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cowfields

The Bread Thread.

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We have a baking thread, and a really really old sourdough thread, but since the baking one is mixed in with cakes I wondered if we could have a new thread to focus on yeasty bread exploits. I've really gotten into it ever since trying out sourdough. I got given a starter which I have fed* and nurtured, and even started new starters. I've got a wheat starter and a rye starter on the go.

 

I was given https://www.amazon.co.uk/Bread-Matters-Why-Make-Your/dp/0007298498 for Christmas and after initially thinking my parents had just gotten me another recipes book, it's actually been a really good read for the science of baking bread, and how different flours work. It's given me much more knowledge on how I might just adapt or vary loaves, and feel like it's becoming a lot more intuitive, but I'm far from an expert still.


So yeah, I'm really into it. I've just bought a cloche which is yet to arrive, best results have been in a dutch oven which is a bit awkward to lower a shaped loaf into, so I'm hoping the cloche (plate-and-dome thing) will work. It's also coming with some red malt and diastatic malt, the former should add colour and flavour, the latter potentially adds rise, which might be good for when I'm adding rye. IDK, I'm still experimenting - and I love that aspect of it. 

 

Sourdough is actually quite easy, and while a lot of time passes to get a good final loaf, it doesn't take much time on my part, it's just a bit of planning. So i've been making a couple of loaves almost weekly now.  I'm about to start trying different kinds of bread, rolls, stotties or whatever else, but now I feel like the overnight sponge is the way to go for most things now, the book has really hit hard the importance of time. 

 

Anyone else making regular bread?

 

image.thumb.png.80ae08f9c9d7e24fa3835887152dd777.png

 

 

* Apparently it's "Bad" to call it 'feeding' your sourdough, as it's not like some demanding pet that needs feeding unless it'll die, so apparently refreshing is a better way to think of it, I have to admit, I've felt the guilt of forgetting to feed it, but it's really not that high maintenance at all, it's apparently really difficult to kill a starter entirely, and even if you do, I've already had a go at making one from scratch - leaving flour and water out is about the simplest recipe you can do.

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55 minutes ago, Gaz said:

I've got nothing to add except that loaf looks fantastic.

 

It does look amazing - there is a Danish word (tandsmoer) which translates as teeth butter, its where you spread the butter so thickly on bread it leaves teeth marks when you take a bite.

 

That bread looks well suited to this admirable pursuit.

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Thanks both!

 

I had some fails, but the loaf above was something like the 3rd or so loaf that went really well, where I felt like things were getting consistent. I am really enjoying breadmaking because it is not some weird dark art where you use intuition and just 'know' or BS like that, when things have gone badly I've known exactly why, and all the parts are coming together to get consistent loafs.  I'm making dough tonight! Got a sponge fermenting away in the cupboard. 

 

One big thing was being confident to make such a wet dough, and resist the temptation to add flour as you go, and baking in a dutch oven so it steams at first. It's hard to work with, but this kneading technique is super fun, which I affectionally rename to slap and tickle:
 

 

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Have you tried panettone? 

I know it's supposedly a cake but there's  quite a lot of similarities in the process I think.

 

 

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I'm thinking about it. The next step is probably desserty things, it's all yeast, so yeah it's more bready in that it's about a dough that ferments and rises. 

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I used to make bread fairly often, I made garlic baguettes where I 'd coat a bulb of garlic in olive oil, wrap it I foil and roast it I the oven before mixing it in the dough just after the final proofing and shaping. 

 

Chelsea buns or hot cross buns are a fairly easy dough if you want to try something cakey.

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9 hours ago, RaoulSilva said:

I used to make bread fairly often, I made garlic baguettes where I 'd coat a bulb of garlic in olive oil, wrap it I foil and roast it I the oven before mixing it in the dough just after the final proofing and shaping. 

 

Oh that's a good idea. Perhaps less greasy than normal garlic bread? I was thinking of doing rosemary bread so I may incorporate that technique too. 

 

 

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Listening to Bertinet talk about kneading dough is the single most erotic thing.

 

I have Dough and Crust, and ever since I've been trying to conquer my fear of working with wet dough. I always give in and add more flour. I've not tried the slap and fold method though, I'll have to give that a go tonight when I make pizza dough.

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11 hours ago, cowfields said:

 

Oh that's a good idea. Perhaps less greasy than normal garlic bread? I was thinking of doing rosemary bread so I may incorporate that technique too. 

 

 

Do you have a rosemary plant? I've got a huge one in my garden I can give you a cutting from.

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21 hours ago, Mrs Horribleman said:

I got a kitchen aid mixer.

