2 August 2011 § 12 Comments
Here is my first guest post on This Little Piggy Went To The Farmers’ Market. Ladies and gentlemen…. from Wales… please meet Baz the Baker!
OK, I’ll admit it – Baz is my father. Nepotism may be rife at This Little Piggy Towers, but according to The Ladies™ he does make the best bread ever!
I’ve not had the time to make bread, let alone master it so I’m trying to learn from him. He has been on several courses and learned a lot from studying the books of two of the best bakers in the business – British baker- Dan Lepard and Dan Leader of Bread Alone fame. He even did a day’s internship at Montclair’s best Italian restaurant, Osteria Giotto to learn how they make their bread.
Over to Baz….
It was a number of years ago that I heard about sourdough bread so I wanted to taste it and learn how to make it. Fortunately, I stumbled across Wild Yeast Bakery, owned by Simon Michaels. He not only makes sourdough bread to sell at Cardiff Farmer’s Market, but runs one-day bread making courses in the beautiful Forest of Dean in Gloucestershire. That course proved most enjoyable and instructive. We made about five varieties of bread using a sourdough starter culture and I was taught the rudiments of bread making and provided with a number of bread recipes.
For no real reason other than being too lazy to keep the sourdough starter culture going, I stopped making sourdough bread and reverted to using dried yeast for bread making. So I had not made any sourdough, or even tasted it, for a long time until our last visit to the USA for grandparenting duties with The Ladies™.
Before our visit, my dutiful daughter ordered a few things from King Arthur Flour, including a sachet of sourdough starter. This sachet contained 5gms of a fine white colored powder. I followed the easy to follow instructions and produced a number of loaves of sourdough bread. We all loved it. Particularly The Ladies™.
Now we are back home in Wales I had to start making sourdough bread again. But this time using my own starter made with wild yeast. It really is simple to do by following Simon Michaels’ method.
Please note that bread making is a pretty exact science, so in order to be as precise as possible, I use metric measurements. You’ll thank me for it!
Wild yeast starter
Day 1. 120 gms bread flower mixed with 120 gms of water. Leave in a jar with the opening covered with a cloth or paper towel.
Day 2. Do nothing to it.
Day 3 Discard half of the mixture. Add 60 gms flour and 60gms water. Mix well.
You may see signs of bubbles on Day 3
Day 4 Discard half of the mixture. Add 60 gms flour and 60gms water. Mix well.
Day 5 Discard half of the mixture. Add 60 gms flour and 60gms water. Mix well.
Day 6 Discard half of the mixture. Add 60 gms flour and 60gms water. Mix well.
Now it really should be bubbling and is probably ready to us. It will probably have a slightly sour smell too. Good.
Then, the night before you want to make bread, add 120gms flour and 120 gms water to the mixture and stir well.
In the morning you should see the mixture full of bubbles and the mix will be stringy if you stir it. It will have a slightly sour smell.
This recipe is my variation of Simon Michaels’ Pain de Campagne Sourdough and produces a loaf of about 1Kgm in weight.
Take 300 gms of your starter mix. (Keep the rest to keep your culture going)
Add that mix to about 300gms whole meal flour and 300gms white flour.
260 gms water, 15gms salt.
Knead away if you wish or, as I do, use a dough hook on my food processor for about 12 minutes.
Lightly oil the inside of the dough rising bucket with olive oil and let if prove.
The bucket was placed in the fridge for about 18 hours or so until it was double in size. You can let it rise at room temperature if your wish.
When ready, it was knocked back, moulded into shape and allowed to rise at room temperature for a few more hours.
Preheat the oven to 210C (440F)
To produce a good crust you need steam. My oven, like most domestic ovens does not have a steam injector. So a pan was placed on the oven floor and just before placing the bread in the oven ice cubes were dropped onto the pan. Hiss, splutter steam.
Five minutes after the bread was placed in the oven a few more ice cubes were added.
The bread was baked for about thirty minutes.
At the risk of blowing my own trumpet, the crust was really chewey and the loaf was very tasty, “yummy!” as The Ladies™ would say.
It really is excellent when toasted and makes delicious egg or sausage butties. Good for bacon butties too, I should imagine.
My next sourdough loaf will be made using Spelt (which is also available from King Arthur Flour). Perhaps I may share that loaf with you, too, if given the chance…