Sunday, 26 June 2011

Project Sourdough: Second Loaf

Today I baked my second batch of sourdough. Rather than baking one large loaf, I went for two smaller ones this time.

My starter was looking a lot better going into this bake. It had a lot more bubbles and the alcoholic / slightly nasty smell had gone. In summary it looked ready, while last time I knew I was pushing my luck using too early.

Again I had to flex some of the times from the Bourke St Bakery method to fit the baking cycle into my life, rather than letting it rule me. I didn't use the bannetons (as my loaves were too small for the size of the baskets I have) and attempted to score them for the first time. I think the two different 'designs' look pretty good. What do you think?

When I took the first loaf out of the oven I could hear it cracking and popping as it cooled down on the wire rack. It was quite exciting!

The crust wasn't as crisp and crunchy as last time. I didn't try the bread until four hours after I took it out of the oven. I'm not sure if that would have made the bread lose some of it's crunch? However, the flavour of the bread is better. It reminds me of some of the tasty breads I had from French boulangeries during summer holidays. That can't be a bad thing! I still don't have the large air bubbles inside the bread, but it is definitely lighter and less dense than last time. I'm improving!

Baking Notes
One of my weaknesses last time was knowing how to shape the loaves. I decided to check out a couple of Youtube videos this time to try and get a better idea of the method. I was pretty pleased with how my shaping went and the finished loaves were pretty consistent.

Last time I set myself the below to try and improve on.

Hopefully my starter will be more developed and this will give me a better flavour and more rising. 
Big tick. My starter was looking a lot more active this time round. The loaves definitely rose more during the proving stages and I think the bread had a nice flavour. This will hopefully continue to develop.

I need to knead for longer. I really want a KitchenAid. Must resist the urge.
The lovely Brydie is being a wonderful source of inspiration and advice. She suggested kneading for 5 mins and then letting the bread rest for 10 mins. Repeating several times over instead of pounding the dough for 20 mins continuously. I could almost form a window with the dough, but still didn't quite get there.

I want to use the correct timings for the bulk prove stages (and not shorten them to 45mins).
I stuck to the books recommended proving periods more closely this time. However, I still used the starter 2/3 hours after what is supposed to be it's optimum window. A boy has to go to the office!

I need to keep a closer eye on the bread during the final prove so it doesn't go over again.
On reflection I'm not sure if the dough had over proved last time. Or if my starter wasn't strong enough to make the dough rise. Whatever the problem last time I think it went much better this time. After two hours the loaves seemed ready to bake so I chucked them in the oven.

Things to work on next time:
- I want to use the starter at the 'optimum' time to see what difference it makes.
- Try and recapture the awesome crust.
- I still need to improve the kneading of my dough.
- Try and work out what the magic formula is to make the large air bubbles in my loaf.

I promised myself that I wouldn't move on from the basic sourdough until I had mastered it. While I haven't done that, I am pretty pleased with the results. I might go for a different flavour next time rather than just a plain sourdough.

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