 

Any recommendations for nice focaccia or other nice bread recipes for beginners?

This is for a basic sandwich loaf. 

 

250g Strong White Flour

250g Strong Wholemeal Flour

300-350ml water

1 sachet yeast

25g melted butter/olive oil

1 and a half teaspoons table salt

1 tablespoon sugar/honey/molasses

2 tablespoons milk powder

 

The butter/oil is optional but the loaf keeps better if it's included. You can go with all wholemeal flour if you want but in my experience the loaf is too heavy if you do. The half and half mix is just nicer. 

There is a lot of sugar in that recipe so if you want you can easily dial that back a bit but it will take slightly longer to rise.

 

Anywho, the method.

 

Put all the dry ingredients in the bowl then combine them using the dough hook. Add 300ml of the water and the butter/oil.

 

As long as the water isn't above 55°C then you won't kill the yeast but it doesn't need to be warm at all. Using warm water just makes it rise faster. Cold water works fine and is probably better as a longer rise gives a better flavour. 

 

Knead using the dough hook for 10-15 minutes adding the remaining water bit by bit if you think the dough looks dry. It won't be a wet dough just slightly sticky. Cover the bowl and let it rise until doubled in size. 

Knock it back either by hand or using the dough hook on the mixer. Transfer it into a 2lb loaf tin dusted with flour/semolina/polenta (press the loaf well down into the tin) and let it rise again until doubled in size. The second rise won't take as long. 

 

Bake at 220°C for 25-30 minutes. I like to let it go for about 25 then take it out of the loaf tin and put it on something like a cooling rack before placing the loaf back in the oven for another 5 minutes baking to help get a better crust. 

 

Transfer the baked loaf to a cooling rack. Some people like to rub a little butter on the top of it to give it a better appearance. I'm lazy so I don't. 

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On 24/03/2018 at 13:06, Mrs Horribleman said:

I got a kitchen aid mixer.

 

Any recommendations for nice focaccia or other nice bread recipes for beginners?

 

http://www.breadmatters.com/sourdough-country-bread

 

If you feel like getting a sourdough started, here's another recipe.

 

I know you said beginners but the only 'difficulty' for sourdough is just planning. As Bear says, a longer rise is better, but so it follows that even more time given by making a 'sponge' will make bread even better. The idea is that you start a yeast culture going with some flour, and water, and leave it to ferment. I'll screw it up if I try and explain how this helps, but you're getting a more developed flavour, and probably something about gluten development too. 

 

Anyway check it out: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sponge_and_dough

 

Like I said, all this adds is time, it's still pretty just mixing things up but it's worth giving it a go.

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Does this make sense to people here who bake their own bread? Or is it all a bit "this ONE wierd trick / sourdough nerds hate him" etc?

 

 

I bought a big dutch oven a while back and intended to get into baking sourdough, but put it off because it seemed like a faff (the autolyse, getting a banneton, etc). This process seems pretty hands off by comparison, aside from the initial mixing and kneading and then the baking. Obviously the physical form of what results is quite different though. The urgency has been heightened by my favourite local bakery, after telling me for months that they were getting their kitchen sorted and would be up and running again soon, confirming that they're only going to sell in bulk from now on. I'm a big fan of sourdough - tastier than normal bread and doesn't seem to give me as much of the same bloated feeling.

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Just make Sourdough. 

 

There's nothing wrong with the video...mostly anyway.

 

He's right - a long fridge ferment does seem to get just as many, but finer bubbles. I often see instagram bread posts (because I follow #sourdough  like a loser) that seem to show off huge air bubbles like some kind of sour badge of honour. But all I can think is how my marmite will just fall through those onto the plate. It also fits around my work / life because I can do one stage one evening, and then leave dough in Bannetons in the fridge until the next. And cold bread is easier to score with nice patterns. 

 

He's also right in that water and time will just naturally develop gluten. So I don't think kneading is the be all and end all - you can just do a bit to ensure everything is mixed. Stretching and folding can actually help a lot, which is difficult. I get my other half to do that when she's working from home.

 

Here's the part in the video I disagree with though:

 

It's not a twice daily thing to feed a sourdough starter. That's bullshit. Some people - and I was like this - feel like it's a another family pet. Except unlike a cat if you forget to feed the starter it will surely wither and die.

 

It's really hard to kill a starter, and I don't feed mine as such. I make bread maybe fortnightly. I leave the starter in the fridge. When it's time to make bread, the night before I make a sponge with some starter. This is left overnight or longer, and it reactivates the starter, gets it all working again. When I make the dough, some of that goes back in the starter jar so it's replenished. So that idea is silly. Starters are easy to maintain, and dry yeast goes stale, it's also hard to keep buying fresh yeast. 

