Winter breadmaking tip…

My central heating (supported housing communal system, out of my control), has been playing silly buggers for a couple of weeks, and now the gas supply has failed, so now we’re at the mercy of those dozy buggers at Transco (that’s assuming the engineers are right, and as they’re still working, maybe they’re not – anyone’s guess right now).

So, even though yeast doesn’t need to be Continue reading

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More thoughts about breadmaking…

I started making bread seriously something over a year ago, from – as I’ve mentioned previously – a position of minimal knowledge. I knew the basics, but there was still a learning curve. As with most things worth doing, that shows no sign of abating and, between then and now, I’ve read a hell of a lot – just not recipes – I might pick up ideas from books, but I almost never use anyone else’s recipes, whether for bread or food in general. And, the more I read, the more I realise that every writer believes Continue reading

Beware of product reviews…

Why? Well, because I reviewed a product somewhat critically, and the review has not been published. Six days later, and it’s fair to assume it’s not going to be, and that sucks.

I published the review on my bread blog but, in view of the vendor’s attitude – the purpose of reviews is to give potential buyers an idea of what they’re might be getting, and not publishing critical reviews gives a false impression – I thought I’d bring it to a wider audience here.

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Loaf tins (pans), have just one function – they hold the dough in a specific shape while it proves and bakes. It follows, then, that they don’t have to be massively robust, though a degree of robustness is desirable for durability. They should not, for example, flex in use.

I have a pair of 2lb tins which are very robust, but not quite deep enough, so I ordered another two. They’re slightly shorter, but quite a bit deeper, which will give me a slightly taller  loaf for the same amount of dough (currently, it’s in the oven way before it’s finished rising, so a bigger loaf is achievable), and a decent-sized slice.

They arrived today and what struck me first was the weight – or lack of it. The reasons are twofold. Firstly, in the pics the tins appear to have wired edges, quite common in metalware of this type, and a very good thing. They don’t.

You can read the full review** here

**The reason I’m not publishing the complete review here is that Google, apparently, takes a dim view of identical blog posts. Or something…

Making wholemeal bread…

Today I have a batch of organic, 100% extraction wholemeal flour, from Shipton Mill, so wholemeal bread is on the agenda. Here, as a teaser, is the finished product:-

Click pic for full size image, Back button to return. (The uneven bottom edge is just one of those things. An amorphous lump of dough will either conform to a right-angled tin as it expands, or it won’t. These didn’t, and it matters not at all.)

I like wholemeal bread, but my experience with it has been rather less than inspiring. The first time I ever made bread, from a position of almost total ignorance, was during the bakers’ strike of 1979. I sought a little advice from the staff restaurant manager where I worked but, beyond that, I was on my own.

I opted for wholemeal, probably a tad over-ambitiously, with hindsight. The result was certainly very tasty but – let’s be honest – a brick. Much like the Crank’s loaf you can buy in Sainsbury’s today, in fact. Still, at a time when it was hard to come by, I, at least, had bread.

So, this time, I’m . . .

To read in full, please click through to my bread blog. Thanks.

Floury thoughts…

I’ve written before about some of the difficulties of making bread with Shipton Mill 701 flour (very soft dough with apparently weak gluten). Adding a proportion – typically 50% – of their No. 4 flour helps, but doesn’t cure the problem.

Anyway, some weeks ago they offered me some Swedish spring wheat flour. This makes a very soft, but tasty, loaf, but it is even softer to work than the 701.

I normally work with approximately 60% hydration which, for Continue reading

Making sourdough in real time…

This bread is made using the frozen sourdough culture that I described in this post. Despite the 9 weeks or so it’s spent in the freezer, the culture isn’t just viable, it’s remarkably vigorous. Unlike my first attempt, which took far too long, I’ve used two portions of culture, and I’m confident I’m not going to be waiting until 10 o’clock tonight to bake this time!  I’m also using 25% light rye this time, for a lighter loaf (last time I used dark rye which gave a crust that could have served as a wood rasp!).

All flours are Shipton Mill organic.

Monday

Midday: remove… Follow the complete recipe over at my bread blog.

Blending flour to your own specification…

A few days ago, I ordered some more flour. As I’d got the hang of the slightly problematic Shipton Mill type 701 strong white flour (or so I thought), I decided I’d go with that again, because it does make very nice, very light, bread even, as with my current loaf, with a hefty freight of oat bran. And then a loaf I was just about to put in the oven collapsed as I slashed it. Bugger, I thought – or something…

I’d talked to Shipton Mill about the apparently low gluten content of the 701, and they said Continue reading

50% Oat Bread…

The Hovis Hearty Oats loaf is being touted as the first ever loaf to be made with 50% wholegrain oats and 50% white bread flour. Claiming something as the “first ever” is always reckless and often, as in this instance, totally wrong.

I made my first 50% oats, 50% white bread flour about Continue reading

Shipton Mill flour versus Doves Farm’s…

Prior to switching to Shipton Mill, I used Doves Farm flours for some years, and I was perfectly happy.

I switched to Shipton Mill mainly because of their extensive range of flours other than basic white, and because their strong white flour is described as untreated, whereas Dove’s Farm’s version contains statutory nutrients**, added in accordance with The Bread & Flour Regulations 1998: Calcium carbonate, Iron, Thiamine (Vitamin B1) and Niacin. It also contains vitamin C which, as far as I’m concerned, is unwanted. The 25kg bag has no vitamin C – so why foist it on the rest of us?

**As I’ve since been advised by Shipton Mill, so does theirs, against their will.

In addition, the Continue reading

An emmer loaf…

Emmer (Triticum dicoccum), is a seriously ancient form of wheat, its first recorded cultivation dating back to around  9,000 BC, in south-east Turkey. These days, it’s the grain known as farro in Italy, though it’s also grown in other countries. Wikipedia will tell you more than you ever wanted to know about it.

The references to spelt in the Bible, are now known to be a mistranslation, and emmer is what was meant, as spelt was, geographically at least, very unlikely, while emmer was widely known throughout the historical Middle East and Mediterranean. Spelt, on the other hand, from its origins 5,000 years BC in Transcaucasia, moved westwards, and has always been primarily a European grain, before being carried to the Americas. (Pedant’s note – this is a simplification.)

Wikipedia also says, somewhat sniffily Continue reading