Sourdough Starter – Day 2

I tried to think of a witty title for this one. But really, it’s a long process and my humour only runs so deep. So I’m saving us all some embarrassment and quitting while I’m ahead. Ahead. Understood?

Read about Day 1 here.

Continue reading


A Plan So Cunning… Coming up on Leavened Heaven

So it turns out there are some people reading this wee blog o’ mine. That’s a nice feeling. Keep doing that reading thing, people, it flatters my ego and makes this doughy-distraction-tactic all the more worthwhile.

So I thought I’d give you “readers” (should I stop? I’ll stop) a heads up about those articles I have scheduled/planned. Is this a step to far? Almost certainly.

Firstly, I’d planned a review of the rather splendid El Guapo, a Mexican street food eatery on Baldwin Street, Bristol. But as it has announced its closure only a few months in, it shall be a lament to lost tortas instead.

I’ll also give my thoughts on the Breadstore, Gloucester Road’s ever popular dispensary of doughy delights. I tried a plain white bloomer, a 100% rye sourdough loaf, and their Spanish something or other, with peppers on top. Thoughts on them, and the shop in general, coming up soon.

Also, on the recipe front, there’ll be recipes for naan bread, flatbreads, and gravadlax, the scandinavian soft-top sarnie extraordinaire!

Too much alliteration? Too much alliteration. I’ll rain it in.

On Your Marks, Get Set… The Start of a Sourdough Starter

I remember when I first tried sourdough. I happened upon it at a farmers market, with my girlfriend at the time, and bought a large loaf. I couldn’t tell you what made us decide to buy it; perhaps the recommendation of the stall-holder, perhaps it just looked delicious. But I remember toasting a slice, slathering it with butter and Marmite (a fairly typical litmus test for me), and being completely blown away by the fullness of its flavour, and the chewy, firm texture. I also remember that we consistently failed to get to the market in time to pick up a sourdough loaf, before they sold out, in the months that followed. I blame shift work and a lifestyle it would not be entirely wise to describe in any detail in the public domain.

Though it made a lasting impression, it was a while before it cropped up on my radar again, and only relatively recently has it made anything other than an occasional, rare appearance on my menu. But when I realised that it was not only possible, but enjoyable, to bake my own loaves, it wasn’t long before the notion of making a sourdough loaf began to seem really rather appealing. Continue reading

My First (and Fabulous!) Tin Loaf

I’ve made a few loaves and shaped them by hand, and I’m beginning to get the feel for baking bread.  I’ve produced a steadily improving sequence of loaves, picked up some helpful techniques, as well as learned a few lessons the hard way.

Having watched the first Fabulous Baker Brothers show on Channel 4, I realised I’d not yet baked a loaf in a tin, and so decided to have a go following Tom’s recipe (the title was not just self congratulatory). Continue reading

Proving Improvements – Getting the Hang of the Basics.

In this, the second slice of my doughy journey, I’ll describe some of my experiences, and some of the things I found most useful, whilst learning to bake bread.  Read about my bready beginnings in the first part, here.  It bears mentioning that, as I write this, I am still very much in my “fresher” period of baking; a few months in with some loaves I’m happy with under my belt, but I’ve still a lot to learn.  My hope is that, by writing as I do so, I’ll help those at a similar stage, and learn from the communal wisdom of the baking blogosphere as I go.

Having chanced upon a pleasing first-ever loaf, my second disavowed me of any delusions of grainy grandeur I had developed, I had experienced both satisfaction (making me want to bake) and the challenge of failure (making me want to bake well);  I had to try again. Continue reading

Recipe – Dan Lepard’s Campaillou

Following an encounter with a quite delicious take on a New York Reuben, I decided I needed to find a recipe for the bread on which it was made: Campaillou. This proved far trickier than I had anticipated.  I consider my google-fu to be at least intermediate. But even Google is no match for secretive French bakers.  Oh no. Turns out you have to be in their club in order to get flour from the millers, Ronde des Pains, and the recipe for the blend of grains. Spoil sports.

But, fortunately for us all, baking superhero Dan Lepard has given us his interpretation of the elusive loaf on his forums (third post down). His book “The Handmade Loaf” has already transformed my bread, and I only got it this Christmas.  Pop over there and check it out; as he says it’s not technically a Campaillou, but it’s pretty close.

I’ve not tried it yet, and I don’t have a suitable machine, but I’m stowing it for future use.

Have you made anything similar?  OR had a hard time hunting down a recipe?

Fabulous Baker Brothers

Really enjoyed tonight’s first episode of the Fabulous Baker Brothers. Bags of useful info, even with the basics, and a couple of must-tries, including the irresistible Epic Trencher.  Also, I really want to get some smoked salt – yum!

Heston was also enjoyable. Second time I’ve seen his burger method, must give that a go… Burgers definitely count as sandwiches.