 

I think Sourdough isn't hard, it's not _really_ a faff once you're used to it. It's just a few steps over time. But each step is short. My full cycle is something like this:

 

1. PM - Create sponge as above. like 2 mins. It's just mixing, no kneading.

2. AM - Make a dough in the morning. It's basically mixing flour water salt and starter. Give it about a 5 mins knead. This whole process takes about 20 mins*

[ if you are at home, stretch and fold periodically, or get your girlfriend to do it, but plenty of times I've not bothered ]

3. PM - Split and shape dough into two bannetons. This is about 5 mins.

4. Either - Put bannetons in the fridge. Bake when I have the time to Or Leave bannetons out for a faster ferment, maybe put in fridge, if I think I'm gonna bake same day.

 

Baking is about 30-40 mins per loaf. I slice and freeze one so that keeps us going for the two weeks. I try not to wolf down warm bread in one go. 

 

So the prep is about 30 mins of my actual 'doing' time, but this is spread over 48 hours. I don't see it as hard work. It's harder than buying bread obviously but fuck is the bread good. 

 

* So - you mentioned Autolyse. If you have time, after mixing dough but _before_ kneading you'll have an easier time if you let it sit for 30 mins. But, since I often do this before leaving for work, I don't always have the time. I might mix the dough, have a shower, and that gives it some more time. As with the stretch and folding, the best loaves are when I follow every step. But I don't always, and you're still going to end up with something that tastes amazing.

 

I mean look at this shit...DREAMCAST BREAD

 

image.thumb.png.f5c67a7364ea0ddd1ebd4cb2e87d972f.png

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In other news I made hotdog buns this weekend. 

 

I added a little sourdough starter for the lols, but because I needed the bread the same day, I also used dried yeast. I do that occasionally. Unlike the simple sourdough ingredients these guys had butter and milk in. 

 

They were great actually. Edges were crusty but not too crusty, just a little crunch but soft enough in the middle. We bought bratwurst from the excellent Sausage guy in Walthamstow Village. I didn't get a picture of those.

 

image.png.cc31dfe2b78705fb0dbc2dc7a2997d3d.png

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Oh also @Liamness you don't need a banneton either. 

 

They help, but I started by just shaping in a normal pyrex bowl. I've also done it in a loaf tin. There's something special about getting those floury banneton rings, but it's all just cosmetic. But if you have a dutch oven you've got one of the most important pieces of kit I think. 

 

I'm baking in one of these:

 

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Lodge-litre-Pre-Seasoned-Double-Handles/dp/B000LEXR0K/ref=asc_df_B000LEXR0K/?tag=googshopuk-21&linkCode=df0&hvadid=231885836073&hvpos=1o1&hvnetw=g&hvrand=890829938271828953&hvpone=&hvptwo=&hvqmt=&hvdev=c&hvdvcmdl=&hvlocint=&hvlocphy=9046004&hvtargid=pla-343926127884&psc=1&th=1&psc=1?tag=googshopuk-21&linkCode=df0&hvadid=2

 

I love it because the 'lid' will sit flat so that you can easily put the dough on that and use the thing upside down. 

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13 hours ago, Liamness said:

Does this make sense to people here who bake their own bread? Or is it all a bit "this ONE wierd trick / sourdough nerds hate him" etc?

 

 

I bought a big dutch oven a while back and intended to get into baking sourdough, but put it off because it seemed like a faff (the autolyse, getting a banneton, etc). This process seems pretty hands off by comparison, aside from the initial mixing and kneading and then the baking. Obviously the physical form of what results is quite different though. The urgency has been heightened by my favourite local bakery, after telling me for months that they were getting their kitchen sorted and would be up and running again soon, confirming that they're only going to sell in bulk from now on. I'm a big fan of sourdough - tastier than normal bread and doesn't seem to give me as much of the same bloated feeling.


This sounds great, surely it would just be as easy to create a sourdough starter rather than starting this process with dry yeast and then do the same thing.

I am going to mix up a batch of dough and just throw it in the fridge though, that bread looks like it would be absolutely fantastic drenched in olive oil and za'tar

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Due to the wonderful condition of ulcerative colitis I’ve been advised to follow the fodmap diet for a while, until things calm down.  When I’m not reacting I can eat as I want, thank god, cause fodmap says no garlic & no onions and then even what’s the point… they’re the base for so much of what I make.

 

Anyway this is the bread thread and wheat based bread is out, and the gluten free stuff I’ve tried is awful.  I was going to make some Irish wheaten bread this weekend, but that’s basically self harm at this point.  So has anyone got good recipes for cornbread, oat bread, wheat free bread that isn’t awful.


