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  • Today’s effort.

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  • Interior of yesterday’s loaf.

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  • My 25 kilos of Shipton Mill no.4 arrived the other day, and I do think it's possibly slightly softer than the bags I had earlier in the year. Haven't tried sourdough with it yet, but am going to make a sponge tonight - will see how that goes.

    Nearly bought a Lodge Combo Cooker the other day, and now the price has jumped by £20, so will make do and mend a little longer...

  • Wouldn't you want a much lower protein flour for sponges?

  • Yes, sorry - sourdough sponge, as in starter and flour/water, not as in Victoria Sponge...

  • I will have to try some of these! Your loaves look great.

  • First few loaves in the new flat. No sourdough yet but as soon as I get my hands on a pot it's on.

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  • Ah - cool!

    My inner Mary Berry (OBE) was having conniptions.

  • Probably been asked a million times before but I’ve missed it – does anyone here use ascorbic acid (vitamin C) as a flour improver? According to here you need 20-30mg per kg of flour and it’ll increase volume by around 20%. Been curious about this for a while as I think it’s always used in commercial bread, but not tried it myself.

    Same goes for using glycerol as a humectant. I think it’s this stops the bread from staling so quickly.

  • Had a cock a leekie soup in my pot, so had to bake this morning's loaf without a dutch over. Amazing how different the crust is, really not a fan. Got a decent rise, but the taste test will need to wait.

  • I’ve made a leaven this morning. The recipe says to leave for 12 hours. That’s too late to bake so should I put it in the fridge until tomorrow morning and then get it out to warm up then bake???

  • That, or put it in oven 30 mins before you'd go to bed, and have a fresh loaf for breakfast.

  • It’s getting there

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  • Is there any virtue to proving for 24 hours instead of the advised 12-15

  • Depends on yeast, temperature, etc.
    As a rule, longer proves (at a colder temp) provide more flavour, but you don't want to over-proof your dough. If after 12-15 hours my dough didn't look risen enough and/or I wanted to go to bed, I'd probably just stick it in the fridge overnight.

  • New week, new loaf.

    Lots of rise in the Dutch pot.
    But it falls as it cools. Any way of keeping that just out of the oven size? Or will I just have to live with it?

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  • Suspend it on it's side with some kind of mesh?

  • I’m doing the final prove over night in the fridge, should this be on the worktop/in the oven?

    Finally cut into this. There are bigger bubbles at the top. I wonder if either a longer price in the fridge or 12-15 hours in the kitchen would produce bigger bubbles throughout the loaf

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  • Pretty good.

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  • Did a recipe for a friend's birthday recipe book. Sourdough buffs and ultra provers may disapprove.

    Al’s Special Kneads

    October 2020: I was late on the lockdown bakery trend. I didn't get around to thinking; "hey, maybe I should bake my own bread" until about July. By then, yeast flour and loo roll (not required for this recipe) were all back in the shops.

    At some point in my distant past, I had bought an insufferably pretentious sourdough cookery book that talks about the soul of bread being lost by the modern evil of yeast. It also stretched out the recipe for basic white bread to about 20 pages with multiple moody B&W photos. F*ck that. This recipe combines some good tips from that beard-stroking tome and applies them to a non-more basic no-knead yeasted loaf recipe what I found on that internet they have now. It’s simple, fun and delicious. Just like you. Just kidding. It also takes all f*cking day. Just like you… what, what?

    Here’s my glutinous conspiracy theory. Sourdough is everywhere because everyone loves the crusty crunchy crust and tasty open-textured chewy interior. It’s delicious, it keeps well, and it toasts up a treat. But I reckon almost all of those characteristics are the result of slow fermentation not the source of the fermentation. You can make delicious yeasted bread that ticks all of those boxes without the faff of owning a high maintenance fungal pet, as long as you take a bit of time.

