So preoccupied with writing the final essay for a course I’m doing that I hadn’t even thought about baking bread this morning. It suddenly dawned on me as I was switching the coffee machine on that it was Saturday and, yes, I’d planned to spend the whole day writing but bread would only really take a minute. I picked the Spelt bread from River Cottage Bread book as I knew the method would pretty much be the same as the last couple of breads I made from that book and here is the finished result:The book suggested a longer knead (8 minutes in the mixer as opposed to 6) and I ended up with a pretty elastic dough that shaped very well. Was super happy with the shape of the final loaf even if it did deflate a tad as I plonked it onto the peel and into the oven. Must be gentler next time. Here is the cut loaf,This also has sourdough starter as well as yeast, so it is a more robust bread that you can spread cold butter on and the crumb is very good too. Just used some for cucumber sandwiches to have with tea, kept the crusts. Very old fashioned but not particularly planned either – fridge is so empty as I’ve been spending all my time out of work either writing this stupid essay or sleeping, that cucumbers are pretty much the only vegetables I have!
Yes, well, I thought I’d make two sourdough breads this week because these past weeks of experimenting have taught me that a smaller loaf gets eaten too quickly and the crust gets too hard on a bigger loaf. So I used 900g flour (600g white and 300g wholemeal) to make two loaves. One will go quickly and the other in the freezer for next week. I feel like a sausage sandwich later and may make some caramelised onions to go with it, lovely! Beloved said they look like Sankhara stones…
For the sponge (make the night before): 250g white bread flour, 150g wholemeal bread flour, generous ladleful of sourdough starter and 540ml water.
In the morning: add 350g white and 150g wholemeal bread flours, 2 teaspoons fine sea salt, mix, knead for 15 minutes, leave for an hour, deflate, shape into a round, leave for another hour, repeat two more times. After a total of 4 hours of rising/ deflating, cut the dough in half, shape into rounds, leave for 15 minutes (to relax the gluten according to River Cottage). Shaping: deflate one more time, then roll up tightly; flatten and stretch, fold the sides to overlap, press down seams and shape into an oval. Roll the loaves in some rye flour, put on a floured wooden board and under a plastic bag to prove for 2-4 hours. These were proving for just over 3 hours. Oven preheated to 225C, with a baking sheet inside. Transfer loaves to hot baking sheet (gently, today’s bread deflated quite a bit), slash tops, spray with water, into the oven they go, reduced temperature to 180C after ten minutes, then baked for another 20. I also steamed the oven.
While I haven’t tried these yet, the crust is a little softer, which is what I’ve been hoping for. Am loving the River Cottage Bread book but their baking timings do give a very hard crust – fine on a first day but not when you’re baking to last a couple of days.