Monday, July 28, 2008

A Follow Up and Some Equipment Notes

Follow up:

Last Thursday and Friday's bakes went well for the most part. The sourdough ciabatta turned out well and the sourdough cinnamon buns were fantastic. Moist and chewy, not like the commercial buns that often turn out to be dry. The two loaves the next day were also good. I think I have the basic sourdough recipe down now. The sourdough waffles for breakfast were a really nice change and we have two more lots in the freezer now for sometime later. The only disappointment was the challah. Came out of the oven looking very nice, with a crisp brown crust and a nice yellow crumb, thanks to the use of some saffron. But turned out to be dryer that I like, possibly over baked, so will reduce the time in the oven when I try again.


I Thought that a few notes on what equipment I use might be an idea.
My bread machine is an Oster Model 5844. This will make up to a two pound loaf and I use it primarily for dough making for rolls and pizza dough.

My sourdough breads are first mixed in a Kenwood Chef stand mixer with 5 quart bowl and a dough hook. My favorite for proofing is the plastic Kenwood bowl or I use a recycled 1 gallon ice cream pail. A four pound capacity kitchen scale and various measuring cups are used for measuring ingredients.

Proofing the final loaf is done either in a pan, or especially for the sourdoughs I have two brotforms and four bannetons. For the non-bakers, brotforms are a spiral wound willow basket that leaves a really attractive marking on the bread and can be seen in this first photo.

Bannetons are similar in that they are round wicker baskets with a linen lining. Both make the loaf shape commonly referred to as boules.

Along with the usual loaf pans, I have a two section baguette pan as well. I use a large rectangular baking stone in the oven and a metal bakers peel to transfer the loaves in and out of the oven. I use a regular home oven in which I often put a pan of water to provide steam inside the oven. For loaves that need to be scored or cut before baking I use a single sided razor blade.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Back at it

I've been baking sourdough now for about two months. Previous attempts over the past two years were mediocre to say the least. It wasn't until I found a copy of Nancy Silverton's Bread from the LaBrea Bakery in a local thrift store that I managed to create a really good sourdough starter. So far I have mastered the basic sourdough and ciabatta recipes. Entered one sourdough loaf in a recent baking contest and the judges felt it was good enough for a second place. Lost out to a Swedish sweetbread.

Went away for the last weekend, so the sourdough starter was consigned to the fridge. Took it out on Tuesday and refreshed. The recipe for refreshing makes nearly 1 gallon of starter! So today was a bake day!

Made three ciabatta loaves and started two sourdough and two challah loaves. They are both two day processes, so will finish tomorrow. Also have a batch of sourdough cinnamon rolls on the go, and enough starter put aside for sourdough waffles for breakfast tomorrow.