    • 450g of a mix of strong white bread and whatever other flour you fancy. I like about 300g of strong white and 150g of knobbly “country grain” flour but you can use wholemeal or all white or whatever.
    • 300ml of warm water (from the hot tap is fine)
    • 1-2 tsp of salt
    • 7g (one packet) of instant yeast

    Weigh out the flour into a big bowl and add the salt and yeast and mix. I use the handle of a wooden spoon because that works nicely for the next bit too.
    Add the warm water and mix with the spoon handle till combined into a sticky dough
    You can leave the dough in the same bowl or remove into a clean one of the inevitable crusty bits stuck to the side bother you. The bowl needs to be big enough to cope with the dough easily doubling in size.
    Cover with a clean tea towel and put somewhere warm to rise for half an hour. If will turn into a bowl-filling loose, wobbly sponge.

    Now, this next bit is strictly prescribed in my hipster book, but I subscribe to a much more agile and improvisational approach to things as the variables are considerable right? Flour, yeast, temperature, humidity etc. Just wing it dude.

    Basically, after it’s risen to about double its size, which should take between half an hour and an hour; wet a hand, to stop it sticking, and reach down under the, by now very puffy and aerated dough, and pull it up on one side to stretch up vertically as much as you can without tearing or lifting it out. Fold the stretched bit over on top and repeat four to six times round the bowl until it’s all done. The dough will deflate considerably. Put it back to bed under the tea towel somewhere warm and go about your day for a bit.

    Repeat this process whenever you remember or it looks like it needs it every hour or so for the rest of the morning or afternoon. I reckon a good couple to three hours of this is good. You can leave it in the fridge overnight or take all day if you want. To be honest, I reckon the improvements have diminishing returns after about 3 or 4 hours. You can get a super-nice loaf in an afternoon and I’ve never found overnight proving to be any kind of magic bullet. So after you’re happy with how it looks or time constraints impose, it’s time for folding.

    Flour a worksurface and gently place your dough down. It will still be quite wet and sticky. I like to sort of gently roll it about in the flour to get it nicely coherent and minimise stickage. There will be some gooey bits, but don’t worry. The aim of this bit is to add air and tension so you need to be gentle. No squishing and no kneading. Gently push the dough away from you into a vaguely rectangle shape then fold into thirds by bringing the two long ends into the middle. Turn it 90 degrees and repeat a few times for a couple of minutes. You might see some big bubbles forming. Form it into a round loaf shape and sort of tuck the edges underneath. Feel good about yourself!

    Last bit before the oven is the final prove. I have these basket things with washable cheesecloth liners now (‘cos I’m all the gear and no idea) but a bowl with a tea towel is good. Dust the tea towel with flour, gently add your loaf, tucking the edges underneath again, dust with flour and stick the oven on.

    A cast iron pot with a lidis ideal but any deep pan with a lid that can go in the oven would work. Heat the oven to 230c (hot!). Cut a circle of greaseproof paper to size and put in in the bottom of the pot, dust inside of the pot the paper with flour and put in the over to pre-heat. Leave it for half an hour till it’s up to temp.

    When the loaf has rested for half an hour and the oven’s ripping hot, don gloves and remove the pot. Remove the lid OVEN GLOVES* And pick up the loaf with floured hands and put it in the hot pot. Careful not to burn yourself. Lid on OVEN GLOVES!* and into the oven.

    *you may not be a stupid as me but I have bad habit of assuming lids and handles are okay to touch when cooking.

    • 30 mins with the lid on
    • Lid off
    • Between 15 and 25 mins with the lid off depending on how crunchy you want your crust

    Remove and cool on a baking rack. Leave for an hour. A hungry, hungry hour, before breaking out the butter or whatever you fancy, and slicing into that crunchy nutty chewy crust.

  • What’s the favoured Dutch Oven/ baking pot

  • Bread is dead. Long live the doughnut.

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  • They look fantastic

    Strawberry or raspberry jam?

  • They're probably all much of a muchness. I think the big lodge one would be what I'd get. They have been 60£ in the past. I saw an Ikea one too the other day which looked nice too.

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Posted by Avatar for MessenJah @MessenJah