Tag Archives: sourdough

Ooh La La-rdy Cake!

Dan Lepard's Lardy Cake

This week I have been on a baking spree.  I made Dan Lepard’s Lard Cake, recipe in the Hand Made Loaf, after several years of thinking about it, seeing Celia have such fun making it last year and after finding a butcher who would save me some good quality pork fat to render lard from.

I followed the method for rendering fat in the oven which I found in Fat: An Appreciation of a Misunderstood Ingredient, with Recipes’ by Jenifer McLagen.

Two Lardy Cakes half way through prep

Brian was delighted by this treat. The recipe in the book makes over a kilo of dough which is far too much for one Brian to eat even with help from me,  so I split the dough into two lots and used  2 x 18 cm tins to bake them in and shortened the baking time by ten minutes. I found those paper cake cases the easiest way to line the tins and it made it easy to hoik the cakes out to cool without running the risk of burning sugar syrup going everywhere.

Roll up that dough

The first one with the caster sugar topping I took to Graham at Molesworth’s, a local Bristol butchers’ shop, as he had been so kind as to keep the leaf lard back for me and was one of the few butchers I spoke to who seemed to know what I wanted so I reckoned he should get to try my first (and possibly my last ) batch of lardy cakes.

As I walked down the street with my little basket feeling slightly self conscious that I was carrying a hot lardy cake and imagining a curling aroma behind me, (thinking of Desperate Dan in the Dandy)   a man in full evening dress circa 1920 and with a top hat (not imaginary this bit)  walked past me and said ” I hope you have spring flowers in your basket.” I said  “Home made lardy cake I am afraid.” He doffed his hat to me and said “Marvellous!” It was four thirty in the afternoon. Sometimes I wish I had one of those cameras on a helmet…

Demarara Topped Lardy Cake

The second one has a topping of Demerara sugar at Brian’s insistence as that was the way his Gran made it  (as you know I never argue with Brian’s ancestors) and a few raisins.

Brian's Demerara Lardy CakeIt was suggested that Brian shared his cake but apparently this is not an option. I have had a piece and I can report that it is very light, for a lard cake, but it most definitely has an aura of fine porky goodness about it, which is deeply unfashionable and will no doubt make many people rush for their kale smoothies just looking at the photos.

Old Faithful Sourdough Starter

In its favour it is of course completely dairy free and it uses a sourdough starter as well for extra fermenty goodness.

Lardy Cake Crumb Shot 1 2 crumb shots

The crusty sugary outside is pretty good and if I was going on a forced march over hill and dale I would be grateful to stop after about six hours and eat a chunky triangle of Lard Cake with a large mug of strong  black tea, but I am not so sure I could eat this very often. I did enjoy making it though! I will try most things once, always a good principle to consider.

Jeffrey Hamelman’s Rye and Flaxseed Bread

Rye and Flaxseed Sourdough Bread copyright Zeb Bakes

Flax or linseed is a wonderful and healthy addition to a good loaf of bread. In the UK we get both golden and brown linseed, I have used golden linseed here as I like the colour. If you soak the seeds overnight before working them into the dough then they release a sticky mucilage that I believe improves the cohesive quality of a high content rye dough and for those of you who are struggling with shaping and slashing it also helps in that department. All the loaves I have ever made using a flaxseed soaker open and spring well.

linseed old bread bread dough copyright zeb bakes

This bread is made following a recipe of Jeffrey Hamelman in the updated edition of Bread. It is made with fermented whole rye flour, strong white (bread flour) linseeds and an old bread soaker. For those of you unfamiliar with the concept of an old bread soaker, who are wrinkling your nose and going ewww, an old bread soaker is not made with a green and furry piece of ancient crust, not with a three day old slice of supermarket pap but with a drying piece of a good bread. In this case I used a slice of the sourdough I was currently eating which was about two days old. As I routinely eat my sourdoughs for up to a week after they have been baked, there was nothing scary about this at all.

