Archive for March, 2013

There’s the recommended way, also known as the expensive way, using a chemical gel or liquid cleaning agent sold specifically for the purpose.

Then there’s the easy, free, ecological way of doing it. It’s simple and it’s free, just take a damp cloth dip it in the ash from the fire and rub it on the glass. When the cloth gets too dirty simply go and rinse it and continue as before. This method takes about 5 minutes and really works well even if you haven’t cleaned your glass in ages.

I wish that I could take full credit for this wonderful tip, unfortunately I can’t as it was actually my chimney sweep who told me about it, and even he can’t take the credit as it was one of his customers who told him!

Go on, give it a try, you know you want to.

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At last the starter is ready so it’s time to put it to the test!

So here are the basic ingredients for the bread:

500g strong white bread flour
300g sourdough starter
250ml tepid water
10g brown sugar
10g sea salt

As with all my recipes the measurements are an approximation, use them for guidance but don’t worry if you’re not exact, I certainly don’t (maybe that’s my problem!).

I normally put the flour in the bowl first followed by the sugar, salt and then the sourdough. At this point I start to mix the ingredients together and then slowly add the water, I never add all the water at once as this may make the dough too sticky, it’s better to add too little rather than too much as you can always add more but once added it’s much more difficult to take it out (I know I can always add more flour, but that’s not the point!).

Once mixed together into a nice firm dough take it out of the bowl and knead for about 10 minutes. Some people say that when the dough has been kneaded sufficiently you should be able to stretch the dough so thinly that you can almost see through it.

Once you have finished kneading place the dough in a well greased bowl, cover with a kitchen towel and leave to rise. I normally put the dough back into the bowl I used to mix the dough in and often just use flour as a liner rather than oil.

Saturday was another rather busy day so I actually left the dough all day and over night before knocking it back on Sunday morning. The recommendation is to leave it for about 3 hours, although many bakers suggest that the longer you leave it the better the outcome.

At this stage you put the dough back onto a clean surface and ‘knock’ it back, that’s just a technical term for another bit of kneading. You do this to take out the air that has accumulated during the proving/rising period.

Generally a sourdough bread will not rise the same as a normal yeast based bread, so don’t me surprised if after the first couple of hours there hasn’t been much movement, like me you can always let it continue to rise a bit longer, or even overnight. I wouldn’t recommend leaving it in too warm a place though as the dough may actually form a bit of a hard crust on top, dampening the towel will help to alleviate this though.

For this quantity of dough it is recommended that you divide the dough in half and make 2 loafs, however, in this instance I only made 1 large loaf.

Put the dough into a well floured tea towel and place back into the bowl and allow to rise again. Once more I left mine in the kitchen for several hours as there were lots of other things happening, shopping, gardening walking the dogs, you know all the normal sort of quiet Sunday afternoon activities!

Once the dough has risen to your own exacting requirements, or when your patients has run out, gently turn it out onto a baking sheet and place it in the oven (about 200c) and bake for 30-40 minutes. I normally put a dish of water at the bottom of the oven to help make the bread crusty.

To see if the bread is ready just give it a tap and it should have a nice hollow sort of sound.

Take it out of the oven, leave to cool on a wire rack, of course if like me you are just a little impatient you could just cut off the end, butter it and taste.

The outcome was acceptable, if not brilliant, the loaf is quite a lot denser than I would like so there is a long way for me to go before I’ll be reaching that panacea that  we all strive to achieve. Anyway I hope that you have all enjoyed the 14 day sourdough tale and that it has maybe even encouraged some of you to have a go and not be put off by the potential pitfalls and the sometimes overstated difficulties.

Happy baking to one and all.

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Firstly I have to apologise that I have not kept up with a daily post on the creation of the sourdough and secondly I have to confess that I have not been kind to the sourdough either.

For much of the past week I have more or less ignored it really as I have been busy with replacing the five bar gate and then putting up some trellis fencing on top of a wall in the hope that we will be  able to stop the dogs from jumping up and down. There’s good reason to try and stop them from jumping up and down as one of them, Poppy, recently fractured her back leg, still the vet was very pleased with her on Tuesday when he x-rayed it.

Anyway back to the sourdough, most of the past week it’s spend forgotten and unloved in the airing cupboard with me giving it a very occasional feed, I think twice only. Then on Thursday night, which was day 12, I eventually took it out of the airing cupboard only to discover a thick grey crust had formed over the top.

Disaster I thought, after all that time and effort it will be ruined!

I took a spoon and scraped the hard ‘grey crust’ off the top and threw it in the bin and what was underneath looked, and smelt, fine. So I decided that I would give it another feed and see what would happen. I once again added 50gr of Rye flour and 50gr of tepid water and mixed it well, however, instead of putting the jar back into the airing cupboard I decided to leave it in one of the kitchen cupboards. I think that the airing cupboard is probably just a little to warm to keep the mixture for extended periods of time.

On Friday, Day 13, I checked the mixture and it was doing well again so I thought that I would give it another feed. This time, however, I decided to use strong white bread flour instead of the Rye, so as before in went 50gr of flour and 50gr of tepid water. This was well mixed and then put back into the cupboard for the next 24 hours.

Let’s now wait and see what happens!

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Today I fed the starter again in exactly the same way as before by simply adding equal parts of Rye flour & water to the existing mixture.

50gr Rye Flour
50gr Water
existing starter from previous feed
Once the new ingredients have been mixed into the existing mixture it is once again placed back into the airing cupboard.
The previous day’s starter bubbling away nicely

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Today I gave the sourdough a rest.

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Today I once again fed the starter the same way that I have done on the previous days.

So the ingredients for the feed are once again simply the same as we used on the previous days, and they are again mixed in to the existing mixture:

50gr Rye Flour
50gr Water
existing starter from previous feed
Once the new ingredients have been mixed into the existing mixture it is once again placed back into the airing cupboard.

The previous days mixture is looking really good now


Add the new ingredients and mix in

The refreshed mixture

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