Into 2017

But first what did we learn in 2016?

Your sourdough bread is only as good as your starter, I thought mine had died (although I have read that’s not possible) but it was a miserable, vinegary smelly liquid when I neglected to feed it. However equal quantities of rye and white flour plus their combined weight in water every day for three days had her back on her feet again, and the bread (imho) is looking good.

Choose a recipe/method and stick to it and make it over and over until you have a consistent result, don’t flit from one to another always looking for the one that “works best”

Get books! because whilst scrolling through infinite websites/blogs is good, sitting down and looking through books is sometimes a better idea (and better for your eyes too) I got some great books in 2016.

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And I did finally get to join SERV as a blood biker.

Service by Emergency Rider Volunteers is the full title and basically we collect and deliver essential supplies by motorcycle to hospitals and the National Blood Bank out of hours 7pm – 6am (365 days a year) the purpose to support the NHS and keep ambulances and paramedics on the front line.

It can be blood and blood products plasma, platelets but also samples, medical records, X-rays, spinal fluids even surgical equipment, we never know who it’s for but often the calls are very urgent and bikes are more effective in traffic.

Here is a link with more information and one of a number of videos outlining our duties and service to the community.

http://www.serv.org.uk/site/

..and it’s been going a while

More to come

 

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Leaves a sour taste

Not really, but the longer the fermentation with Sourdough, the more developed the flavour it seems. When I look at the most recent run of loaves I have made (and photographed) it appears I may have over-done it on the lavendar linen, my wife Cath used dye on some French linen we acquired at a brocante in France on a recent visit and I think it sets off the golden brown crust a treat! There was no escape even for the Lemon cake. what do you say?

This was a loaf from last week which made possibly the most sensational toast we’ve ever toasted or tasted.

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And here is my latest read which just arrived yesterday, I have been looking forward to this book it’s written by Vanessa Kimbell who runs www.sourdough.co.uk

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Thanks for clicking more soon.

A bit of a slow starter

I have noticed whenever I use a new recipe for Sourdough bread from the many great blogs and sites out there, the actual timings for mine are vastly different in reality. Sometimes I think yeah great to have a nice fresh baked loaf for lunch this Saturday and it comes out after baking at 1am on Sunday morning!

Well I think it’s my starter and whilst it produces a good tasty bread whenever called on it’s er, well, slow and particularly on the second rise when it’s in it’s basket.

I used a recipe yesterday from the Wild Yeast Blog called Norwich Sourdough here’s a link to it a fantastic looking loaf but took forever to rise before baking certainly far from the 2.5 hours quoted (and I do appreciate that these times can vary due to many circumstances but…) I tried the float test which means dropping a teaspoon of your starter into a glass of water and apparently if it floats then it’s ready to use and if it sinks then it needs more feeding. It kind of didn’t sink but didn’t float either just sort of hung there suspended.

So this week I will feed her more than usual and see if the results are different (and report back)

Below are the two loaves from yesterday, the one at the back of the shot is the Norwich

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From here                                           to here took ages…

Why I took flour to the movies

Another full week has flown past, last night we went to see Spectre at the cinema, I went straight from work and was running a little late due to the inevitable: engineering works/an earlier signal failure/leaves on the line etc etc. On the way from the station walking past Waitrose, I remembered we were nearly out of bread flour so popped in to get some, seems straight forward enough but that’s why I was the only one at the cinema with a bag of flour. After we got home I set about making some dough and then realised I had bought Canadian wholewheat flour instead of white so I made the same recipe but with 150gms of white flour (all I had left) and 350gms of wholewheat. Left to prove from 11pm last night until about 3pm today, then 2 hours in it’s basket and here it is after an hour in the oven. Happy. (and a good movie too)

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Hang on a minute… what’s he doing

Bourbon on the (not-so-real) rocks

I was very excited to have found these acrylic ice cubes on Amazon for less than $35 per cube which is what a professional photographer had said I should expect to pay (maybe there are bigger ones) but for what I wanted these were just perfect I tipped them out of the bag added some water for effect and flashed them with my new flash (more on that soon) how real do they look!!

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So I set about making a photo of a Bourbon cocktail called an Old Fashioned which is traditionally; Bourbon, sugar, bitters, a splash of water and finished with orange and cherry.

It was a fairly complex setup which all but completely filled the living room and took hours to set up so if anyone is so inclined to try the same I will go in to more detail on how it’s done just let me know. Anyway here is the result.
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And having gone to such effort with all the setup I took the opportunity to shoot today’s bread and the new addition to the family, he is newly stitched and as yet without a name, any suggestions?

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Home baked bread

At the end of the day this is what it’s all about right?

Over recent weeks and not that I am one to obsess about such things (yeah right!) but I have trawled through almost every resource on the subject of sourdough bread on the web like: bread/baking/cooking blogs, ingredients manufacturers, bakers etc etc and have narrowed things down to some very basic sourdough principles:

  • a smelly healthy starter
  • a very simple recipe
  • choosing your hydration (what?)
  • the right flour(s)
  • Allow plenty of time

I have had failures but also a lot of successes and here below are some pictures of  (the better) bread recently baked in our kitchen. The recipe I have settled on as a “norm” if there is such a thing in sourdough is from the excellent blog THE CLEVER CARROT which in my opinion is a great place for anyone who wants to start with this type of bread. Actually the last picture of bloomers has got yeast in it (tut-tut I hear you sourdough purists say!)

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The Good, The not too Bad and the Ugly

So this is how it turned out.

The Good. The Sourdough starter did everything it was supposed to after 7 days of feeding and encouragement, the rhubarb with various amounts of rye, wholemeal and strong white flour had worked it’s evil magic and it was bubbly, smelly and very active. This is how it looked after 7 days. Happy.

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The not too Bad.

The dough making process was tricky, it was extremey sloppy and difficult to handle, I used the bread maker to mix the dough (as I often do, poor thing it hasn’t actually produced and baked a loaf for years)

The prove was in two parts, once overnight in the fridge then into it’s basket and another prove for supposedly 8-10 hours. After 5 hours it looked ready so I prepared to turn it out on to the pizza stone which had pre-heated in the oven. It had stuck a bit on one side of the basket so as I lifted the basket off it pulled a bit on one side (like a sort of bread ear). It looked really soft and was spreading, I tried to slash it as instructed but to little avail. I shut the oven door and it baked.

Here it is after 40 minutes in the oven.

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Nice and crusty, good smell, very tasty and not looking too bad overall if a little flat. Here is how it looked inside. As I said not too bad for a first attempt.

Still happy.

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The Ugly.

I made another one yesterday/today and it was disappointing, I made the dough a little less slack but even so, when it proved in the basket it stuck all round the edge so was virtually impossible to turn out and when it did it collapsed. When it came out of the oven it reminded me of a school geography lesson about hills during/after the ice age. Less happy.untitled-0007-2

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The starter has now been carefully stored away in the fridge for another day.

Anyone who wants the recipe let me know.