As regular followers know, I love playing with sourdough and making bread. It’s times like now, when I want to seriously play that I get incredibly frustrated with my limited oven capabilities. I have to keep reminding myself its nearing an end. I think knowing that makes it all the harder.
I started making bread at least 35 years ago. Back then it was all yeasted and things were done the hard way. Dough was beaten, bashed and kneaded for a good 10 minutes to get the gluten to develop, enabling the bread to have structure. These methods are still applicable at times, but the newer approaches such as stretching and folding the dough over a period of time has made things a lot easier and also offers you much more flexibility to schedule your baking.
I had dabbled with sourdough on and off over the years but about 5 years ago I got back into it seriously. I think we have only bought about 3 loaves of bread over the last couple of years and that’s usually when on holiday. I must admit that I’m a sucker for a cheese and tomato toasted sandwich on fluffy, white supermarket bread. This is diminishing too though ( I don’t want the plastic bag!).
There are millions of different people baking bread all over the world. All have different methods for making their breads, their starters, the flours they use and their baking regime, all are right, all give different results. This is why it can be really hard for beginners to know where to start. I’ve found now that I tend to stick to a basic recipe (Chad Roberston’s Country Loaf) that I know will give good results for everyday bread. I do however love experimenting and trying other concepts to see how they work, to compare the results and continue to learn more and more.
Today I baked a loaf based on a recipe I found on one of my favourite bread blogging sites. Maurizio has a blog called The Perfect Loaf, not only is it filled with great tips, advice, recipes and information, but you can feel the passion he has for this craft as he writes. To match this his photos are stunning. It’s worth having a look at his site if only for the photos. You may just come out wanting to bake bread!
Here is my today’s loaf based on Maurizio’s recipe for his “Best Sourdough Recipe” It’s pretty,
but it isn’t nearly as pretty as Maurizio’s.
My dough was 80% hydration not 86% as was his. I didn’t leave it to retard in the fridge for the 15-16 hours he suggested, mine only got about 8. I didn’t get a crumb that was as open as his (I’m a little heavy handed when it comes to shaping) but it isn’t too bad. This loaf tasted wonderful, really good crust and soft flavoursome crumb.
I’d wager that Maurizio’s looks so much prettier because he has an oven, a real oven that can bake above about 210 degrees celsius max. An oven he can create steam in with his ingenious tip of using lava rocks. I am using this,
don’t get me wrong, this little oven has done some amazing things over the last couple of years, but I am really looking forward to seeing what I can produce in a proper oven.
Thank you to all the wonderful people who share their wisdom and skills for others to benefit on this wonderful medium. Go and have a look at The Perfect Loaf, it’s a great site.
9 Replies to “Sourdough fun and frustration.”
Thanks so much for the kind words about my recipes and my site! Your bread looks fantastic, and yes, quite a bit of a difference between your oven and mine! It sounds like you have quite an extensive experience baking bread, it’s interesting to hear how things have progressed from heavy kneading to a more gentle, stretch/fold approach.
Thanks again and I’m looking forward to your bakes with a larger oven! (By the way, your gardens look incredible — oh what I would do with all that produce!)
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Cheers, Maurizio! Keep those gorgeous posts coming 🙂
Hi Maree. I too can’t wait to see what you produce in your new oven. You may be amazed, in retrospect, how well your little oven has served you. I’m off to check out Maurizio’s site now.
Ha ha! I have visions of having to buy a few ‘toy ovens’ and lining them up if the new one is crap. 🙂
Maree, I thought of the “Easy Bake” oven my toddler daughter experimented with in the 1990’s, complete with “preservative-ful” mixes and the light bulb temp instructions that came with it, lol! (BTW. she’s a fantastic cook to this day, thanks to follow-up “Mom” advice/wisdom oft shared… so is my son!) I LOVE it when my kids calls with “cooking questions.” 🙂 xo
What you’ve managed to accomplish in your temporary surroundings is nothing short of AMAZING! Keep at it, adapt to YOUR needs, and please continue to share your sourdough-making thoughts, trials, & tips. (Duly noted.) As it is, Prissy (daughter of Celia’s Priscilla) is in need of attending to today (or whenever her “re-feed” is about to expire) and I feel entirely blessed to have a “real” oven to bake up another loaf. (And more “how to’s!”) Thanks again for sharing your experiences and links. Happy New Year!
Hi Kim, I would have loved a little “Easy Bake” oven as a kid. I too love when the kids (but it’s usually only the not so confidant son) sing out for cooking help. Very proud all 3 (1 girl, 2 boys) are great cooks, can clean, can repair things and can laugh at anything. Enjoy your oven, I know you appreciate everything and value the things many take for granted. Looking forward to watching the 2016 developments at your place. Cheers XX
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The toy oven has produced some gorgeous loaves! I’m looking forward to seeing what your full size oven will allow you to create.
Hi Gretchen, yes, that little oven has been amazing. Hope the new one can keep up with it!