Sunday, 22 June 2014

Adventures in Bread

One of the frustrations here is the lack of yummy bread that is also good for you.  there is no shortage of french-style loaves of crusty white bread, but I'm a bit partial to bread with actual food value.  We can get a nice Norlinger, but even it palls after a while.

I'm also pretty partial to making my own bread, but with the choice of flours being a touch limited it is an exercise in frustration, unless I want to stodge out on flours based on white bread or plain wholemeal.  Not so bad, but still boring.
Enter a new bread making book, skilfully discovered by Michelle 'Enabler' Dean for very little cost and quietly exported to Australia in my hand baggage, with step-by-step instructions (with pictures) of the creation of a sour dough leaven.  The Handmade Loaf by Dan Lepard for those playing at home.

Right.  To begin.  Rye flour.  Now I'd seen that somewhere...Al Fair?...Carrefour?...Nevermind, I have to do this NOW!! I've got chapatti flour made of 7 different grains (except rye) there must be some wild yeasts sitting on some of that.  Raisins.  Sigh, I don't have any of those (maybe I should go to the souq...NO! It must be done NOW!!)  I've got dates.  Dates are sweet, they'll feed the wild yeasts that may or may not be lurking on the chapatti flour.  Done, now to wait.  One day...two days...found the rye flour...three days...feeding, feeding, feeding...four days...five days...AHA!!

White four leaven on the move
Rye flour leaven on the move
Both leavens seemed to be pretty happy, so I went ahead on day seven and started to make my bread.  Lepard's bread instructions call for very little kneading, 20 seconds only, but at regular intervals over about four hours before finally shaping the loaf and letting it prove for up to six hours.  First up a rye loaf.  Mmmmm, I don't think this is going very far......... 

The not very action packed rye loaf attempting to prove.
Annnnd, it didn't.  The white bread on the other hand (I call it white, but it was made with a bread mix from England called Barleycorn.  It had whole wheat flour, barley flour and linseeds but no corn at all.)  I didn't get any photos of these two loaves.  They worked quite well and were somewhat reminiscent of ciabatta loaves, which David loves so that was good.  They were a bit chewy after being frozen, but still nice.  I think perhaps the dough was a little wet.

I was grumpy about the rye, so I tried another sweet rye recipe and using date syrup instead of honey.  Mmmmm, now THAT worked.  It tastes like pumpernickel and isn't very sweet at all.  Now it's all chopped up and frozen for very slow eating.

The cooked sweet rye loaf

The inside of the sweet rye.  Simply perfect.

Excellent.  Not quite what I was hoping for, but still. I had lots of bread so I popped the leavens into the fridge for a week and sat in a corner muttering to myself.  I also took off to Lakeland and invested in a temperature probe (good for meat, liquids and bread etc).

Then my yoga teacher showed me the "Diet Flour" that the Muscat flour mills produce.  It's got whole grains, malted stuff and is enriched with iron and folates.  It's sold as flour for making bread for diabetics.  Right ho, I thought, I'll give it a go.

I pulled out the white leaven and brought it back to life.  Pow!  Back into very, very active life!  Goodness gracious it was excited!  So excited I just used it rather than taking a photo!  I used a 60:40 mix of Diet flour and barleycorn flour and was a little more careful about the amount of fluid.  The dough was still sticky to start with but firmer than before.  

I had bought two little one pound bread pans so I thought I'd have a go at putting half the dough in these two just to see if the sour dough would behave in a tin and create more sandwich/toast friendly shapes.  They did!

Two one pound loaves and yes, they really did weigh one pound!
Aren't they cute???  I was very, very pleased and was itching to cut one to see how it went.  But first to cook the big one.  I proved this one is a square basket and tipped it onto a semolina covered tray before slashing it around the top and sliding onto the bread stone.

Here it is just in the oven and beginning to cook.

Well that worked a treat!!  It came out beautifully and sounding like a drum!  The temperature probe was very useful, but also helped me discover just how hot my oven doesn't get.  Grrrrrrr.

The results using the re-invigorated leaven

The first one pound loaf.  Not bad at all!

The second one pound loaf. Mmmmmmmmm.
The bread tasted fabulous!  It was soft on in the outside, crunchy on the outside and tasted divine.  It was also filling.  However, we did accidentally eat almost all of the two loaves over the weekend.  Actually when I say we, I mean I ate a lot more of it than David.  What can I say?  I'm an addict.  Luckily I cut up the 2 pound loaf and froze it. It's not quite so tempting that way............

I'll have some of that for lunch with the Mango chutneys that I made as well.................