Aug 022011
 

I’ve been going a bit wild of late. More specifically, wild fermenting. And it’s all Sandor Katz’s fault. Let me explain.

Sandor Katz, Wild Fermentation Book

I bought a Kindle version of Sandor’s book Wild Fermentation. It explains the science and practice of fermenting just about anything. Not only are fermented products tastier & healthier, they’re also a great way of preserving things sustainably. There’s no need for electricity to keep a freezer going, or to put large amounts of energy into heat for canning or bottling. The whole process relies on the ability of wild yeasts to modify the ingredients so they do not spoil. Sauerkraut, or pickled cabbage, is one of the most widely known examples. Another two are beer & wine which also caught my attention. And, of course, there’s sourdough bread which I already have a passion for.

So I’ve thrown myself into a mild fermenting frenzy. On the go is sauerruben (turnips), apple vinegar and T’ej, an Ethiopian-style Honey Wine. I’ll post some more information about these later. Today I want to talk to you about Bouza. Continue reading »

May 162011
 

Sourdough breakfast bread

This is a wonderfully moist, tasty and nutritious start for your day full of fruit, nuts & spices. It’s also a great mid-afternoon snack for when your energy levels are dipping.

First thing to say is that the original idea was not mine. This recipe is a sourdough adaptation of Ed & Marieke’s yeasted muesli bread which you can find on their beautiful blog. Their recipe is lovely and will be useful to you if you are in more of a hurry to produce the breads. Obviously, there’s differences in the taste.

Fancy finding out how to make it?
Read on… Continue reading »

May 012011
 

Sourdough rye & linseed bread loaf

I’m lucky to have a number of truly inspirational people in my ‘internet family’. This bread happened due to the inspiration of two people: the talented & generous Joanna at Zeb Bakes & baking guru & good guy, Dan Lepard.

Joanna posted some beautiful pictures of a flax (linseed) & rye loaf. As you’ll see I contributed with information about the mucilage the linseed produces when hydrated. So I was thinking about making a bread with linseeds and the rye seemed interesting too.

Matt the Miller at Bacheldre Mill had been kind enough to specially mill me a batch of chopped rye. Not as fine as flour and not the whole berry either.

Chopped rye

I’d been looking for a chance to use them and this seemed like an ideal opportunity. This is where Dan Lepard’s inspiration came in. In his beautiful book, The Handmade Loaf, he has a recipe for a Sour 100% rye bread. In this, he uses a gelatinized rye mix to give the loaf elasticity.

Finally, I’ve been making a lot of bread lately with seed or grain ‘soakers’. Here you take your chosen seeds or grains and pre-soak them prior to adding to the dough mix. The presoaking means that they are fully hydrated and so do not take water from the flour grains.

So I thought the mucilage from the linseed and the gelatinized rye would make a tasty and moist sourdough if I used them like a ‘soaker’. And that’s what I did. If there are any of my readers who are pro-bakers who can improve on my recipe, I’d love the feedback…

If you want to know how to make the loaf, read on… Continue reading »

Mar 312011
 

In January I posted this article on how to make sourdough bread. I was amazed at how much attention it generated. I was so pleased at how many people contacted me to say they’d started baking sourdough bread as a result. You’ll see by the button on the right that I’m now a member of the growing Real Bread Campaign too. Please check out their site for lots of really useful information.

Sourdough bread loaf with star pattern

Since then I’ve talked, tweeted and met with an exciting bunch of enthusiastic bakers, amateur and professional alike. As a result, the way I make my bread has changed a little from the way I described, so I thought an update might be helpful.

I’ve made changes in three main areas:

  • Hydration – the amount of water in proportion to dry ingredients
  • Wholemeal flour proportion
  • Baking process

I’ll describe each of these in turn… Continue reading »

Feb 072011
 

This well designed book is subtitled, ‘The introductory guide to success in baking Real Bread for your local community’.

How well does it fulfill its remit?

How far along the line from interested or amateur baker to community purveyor of Real Bread can ‘Knead to Know’ take you?

In my view, The Real Bread Campaign are to be congratulated. ‘Knead to Know’ delivers on its culinary metaphor of being a:

buffet of tasters with pointers to where you can explore and find out more about the topics you find the most appetising

My view is shaped by my particular needs. As regular readers of the blog and my twitter feed will know, I’m a keen amateur baker. And I’ve had enough good feedback about my bread to wonder about producing bread for the wider community.

So here were the questions I was hoping ‘Knead to Know’ might help me answer.

  • How would I go about setting up such a venture?
  • What are the logistics of baking from home:
  • what’s involved in scaling up domestic recipes?
  • would I manage using a domestic oven?
  • What are the rules & regulations I’d have to be aware of?
  • Were there tips and ideas for promoting the venture?
  • What product mix would be good to start with?
  • How would I work out product pricing and ingredient yield.
  • Where would I go for further information?
  • So how well did it do? Continue reading »

    Jan 252011
     
    Baguette, crust & crumb

    I’ve been keen to make ‘proper’ french baguettes for years now. At last I’ve found recipes and techniques that work. There’s still room for improvement as I’m learning as I go.

    All ‘high hydration’ means is that there’s relatively more water in the dough than a lower hydration dough: ‘wetter’ doesn’t sound so glamorous. More water means that the dough is stickier to handle, softer (closer to a batter), rises faster and has more holes.  Hydration is expressed as a percentage weight of water to flour. So the bread in the last post on sourdough was about 55%:  middling wetness.

    In this post I’m describing two recipes: one with 65% and one at 80% water. Wet wetness. Continue reading »

    Jan 152011
     

    In this post I’ll show how I make sourdough bread at home. The recipe and technique is an amalgam of Hugh Fearnley Wittingstall (River Cottage Everyday) & Dan Lepard (The Handmade Loaf) plus some other stuff I’ve read online and my own experience.

    Stop press: 31st March 2011 I’ve posted an update with some lessons & observations since this was published.

    Sourdough loaf

    The post was prompted by a Twitter conversation with Ryan Lewis and Alys Fowler about making sourdough. Alys and I were encouraging Ryan to have a go at making it. I promised to do a ‘How To’ blog to show how simple it is to do.

    It’s what I do at the moment and I’m an enthusiastic amateur. There are about as many methods as there are bakers. I’d welcome feedback from anyone who bakes for a hobby or professionally. I like to learn new stuff and I’m sure the comments would help others who come here.

    The process of making the loaf takes just under 20 hours. This is essential for the loaf to develop its best flavour and texture. Don’t worry because you’re only doing a little bit of stuff every now and then and the timings are flexible.

    Want to find out more? Read on… Continue reading »

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