Hamelman Video Tutorials: Learn From a Master

I was idly hypothesising about how one might slash the dough of a baguette to achieve the characteristic tear, when it struck me that this here internets would probably hold the answer. Well done internets; you did me proud. These videos are comprehensive, and come from a name I’ve come to trust: Jeffrey Hamelman. Serious skills. Videos after the break. Continue reading

Back to Basics: Dan’s White Sourdough

You would think that the first loaf in the first baking book I owned would have been a sensible place to start. But I skipped over the white sourdough recipe (from A Handmade Loaf by Dan Lepard) in order to get to the mill loaf, which got me so excited a while ago. It’s taken me a while to go back and try the white.

I’m glad I did. Continue reading

Mellow Bakers – Quick White Loaf

Here we are, at the tail end of April. Where, may I ask, has the first third of 2012 gone? Up in a cloud of flour in my case. Though not as much flour, of late, as I would have liked.

On reading my blog a good friend of mine said, amongst kind words, that I apologise too much for not writing; that people wouldn’t really notice the dates of posts, and that I ought not to mention it. So I’m keeping absolutely schtum. Zip. Nada. Not a word about being behind in the mellow bakers Handmade Loaf bake-along despite only being in month one. Just as well they’re/we’re mellow…

So – quick white loaf. I must admit that, going in to this bake, I was a little bored of white breads. Despite a preference towards the more whole of meals, I have baked mostly white loaves since taking up all this yeasty business. On top of that, another of Dan’s recipes – his sour cream loaf from Short and Sweet, has lodged itself firmly at the top of my favourite white recipes list.

On the other hand, this bake offered the chance to try a couple of new things: baking with fresh yeast, finally sourced from Sainsbury’s, and adding millet flakes. Add to all this a couple of bodged transfers from improvised peel to baking stone in the recent past, and the stakes for this bake were particularly high.

Can you feel the excitement? Try and remember to breath. Continue reading

Bake-Along Business: Mellow Bakers & #ShortandTweet

I wrote this a short while ago, and somehow failed to publish it. Ahead of my upcoming post about my first mellow bakers loaf, I thought I’d let it out of its hiding place, for the linky goodness if nothing else! Needless to say, I am still somehow running out of time, despite ample supply.

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My brief foray into group baking was something I enjoyed very much, but haven’t quite managed to recreate. I had fully intended to make a batch of pita bread along with the folks over at #ShortandTweet, but ran out of time. Since then, I have been incredibly busy (especially for a jobless wonder) and very low on energy. But April marks the beginning of a new bake along, one to which I fully intend to apply myself as fully as possible.

The Mellow Bakers are working their way through “The Handmade Loaf”, the very book that got me started on serious bread baking. I intend to bake and blog each loaf so long as I’m able, and also try and cook up a sandwich recipe for those that inspire me. I’m really looking forward to learning from my fellow bakers, and have already been in touch with some very friendly sorts.

They are also baking through another book, “Bread” by Jeffrey Hamelman. So if you fancy joining in, pick your poison, and jump in! I’m a relative newby and everyone’s been dead friendly, and there’s a real range of abilities, including some people who have baked it all before and/or are schooled in such things.

Sourdough Diaries: The Start(er) of Something Beautiful

A few people have asked me “Whatever happened to that sourdough starter you were harping on about?”. Well, not necessarily in those words. I may have slipped a little defensive self-deprecation in there for good measure.

Well, I’m pleased to confirm that the starter has started starting, and indeed continued to start. In starting terms, it’s off to a startlingly good start. Ahem.

The loaf pictured above is my first ever sourdough loaf. To say I was pleased would miss out ecstatic, smug, and as surprised as you. It used a 60:30:10 blend of strong white, strong wholemeal, and rye flours. Essentially, I “adapted” Dan Lepard’s Mill Loaf recipe. And by “adapted” I mean “misread”. Continue reading

Sourdough Starter Days 4, 5 and 6…

…or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Leaven.

Day 4 in the Natural Leaven house, and the raisins have been evicted.

Urgh. I feel slightly soiled by that. Don’t you? Apologies for that.

Couple of days to catch y’all up on. One of them quite eventful. Are you sitting comfortably?

Starter Day 4 - as I found it

On Day 4 Señor Starter was looking much the same: the early signs of fermentation (pin hole bubbles), and a sheen on the surface where liquids and solids had begun to separate. There was more pronounced discolouration where the raisins had began to break down. They’ve served their purpose, i.e. to boost yeast and “friendly” bacteria at the beginning of the process, and so the time has come to remove them. Sniff. Continue reading

Sourdough Starter – Day 3, plus a Quick Primer on Natural Leaven

A confession: I recognise that a day by day update on a mixture of flour and water probably doesn’t qualify as a ripping yarn to most people. I am finding it a fascinating process, and I realise that there are people out there who agree. I also hope that some of those for whom this is proving a free treatment for insomnia may, in the fullness of time, see why a niche corner of the interwebs, and the populace thus represented, seems to enjoy peering at small jars of a smelly substance.

It is for the baffled, confused, and those peculiar few interested enough in what I’m writing who don’t share my fascination, that I will include in today’s post a wee primer on what it is that I’m doing. For those of you who are already on board, and just hang out here to get your fix of fermentation, skip to the end. Continue reading