First ever loaves. Comments and criticism welcomed
My wife recently made a few attempts at a starter without too much luck. I decide to put my (limited) knowledge of yeast gained from home brewing to work on the starter. A sanatized kilner jar, some rye flour, bottled spring water and a stick of rhubarb (for acidity) was the solution. I've been lurking here for the past few weeks while I nursed my starter reading as much as I can. I almost discarded her when she started to smell like paint, but the concensus here was that she was underfed and I increased feeding until she started to smell fruity and yeasty. This weekend I popped my bread baking cherry and turned out my first couple of loaves. Here's the first:
and crumb shot:
OK, the rise wasn't fantastic, but it tasted nicely sour and the crust was fantastic. It spread out, probably due to not using a banneton for shaping. The base was very dense and seemed like it hadn't completley baked, despite the crust being very dark. I couldn't find my pizza stone (apparently it had been tossed out a while back) so it went into a large heavy pan in the oven. I shaped it on a piece of greaseproof paper and slid it on to the hot pan. It seemed like a good idea at the time, but the paper stuck to the bottom of the loaf. Also, I couldn't cut proper slashes in the loaf, even with a very sharp knife. I figured I could do better so I went shopping for a stone and some rice flour and kicked off another sponge.
This dough wasn't quite as wet as the first to make it easier to handle. My makeshift banneton was a larde loaf tin lined with mulslin cloth and liberally dusted with ground rice (couldn't find rice flour, but it worked out fine). I reduced the time at gas mark 9 (240C) from 15 minutes to 10 and left it in for an extra 5 minutes at gas mark 6 (200C ?). This was the result:
Tighter crumb I assume is due to a drier dough. It got a much better rise, but the very bottom of the loaf still seems a little doughy. I used a serrated knife for the slashes and it was much better. The crust wasn't as dark as teh first loaf, but still has a nice crunch. The doughy base is disapointing - has anyone got any suggestions as to the cause?
All things considered, I was pleasantly suprised as I expected it to be a lot more work and the results were not just edible, but very tasty. Next up - french bread!