The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Hello, from Essex, UK

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maxwellion's picture
maxwellion

Hello, from Essex, UK

Hi,

I've (naughtily) already posted other topics before this introductory one, so sorry for that forum faux pas. I'm Max and I'm brand new to bread baking, so to make my life easy I've decided to jump straight in to sourdough.

I've reared my own starter from the wild yeasts of North Essex (doesn't sound as cool as San Francisco) and after almost three weeks, it's active and smelling beautiful. I've already baked twice with it, but the first time was a failure because of my poor planning, and the second one was because of (possibly) not letting the dough prove long enough. I also think the recipe i'm using is slightly flawed, so I'm really looking out for something better.

Anyway, I hope to be a regular here, and I must say this baking lark is very addictive.

Thanks

Max

lumos's picture
lumos

Warmest welcome to  Max,  my fellow Essex TFLer!  at last!......though I'm on the south-west edge of Essex, almost London, so we're not quite 'neibours,'  but still it's really comforting to know Essex is not completly a TFL black hole. :)

maxwellion's picture
maxwellion

Ha ha, thanks Lumos; I like to think my starter captures the essence of widest north Essex. Do you have your own starter? Perhaps you have some recipes you could share too, or knowledge of any good mills in Essex to buy bulk flour from?

lumos's picture
lumos

Yes, I do have my own starter, a few years old, which has been breathing a little-more-polluted air of west Essex (I wrote 'southwest' above, but they seem to call this area 'west Essex')  than where you are.  We're right next to Epping Forest, so I'm hoping all the goodness from the forest is cleansing the dirty air from London. :p

I prefer to buy flour in small batches since I had a bad experience of flour bugs, so I've never really researched about it, unfortunately, but there're lots of very good artisan millers in England who do sell large bags of quality flour to retails which you can order online, like Shipton Mills (Richard Bertinet's favourite) or FWP Mathews (impressive range, especially French flours) or Wessex Mills , for example.  There're also couple of good millers based in Essex, like Marriage's (Chelmsford)  and one of habs of Carr's (Carr's Flour Green, Maldon) , but I don't know if they sell directly to a retail or only through their stockists.

As for my recipes.....well, I must confess I've been a very lazy member here and haven't really posted very much and never posted an actual recipe of mine at all. Very naughty.... But from this autumn when my daughter leaves for university, I think I'll have more time to enjoy my bread obssession, so I'll make an effort to do so. I promise....

Actually, I have two loaves of my regular WW bread (sourdough based) on final proof as we speak at the moment, waiting for the oven to warm up, but I think they over-proofed a bit (overnight in a fridge) I'm not looking forward to the result too much........:( One of them was meant to be for one of my friends who're kind enough to pay for my bread, so I may have to make another one if it doesn't turn out well....::sigh::

maxwellion's picture
maxwellion

I'd love to know. I'm going to try a Norwich Sourdough next (and dedicate it to Norwich, Norfolk). I bought some Marriages flour t'other day and my starter seemed to enjoy it, and it's cheaper than Doves (although wasn't organic... shock, horror).

 

lumos's picture
lumos

Fortunately the loaves came out better than I anticipated, now cooling on a rack.  I think I might take photos later and post about it after I slice it tomorrow, with a recipe to accompany it. My first ever offering of my own bread on TFL!

I usually use Waitrose's organic flours because it's easy for me to get in small batches whenever I need it. I used to use their Leckford Estate flours which I liked the flavour very much, especially for plain white loaf, but my sourdough seems to like the organic better.  Marriage's is actually the miller behind all Waitrose flours, and when I asked them while ago about the difference between their own brand flours and Waitrose flours, they said the specifications are very similar, almost identical.  I used to use Dove's malthouse flour to add a bit of flavour and texture to dough, and now I'm experimenting with their pasta flour (Italian 00) to see how it works for French white breads like baguette or pain au rustique.

Is Norwich where you're based? I only visited the town a few years ago when a friend from Japan was at the university as a visiting lecturer for a year, but I liked it very much. Lovely town with lots of history. :)

maxwellion's picture
maxwellion

I love Norwich, it's my birthplace and I feel like it's my hometown too (hopefully I'm going to be moving up there soon). I might start on the Sourdough tonight and hope for the best. I really need a recipe that fits around my workday though.

You should definately post pictures. What do you feed your starter?

lumos's picture
lumos

I really need a recipe that fits around my workday though

 If you use the technique of cold retard, you can adapt almost any recipe to fit around your schedule. I usually prepare the dough in the evening and cold retard in a fridge overnight, either as bulk fermentation or final proof after shaping, depending on what sort of time I want to bake next day. I just adjust the length of time I leave the dough at room temperature before putting in a fridge; if I plan to bake early in the morning, I let it ferment about 1/4 or so a way, but if I don't bake until late in the afternoon, I put it in a fridge straightaway.

Or sometimes, I prepare the dough early in the morning and cold ferment in a fridge all day and do the rest of the procedure late in the afternoon or early evening, baking late at night.

It produces slightly different results, depends on how you incorporate cold retard, but that's the fun of home baking, too.  I'm sure you'll develop a schedule that fits you best very soon. Just play around and gradually adjust the recipe here and there as you need.  And many of people here do use cold retard, not only to fit to their schedule, but, more importantly, to improve the flavour, so if you hang around here, you'll encounter lots of recipes that'd be good for you before too long.