Like most things you might choose to add to your bread, the secret is not to add too much that it alters the character of the loaf in an undesirable way.

proving loaves in cloth copyright Zeb Bakes

The recipe is given in full on Modern Baking’s website here (it looks like a legal site not one of those horrible rip off places) together with his notes on the bread and his comments on using an old bread soaker for those of you don’t have a copy of the book yet. I scale the recipe down by dividing the metric column numbers by 10 as I do with nearly all his recipes for my use at home. I followed the recipe very closely as I tend to do when I make Hamelman’s breads. I might add a little more or less liquid depending on the absorbency of my particular flours that is the only difference.

If you are trying an old bread soaker you may need to experiment with how you prepare it though. I suggest making sure the bread is a sort of porridgy slurry before you mix it into the dough, so you may need to process it a bit in some way first.

Rye and Linseed sourdough copyright Zeb Bakes

This is a strong and fully flavoured bread which reminds me vividly of German breads. I adore it. It is not one for people who don’t like rye however. I return to bake it ( and variations on this theme )  again and again. It has a lovely mouth feel and bite and a rich complex set of flavours.

I made three easily shapable loaves and put them in between folds of cloth to prove before baking in a hot oven with steam on a baking stone.

Give it a go if you fancy something different, you never know you might like it! There are lots more of Jeffrey Hamelman’s breads buried in the old posts of my blog if you want to get an idea of the range and breadth of what he offers the aspiring bread baker.  I have added a menu page which gives links to these breads  which I baked with the Mellow Bakers project for ease of reference here.   I might revisit baguettes this weekend …. what are you baking?

Related Posts :

Multi seeded bread with an old bread soaker with recipe

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Sourdough and Forgetfulness

Forgetful Sourdough Zeb Bakes

One of the best things about sourdough baking is that once you have persevered and got going with it, you can return to it and like riding the proverbial bicycle just get a starter going and well, make a loaf when you feel like it.

I found myself making up a couple of lots of starter to send in the post and was left with various bits of starter in various stages. I had one semi dried bowlful, another a bit past its best squidgy one and I looked at them and thought, chuck or bake, chuck or bake? So I baked.

I started late afternoon (not the best of times to think about making bread) and then around 7 pm when the dough was ready to shape, arrived at another decision point. Chill or shape, chill or shape?

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So I shaped, then I tucked the banneton in the oven with the light on and ate supper. And then I fell asleep. I woke up and was just about to crawl off to bed at around midnight and I remembered the dough. I thought, oh it will have just collapsed, oh no, but in fact it was puffy and bubbly and so I heated up the oven and sleepily slashed it and chucked it in. Went back to the sofa, watched forty minutes of TV, read about yeast water on the Fresh Loaf, took the loaf out, left it and here it is this morning.

The point of this is to say that sourdough in a cool climate can work to the advantage of the scatty brained and forgetful. It will wait for you for a surprisingly long time, where a yeasted dough would just collapse in a hiss and a froth of frustration.  So if you are starting out on your sourdough experiments, it really does get easier as you practise, trust me! If you can find someone to show you how to shape and give you all their little tips, the things they do without thinking then that is invaluable, but you can pick up loads just from reading and thinking about it. We all get there in the end.

Have a look at Celia’s brand new tutorial if you want to see how it is done superbly in the hotter climate of Sydney, Australia. Or if you want to read a bit more about how I go about it when I am concentrating, ahem, have a look at this post Weekly Sourdough Bread.

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Forgetful Person’s Sourdough

