Wednesday, 9 September 2015


My dress is progressing slower than I'd like at the moment, so I thought I'd post about my bready experiments instead. At the upcoming Norse event, the feast will be a potluck, with a simple system to tell attended what they should bring for a good variety on the day; my item was bread. So I got it into my head to try a vaguely period recipe.

Given that sourdough has been around in one form or another for several centuries, I decided to try that. I used the Paul Hollywood organic grapes recipe to make up my starter, and the hardest part of getting that going was trying to find somewhere to sell organic grapes. I learned since that any organic fruit of veg that tends to develop a white film can be used to seed the starter with wild yeast, but having spare grapes to snack on was no hardship. It took about a week to properly dial in on the recipe, to get the water temperature and flour quantities right, but my starter seems very happy with me at the moment, with a scent that varies between natural yoghurt and home-brewed beer. I don't follow exactly the feeding measurements given in the recipe above. I vary my flour and water quantities on any given day to keep the mixture at a thick batter consistency.

After the requisite four day start up time, I started using the "discard" in the Classic Sourdough recipe to make up my loaves. I brought two loaves down to CoLD with me, where they were promptly devoured, and I got many compliments on the flavour and tang of the bread. My oven is a little on the old side so my loaves are coming out a little dark. I almost have my cooking time perfected.. maybe just a little more work so they come out golden rather than mahogany...

But uplifted by the reception at CoLD, I decided to try and a little experimentation, and sought out some sweet flavours to try. The white chocolate & raspberry loaf was again one of Paul Hollywood's recipes, though the walnut & apricot and the chocolate & berry loaves were my own inventions, taking the basic classic sourdough recipe and adding the extras. The chocolate loaf also has some added dried yeast, as the cocoa can inhibit the natural yeast and sometimes a booster is needed. I think I may have added the fruit too soon in the kneading step, and this has resulted in a rippled effect, most noticeable in the white chocolate & raspberry loaf.

Overall this is a really interesting experience. Though I love baking, I rarely do it everyday, but now that I have the starter stable, and am using it roughly every second day, it means I'm baking enough to really dial in on what the starter and the bread dough need to come out perfect. Clearly there's more science to be done.. tasty, tasty science...

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