I've been baking bread regularly for several months now, from the River Cottage bread handbook, after repeated, frustrating failures with a borrowed bread making machine. I've reached the stage now where my body has accepted that it will be required to do vigorous kneading at least once a week, and I now enjoy an extended gaze out of the window following the antics of the local bird life and changes in tree leafage instead of sweat/pant-ing and occasionally collapsing over the bench with pain and exhaustion. The great leap forwards in that regard was discovering that my bench is a bit too high for me. If I stand on tip-toes I'm sweet as it's far easier to kneed from above the dough. Perhaps I ought to bake in high heels?
It was the success of this recipe after so many failures that meant I stuck by the RCH basic bread recipe, and other than making bagels I hadn't tried any of the other bread recipes. Then, reading Country Living UK a few weeks ago there was an article on sourdough, including a DIY sourdough starter guide. Now as a tang lover in general of course I love sourdough, but I tend to only eat it at the occasional brunch out since it's not sold in my small town. After 5 days I accepted (not that calmly) that my efforts had resulted in yet another 'fizzer' (kiwi-parlance for something that goes tits-up in Yorkshire parlance), the issue being a lack of fizz or any other sign of life in the starter.
So I consulted my RCH and went organic.
Two days later I had a living, breathing, fizzing entity to look after.
She lives in here on the bench, in a misshapen, heavy bottomed, chipped pot I made in pottery class donkeys years ago. I feed her every day. I've called her Sharon.
This is how 'Shazza' looked after a week of regular feedings. She smelt like she's been out on a cider drinking bender the night before and hadn't brushed her teeth when she got home. Anyway, I let the bubbly slapper out the bottle, mixed her up with some flour and salt and the next morning...
I spent the morning watching her chest rise and fall. Four times, each an hour apart.
To stave off the hungry anticipation and slight boredom in between the bottom pattings, I net surfed...
Did you know the taste of sourdough is totally unique to the place it's made? Apparently the yeast spores in the air caught in the dough differ from place to place. And apparently sourdough's tricky-to-make reputation is due to the yeast spores in a city being overwhelmed by other less desirable spores ruining the starter before it gets started.
Tell me I'm not the only one fascinated by this stuff?!
The baba sourdough is courtesy of the lovely Claud who is going great guns in the kitchen. Instead of parroting "buy supermarket" "buy supermarket" when we run out of anything she favours, she now parrots "claudine bake it" "claudine bake it". She learnt to squeeze lemons this week and I learnt that she would choose sucking the squeezed lemon skins over liking out the pudding-mix bowl any day of the week.
The linen cloth was an oppy find, still-new-in-the-pack-but-old-school, it's 3 x the size of a standard TT, thick, a little rough and super-absorbent.
A thing of beauty and perfectamundo for bread proving purposes
( I can feel another collection coming on)
and Terry gave me these for out 6th (wood) anniversary this week
Perfect for slipping loaves into the oven
And finally, without further ado...
A bit grey looking (? coated in too much flour whilst proving) but totally 'effing scrummy (in a uniquely Rangiorian way!)