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.

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Spring bread noodlings – sourdough update…

The San Francisco Sourdough Starter.

I made up my sourdough starter as instructed – three cups each white bread flour and lukewarm water, mixed together with the culture. That makes a mixture which, to my mind, is way too thin (single cream thin – a poolish rather than a biga). Were I making it again, I’d considerably reduce the amount of water – I think 2 cups at most, maybe even 1.5.

So what I propose to do, to rescue this slop Continue reading

My Breadmaking Progresses…

Happy New Year, folks!

2010 is going to be the year in which I get seriously into bread-making. OK, I can make pretty good bread already, but with having to work around the problems of my health, it can be difficult.

The first change is buying a mixer, which frees me from the problem of having a good day, healthwise, before I can bake. I was torn, as I’ve mentioned previously, between the Kenwood Chef Classic (white only),

and a fire-engine red KitchenAid Artisan. (The candy-apple red special edition is stunning.)

In the end, though, it was no contest. The…

Read the full version on my breadmaking blog here.

Choosing a mixing bowl…

This is a tip mainly for bread-makers  like me, who have to contend with ME/CFS, as well as the vagaries of beating bread dough into submission (or anyone, really, who is physically weak/sick or otherwise impaired, and bakes).

For more years that I care to remember, I’ve used a Mason Cash earthenware bowl for mixing pastry, or bread dough. However, a few months ago I switched to a 5 litre stainless steel bowl (I may have mentioned this elsewhere).

Bigger than the Mason Cash bowl, it has the room to work the dough until it’s all incorporated – then it can be tipped out onto the work surface in a neat lump, for kneading.

Today, though, I’d carelessly put something else in my steel bowl, so I had to… Read more at my bread-making blog

Bread Bits, Part 6 – rambling about bread…

At Wellbeck, in rural Nottinghamshire there is a School of Artisan Food. I think that’s great. There must be many people, like me, who discover that they have a talent for something – in my case breadmaking –  and would like to take it further. They don’t offer a specific breadmaking course, but that may be a segment of the Baking course.

I certainly wish I’d discovered my own talent 30-40 years ago – with a school like this I may have been able to develop it to the point where I could make a living out of it. Now, at 65 and increasingly disabled, there’s not a lot I can do with my new-found skills except make bread for my own pleasure and consumption, and show off by giving loaves away.

Not that that’s necessarily a bad thing.

I have been asked to make… Read on

A new standard loaf…

Some time ago, I wrote that I had settled on a standard, everyday, loaf – I was wrong. In breadmaking, as in so much else, standing still gets dull. True, I could turn out, reliably, a decent, crusty, white loaf – with occasional excursions into rye bread – but I felt my standard loaf could be better, and so it proved.

I’d intended sticking with the same 60% hydration as before, but somehow I cocked up the calculation, and in reality it was about 68% which, as it turned out, was a great improvement, both in texture and in keeping qualities. I also added 50g of wholemeal rye flour, for flavour. I made a change to my yeast starter, too, adding flour to it.

This is the recipe. There is actually. . . Read on at my bread-making blog…

Oh, woe is me, having to buy bread…

Being too far ill to bake last week, I was forced to buy bread for the first time in months – a Warburtons Toastie – bread so lacking in substance I ate two or three times more of it than my own bread, for the same effect. Tasted of bugger all, too, which toasting only marginally improved.

The wrapper says – hilariously, in view of what follows  – “The ingredients that make this loaf special are Continue reading