  • 150 g of starter
  • 320 g water to start with, maybe add more once you have mixed
  • 500 g bread flour
  • 10 g salt
  1. Mix all but the salt, if the dough is very tight then add water 20 g at a time and mix in till you have a dough you feel comfortable with.
  2. Leave for half an hour, tip dough out of bowl, sprinkle salt on and work into dough.
  3. Shape into ball and
  4. Put in lightly oiled bowl
  5. Leave somewhere sensible, in winter near a radiator or in an oven with the light on until the dough shows that it has started to grow, and you can see bubbles under the skin.
  6. Then either put in fridge till the next day
  7. or shape into a ball, this time using flour to shape
  8. and put seamside down in a well floured basket
  9. cover with a shower cap or a teatowel or cling film
  10. put somewhere warm
  11. try and remember it before you go to bed
  12. put the oven on for 20 minutes or so before you bake, nice and hot 220C at least,
  13. put a little tray in the bottom of the oven on a lower shelf
  14. tip dough out of basket, dust with flour if needed, slash the top with a sharp knife
  15. slide dough into oven onto tray or baking stone
  16. Boil kettle and put boiling water into hot little tray below
  17. Bake for 10 – 20 minutes  till bread is browning and is fully risen, and open door, let out steam for a few seconds
  18. Reduce heat to 200C and bake for another 20 – 30 minutes depending on the size of your loaf
  19. Leave on wire rack to cool
  20. Go to bed – 0100 knowing there will be fresh bread in the morning

Snow Pics from Bristol

Witchhazel in Snow

Witchhazel in Snow

While they are still fresh and the snow is on the ground here are some snow photos from yesterday morning.

Before 'sunrise'

Before ‘sunrise’

We woke up to 16 cms of sticky British snow, the sort that hangs on the powerlines and brings them down as it has done in Wales.

Wintersweet

Wintersweet

The sun didn’t come out so the photos have that grey cast to them, I have brightened them up a bit but anyway it gives you an idea of how it looks here.

Galloping Poodle

Galloping Poodle

Nose-diving Poodle

Nose-diving Poodle

The dogs love the snow and the snow loves them, clinging to their legs and forming huge balls of ice in their fur which we have to melt off when they come in again. I might have to buy those ridiculous legged suits for them if this goes on.

Caraway Rye at the back and Kamut and regular wheat at the front

Caraway Rye at the back and Kamut and regular wheat at the front

Edited to add a crumb shot, very pleased with the lightness of this loaf!

Crumb shot of light rye and caraway sourdough loaf

Crumb shot of light rye and caraway sourdough loaf

Because the central heating is on more or less all the time, the sourdough was very happy and made me two lovely loaves of bread in about seven hours altogether. One is with some kamut in the mix, the other with light rye and caraway. The rye was a looser stickier dough and even though both loaves had the same overall amount of flour, one a bit more water and followed my regular formula but they have different shapes and the dough felt very different. The moment you introduce rye the dough gets stickier to handle. Always interesting, how the bread comes out.  Stay warm if you are in the Northern Hemisphere this weekend and I hope my Antipodean friends are staying cool!

Andrew Auld’s 100% Spelt Bread (a formula from the Loaf in Crich)

100% Spelt Sourdough, the loaf in Crich

Spelt grain belongs to the wheat family of field crops.  It is often described as being an ancient grain or a heritage grain.  Interest in these heritage grains has increased in recent years, both on the part of consumers and amongst researchers into crop genetics with an eye to maintaining a gene reservoir for breeding programmes.  The ancient grains are credited with being more adaptable to poor soils and harsh climactic conditions as well as having attractive nutritional attributes.

Spelt contains gluten and is not suitable if you have coeliac disease. It is claimed that some people find it easier to digest than bread made from more modern wheat; this is something that I am not qualified to comment on. I personally find rye bread easier to digest than wheat bread, but maybe that is because I ate a fair bit of it when I was a child, who knows?

I remember our first encounter with spelt flour vividly; Brian bought a bag home one day and said he was going to make Roman Centurion slipper bread, this was in the days when we really hadn’t done any bread baking at all at home and this was the recipe on the side of the bag. I can’t even remember which brand it was now. We mixed the dough and produced some very flat and rather strange bread that we didn’t like very much, deciding that Roman Centurions probably used it in their boots for extra liners, and the bag of flour disappeared onto the back of the shelf.

Recently I was asked by a friend if I could make them an all spelt loaf and I had to say that I wasn’t very good at making them, so I asked Andrew at the Loaf in Crich for his formula (having seen a lovely photo on Twitter of his loaves, looking all nicely risen with good open slashes) and he kindly shared the recipe and here it is for all to try.