Acceptable list:

Quote

Wheat free breads

Gluten free breads

Bread:

• Corn bread

• Oat bread

• Rice bread

• Spelt sourdough bread

• Potato flour bread

 

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It's not hard to make a rye sourdough. 

 

Rye bread is pretty much mix it and bake it. You need to let it rise but since there's no gluten you can't knead it. It's just a wet slop. 

 

It's dense and has a lot of flavour. And it still tastes good toasted with butter and marmite. 

 

I thought spelt had gluten? 

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Right, I had a bash. Didn't quite work but I've learned things for next time. Pictures:

 

Spoiler

Here's the starter after I fed it and tucked it in for the night. I did this pretty late, should've done it earlier as it took about 10-12 hours to fully activate, which stopped me from getting an early start.

 

IMG_20200413_004210.thumb.jpg.1fd6f3d138a6239d81af7aae5b85957c.jpg

 

But it eventually pretty much tripled in size.

 

IMG_20200413_130246.thumb.jpg.b8af768f3cfebd196c50d78179d64b67.jpg

 

Combined with fresh flour and water then left to sit for the autolyse step.

 

IMG_20200413_133941.thumb.jpg.0489a0b9c39d99aaae1dfe1c6d5a5631.jpg

 

Apparently I was too frustrated for the next few hours to take pictures. This is after attempting to slap and fold, then proofing, then shaping. Also no pics of the final shaping or me putting it into a bowl to go in the fridge overnight.

 

IMG_20200413_212622.thumb.jpg.8f19ffb6abe6a8452963c37ac0e5cd33.jpg

 

Here it is baked. The scores clearly weren't long or deep enough as it burst through the top anyway. Also sort of led to bit most exposed to the oven air getting a bit burnt, I think ideally I would've let it go a little longer to get a darker colour on the rest of the bread.

 

IMG_20200414_110216.thumb.jpg.e7ae02912bfb7be15063f003337613cc.jpg

 

Cutting open, the crumb structure is a bit of a mess. Very dense for the most part with a couple of big holes. Also, my knife didn't cut through cleanly, so it actually wasn't fully baked. Which surprised me as it did sound hollow when I tapped on the bottom.

 

IMG_20200414_125853.thumb.jpg.b9b9e06e4db3ecbb43e360caf414e429.jpg

 

This is the process I was trying to follow. The bit where I was meant to be stretching / slapping and then folding was a total disaster (the dough actually seemed to get stickier as I was working it) but it seemed to become more workable after sitting for four hours. I think I might have messed up and put too much starter in, so it ended up incredibly wet (plus I have read that the flour in starter is "spent" and cannot develop gluten), I tried adding flour but that really didn't help at all. I'll be sure to weigh it all out next time just to be 100% sure. Learnings:

  • Put at least some of your bread flour in a container, probably a glass one. Reaching for a paper bag of flour with doughy hands doesn't work very well, who knew.
  • It's difficult to score bread properly inside a scalding pot with just a razor. I need to fashion a means to hold it for next time.
  • I bought a dough scraper which was a total lifesaver. But I think I need one of the plastic curved ones too, for getting dough out of a bowl. Oh, and a bowl that doesn't have an inward lip at the top - that turned out to be incredibly annoying.
  • I need a better bread knife, it only just made it through the bottom crust.

So I'll be eating stodgy toast for the next few days. It feels like this is something I'll want to do regularly if I can get the hang of it, though. It's not that much work, mostly just a lot of waiting. There's one day in the process where you can't really go anywhere, save for within the four hour proofing. But tbh getting really nice bread in my area is a massive pain so this might actually end up being more convenient / reliable. Will try again at the weekend.

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On 21/10/2019 at 09:27, cowfields said:

Just make Sourdough. 

 

There's nothing wrong with the video...mostly anyway.

 

He's right - a long fridge ferment does seem to get just as many, but finer bubbles. I often see instagram bread posts (because I follow #sourdough  like a loser) that seem to show off huge air bubbles like some kind of sour badge of honour. But all I can think is how my marmite will just fall through those onto the plate. It also fits around my work / life because I can do one stage one evening, and then leave dough in Bannetons in the fridge until the next. And cold bread is easier to score with nice patterns. 

 

He's also right in that water and time will just naturally develop gluten. So I don't think kneading is the be all and end all - you can just do a bit to ensure everything is mixed. Stretching and folding can actually help a lot, which is difficult. I get my other half to do that when she's working from home.

