The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Hi from Devon, UK

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cloud9's picture
cloud9

Hi from Devon, UK

Hi all,

I've decided to lurk in the shadows no more, and emerge into the flour-laced atmosphere that is TFL.

A bit about me... I've spent many years trying to perfect sourdough breads with success borne from practise, tweaking, and learning from failures. My 100% starter is half rye half white (both Dove flours) and has suffered neglect and revival many times. It's currently being pampered leading up to Christmas by twice-daily feeds... I don't think the beasties mind stuffing their faces with all the food they can eat... it is Christmas after all.

Recently I've started Hamelman's poolish baguettes and have cracked it ... I can't get the gargantuan holes of txfarmer(?) but am becoming accustomed with the feel of dough full of folded in air and yeast-wind. I've founds Wessex T65 flour gives the most consistent results... although am driving through France over Christmas and will definitely stop and pick up T55 (as much as I can smuggle past my better half.) Hopefully this'll help with the baguettes.

Nice to be part of this great forum.

Keep baking!

cloud9

yozzause's picture
yozzause

Nice to have you along and nice results look forward to your posts with french flours and seeing your resulting baguettes from Glorious Devon!

kind regards from yozza (western australia)

Bakingmadtoo's picture
Bakingmadtoo

Hello, from another relative newbie to this forum, (although I have been lurking and reading for quite a while).  Your bread looks lovely, I shall have to search out the flour that you mention, I don't make baguettes very often as it is only me that eats them! But love to try a different flour.

It is strange to think that in the context of this forum, we are almost neighbours! I am in the East Midlands, not too far from Claybrooke Mill which does some very nice flour if you ever pass that way.

Heath's picture
Heath

Welcome to TFL, cloud9.  I'm also from the UK - Wales in my case.

Your bread is beautiful and I look forward to reading your posts.

cloud9's picture
cloud9

Hi yozza, Bakingmadtoo, Heath,

Thanks for the welcome from good old blighty and down-under. I'm always amazed how forums such as this span the world with ease. I guess our friends in the US (and I guess Australia) are not familiar with the typical flour brands in the UK. I think the US is dominated by King Arthur's flour which I gather from other posts is less 'strong' than UK flours... not that I really understand what that means in practise (less protein content?)

Claybrooke Mill is new to me. I'll definitely look out for their flour if I pass by. Do you know if they source their own grain locally.

I only bake bread once or twice a week and my repertoire is only sourdough boules (1kg) baked in la cloche, and yeasted baguettes. I've spent most my time experimenting trying to get a San Fran sourdough tang from my starter, but boules tend to lack the sourness but are very flavoursome. I think devon wild yeasts and bacteria aren't up to producing enough acetic acid.

Do you guys use a starter? Any tips?

Keep baking,

cloud9 (aka Martin)

Bakingmadtoo's picture
Bakingmadtoo

I was told by a lady who runs baking classes that Claybrooke Mill do use local wheat in at least some of their flours, unfortunately the day I chose to visit the mill, they were on holiday! A nice neighbour let me in to buy some flour, but knew very little about the flours, so I am unable to confirm it. 

I have never tasted the real sourdough that everyone raves about so I really can't help with that question, and my starter seems to vary in 'tang'. I think mine tastes tangier when my kitchen is very cold, but then I also have trouble getting it bubbling when it is cold. I have been having to put it in the cooker with a jug of hot water to get it going and that produces a noticeably milder bread.

cloud9's picture
cloud9

Claybrooke Mill sounds like a great place to visit. I'll make a note next time I head up that way.

In terms of tang I've tried various methods (drier starter, longer retard, less feeding, higher starter percentage of loaf, white flour feed vs rye/white feed, etc...) and to be honest even though I can get it more sour, it also takes on more earthy undertones so much so that I'm not sure I should be enjoying it or viewing it with suspicion. Higher starter content and/or longer retardation can also impact the gluten resulting in less lift of the loaf (which always feels slightly disappointing).

i'll keep trying.

The best and (in my limited opinion) reproduction of San Francisco sourdough on the high street is the 'San Francisco style sourdough' loaves from Marks & Sparks. if you ask the baker to see the list of ingredients it is something like 30% starter (from memory) and seems like proper levained bread. It has that lighter tangy more-ish taste that matches my memories from rare visits to the touristy places in San Francsico, although I haven't been there for a long long time.

Cheers,

cloud9

 

Bakingmadtoo's picture
Bakingmadtoo

I didn't know that the methods you mention might mean that you get less lift, I hate flat loaves more than anything as I mostly toast my bread. So that is something I will have to bear in mind.

I shall have to try the M and S bread just out of curiosity now. I tried a Co op deli rye the other day, with a fairly high percentage of starter in it. I can't tell you what a horrible loaf that was. Like eating dry, brown cotton wool. So dry that you couldn't pick it up without it falling into a mound of crumbs.

I have a lot to learn and my loaves don't always look the prettiest, but it certainly tastes better than anything I have bought from any of the supermarket bakeries!

 

 

cloud9's picture
cloud9

I'm no expert, but from what I've read and experienced is that there is a balance between acidity and the length of time a loaf exists prior to baking, i.e. gluten is affected by the acids over time which can cause the dough to slacken and spread resulting in flatter bakes (assuming it is baked on a stone and not in a supporting pan). Letting a loaf ferment too long may result in less lift. The key is finding the optimal balance between starter content, rise time, rise temperature, etc... which also depends on the flour, the hydration, the humidity, water softness, ... and the list goes on. I think the huge amount of variables involved means that each person needs to carefully experiment (e.g. change just one thing at a time) and keep notes about what works and what doesn't. 

Yesterday I made yeasted baguettes using Dove white as opposed to Wessex T65 and was sorely disappointed by the colouration and taste of the final loaves. It might be that I'd need to optimise the Hamelman poolish baguette technique for the different flour, or maybe Dove white isn't ideal for baguettes.... I don't really know. What I do know is that I'll do side-by-side comparison of Wessex and Dove to see if it was me or the flour :-)