Like so many of the breads and cakes I make I don’t make them over and over again until I get them absolutely right before I write about them here. I am not that sort of blogger. To a certain extent for me, every loaf is a bit of an experiment, I learn (or re-visit the same mistakes!) each time I add water to flour. Even though I have been baking for a handful of years now, the number of loaves I have actually made is probably less than a professional baker would make in a few days.

So after all that preamble – here goes!

Andrew Auld’s Spelt Bread (from the Loaf in Crich)

Andrew’s formula uses a rye sourdough starter to start the whole process off,  which he calls a ‘rye sloppy’.  If you only have a wheat starter then you can convert a small proportion of this to rye over a few days by feeding it with wholegrain rye flour and water instead. I keep both a wheat starter and a rye starter going, I refresh them once a week if I am not using them for baking and keep them in the fridge unless I am planning doing a lot of baking over a period of a few days.  If you are not worried about a small proportion of wheat in your bread then just use your wheat starter.

Spelt Sourdough Biga

The day before you want to bake

1st stage

Mix a biga with

  • 24 g rye starter
  • 80 g water
  • 100 g white spelt flour
  • 100 g wholegrain (wholemeal) spelt flour

Leave in a covered bowl to ferment. The time this takes will depend on how warm it is. I left mine overnight.

2nd stage

  • 640 g white spelt flour
  • 160 g wholemeal spelt flour
  • 80 g orange juice
  • 12 g honey
  • 12 g salt ( I upped this to 15g as I felt it was a bit low for my taste, I wonder if the low salt contributes to the faster proving times, that is something to bear in mind and salt is very much a personal preference)
  • 440 g water
  • 300 g biga (as from the first stage)

Mix all the above together well and leave for three hours to prove, folding the dough twice during that period.

Shape the dough as you like, I proved these in bannetons.  I made three smallish loaves of around 550 g each, then leave for a shortish final prove. I baked these after 45 mins proving in front of a radiator –  a much shorter time than I would usually leave a sourdough loaf on its final prove – and I think that has been my mistake in the past, leaving spelt too long on the final prove, Andrew’s note to me indicated that might be a good way to go.

When experimenting with a dough that is unfamiliar, do make notes, I would try and remember if it was hot or cold, if possible have a little temperature gadget in your kitchen. I have one from the Science Museum in London that is very useful. Note the ambient temperature and the times the dough has sat in prove (be honest here, if you forgot it, then write it down regardless!) and if possible take photos to jog your memory. Keep making the same dough and either shorten or lengthen the proof times and you will get a result you like in the end.

Spelt sourdough loaf on a cold day

I baked these smallish loaves at 220 ºC for about 20 minutes and then reduced the temperature to 200 ºC for another 20 minutes and that seemed about right. I tend to bake my bread longer than many people do. I see commercially that bread seems to be baked for shorter periods of time, maybe a commercial oven is different but I prefer a ‘well-baked loaf’ nearly always.

My small thoughts :  handle this dough gently, don’t knock the air out of it when you fold it, and be kind to the dough when you come to shape it;  try and preserve the air that is in the dough from the first fermentation stage. The folding process stretches the bubbles that are forming and traps them in the dough, and they help to give the dough some structure.

Spelt Sourdough Crumb Shot

Don’t spend a long time staring at the dough once you have turned it out prior to baking it. Slash it simply with one long angled cut, slightly off the centre line as if you are slitting an envelope –  the more cuts you make on the top, the more the dough will lose surface tension and flatten out. Decide what you are going to do before you turn it out and be quick and decisive and get it into the oven nice and speedily. An old slashing post of mine here might give you some ideas here.

Spelt flour is also lovely in biscuits and cakes, so you can always use it that way too.

I guess I should be thinking about festive baking… I have been reading lots of lovely blogs full of exciting projects, but I haven’t lifted a festive finger yet, no shopping, no crafting, nothing has happened here.  This is not to say there won’t be any but don’t hold your breath!

If any other spelt fans want to share their tips and thoughts on baking with spelt I am all ‘ears’ !

