24 April 2012

Our Daily Bread....

I know I have talked before about making bread.  I still make it every week or just about – depends on what is happening in the house but also the need of it.  Sometimes we often find breads I don’t make (like a wholemeal rye or seeded) reduced that we’ll pick up just to have a go at it.  We usually never buy just bog standard white nor do we buy any of the normal ‘sandwich’ type pappy fluff.
But I saw in May’s issue of Saveur magazine Bread made the cover and how it is being made more and more at home in America – after all it is an American publication.  I usually fondle all the US magazines I can find at the newsagent just to have that small connection of what is going on there – see all the new stuff, etc.
Anyway, Bread!  The article was an interesting one and talks about the slow food movement at home.  It also talks about baking bread and the person who wrote the article about how they grew their own wheat, etc.  I naturally haven’t taken it that far and I don’t see the need to really unless you are a glutton for punishment. 
However, they go on to talk about starters and how this is the next level of baking bread but never give you an idea of how to start your own.  I suppose to be fair it was about making bread and they did include recipes on how to do just that – some jargon for those not familiar with baking terms, etc. 
As I’ve stated in a previous posting I started my starter now about 2 years ago.  I must say it’s going as strong as ever – I cannot kill it and it comes back no matter how long I ignore and don’t feed it.  I know BAD!  But in a way it has relaxed my attitude towards the starter.  At first when you are beginning one – you cannot ignore it.  It does need your attention for the first two weeks and after that every week I fed it and after a few months I just fed it when I was ready to bake.  It now consistently out grows its container.  When it’s exceptionally warm – well it’s even more active! 
Last night I did my first ever overnight rise – no real special reason other than I had some time to do the kneading and thought I’d do it.  I think it was a bit better tasting than if I didn’t but to us the real difference is the starter. 
Bread before I used the starter was OK and even good.  But the starter improves it to that bake shop quality.  Everyone has their opinion on the crust, or the way to knead but it doesn’t matter.  You can even make bread I hear without kneading.  I really do not put a lot of time into making bread.  I spend perhaps 3-5 minutes dumping the items into a bowl and mixing around to get the flour to absorb the water.  I then let it sit for 15-20 minutes – this is the autolyse. 
I then come in and knead it for 5-7 minutes – sometimes longer if it needs it but this is usually sufficient.  I then let it proof once – depends on the day and warmth (1.5-3 hours) and then form it into the loaf or basket and let proof again, the same amount of time – just depends and then bake it.  Now that is by my time clock perhaps 6.5 hours total but I’m not there watching it and certainly if you let it rise overnight in the fridge then you are certainly not attending to it all that time.
So go on now and begin your loaf or make your own starter if you don’t know anyone who has one.  I’m sure they would share it and really it does make all the difference in the world.  Enjoy!

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