A surprise loaf…

Having run out of supermarket sourdough bread (which really isn’t sourdough, but it was a decent loaf until, inevitably, they screwed with the recipe), yesterday I was pretty much forced to make a loaf. And was horrified to discover that my yeast had trundled past its BBE date 4 years ago, which means I bought it about 6 years ago – that’s how long I’ve been too ill to be able to make bread on a regular basis. Pretty damn scary, especially when you consider how much worse I am now than I was then, in almost every respect.

Anyway, I needed bread so I had no choice. To be honest, making bread really isn’t physically demanding when, as I do, you use a stand mixer (a 1kW Kenwood Premier Chef). It’s getting the kitchen ready that’s daunting – clearing space on the worktop plus scrubbing and drying it before I start. Housework might be way down my list of Spoonie priorities, but cleanliness in the kitchen is essential.

This is my standard recipe, with which regular readers might be familiar:-

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500g Flour

30ml extra virgin olive oil (see Errata)

30ml Aspall Organic Cyder vinegar (if organic isn’t available, the standard Aspall is fine) (see Errata)

2 teaspoons fine sea salt

¼ teaspoon Fermipan Red yeast**

For the starter:-

A scant teaspoon of malt extract

1 teaspoon Fermipan Red yeast

270ml warm water

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**The best yeast by a country mile – allows you to taste the grain, not the yeast – and now available from Amazon, which makes life so much easier. Not cheap, but it costs much the same online wherever you buy it. If you’re in Liverpool, try Matta’s, in Bold Street. They used to sell it – I don’t know if they still do, By the way, it’s the pack that’s red, not the yeast.

I didn’t specify what type of flour for a good reason – it varies a lot. My basic white loaf is made with Shipton Mill’s organic strong, white, flour to which I often add wholemeal flour, either rye, spelt, or extra-coarse wheat, in varying proportions. For this loaf I went with 380g of organic white, to which I added 120g of organic wholemeal spelt .

And then I thought “Why not add some milk powder?” so I did, two tablespoons of Tesco granules. ground fine with a mortar and pestle. Don’t worry, it takes only a few seconds and, if you don’t have a mortar and pestle, whisk it into the starter just before you add it to the flour.

The result was a well-flavoured loaf with a deeply golden, soft, crust and, surprisingly, a slightly sweet taste. It goes amazingly well with cheese (Pié d’Angloys in this case), or bacon, or even just butter (well, OK, Clover in my case). If it makes Clover taste good it really must have something going for it!

So I’m very pleased with the result, and will gloss over the fact that it took my ancient yeast 6 hours to pump up the loaf!

I did wonder, though, if the longer than usual fermentation had added to the flavour and at some point I’ll find out by making a loaf with just a fraction of the usual amount of yeast, which should slow it down.

Watch this space…

What, I hear you cry, is that it? No instructions? Well, no.

OK, I’m not really going to leave you in the dark, especially newbies, so if you follow the instructions in this post (or adapt them if working by hand – I use a stand mixer), you’ll be fine. Just remember to weigh your liquids – 1g = 1ml, 1kg = 1litre – that way, if there’s any inaccuracy in your scales it will be evened out across all the ingredients. And it allows you to avoid measuring jugs which, in my experience, are hopelessly

Any questions, ask them here – comments on the post I linked to are closed.

 

Erratum:-

For some time now I’ve been typing 30ml of olive oil and cider vinegar while adding 60ml of each to my own bread. The error crept in because sometimes I’d bake for friends (2 loaves = 60ml), and somehow the increased quantities got transferred to my own single-loaf recipes and, as I pour freehand (hey, do as I say, not as I do!), the cock-up never registered until now, when I looked at my 30ml Oramorph measure and thought, Huh?

The thing is, with double the oil and vinegar, my loaves have been absolutely fine (and I’ve had good reports from people who have made them with 30ml, according to my recipes), so your call. Stick with 30ml or try 60ml – either works well**. I would certainly suggest trying 60ml of olive oil even if you keep the vinegar at 30.

**It also explains why my dough sometimes seems to have too much water in it, though there are so many other factors at work, from the weather to the flour itself, it can be hard to pin down a cause.

And no, you can’t taste the vinegar with either quantity. Many commercial loaves have vinegar in them as an anti-mould measure. The difference is that I use a quality organic vinegar, the commercial bakers use an industrial, food-grade product.

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