Zeb Bakes a little more Bread

Lately I haven’t felt much like blogging and I haven’t managed to keep up very well with you all working away and writing your lovely stories and sharing your photographs. I am feeling tired and old and quite sad a lot of the time. The drought of winter made way for the rains of April and we are quite sodden in parts of the country now. I am optimistic that May will be gorgeous though !

Mood swings, ageing, ill health are all part of the natural cycle of things for many people, well being tired and old certainly is, so I am not looking for sympathy particularly but just offer you this by way of explanation for my less frequent blogposts.

Continue reading

The 52 Week Salad Challenge and some Ugly Bugly Buns

For Ruth a speed blog post – I made a batch of squishy soft dough today with 200 grams of bubbly sourdough starter, probably about 150% hydration but I can’t be sure as it was all a bit random.

I used more or less:

  • 200 g sourdough starter
  • 500 g of mixed wheat flours
  • 12 g of seasalt
  • a dessertspoon of spraymalt
  • 100 g of thick home made yoghurt
  • about 40 g butter and
  • then water.. about 300-320g I can’t quite remember

I don’t know quite what I had in mind but when I came to shape it, the dough didn’t want to be a boule, it sighed a lot, it flopped and said, ‘I can’t hold this form, don’t ask it of me.’ My dough often says that and rather than create one of those low profiled boules   for the umpteenth time -

- I rolled it out and cut it into pieces (remembering the muffins we made the other week) and left them to prove for about three hours and cooked them in the same fashion as those. Fried on a not too hot dry steel pan for about 3 to 4 minutes each side, with a wok lid over the top to keep the steam in and then into the oven at 180-190 C to finish baking for another 10 – 12 minutes, depending on size. They needed a longer time in the oven than the muffins and weren’t as fabulously light as those were, I reckon the egg is the secret ingredient that gives those muffins lift and softens the crumb. So if you have a go at this, add an egg in there.

With the left over dough I made some plain flat breads which we had with minestrone at lunch time, they were pretty good.

Later on I had a wander round the garden to see if I could forage a salad to go in the ugly buns with some cold chicken for a light supper.

I attempted very small snail (half a little fingernail) photography, they move surprisingly fast and this was the best of ten shots…

I couldn’t quite face eating the overwintered chard in its raw state, even though I picked the smallest leaves they were still too chewy for me.

So I hope this counts as an attempt at the 52 week salad challenge for January. I haven’t sown any new seeds yet so I am going to have to work a bit harder if I am joining in next month!  To find out all about the challenge visit Michelle at Veg Plotting.

I confess it was a ‘warm salad’ in the end, OK it was a stir-fry ( I cannot tell a lie when it comes to food blogging)  but it had nothing in it that didn’t grow in the garden!

I have no polytunnel and no greenhouse so all these are just growing outside higgledy piggledy, more by accident than by design that they were there for me this afternoon.  I have seen lots of chives, or wild onion grass growing locally but I didn’t pick any today.

In the garden I found and picked:-

  • Self sown leeks
  • The carrot thinnnings that I replanted hopefully when I pulled our carrots. Yes! We have some perky little carrots that came up again!
  • Rainbow Chard – surviving the depredations of the wood pigeon, who in turn are the smarter ones who survive the sparrow hawk’s daily visits. I have to admire them as well as shout and bang on the window at them.
  • Everlasting Spinach -a bit coarse but growing cheerfully
  • The last of the coriander leaves
  • Curly leaved parsley
  • A garlic clove that that I had planted about two years ago in the flower bed, forgot all about that, yes I added that in.
  • Australian mint
  • Sage
  • Rosemary
  • Masses of bright new Greek oregano leaves, little plants seeding themselves everywhere
  • Primrose flowers

The buns looked very ugly…

- a bit like squashed overripe Camembert pretending to be bread, but they tasted good when we ate them stuffed with cold chicken, warm stir fried garden gleanings and a dollop of Farringdons Gold Mayonnaise.

These two final pics are from the iPad camera so not that good but you get the general idea…