The first step on the journey - starting the leaven - was handled by Dan Lepard and The Handmade Loaf. The next step - understanding the process of making sourdough and baking a beautiful loaf was in the hands of Chad Robertson and Tartine Bread. I bought the book last spring and read the first section on making a good loaf - 27 pages for one recipe! I read it and read it and read it (this was the novice obsessive phase obviously). And started following it to the letter. And bought extra equipment. And slowly adapted the technique to work for me. Some things have stuck - float that starter to see if it's lively enough - and others have somewhat disappeared - folding every half an hour for how ever many hours sometimes just doesn't happen. I'm not sure I could say when I changed things. And no day of baking is exactly the same - schedules, temperatures, flour mixes, all change.
|My beloved Dutch Oven by Lodge|
I may blog more about other changes and techniques another day. But here is a loaf I baked today.
Cherry and fennel bread - makes two loaves
(based on a recipe from The Handmade Loaf but using proportions and techniques from Tartine Bread.)
700g warm water
mixed together and to which I added
200g unsweetened dried cherries
300g swiss dark flour from Shipton Mill
700g organic strong white flour also from Shipton Mill
1tbsp fennel seeds
Below is a picture of the dough just mixed together.
And this is the dough after half an hour, and then stretched and folded and popped into its box. I started using a box because it keeps in the moisture better, and I can see what is going on easily. It's not glamourous but it works.
After several stretch and folds, and a good few hours of abandonment it looked like this.
Shaped into a boule. It's amazing how doing this every couple of days has improved my technique. Well not really, but I am still amazed.
And the final baked loaf!