Tag Archives: Sponge starter

Starter News: Day 5 and Garth the Starter’s first loaf.

Day five arrived and it was the last day of action, according to Mr Lepard’s instructions from day 6 I could get baking (although I left it until the weekend, having not got the time to devote to bread making). So here’s how day five went down and the trials and tribulations of my first sourdough loaf.

Day Five:

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Dan Lepard says that by day five the fermentation should be obvious, and the aroma should be starting to turn acidic.

Ingredients:

100g water at 20 degrees c

125g strong white flour

Method:

1) Remove and discard 3/4 of the starter from the kilner jar.

2) Pour in the water and mix well.

3) Add the flour and stir to a thick paste. Cover and leave for another 24 hours.

Dan Lepard favours keeping the refreshment heavier on the flour than the liquid (when many prefer a 1:1 ratio) as he says this slows down the rate of fermentation and prevents the leaven from rising and falling too quickly.

My first loaf.

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Seemingly everyone out there has varying and often conflicting rules when it comes to sourdough loaves, being highly inexperienced in this field I decided to play it safe with a Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall recipe from the channel4 food website. I decided upon this recipe as it uses a sponge method, which you make 24 hours before you make the dough, it’s a technique I used to make my stollen at christmas and I was pretty pleased with that. I did have a few disasters along the way; my proving basket is yet to arrive, so I used a suggestion off another food blog to heavily flour a tea towel and use it to line a colander. A brilliant idea in practice, but when you fail to properly flour the tea towel and your dough sticks to it once it’s proven it doesn’t seem like a great idea. In the future, if I’m devoid of the proper equipment, I will use this method but HEAVILY flour my tea towel. I also failed to heat my baking sheet properly, and I then didn’t cook my loaf for long enough, so it was quite undercooked on the bottom. But there were a few positive aspects of my first bake. The crust was great (having used the pan full of boiling water to create steam method) and the top of the loaf had a pretty good crumb. I played it too safe with the presentation of my first loaf, and decided to not slash the dough, so it did just look like a boulder. But all in all I am pretty damn proud of my first loaf, knowing I cultivated Garth from the very beginning. Hopefully this is the start of something, and after a few more dodgy loaves I’ll be cracking out artisan bread left, right and centre. But for now, my slightly stodgy sourdough was a sufficient accompaniment to some homemade soup.

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Bread Christmas Style aka Stollen and a Christmas Round Up.

Christmas starts for me with a mug of Glühwein and a slice of stollen so this year, after a year of bread making,  I decided I should make my own. After much research and deliberation I decided upon a Dan Lepard recipe, I’m obsessed with his guardian website page and his recipes are always easy to follow and informative. Bread is his speciality and his knowledge seemingly knows no bounds, so I felt like I was in safe hands having never attempted to make stollen before. His recipe uses a ten second kneading method which is repeated several times. I was dubious about this at first as the dough was very moist and sticky, but I persevered and the end result was great so I will no longer doubt it in future. The recipe I used yielded two large loaves, which can be frozen and do store well, but you may want to half the recipe if you’re already too full of christmas fare.

Stollen. (adapted from Dan Lepard)

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Ingredients:

Dan Lepard’s recipe uses the ‘sponge’ method, where the yeast is left to ferment in a separate mixture before being added to the main bulk of the ingredients.

For the Sponge:

50g strong white bread flour IMG_0690
1 tsp caster sugar
2 level tsp easy-blend yeast
100 ml warm milk

For the Dough:

450g strong white bread flour
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
finely grated zest of 1 lemon
3/4 tsp salt
50g icing sugar
150g unsalted butter, softened
1 egg
2 tbsp spiced rum
175g warm milk
250g raisins
125g mixed peel
250g golden marzipan
melted butter and icing sugar to finish

For variation you could add other dried fruit in place of raisins, such as dried cranberries or apricots

Method:

1) For the sponge; mix together all the ingredients in a bowl, leave to stand in a warm place for 30 minutes, the mixture should be bubbling.

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2) Meanwhile, place the flour for the dough in a  wide mixing bowl with the cinnamon, lemon zest, icing sugar and salt. Add the butter and rub it in with your fingers until all the lumps disappear.

3) After the sponge has been left for 30 minutes, beat the egg, rum and warm milk into it and  then pour this into the flour mixture. Add the dried fruit and stir everything together. Cover the bowl with cling film and leave for 10 mins.

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4) After 10 minutes lightly oil the work surface and your hands and gently knead the dough for 10 seconds. Return the dough to the bowl, cover and leave for another 10 mins. Repeat this light-kneading twice more at 10-min intervals. Once done, leave the dough covered in a warm place for a further 30 mins.

5) Then divide the dough into two pieces and form each in to a ball. On a lightly dusted work surface, roll each ball of dough out into an oval using a rolling pin, roughly 2 cm thick. Take the marzipan, divide it in half, and roll each piece into a sausage the same length as each oval of dough. Place the marzipan along the length of the dough, and then fold the dough in half so that the marzipan is covered. Press gently around where the marzipan is  to seal the marzipan in. Place each stollen on a baking sheet lined with baking parchment, leaving space between each of them so they don’t merge when proving. Place the tray in a carrier bag to create a pocket of warmth and moisture and leave in a warm place for about an hour, or until the stollen have almost doubled in volume. Meanwhile pre-heat your oven to 200C/180C fan/gas 6.

IMG_06956) Bake the loaves on the middle shelf of the oven for 20 mins, reduce the heat to 190C/fan 170C/gas 5 and cook for a further 20 mins. Like bread, turn over a tap to see if the loaves are hollow and thus cooked. Remove from oven and leave to cool on a wire rack. While still warm, brush each stollen with melted butter and dredge heavily with icing sugar, then wrap in greaseproof paper and tie with string. Store in a air-tight container. The loaves keep for up to two weeks. If making again I would definitely half the recipe, although I did make a stollen based bread and butter pudding with the second loaf.

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So I’ve been pretty bad with blogging this festive season, bad internet coupled with busy christmas plans has lead to a neglecting my duties. So here’s a cheeky photo montage of christmas baking and general foodie-ness. Highlights include the two Christmas Puddings  made earlier in december, puff pastry mince pies, my new gorgeous anthropologie measuring spoons, chocolate orange star biscuits, turkey pie, my new le creuset pestle and mortar, Moran family pickles, red onion and cheddar soda bread and stollen bread and butter pudding.

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