 

Here's the part in the video I disagree with though:

 

It's not a twice daily thing to feed a sourdough starter. That's bullshit. Some people - and I was like this - feel like it's a another family pet. Except unlike a cat if you forget to feed the starter it will surely wither and die.

 

It's really hard to kill a starter, and I don't feed mine as such. I make bread maybe fortnightly. I leave the starter in the fridge. When it's time to make bread, the night before I make a sponge with some starter. This is left overnight or longer, and it reactivates the starter, gets it all working again. When I make the dough, some of that goes back in the starter jar so it's replenished. So that idea is silly. Starters are easy to maintain, and dry yeast goes stale, it's also hard to keep buying fresh yeast. 

 

I think Sourdough isn't hard, it's not _really_ a faff once you're used to it. It's just a few steps over time. But each step is short. My full cycle is something like this:

 

1. PM - Create sponge as above. like 2 mins. It's just mixing, no kneading.

2. AM - Make a dough in the morning. It's basically mixing flour water salt and starter. Give it about a 5 mins knead. This whole process takes about 20 mins*

[ if you are at home, stretch and fold periodically, or get your girlfriend to do it, but plenty of times I've not bothered ]

3. PM - Split and shape dough into two bannetons. This is about 5 mins.

4. Either - Put bannetons in the fridge. Bake when I have the time to Or Leave bannetons out for a faster ferment, maybe put in fridge, if I think I'm gonna bake same day.

 

Baking is about 30-40 mins per loaf. I slice and freeze one so that keeps us going for the two weeks. I try not to wolf down warm bread in one go. 

 

So the prep is about 30 mins of my actual 'doing' time, but this is spread over 48 hours. I don't see it as hard work. It's harder than buying bread obviously but fuck is the bread good. 

 

* So - you mentioned Autolyse. If you have time, after mixing dough but _before_ kneading you'll have an easier time if you let it sit for 30 mins. But, since I often do this before leaving for work, I don't always have the time. I might mix the dough, have a shower, and that gives it some more time. As with the stretch and folding, the best loaves are when I follow every step. But I don't always, and you're still going to end up with something that tastes amazing.

 

I mean look at this shit...DREAMCAST BREAD

 

image.thumb.png.f5c67a7364ea0ddd1ebd4cb2e87d972f.png

What's the 'sponge'? 

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@Horribleman People also call it a 'levain'. It's the part where you restart-the-starter and get it all warmed up for its big game. I realised I never actually properly explained my recipe I was just trying to give steps so I might as well explain the process I use:

 

Makes TWO loaves about the size of the photo above. Halve the recipe if you like, but it's no more or less effort really. Currently I'm halving this and making it weekly rather than fortnightly

 

0. I have a starter that lives in the fridge. I almost never "feed" it unless I'm making bread, which would be fortnightly normally. Contrary to what some might say, a starter can happily live in a fridge and be fine as long as you do the sponge part, it doesn't need daily feeding.

 

1. Make a 'Sponge' (2 mins)

 

- 200g bread flour, I use the strong canadian stuff, as it makes my bread go "eh" at the end of each sentence.

- 135g water

- 50g of the starter

 

Mix it up as much as possible. Cover it. I use these shower cap style things: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Covermate-Stretch-Covers-Convenient-Reclosable/dp/B005FDMJV0 as they're really easy to stretch over things and re-use. there might be better out there, but it's that kind of thing.

 

Leave it for 8-16 hours, the evening before the morning I make the dough.

 

2. Make the dough (5 mins, night before)

 

By this point the starter has had a whale of a time reproducing and eating all the lovely flour you gave it. Now it's gone from a lazy, hungry, cold starter from the fridge to living its best life. If you didn't do the sponge part you'd have to wait a lot longer for the dough to ferment. It also helps develop the lactobacilli sour flavour. 

 

- 1000g flour

- 700g water (room temp, try not to be cold, there are formulae for the optimum temp, but I think that's over kill unless you're going full nerd)

- 200g of the sponge*

 

Mix the ingredients roughly**, just make sure everything is combined and evenly distrubuted. You are not kneading at this point. You'll be left with a very shaggy looking lump of stuff. A wooden spoon is fine, you might want something like a plastic bread scraper (https://www.amazon.co.uk/KitchenCraft-Plastic-Dough-Cutter-Scraper/dp/B00BPU5PSG/ref=sr_1_3?dchild=1&keywords=bread+scraper&qid=1586934817&s=kitchen&sr=1-3) to help get things moving. 

 

* The remaining sponge goes into the starter. At this rate your starter should basically be getting bigger based on what you took out, so this means 2 things: 

 

1. It's getting a good feed, you're putting vigorous starter back in the jar

2. You can _either_ throw some starter away or use a little bit more starter in the dough. I am never that exact with starter because I just CBA and getting pretty good sourdough every time. 

