Me, Jen and our friend Tamsin decided to try to teach ourselves to make bread, we thought it would be a nice change to bake something savoury and you can’t beat soup or stew with big chunks of fresh bread… or as it’s summer, maybe with ham, cheese and a good chutney.
Firstly, all hail Jen’s shiny, new KitchenAid which made the whole thing much less messy! Normally this wouldn’t be a plus point, I like excuses to get covered in food, but when you’re feeling a little tired it’s much appreciated.
We made one batch of sourdough made from rye flour and one using strong white flour and yeast, which gave us 1 sourdough mini cottage loaf straight on the baking tray, a large white loaf in a silicon tray, and 4 sourdough mini loaves in silicon trays with various fillings:
Green olives and pimientos
Cheese and onion
Sundried tomatos, green and black olives, capers and cheese
Tamsin brought over some sourdough that she made last night. She has a starter dough that she keeps living on her windowsill and feeds daily, sounds a little gross but results in a really tasty bread with a good chewy crust,
exactly what I like! Every day when she feeds it she takes a little out to make way for the new starter that will grow during the day, and she says that to make the dough she weighs out this collected ‘extra’ starter and feeds it equal quantities of flour and water e.g. 40g starter + 40g flour + 40g water before work. This is the sponge and you leave it to ferment for 8 hours (i.e. while you’re at work). Then, when you get home from work, you add 2 x the weight in water (240g) and 3 x strong flour (360g) plus 10% of the total weight in salt (7g). Knead and leave to rise for a good 12 hours (overnight) at which point it’s ready to fill and bake.
To get the fillings through them we flattened the dough, covered it in the items listed above, rolled them and stuffed them into little silicon bread roll trays. We also rolled a plain cottage loaf to go straight onto the baking tray, our principle being that the more ways we tried out the easier it would be to figure out what was going right/wrong. We cooked then on 220°C (200°C in a fan oven) for about 25 mins but I’d make this 30-35 mins next time.
For proper measures and timings by people who know what they’re talking about visit http://bit.ly/w6eyf, this page also contains a really good description of the benefits of sourdough.
We wanted to see if plain white bread was easy, and also wanted to use the KitchenAid, so got a basic recipe for white bread and whacked it all in to be kneaded then left it to rise while we were playing with stuffing extras into sourdough. This one was put into one large silicon tray and cooked after we’d taken out the sourdough.
WHAT I LEARNT
1. Sourdough is a bit more fuss than yeast, and I don’t imagine that the tangy smell and taste would appeal to everyone, but all three of us (plus one boyfriend) really liked it and the chewiness was delicious. The white bread was also really good, and if you were in a rush would clearly be the one you’d go for!
2. A little milk makes the outside go nice and golden – see the difference between the bread roll in the bottom left of the ‘after’ image and the other pasty loaves. The loaf in the top left didn’t have any milk brushed on but was so full of oily sun dried tomatoes/olives etc that we think it must have got a light coating of oil in the process of being shaped so that seems to work too!
3. Rolling the fillings in resulted in a swiss roll effect on any breads having oily/greasy items in such as oily tomatoes or cheese. The olive bread was fine as they weren’t preserved in oil. Next time we’re going to try kneading the items in before baking for a more even spread and therefore better slice.
4. The silicon trays were great for the cheesey breads as they contained some of the mess, but anything baked in silicon needed a little more time in the oven to be properly cooked (i.e. to make a hollow noise when tapped on the bottom).
5. Most importantly, making bread is really fun and if you make lots of different types in loads of different ways then you’ll always find something that you like!