What I made today, (except of course I started yesterday)
The Day Before Baking
Mix together well
- 50 g of once refreshed starter
- 200 g breadflour
- 250 g water
Leave for 12-16 hours in a cold kitchen; 6-10 hours in a warm one
The following day
Mix a dough with :
- 450 g of the above
- 400 g water (approx, may vary depending on how much strong flour you use)
- 350 g very strong bread flour
- 300 g regular bread flour
- 150 g dark rye flour
- 1 tablespoon of dark malt dissolved in water
- 5g dry yeast
- 20 g fine sea salt
- Mix well and knead or not as you prefer.
- First prove 3 hours with two folds at hourly intervals.
- Shape and Second prove of about 2 hours
- Turn out onto peel
- Bake in a preheated oven with steam at 220 °C for 25 mins and then reduce heat to 200 °C for a further 20 – 25 mins.
- Cool on a rack.
Despite the extra bit of yeast, this dough took about three hours to do its first prove. My kitchen was around 18 C most of the day so after an hour or so I put the dough inside my top oven with the door held slightly ajar with a teatowel in the door so the oven light would stay on. The light was enough to bring the internal temperature of the oven up to around 24 C. I needed to rotate the bowl occasionally as one side got warmer than the other but it works very well and isn’t as expensive as putting the heating on just for the dough!
I then split the dough into two and thought I would have a go at making a loaf with a braid on the top.
I took three balls of 60 g of dough each and rolled them into long even strands and made a three stranded plait which I put in the bottom of the banneton. Then I added a boule of dough on top of that, so that when I turned it out the plait would be on the top.
If I do this again I will make longer strands and a fatter plait, maybe 90 g per strand. The dough that forms the main part of the loaf weighed 850 g. I made the remaining dough into a smaller loaf.
Why the braid? I have been watching Britain’s Best Bakery on ITV1 for the last couple of weeks, cheering on all the wonderful bakers, patissiers and cake makers who have been brave enough to let a TV crew into their workplaces and film them.
I was very taken with the wonderful showpiece sourdough loaf made by the Metfield Bakery in Suffolk which had a plait on the top. The judges thought their sourdough was amazing and I had never tried putting a plait on the top of a loaf so I thought I would try for a bit of fun and a sort of homage. Predictably mine has come out looking nothing like the one I saw on TV, mine looks a bit like a drunken Roman Emperor, whose laurel wreath has tipped over the side of his head after imbibing a bit too much wine…. (Edit: Stuart from Metfield Bakery has left some helpful tips in a comment below, thank you Stuart!)
Watching the shows I was struck by how passionate the bakers are, how much they care about their craft. The show has a competitive element, but in some ways that is the least important part of the show for me. I just like to watch the teamwork involved, the dough being shaped, admire the different ovens, the mixers, the hustle and bustle, and the icing on the cakes.
The judges have a delightful manner and accentuate the positives they find in each and every one of the bakers they talk to; the challenges they set the bakeries are quite fun, but a bit random and not necessarily equal in skill difficulty. The section where they visit the bakeries and have a look round and a quick chat and a few words from enthusiastic customers is for me the best part of the show. They showcase the bakeries and their warm, inviting interiors and beautiful displays of cakes and breads, their cafés and delighted customers really well. I found myself making mental notes about where they all were and hoping that one day I would get to pop in and sample their baked goodies for myself.
I really enjoyed seeing my friends at the Loaf in Crich who were on this week, the judges were very complimentary about their big green olive sourdough and it was lovely to see the shop and café humming with life and happy customers. I have almost got the 100% spelt sourdough (my personal nightmare) right now, thanks to expert advice from Andrew at the loaf.
Here it is looking decidedly more airy than my usual bricks. One of the most rewarding things about dabbling in breadmaking has been all the wonderful people I have come across while doing it. Andrew is one of those people who has always been kind hearted and encouraging. We all need encouragement.
It is well worth having a look at, recording or using Catch up TV options to whizz through the adverts and share in the delight and see places that you might want to visit if you were in that part of the UK. The series is in the second of four weeks, so plenty of time to catch some of the shows as they travel around the UK.
By the way….
I get so excited when I walk past a bakery and I always have to go in and buy something, even if I have a breadbin full at home I can’t resist.