Well, I went a little crazy with kitchen equipment over the past couple of weeks. I finally found myself a pizza stone (two actually), as well as proofing baskets, and a mixer! Yes i went crazy! And you have no idea how hard some of it was to find... I ended up getting the pizza stones while I was in Amsterdam on business! At an amazing kitchen store called Duikelman, if you ever visit Amsterdam and want to see a *really* nice kitchen goods store its worth the visit. Right alongside the museums and art galleries and other tourist attractions. ;-) But then I had to lug them on the train back to Germany! I really wasn't able to find a single store in my home town that sold them. Same went with the baskets actually, so i got myself a nice one for proofing boules at Duikelman but then of course once I got it I found a *really* cheap place to buy them close to home. After searching all kinds of place I finally found them in Metro (a wholesaler) of all places. With a bit of linen cloth I MacGyver'ed myself a couple of nice little proofing baskets.
All told this bread thing has set me back some nice dough (heh) in terms of proper equipment, but its fun, and my kitchen is the better off for it. The mixer is actually one of these multipurpose jobos that will come in useful in all sorts of ways. I cant count the number of times Ive skipped a recipe because making it without proper tools would just be too time consuming. Anyway, thats the way I'm justifying the purchase to myself when I start feeling guilty. :-)
The mixer is a big deal for me. Having used it only once, to make Norwich Sourdough, its already pretty clear that it will totally change making bread for me, making it easier to do right with much less mess. The pizza stone seems to have had some effect, but im not sure how much, possibly I havent heated it up long enough first, I want to test more.
Anyway, about Norwich Sourdough.. The Norwich Sourdough I did as my inaugeral attempt with the mixer was easily the nicest sourdough ive managed to do so far. Perfect shape and rise, beautiful crumb and crust, and very easy to follow directions. One of these days Ill get myself set up to post pictures :-)
I would heartily recommend my fellow novice bakers to try the Norwich Sourdough recipe. It worked out great for me! So good im going to try it again after I finish this post. :-) One thing she doesnt include is a formula but instead only the recipe. Of course thats pretty easy to calculate from here recipe. Here it is:
%75 : 900 flour
%10 : 120 rye
%50 : 600 water
%30 : 360 starter 1:1
%1.92 : 23g NaCl
Flour = 900 + 120 + (360/2) = 1200
Water = 600 + (360/2) = 780
Hydration = 780/1200 = %65
Total = Flour + Water + NaCL = 2003g
Do look at the original page tho. The author has some important instructions there that you should read, and frankly the blog is worthy of a bookmark for any baker's browser. The author has lots of nice recipes and good style and touch for explaining a recipe. I think her site is great.
The other interesting thing Ive learned recently regarded diastatic malt. I fed a bit to my starter to give a it a bit of a kick last night when I was doubling it for todays Norwich Sourdough recipe. It went crazy! Instead of just doubling it trippled or more. Just insane. Maybe i used too much. But obviously the sourdough *really* liked it. :-) I think if you think your sourdough is sluggish a little dose of diastatic malt might be the thing to perk it up. So to speak :-)
Actually, since my last blog my starter situation has changed somewhat, and I guess I could stabilized. I got annoyed at maintaining two starters and mixed them together. The result is quite nice, no issues there, and since I dont need to keep two cultures separate anymore I have a free jar, so ive started a process of swapping.
Each day I feed it in its current jar, and then afterwards pour it into the new jar and put the old jar in the dishwasher for cleaning. That way no splatters or mess gets on the side of the new jar. I then use a piece of tape on the jar to mark how full the jar was post mixing, and then observe over the next 24 hours what happens, marking the highpoint (as shown by streaks on the glass or direct observation) also. Doing this over a few weeks Ive come to know the behaviour of my starter pretty well. It definitely has the capability of doubling or more in under 24 hours (more like 12) and it often appears to more than double. This says to me my starter is alive and well. Yay!