 

3. Let the dough autolyse for ~30 mins (you aren't doing anything here)

 

Just let it sit there. This gives the flour time to soak the water up and gluten starts developing. You'll notice when you come back to it, that it's a lot more 'together' than when you were mixing it first. It's magic.

 

4. Add the salt ( 1 mins)

- 20g salt dissolved in about 20g of water, or maybe more. 

(can up or down the salt a little if you're worried about that sort of thing)

 

Get the salt solution and pour it on the dough. mix it in, however you can. Squeeze it, fold it, just try and get it 'in', don't worry, you're about to knead it next, and that'll get it in there. 

 

You are supposed not add salt before autolyse as salt tightens the gluten network and goes against the idea of letting the water properly absorb into the flour and something about enzymes being released. In fact, you are supposed autolyse with just flour and water before adding the starter, as the yeast will develop the gluten and the pure idea of it is to not do that, you're prepping flour + water for the salt and yeast. 

 

However - I don't do 4. I just add salt at 3, because I am lazy. I might try doing it the 'proper' way next, I'll report back if I can tell a different. I feel like I'm not going to be able to.

 

5. Knead! (11 mins)

 

This is going to be a tough one to explain, so i'm not going to. It's going to be quite wet and sticky and the temptation will be to add more flour. DO NOT ADD MORE FLOUR. If anything, wet hands will help, sometimes a bowl of water to just dip your fingers in will help. Also get over the unpleasant feeling of having sticky glued up hands. It's like sugar around your mouth when eating a doughnut, it's tempting to lick your lips, you just don't want it there. 

 

Also try to use your finger tips, try to not hold for too long and be agile. If you grab at it more will stick. It takes practice. 

 

For technique, just google "slap and fold kneading". Or watch this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cbBO4XyL3iM

 

 

Do it for about 10 mins / until you get bored / tired. You should start to feel a change in the bread. You should feel it become less sticky and shaggy and start to come together.

 

Get a bowl or, if you have it, a big tub with a lid is good, eg this: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Lock-Rectangular-Storage-Container-Clear/dp/B0013G77RY/ref=sr_1_1?dchild=1&keywords=8l+tub&qid=1586935616&sr=8-1

 

Coat it with a bit of olive oil. Put the dough in, turn it so that it's covered in the oil. You don't need a lot, you're just trying to stop it drying out. Seal up the lid. 

 

7. Ferment + and Stretch and fold ( 20 seconds, 4 times, over around 4 hours)

 

Little bit of stretch and fold, little bit of stretch and fold. Alan with the rinsin' sound, Alan with the rinsin' sound. 

 

Every 45mins to an hour, perform a series of quick stretches and folds. This is just quick. Open your dough tub, pick up one corner of the dough and quickly pull it up to stretch it and as quick as you did that pull it to the opposite corner. Do this with the "other" corners (eg NE to SW, then NE to SE). Do about 4, corner to corners. You are trying to help strengthen the gluten, to give it tension, elasticity. It's a really quick process. The time between each is not exact, you just need to get about 4 done, sometimes people say more, IDK, you'll feel the dough change and it's a good way to check up on it. BUT you don't want to be stretching and folding too 'late' because at some point you're going to be knocking too much air out.

 

8.1 Shaping

 

Cut the dough into 2 halves. Shape each one into boules if that's what you're gonna do, especially if you're doing bannetons. It's hard to describe, so just watch YT, eg https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IxVSlizlt-s

 

 

I have my own technique which is kinda like this:

 

Grab little ends of the dough and fold them over, like you're folding in petals of a flour onto itself. you keep doing this around the 'radius' of the dough so that it starts to create tension on the bottom. It's fine to keep folding it over, you want a bit of trapped air.

 

Cup one hand around the circumference of the dough (or what will become a rounded circumference) and with your other hand, flat, palm towards you, kinda jab on the opposite side the side so you're pushing the side under the dough, thus stretching the top and creating tension. repeat this while turning the dough with your cupped hand. As its sticky, you're going to want to do this in quick successive movements rather than 'holding' it. Slightly wet hands can help this. 

 

8.2 Put in bannetons / bowls / whatever

 

For most cosmetically authentic results, get 2 bannetons, and use rice flour in them. throw some rice flour in and keep rubbing it around, getting it in all the nooks and crannies of the banneton. Dust a little rice flour on the boule, and put it 'top side' down into the banneton. I've read about mixing rice flour with normal flour, basically rice flour has no gluten, so will not bind to the bread, so will allow you to get it back out of the banneton. a new banneton kinda needs 'seasoning' and you might struggle to get it out neatly at the end.

