Monday, 18 July 2011

Wholewheat and Rye Sourdough

Wholewheat and Rye by flimbag
Wholewheat and Rye, a photo by flimbag on Flickr.

Wholewheat and Rye Crumb

Wholewheat and Rye Sourdoug by flimbagWholewheat and Rye Sourdough, a photo by flimbag on Flickr.

Wholewheat and Rye Crust

So here's the loaf that I made last night. A bit of a cross between Norwich Sourdough from the Wild Yeast website, and the Mill Loaf from Dan Leppard's book, The Handmade Loaf.

It's funny, I really like Dan's book -- but I don't really like the look of many of the recipes in it. That said, it was an absolute bargain on Amazon, so I couldn't resist.

Bought another book today. I was wandering around Tesco, buying flour and *spit* yeast, when I saw a copy of the River Cottage Cookbook on Bread. I've been thinking about buying this one from Amazon as well, but when I saw it on offer for nine quid, I couldn't not snap it up.

I'll do some book reviews later -- damn Kindle gave up the ghost today so what else am I gonna do? -- but for now, back to last night's loaf.

Shaping has always been something of a struggle for me. Treat your dough gently, don't manhandle it, and it will repay you with fantastic bread.

Overwork your dough though, and you'll get a tough, nasty loaf that has the texture of old leather and a crust like cardboard.

I've made this loaf before and it didn't work out so well, largely because my oven runs a bit too hot, so the crust was overcooked -- too dark, too tough. But the flavour was good then, so I wanted to see how it would perform now I've got a bit more experience.

Last night, I was making a batard and my pre-shaping went well, but when I came to actually shape the loaf, it ended up too long for the banneton. While it's easy to make a short loaf longer, it's hard to make a long loaf shorter. I took another stab at it, but I ended up with two bulbous ends, and a weak, saggy part in the middle. Any possibility of getting good surface tension on the skin was disappearing rapidly.

So, I decided I'd just let it rest again, and reshape the whole thing as a boule. Which went without a hitch, except for the fact that the boule I put in the banneton was exactly the same size as the dough I'd started bulk fermenting three hours before.

Still, the whole thing doubled nicely within about two hours. Slashed it with a quick Tic-tac-toe pattern, and slammed it on my oven stone.

Fantastic taste and fantastic oven spring, but there are great big air pockets in the final loaf. Not millions, but more than I'd feared. My slashes didn't come out so well either. Not deep enough, perhaps? Or was it the fact that it wasn't exactly in the centre of the oven, so the hotter side got the most rise?

Whatever it was, the final loaf was delicious. Even when you win, you lose.

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