the interior I laughed out loud.

Who would have known that a kneading technique could change my life? Right - how do I adapt other bread recipes to use this technique? Just cross through the part that says "knead until your forearms bulge like The Terminator" and French fold instead? Is it as simple as that? Will this work with WW? With funny ingredients like walnuts and olives and raisins? I am going to make the best Stollen ever this Christmas!

Melanie Rimmer

www.bean-sprouts.blogspot.com

Paddyscake's picture
Paddyscake

I do love your Dali-esque loaf..very surreal : ) Did you use white rice flour in your banneton? If not, give it a try..it is the teflon of flours, your bread will pop right out

andrew_l's picture
andrew_l

that loaf looks good! And the holes - it is harder to get holes in bread with wholemeal than with all white - and I always use wholemeal! Do you have a kenwood chef? If so, you can get a grain mill attachment and mill your own - I get a 25 kilo sack from an organic farm near Devizes - costs £8! This makes wonderful bread and for pence per loaf.You are obvioulsy delighted with the results you are getting! But to stop it sticking to the banneton - try rice flour or rye flour - you'll find the loaf pops out much more easily.
Andrew 

Chickpea's picture
Chickpea

Today's bread was even wetter than yesterday and just collapsed into a cowpat-like heap when I turned it onto the baking sheet. It rose very well though, and has a great interior and a good taste so I'm not too disappointed. I still want to make bread that looks as good as it tastes.

You can see it at http://bean-sprouts.blogspot.com/2007/11/cowpat-bread.html

It's ironic. In the past I've made bread that looks lovely but was too dense. Now I've learned how to make light holey bread it looks horrendous. I'll keep trying until I get it right.

I bought some rice flour so that should help with dough sticking to the banneton. And if I can learn to judge the right degree of hydration I reckon I could make bread to be proud of.

Melanie Rimmer

www.bean-sprouts.blogspot.com

KipperCat's picture
KipperCat

Your bread looks scrumptious!  Congratulations.

Chickpea's picture
Chickpea

Thanks, Andrew. I used rice flour in my bannetons and my super-slack bread just came right out. It's like magic. What a great tip.

This 2-day recipe is frustrating. When I do something wrong I'm almost bound to do it twice because the next day's dough is mixed before yesterday's loaf come out of the oven and I can see the results. Yesterday my dough was too slack and my loaves looked like cowpats (tasted nice, though). So we have cowpat bread again today of course, but the dough I made today is rather stiffer. With luck tomorrow I'll have a nice boule.

For my next trick, I want to go to the garden centre and buy a big flowerpot and make a "poor-man's cloche".

Melanie Rimmer

www.bean-sprouts.blogspot.com

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

coming along nicely.  Good on you!  Mini O

Chickpea's picture
Chickpea

I bought a 10" flowerpot and base at the garden centre yesterday to make a "poor man's cloche". There's a picture of it at http://bean-sprouts.blogspot.com/2007/11/poor-mans-cloche.html

I baked my sourdough boule in it today. I wasn't sure about the procedure, so I seasoned my cloche last night by bringing it slowly up to my oven's max temperature thel letting it cool slowly. Today I pre-heated the cloche and base in the oven, then turned the boule onto the hot base, slashed it, covered it with the hot top and put it back in the oven. After 20 minutes I removed the top and baked for another 20 minutes. The oven spring is incredible.

Here it is: http://bean-sprouts.blogspot.com/2007/11/loaf-baked-in-cloche.html

I've finally made a loaf that I'm totally proud of. Proud of its appearance, its crumb, its taste. I feel like a real artisan breadmaker. Thanks so much to all of you for helping me to achieve this, quicker than I ever would have thought.

Of course, now I want the next challenge. Can I do it with wholemeal flour? I've also received two dried starters through the post, so I'm reviving them and then I'll try to make an authentic-style Sanfrancisco sourdough loaf, and something with a milk-based champagne grape starter.

Melanie Rimmer

www.bean-sprouts.blogspot.com

Susan's picture
Susan

I've been following your short sourdough trip. You did it so quickly and so well! I'm happy for you.

Susan from San Diego

AnnieT's picture
AnnieT

Melanie, what a great boule! Doesn't it seem like magic? Congratulations. How was the crumb, or did it get eaten before you could take a picture? A.

Chickpea's picture
Chickpea

Hello again, guys. I haven't forgotten you. I've been baking sourdough bread every day and learning so much. I can now make reliable boules that look and taste great. And I have also been baking sourdough baguettes using the recipe from the Silverton book combined with the techniques in the Julia Child video (I even smacked my dough on the bench 850 times once, as she says we must - it took over 30 minutes. The next time I only did it for 15 minutes. The bread was just as good).

There is a photo of my first baguettes at http://bean-sprouts.blogspot.com/2007/11/baguettes.html but I'm better at shaping them now.

I'm really proud of my bread now. I'm still using just white flour, but the bread is so tasty. I never thought I'd enjoy eating white bread this much. I am giving lots of loaves away to my friends because I have too much bread. I have also spent some time hunting through this site and finding great recipes, techniques, photos and videos.

Melanie Rimmer

www.bean-sprouts.blogspot.com