Friday, 11 March 2022

Spring Update

 After a longish period on not baking due to illness, I have just started baking again but my starter seems to have become very lazy! 

I did think of starting a new starter altogether, but decided to give the existing one a last chance. So I ditched half of it and gave it a good feed yesterday, then did the same again today. It looks pretty lively now:

So I'm going to get up early tomorrow morning and start a new loaf with it. 

For a change I made a loaf during the day (i.e. without a long first rise overnight).

After four hours the dough had about doubled in size, so I knocked it back, stretched and folded and shaped it for the Lekue.

After four hours the dough had risen but not as much as I expected. I went ahead and baked from cold and the bread was just about OK, but not up to the best standard, so I started a new batch of starter.

I began with a small cup of flour and one of water, and added the same each day for four days, then just a cup of flour on the fifth day as it was a bit runny. It was looking OK after that so I baked a basic loaf in a loaf tin. It hadn't risen as much as I had hoped after 4 hours but I went ahead and baked it from cold anyway. 

It had a nice crisp crust but I didn't get a chance to use it until today but once sliced it looked pretty good, with a nice open crumb. But still a bit compacted at the base of the loaf.

I'll give it a longer second rise next time.

Meaanwhile I will stick with my new starter now and throw away the old one.

Happy baking!


Friday, 3 December 2021

December 21 Update

My experiments using the autolyse process have all worked very well and I have now adopted it in preference to the sponge method for my better and best sourdough recipes, leaving the basic sourdough recipe (which never used the sponge method) unchanged. I have now started on a minor update to the second addition of Sourdough Bread Made Easy to reflect this change.

I will note the changes I make on this blog and provide the updated recipes. So to get the ball rolling this is my revised Better Sourdough recipe:

Ingredients

400g strong white bread flour 

225ml filtered water at room temperature

100ml sourdough starter at room temperature

1 tsp sea salt (optional)

Autolyze

Mix the water and sourdough starter in a measuring jug.

Put the flour in a mixing bowl, then gently mix the water and sourdough into the flour, cover it with a tea towel and leave it to autolyze for 30 minutes.

Remove the tea towel, add the salt dissolved in a little water if required and complete the mixing of the dough for around five minutes until a nice gluten structure is formed. You can use the stretch and fold method or even a machine with a dough hook for this.

Put the dough back in the mixing bowl, cover and leave it to ferment overnight in a cool place.

Loaf Proof

In the morning turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface, knock it back, stretch and fold, then shape the dough into the desired shape and place it in a bread tin or baking sheet. Dust the loaf with flour, cover with a tea towel and leave it to prove in a warm place for two to three hours until nearly doubled in size.

Bake

Slash the top of the loaf with a sharp knife and put it on a low shelf in the oven. Put 100ml of water in an ovenproof dish in the bottom of the oven and set the oven to 230oC, 190oC Fan, 450oF, or gas mark 8. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes once the oven has come up to temperature or until the crust is golden, then turn the oven off and leave the bread in the cooling oven, with the door open for another 5 minutes. Then turn the loaf out onto a rack to cool for at least an hour before slicing.

By the way: I have just realised that my title for this post has a double meaning for me: it is my posting for December 2021 and December 21st will also be my 78th birthday (assuming I get through my next Immunotherapy session OK).

Happy baking,

John.