“Everyone is an artist” Joseph Beuys
I decided to make myself better at making bread. Armed with a sourdough starter and a banneton I decided that I would make 40 loaves. With the aim that I would improve each time making my self slowly better at a skill. I love Sourdough bread but had never made it before. Here are the photographs showing my slow but steady improvement. I have now completed all 40!
On Saturday 8th April 2017 at 3pm I am shared the final loaf.
Recipe and knowledge I have developed:
Equipment I use:
- Bread Cloche (yes I know but it really works)
- 1.5 l glass Kilner jar
- 1kg banneton
- A bread scorer or blade
- A Kitchen Aid mixer with dough hook
- A wooden spoon
- Plastic shopping bag and large rubber band
- Spelt flour or rye (275g)
- Strong white flour (330g)
- Olive oil (80ml)
- Salt (10g)
- Plain flour dusting (60g)
I keep my sourdough starter in a glass Kilner jar (the “Mother”) in the fridge where I have taken off the metal and rubber seal so air can escape if needed. I don’t clean the jar and the yeasty mixture often dries on the insides. If its been a while since you made bread you may have to remove nearly all of your starter and throw it away and add a small amount of fresh water and flour before you start to clean it up and make it fresh. In this case leave it until you see some bubbles in your fresh starter. Giving it a good sniff is a really good way to be sure what state its in. If its been a while mine often smells of cheese or beer. I have been told that most smells are ok unless it smells of sewage and then you should bin it all and start again.
Add 275g of rye or spelt flour to the mother with 300g of water. Mix and scrape some of the dried flour off the sides of the jar into the mixture inside. Leave to stand until bubbles can be seen through the glass at a good density this can take anything up to 4 hours.
Pour out mixture from glass jar into a bowl and add 330g of strong white flour, add 10g of salt and a liberal splash of olive oil. Knead until you can see long lines of gluten and can stretch the dough to 30cm without them snapping. Alternatively, knead the dough in a Kitchen Aid mixer with dough hook for 7 mins till you have the same results. Put glass jar back in fridge with the remnants of the mixture in it for the next time you want to make bread.
Add olive oil to a bowl and place dough in bowl covering the dough in oil (helps to prevent it sticking when rising). Leave till it has doubled in size. You will have to find the rhythm of your yeast. Cover your bowl with a plastic bag and an elastic band, or a damp tea towel. You can leave it in the fridge overnight or leave it out for a couple of hours during the day. You have to find out how your house warmth and yeast work together through practice so don’t get upset if it doesn’t work perfectly (give yourself 10 goes to get it right). If I am in a hurry I have been known to put it in the oven at 30 degrees or put it in a cool bag with a hot water bottle.
When it has doubled in size, flour your banneton. I use plain flour. Put about 60g of flour in the bottom and spread it into the cracks with your hand eventually you will get even covering. More flour the better as this helps the dough to dry out before putting it in the oven. Knock back your dough and then shape it into a smooth lump. Place in banneton and cover with bag or tea towel. This part I usually do in the fridge over night. It helps keep the dough reasonably malleable and gives it a beautiful red colour when baked. You want to rise the dough again, you are looking for it to grow but keep a nice dome to the bread. You need to stop before it is flat on top – this means that it has over risen and is going to be difficult to get out of the bowl.
Turn on the oven to 210°c and place in your bread cloche. Allow the oven to heat to temperature and then give it an extra 5 minutes for the heat to enter the cloche. Take the base of the cloche out of the oven and turn out your bread onto the base. Use the sharp scorer or a razor blade to cut some slashes in the top to allow the bread to rise better and place it back into the oven with lid on top for 30 -40 mins. Then remove the top of the cloche and bake for another 10 mins to brown the top. Remove from the oven when it looks nice and brown and if you tap the bottom, it should sound hollow (or as i say, like no one is home). Leave to cool for at least 30 mins before eating.
Some photographs of the fermentation and baking process
A limited edition poster print of this project is available
A another aspect to this project is the spiritual aspect of Bread and god