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Archive for August, 2009

Some time ago, I tried out the Bakers’ Percentage method of breadmaking (where the flour = 100% and the rest of the ingredients are percentages of that). What I was concerned with was water, as I’ve had a problem with making dough which is too wet. I’m actually pretty much past the wet dough problem now, but I thought I’d try this once more.

Last time I tried it, it didn’t work, which I thought might have been (more…)

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Back in the mists of time, bread was often leavened with “barm” – a technique enshrined, these days, in the name of the barm cake. Barm was the yeast, floating on the top of fermenting beer, skimmed off and grown on, with the addition of flour, more or less indefinitely, as with sourdough cultures today.

Not having access to fermenting beer, I’ve done the next best thing and bought a bottle of beer which is bottle-conditioned. That is – for those of you unfamiliar with the term – given its fizz via a second, in-bottle, fermentation, and not (more…)

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This is one of the few times I wish I had a family to bake for – then I could make more bread, and get more immediate feedback. Still, that’s life…

Anyway, last week I bought a 13” pizza stone on which to bake bread, and a peelthey have a variety of peels, the link is to the one I bought – for the purpose of moving the risen loaf onto the hot stone (and removing the baked loaf – see Part 4 for more info), and the results have been excellent.

Today, I’ve been leafing through a book that’s just been delivered, Baking Bread – Old and New Traditions, by Beth Hensperger, whose Bread Bible I already had. It has some excellent photos, but – as I rather expected – there is some duplication of recipes. There is also an unacceptable number of typos (oats, are called Avena satira, instead of (more…)

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And so the saga of my bread continues…

These past few days, I’ve been going cross-eyed, trying to find someone who sold bakers’ bench knives. These are simple things – a rectangular blade with a wood or plastic handle – so how hard could it be?

Lakeland sold them, up to about a fortnight ago. So I was left to Google’s tender mercies – not helped by the illiterate bastards at Google not recognising the plural possessive form – bakers’ – and only recognising the singular possessive – baker’s. I found one firm, www.thebertinetkitchen.com who listed one, but the design was crap and would make it almost unusable for mixing a wet dough (basically, the part where your fingers would normally brace it when mixing, was (more…)

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Last week, having pretty much got the hang of basic white bread, and able to turn out loaves with reasonable consistency, I thought I’d expand my horizons a little, and make a Pain au Levain. That is, bread made not simply by adding yeast, but by making a pre-fermentation, in this case a day before (for the rye loaf I’m in the middle of making at the moment – I’m typing this while waiting for the first proving to do its thing – I (more…)

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As I said in one of my early posts, my bread has been made mainly by guess and by god, as I have had no instruction in bread-making – one day I just thought, I’ll make some bread by hand. Nevertheless, it’s something I seem to have a knack for; my bread has been pretty good, and well-received by those to whom I’ve given loaves. (I had used a bread machine in the past, but that doesn’t count as hand-made.)

However, much reading and research has shown me the (more…)

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More notes on home bread-making by hand…

A couple of weeks ago, I bought myself as copy of Elizabeth David’s excellent book, English Bread and Yeast Cookery (Penguin, £14.99, but try Amazon for a discount.

I was intrigued to find that her basic bread recipe was almost identical to mine, the differences being she used three times the amount of salt (¾ of an ounce to my ¼), and she used fresh yeast. This is not so much that great minds think alike, but that baking bread is pretty damned easy, given a modicum of skill and intelligence. I’d love to be able to tell you that the method was amazingly esoteric, and only the privileged possessors of arcane knowledge and skills could master it, but it’s just not so. Sadly.

Mind you, nowhere (more…)

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