 

If you have no banneton, a pyrex bowl and a flour dusted muslin will work. If you have no muslin a teatowel. If your teatowels are skanky like ours, just put a dusted boule into the bowl, it might aerate and come away a bit weird, but this is all cosmetics really.

 

Cover with those shower cap things.

 

9. Prove / ferment

 

Play animal crossing or something, for about 2-4 hours if you're leaving the dough at room temperature. You want it to increase in size, and be springy. If you made dough in the morning, by this point it's going to be afternoon-ish. If you want, you can put the shaped dough into the fridge, covered, and you can happily leave them over night. In fact I think this slow fermentation is good, and makes it easier to score. You are going to want to bake them in the morning though. 

 

10. Baking

 

The big moment! 

 

Best results are in a dutch oven, I cannot recommend this one enough: https://www.lodgemfg.com/double-dutch-oven?sku=L8DD3 (since you can invert it, and use the lid as the base) but if you don't have one, don't worry.

 

Alternatively a pie dish can be good. Sourdough has such high hydration that it tends to spread out, and if not constrained, it'll rise outwards (rather than upwards) resulting in a delicious but flat round thing. So a pie dish will constrain its diameter and let it rise upwards. It's cosmetic but really long thin sandwiches are sort of annoying too.

 

Firstly you are almost certainly not going to be able to do both loaves at once, so you'll do this for each loaf...

 

10.1. Turn your oven up as high as it will possibly go. If using the lodge dutch oven, put the deep part in as the oven heats up. If using a normal dutch oven where the lid has a handle and can't be inverted, since you're going to have to lower the dough into the pan, it might not be safe to preheat it. 

 

When it's up to its max temperature...

 

10.2. turn the dough out into the dish, or lodge lid, or lower it into the dutch oven. Take the sharpest knife you have, or a razor blade, or a fancy lame and score the bread. Nice deep cuts. You can do a big long X on top, you can do a grid, you can do a spiral, just make sure they're deliberate and deep, you want air to escape. How this goes is going to depend on how sharp your knife is. If you took the dough out of the fridge, it will be a lot easier too as it'll be a bit more 'solid'. 

 

10.3. If using a dutch oven - cover the dough. If you're using the double dutch lodge thing, you're obviously taking a very big, very heavy, very HOT pan out of the oven and inverting it. It scares my OH when I do this, it scares me, but it's worth it. 

 

If you don't have the means to cover the bread, it can help to put another pie dish in the oven full of boiling water, so that a bit more steam is maintained in the oven. If you are covering then the bread will produce enough steam. 

 

10.4. Bake for about 30 mins. If covered, at this point remove the lid / pan. Take a look at how brown it is. If covered it's going to look a little pale but hopefully really nicely risen.

 

This is hands down the best part of making bread, This moment of revealing it in the oven, seeing all that time come to this magical transformation of a white powder and water, and thinking about all the butter and marmite you're gonna eat off of it.

 

After removing the lid, turn the oven down, say 200c - then you can brown the top for another 5-10 mins or more, depending on how brown you want it. Letting it brown a fair amount will taste great when it's fresh, but if you make toast, you might want it less brown as the toaster will start to char the crust. 

 

If it's not covered, your bread might have gotten quite brown quite quickly. If you're worried about this, either cover it with foil, or leave it 25 mins then turn the oven down and just monitor.

 

Tapping on the bottom is a sort of bullshit myth, all bread basically sounds hollow if it's got a crust and won't tell you anything. How long you bake it for is really difficult to judge or tell you as it's going to depend on the kind of dutch oven, covered or not covered, how well you halved your dough, how hot your oven gets. So, you'll just get to know it.

 

10.5 take the hopefully awesome looking bread out, and dry on a rack. Resist the temptation to bite into it. If cut too soon, sourdough can go gummy and weird. You really need to let it cool down for at least 30-40 mins. If you want to eat it warm, it should have some warmth still, or you can reheat it.

 

Other points, variations, shortcuts...

 

- Always make the sponge. I think this really helps the flavour.

 

- You do not have to add salt later, feel free to just combine all of that in one go

- You do not have to wait 30 mins for an autolyse, it just makes kneading easier when you do

- You don't have to even bother kneading it

- You don't have to do stretches and folds

 

 

- If you don't autolyse:

- Knead it for a bit longer

 

- If you DO autolyse, you can get away with not kneading it a little easier.

