The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Bonjour et merci!

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Cendrillon's picture
Cendrillon

Bonjour et merci!

Hello there

I am a slightly obsessed bread fanatic based in Central France, where the only baker in the village sells a vile industrial range of breads. As a result, I have rediscovered bread-making at home and throughly enjoy trying out new methods and recipes.

I have been lurking for a long while and wanted to thanks you all for the immense pleasure I take in reading your posts, tips and suggestions on all things bread.

Cendrillon / Cinderella

Soundman's picture
Soundman

Cendrillon, welcome to TFL!

Thanks for stepping into the light, introducing yourself, and addiing your addiction to those of the numerous bread-junkies, from all over the planet, who congregate here.

Do tell us more. What kinds of breads are you baking and which do you want to add to your repertoire? What flours are available to you in central France, and whereabouts in central France, anyway, are you? (Pardon me for prying!)

Soundman (David)

Cendrillon's picture
Cendrillon

I live near the town of Aurillac, in what is commonly known as "La France Profonde" (euphemism for "real France" or "back-end of nowhere" depending on whether it's a compliment or an insult!)

This area is known as "Le Ségala", which refers to "le seigle" (rye) and there is also a long tradition of growing buckwheat (sarrasin or blé noir) and of using chestnuts in one form or another, so locally milled buckwheat, chestnut and rye flours are easily found here. Add to that a fairly recent re-discovery of spelt flour in France and, when you add them all to wheat in all its types, there is quite a range to choose from.

I am determined to master a good basic pain au levain. To that end, I have ordered "Dough", "Artisan Bread In Five Minutes A Day" and "Exceptional Breads" to add my ever-growing collection of cookery books !

Visiting this site has helped me discover a lot of variations and techniques which I am very keen to put into practice!

French wheat flour behaves quite differently from the stronger British flour I used to bake with when I lived in the UK, so I am starting from the very beginning and expect to make many mistakes on the way to my perfect loaf!

Cendrillon

EDIT: I should add that I am French and that English is NOT my first language, so apologies in advance for the spelling mistakes and use of unusual expressions

Soundman's picture
Soundman

Cendrillon,

Je crois, au contraire, que vous avez écrit impeccablement en anglais.

It sounds as if you have a wealth of local flours to use in your baking, how nice! (I for one appreciate the vivid geographical information, as it brings your world closer to me.)

As far as baking pain au levain goes, you may want to select a recipe that appeals to you and repeat it a number of times to get the feel for it, before trying lots of variations. And of course developing the levain itself is essential to baking this kind of bread. Perhaps you already have created a robust and active starter?

No doubt you will have questions and perhaps even a flop mixed in to your undoubted successes, and TFL bakers want to hear all about them!

Soundman (David)

Cendrillon's picture
Cendrillon

Thanks the for the sound advice David. I know I have to learn to walk before I can run!

No starter started yet... There is so much advice here and elsewhere! I want to read all, sift through it and shamelessly put it to use in my attempts to produce my levain! My last serious previous attempt at making a starter produced a flat result with a very strong acidic smell of acetone. I gather this was most probably caused by under-feeding...

One likely stumbling block could well be the temperature requirement. The house temperature is around 19°C/66°F, which I gather is too low to encourage a healthy starter. I am hoping to find a way round this... Suggestion welcome!

Carol, thank you for your warm welcome and I too hope my future contributions will be of useful! I know of Janedo/Jane's excellent bilingual website and I also know another newcomer (Patf) through another forum (not bread-related) we both contribute to...

Cendrillon

Soundman's picture
Soundman

Cendrillon,

My own experience with starting a starter did include keeping it in the 75-80 dF or 24-27 dC range. That doesn't mean it won't work at a lower temperature, however. It might just take a little longer.

Techniques: if you have a heating pad, you can give the starter a little additional heat with that device. Or, if you're very careful you can heat your oven for 1 minute or so and turn it off; take the temperature, making sure it's not too hot, and let the starter have the benefit of the slight heat you generated. Remember, you're only trying to get the environment 5 dC hotter than your house.

If you have a baking stone, you can heat the oven for a little longer (5 minutes for example) and let it cool down to an acceptable temperature; the stone will keep warming the oven for quite a while. Or, some refrigerators are hotter on top, maybe you can experiment with that. That doesn't require repetition the way using the oven does. In colder weather some people use the extra heat in their furnace area to get the environment a little cozier for the starter.

Read around on TFL as you suggest. There are lots of methods that have worked for lots of people. My own suggestion would be to try the so-called "pineapple juice solution," which worked for me. Here is a link that demonstrates that method, by Eric of breadtopia:

http://www.breadtopia.com/make-your-own-sourdough-starter/

Here's a link that includes the method in simple to follow text.

http://www.scientificpsychic.com/alpha/food/sourdough-bread.html

I wish you bonne chance!

Soundman (David)

SteveB's picture
SteveB

If I remember correctly, Aurillac is the site of a well-known bread baking school run by Christian Vabret.  Have you ever been there? 

SteveB

www.breadcetera.com

Cendrillon's picture
Cendrillon

Yes SteveB, that's right.

Christian Vabret's Ecole de boulangerie is based in Aurillac but  the courses are strictly for professionals. They train young people in the traditional methods and also offer high-level vocational training to professional bakers and their employees.

Cendrillon
Virtual French Person

apprentice's picture
apprentice

This is such a great site, and I can already tell that you're going to be a wonderful addition to our ranks! I look forward to sharing more about our mutual baking passions in the future.

Carol

Patf's picture
Patf

Good to see you on this forum Cendrillon. There's another member called Janedo who lives in France and writes in french sometimes. She seems to have a lot of experience of baking with french flour, and will probably add something. Pat.

Susan's picture
Susan

Thanks for officially joining our group! I, also, became a breadmaker because I wanted healthier bread. Please don't be shy; let us see your beautiful French breads soon.

Susan from San Diego

chahira daoud's picture
chahira daoud

Salut , Cendrillon!!!

Quel beau nom!!!!

Ma petite fille adore Cendrillon , Elle veut etre Cendrillon quand elle sera grande !!

Vous etes la bienvenue.

Je suis Chahira, et je suis Egyptienne , vous allez etre tres contente, ce site est excellente. 

Janedo's picture
Janedo

Hi Cendrillon,

Welcome to the board.

Don't worry about your house temperature. I've done a bunch of different sourdough starters in my 19°C kitchen. Use some of your local rye to start it up, then go to organic T65. It'll work fine.

Jane