 

maxwellion's picture
maxwellion

Thanks for the tip Lumos, i have some sitting in the fridge right now. This is the first time i've done it this way, does it still rise when it's in the fridge?

lumos's picture
lumos

It usually (←worrying? :p) does.  How much it does depends on how much yeast/sourdough it has in the dough and how long you let it fermented before you put it in a fridge (meaning, how active yeast were before it was forced to 'hibernate') and the temperature of your fridge, of course.  Also, if your dough contains large proportion of WW or rye, it tends to rise better....which I found from my over-proofed dough this morning.... Anyway, you just to have to play around to find out the best way for you.  If it's not risen enough tomorrow morning and you don't have time to do anything until you're back from work in the evening/late afternoon, you just put it back to a fridge, maybe after one folding, if you like, to ensure even distribution of oxygen (though I don't usually bother....). Or if you have time in the morning to proceed but the dough is not risen enough, you leave it at room temperature until it's ready. If you're really, really desparate and hurry up the process, you can even place the dough (in a container or proofing basket) on a rack over a large bowl of warm water  and cover the whole thing with thick towel or something to warm up the dough. 

maxwellion's picture
maxwellion

It's sitting in the fridge and I can't wait to cook it tonight when I get home. I'll let you know how it turns out

lumos's picture
lumos

Yes, please! Look forward to it. :)

Meanwhile, I've just posted my first every blog entry at TFL. It's about this WW sourdough I made yesterday. If you're interested, please have a look.

http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/24271/my-first-offering-ww-sourdough-bread

 

maxwellion's picture
maxwellion

Excellent, well done on the first post Lumos. Your bread looks fantastic. Well I fanally baked my Norwich SD last night and it was pretty successful. It smells great, and tastes great (even with half a jar of PB slapped on to it - sacrilege, I know), my only issue was the crumb wasn't as big and holey as i'd hoped. I think I put this down to the fact I hand made it, and the actual recipe used a mixer. Compared to my last two loaves however (thanks Hugh Fearnly-Whittingstall for your rubbish recipe) this was blissful.

It does look slightly embarassing however as I didn't slash it (too scared) and I proved it in a banneton that was a little too large (and the wrong shape), so I'm going to save the pictures until next time.

I think i'll give your recipe a go though, and I haven't used WW yet so it will be interesting to see. I noticed you stretched and folded yours instead of kneading it? Perhaps that's where I was going wrong in terms of not having such a nice, open crumb.

Anyways, well done!

 

M

maxwellion's picture
maxwellion

Oh yeah, and I forgot to say thanks for the name drop in your first blog post. It made my day.

lumos's picture
lumos

Thanks, Max! Well, really, without your nudging I dont' think I'd have plunge into blogging, so I thank you for that. And if I became too obsessive about blogging and start neglecting doing other things I have to do, I know who to blame, too....:p

Congrats on your success on the sourdough bread. I'd wanted to see it, but maybe next time?  Why don't you start your own blog, too. It'll be a good record of how you're improving and widening your breadmaking skills.

I think I put this down to the fact I hand made it, and the actual recipe used a mixer.

Not sure.  Unless it is extreme hydration like ciabatta, it shouldn't make much difference either you use machine or your own hands to knead. It's probably more like 'how' you knead and, perhaps more importantly, how you managed the fermentation (judging the right degree and timing for bulk and final fermentation, length, temperature, etc) plus how you shaped. Also, slashing does makes quite a big difference in openess of crumb, too.  So just stop being scared of it!!!!

It WILL get better more you practiced ;)....though you might've noticed the experience won't necessarily make you careless-error free from my first blog especially if you're born with an absent-minded gene....

 

 

maxwellion's picture
maxwellion

This bread lark is hurting my head!

Another quick question Lumos, do you keep your starter in the fridge, and if so, how long do you leave it before you use it in a recipe?

Your blog says to feed the starter twice 10-14 hours before use, does this apply if it's just come out of the fridge.

Sorry for all the questions BTW, your advice has been a huge help.

lumos's picture
lumos

I only bake my bread a few times a week, so I always keep my starter in a fridge and usually take it out 1-2 hrs before I start feeding. But sometimes I forget (you'll encounter a lot of incidents when I 'forget' something...) to take it out or when it's quite warm and I plan to feed first thing in the morning, I keep it until the last minute (so that it wouldn't become too active and starve itself while I'm sleeping) and feed with a slighly warmer water than usual.  Sometimes, especially during a very cold winter days, I take it out before I go to bed and feed next morning.  It all depends on the climate...and my state of brain....

But I know there're some people who always keep their starter on a worktop at room temparature, too, so please don't think mine is the definite answer for keeping the starter healty.  I think one of few things which may be important is not to use tap water if your local water authority loves spiking your water with generous amount of chlorine. I used to use bottled spring water when we used to drink it itself, but since we had Brita's filtering system fitted to our tap and stopped buying bottled water, I just use the filtered water after leaving it for several hours (without a cover) to make sure all chlorine evaporates.   I once forgot (again) to prepare the water like this and fed the starter straight from a tap (of filtering system) a few times, and I noticed my starter became so sluggish I had to do a few sets of 'reviving' treatment for the starter.

Oh, one thing I forgot to say about achieving a good volume and airy, open crumb. Creating sufficient steam at the early stage of baking is very important to. If the air in the oven is too dry (which it is, unless you create moisture yourself), a crust forms too quickly and prevent it from expanding well.

SpellBinding Artisan Baker's picture
SpellBinding Ar...

Hiya Max,

 

I'm a bit further up than you ....

 

I'm Kal, I run a charitable bakery .... Well a bakery for charity in Stoke!

 

I posted a welcome thingy.  Any help just ask

 

Mwah darling xxxx