|Here it is covering a chicken salad sandwich. It was perfect.|
Now that I’m getting a bit more
cocky confident about sourdough bread making, I’m starting to experiment a bit more. I know that the bread geeks might poo-pooh at my experiments, and how tame they are. But I’m new to all this and hoping to help other rookie bakers, not really teach anything to anyone, let alone seasoned bakers. Although if I manage that, too, then hoo-RAH.
I wrote in another post about long proving of loaves. I regularly prove our ‘house bread’ (Dan Lepard’s Mill Loaf) for 72 hours now. But thus far I’d only proved white sourdough for about ten hours regularly, and 24 hours max.
So the other day, my partner (I’m so fed up of saying boyfyhusband, it sounds so fucking twee) was going to London and I decided to send my Italian Daddie – who lives there with my Italian Mamma – a loaf of my bread. He’s the sort of man who eats bread at every meal and he buys his baguettes from the supermarket, and I think they’re a poor substitute for the sort of bread he grew up with.
He likes his bread to be white and crusty. So I made a batch of sourdough, shaped one into a round for us, and one into a baton for him, proved it overnight and got up at FIVE O’CLOCK IN THE MORNING to cook it as my partner was leaving at 6am. I kept the other loaf and cooked it yesterday morning, after a 36 hour final prove in the fridge at 4 degrees.
I am pleased to report that it was splendid. I cooked it for only 20 mins, 15 mins at 250 and 5 at 220, as I was after a slightly softer crust than the usual blackened, sour crust I go for. It was delicious, delicate and here it is, photographed in the morning sunlight.
|White sourdough, cooked after a 36hr prove.|
Because making your own bread seems to make other people feel guilty, one of the questions I get asked a lot, rather accusingly, is “how do you find the time to make your own bread?”
The ironic thing is that since I’ve been making my own sourdough I have:
Spent less time shopping
This is because sourdough is low GI, it’s so delicious it’s almost (I said ALMOST) like eating cake but without the sugar lurch. So I snack in more satisfying fashion. Because a loaf of bread and some scraps make a meal, I spend less time shopping, ergo I save money. (Because although I do go shopping with a list, I always go off-list, too, so I go in for a tin of tomatoes and come out having spent £23.)
But also, sourdough, as my friend Lucy told me, is forgiving and easy to fit into a busy schedule. Aside from the beginning bit, the rest you squeeze in in amongst the laundry folding etc. The only thing it doesn’t work with is when I am actually away from the house, because sourdough requires lots of little bits of time spread out throughout the day. It suits me perfectly.
What I’ve also discovered is that you can make a double batch, prove it in the fridge, bake one lot and then keep the rest in the fridge. So far I’ve done this for 12 hours, 24 hours, 36 hours, 48 hours…you get the picture. This means that you can have fresh bread without having to have actually made it the day before.
This was a genius discovery for the likes of me.
A pure white sourdough doesn’t seem to like proving over about 24 hours (although more experimentation is needed). Any longer than this and it overproves. It’s still delicious, but you’ll get big air bubbles at the top of the bread and the crust starts to come away. But with darker flours it works better. I made a three flour loaf (white, rye, wholemeal) the other day, proved one over 12 hours at 4 degrees then cooked it. But kept the second loaf for 72 hours at 4 degrees.
The 72 hour loaf looked like it would be my first failure. As I slashed it, it collapsed alarmingly. I checked it after 15 mins at 250 degreees and it still looked collapsed and I prepared myself for failure. But after it’s second 15 mins at 220 degrees it looked completely normal. It had risen, it looked great.
It tasted absolutely delicious. The longer the prove the longer the taste has to develop, see.