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,
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.