- If you DON'T autolyse OR knead, you'll get away with it if you do lots of stretches and folds

 

- If you don't autolyse, knead, or stretch and fold, report back, it's _probably_ going to make a loaf that is edible, but it won't be the best, but bread doesn't have to be 'grammable.

 

- The fermentation times are rough, and it's going to depend on how warm the flour / water was at the beginning and how warm your house is. In the summer you will need less time, in the winter more obviously. The key is to either: not give a shit or monitor your dough, check how risen it is, how puffy, how does it feel and you'll start to get a sense of how things are going and whether you can bake earlier or stretch a bit more. 

 

- Too long will start to collapse the gluten, but this really takes a long time and way way longer if you refrigerate. 

 

- This is just my 'approach', I'm sure googling will have people telling you rights and wrongs, but this way has been working for me such that I can just do it all 'by feel'. I gave a sourdough loaf to my neighbour yesterday, they were really pleased. I've taken them round as extra christmas gifts, or two a dinner party and people bloody love you for it.

 

- Have fun! don't stress, you will make something tasty and edible. The improvements will just be about getting it springier, getting sexy banneton rings, artistic scoring, but making tasty bread will be easy. Dough that has had a long time to ferment will be easier on you than shitty chorleywood process bread.

 

I can't think of anything else and I have to start work soon...

 

 

 

 

 

 

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A far more even structure this time, still a little on the dense side though. Also much tastier, despite the ingredients being largely the same.

 

IMG_20200419_174859.thumb.jpg.83e02b478f8fc6a9102d6b41a4dba9d8.jpg

 

However, I still found the kneading very difficult. It just sticks to the counter, all the videos I've seen show part of the dough being pulled up and the rest just coming with. I think a factor might have been that I was using bread flour about 9 months or so past the use by date (which I have now run out of, so won't be a problem next time), there didn't seem to be anything off with it, but apparently it might seem fine but not develop gluten as well. Also TBH I think the recipe I've picked is on the large side for one person's bread requirements over a week? I might try a no-knead approach next time, while also shooting for a smaller overall volume.

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Next time I make bread I'll see if I can film the kneading. I had the exact same feeling at first. It depends on your counter too! I wish I had a solid marble type thing or metal for this but the  wood thing doesn't help me. 

 

Even though dough sticks to the counter dough also sticks to itself so you can kinda use the dough to keep mopping up the counter bits. 

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Thanks to @cowfields post above, and some reading here I've just baked my first sourdough loaf. It was half bread flour and half spelt. 

It's not quite as light and airy as some but it tastes fantastic.

 

 

img_20200426_204144.jpg

img_20200426_214740.jpg

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I've started to experiment with the Tangzhong method.

 

You basically take out some of the flour and water that would have gone into your normal recipe, and make a roux with it. It turns into this gelatinous gloop. You let it cool then mix it with the rest of the ingredients. In doing this it does some...uh...stuff...and basically makes it pillowy soft. 

 

I've not gotten a "pillowy soft" sourdough by doing it but I think it was softer and the crust was a little less harsh. I've still got to have some more attempts before I really know what's going on, but it's nerdy and fun to investigate.

 

Check out this FAQ:

http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/39723/my-tangzhong-roux-faq

 

It's not a hard step to add at least, especially while we have more time to do this, so i'm going to keep doing it. 

 

Also a psa:

Something to remember for anyone trying sourdough: It doesn't go stale quickly. It might seem that way, because it definitely loses softness and feels stiffer - but it's not going stale.

 

Starch is just crystallising. Sourdough restores itself really well in the oven, you can cover in foil if you don't want to crunch it up, just gently warm it to remelt the starch. There's only so many times the bread can survive that process so don't warm the whole loaf if you're not going to eat it all. I mean I think everyone already knew about heating bread in the oven makes it fresh again but it's just knowing why exactly that is - it's more severe hardening in home made sourdough I think. 

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12 hours ago, Gaz said:

Thanks to @cowfields post above, and some reading here I've just baked my first sourdough loaf. It was half bread flour and half spelt. 

It's not quite as light and airy as some but it tastes fantastic.

 

 

 

img_20200426_214740.jpg

 

Crumb doesn't look doughy though, I actually am not a fan of sourdough with massive holes in (can't always help it) as the PB just falls through!  I've not baked with spelt in a long time so I can't actually remember how it changes it. 

 

Something a little frustrating about the flour shortage is I'm just sticking to the core strong white whenever I can get it, but I would really like to be able to buy loads of weird flours. I once baked with Einkorn which added a really nice flavour, but all the small independent mills doing that kind of less-usual stuff are too overloaded to be able to order that kind of stuff. I'm thankful for having any flour at all right now. 

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