Posts tagged bakealong
Wild Green and Cheese Scones
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Don’t let the wild green bit of this recipe put you off. While chives, steamed nettles, dandelion greens, spinach or broccoli can all be added to these with amazing effect, underneath is just a really great recipe for cheese scones.

This are a bit wetter than normal scone recipes, so I frequently bake them in a muffin tray to avoid rolling them out.

Wild Green and Cheese Scones:

Ingredients:

150g sharp cheddar – grated

230g plain flour

1t baking powder

½ t bicarb

½ t salt

50g of chopped wild greens (dandelion, wild chives, steamed nettles, spinach and/or wild garlic work well here, as does cooked, chopped broccoli)

125g cold butter

200g 100% hydration starter

120g milk


Method:

1. Cut the cold butter into small pieces and mix with the flour, salt, bicarb and baking soda until it resembles crumbs.

2. Mix in the grated cheese and chopped greens.

3. Mix the starter and milk and add to the flour mix.

4. Mix just until everything is incorporated.

5. Roll out to about 3cm thick and cut scones.

6. Bake at 180F for 10 minutes or until brown.

Equipped for Sourdough
A banneton, bowl scraper and a razor for scoring.

A banneton, bowl scraper and a razor for scoring.

We are just a couple of days away from our first Sourdough Bakealong. In continuing our discussion of what you need to get going, other than a starter and some flour and salt, you need a couple of other key pieces of equipment to give you the best chance of getting great loaves.

Equipment:

Overwhelmingly, we advocate for using what you have in your kitchen to bake bread.  Its always a more realistic endeavour if you don't have to make a huge upfront investment when starting on a new craft.  Your main equipment is: 

Scales (most bread recipes are done by weight)

Bowl

Wooden Spoon

Jar - for starter

Baking Parchment - for sliding your dough into the oven

Baking tray without a lip or a pizza peel

A razor or sharp knife for scoring your bread

Optional, but great to have:

bread baked in a cast iron pot (also called dutch oven) with a lid helps protect your bread from uneven oven temps and helps get a nice rise before the crust firms up)

bread baked in a cast iron pot (also called dutch oven) with a lid helps protect your bread from uneven oven temps and helps get a nice rise before the crust firms up)

Banneton: a lined basket used for rising your bread. If you don't have one, try using a colander or sieve, lined with a tea towel. A normal bowl will work in a pinch, but ideally you need something that can breath so your bread doesn’t stick.

Bowl Scraper: a tool to help with folding your bread and cleaning up tables and bowls

Dutch Oven/Cast Iron Casserole: Keeps the moisture of the bread in to develop an excellent rise before the crust is formed. Also protects from uneven temperatures in the oven. Use an inexpensive one as it may scorch as part of the baking process. I keep an eye out for them in the supermarket sales.  If you don't have one, a stainless steel bowl upside down on a cookie sheet is a good alternative. 

Ingredients for a Great Sourdough Loaf (or a Nerdy Discussion of Flour)
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The beauty of sourdough bread, for me at least, is its simplicity: flour, water, salt (and a couple thousand microorganisms, give or take) . Commercial bread has up to 45 ingredients in it for plain, white bread, many of which are unpronounceable. 

Making it at home, you not only have the added benefit of controlling what goes into it, but you also are able to save money. A 1kg loaf of bread (the kind we will be making) can cost upwards of £4 in shops whereas bread you make yourself, even with high end flour, is significantly less than that, making it an affordable way to add artisan food to your kitchen. 

Flour:

The biggest purchase you will make around for your daily bread is flour.  Whatever flour you use, you need to be looking for "strong" or "bread" flour - this is flour with a higher protein content, aiding your starter in developing structure and helping it keep its shape as it develops. We use a local organic strong bread flour from Mungoswells Mill in East Lothian, Scotland, grown and milled less than 30 miles from us.

White vs Brown Flour

For health and flavour, brown and wholemeal flours are often people’s first choice. As we mentioned in the post about starter, wholemeal flours do give the bread’s yeasts and bacteria more to feed on. Also, bread made with wholemeals tends to have a more sour flavour and is generally more digestible.

However, brown bread does have a significant downside. Wholemeals absorb more water than white flour and thus can create a very dense bread.  My advice when starting out is to keep your wholemeal flour content down to about 20-30% of your overall flour content so that your bread retains a lighter finish and is easier to work with.  As you become more familiar with your bread, feel free to create wholemeal loaves.

Organic vs Non-Organic

It will come to no surprise that as a small organic farmer, I am going to advocate for using organic flour if you can the practices used around organic farming have been shown to increase the number of LABs in our flour and thus in our starter (1).  More bacteria, more flavour, better rise, etc etc.

The second reason I would advocate for using organic flour is that it is quite common practice to apply glyphosate (commercially known as Monsanto's Round Up) to wheat before harvest to dry out the husk and make harvest easier.  Glyphosate has been labeled as a 'probable carcinogen' by the WHO (2),  is increasingly being linked to liver and kidney problems (3) and in recent studies was found in 30% of British bread (4). Making your own bread means you can have greater control of what your family consumes and is a tangible way of helping save the bees and other pollinating insects as glyphosate is considered a major contributor to their decline. 

Other Flours Are Available

If organic flour isn't in your budget, there are a number of other really great flours on the market. We love Lidl and Aldi's own brand flour - coming in at 65p for 1.5kg, it makes a great loaf of bread at an affordable price.  Both store are also increasing their 'other' flour options - rye and spelt have both been spotted recently in their bread aisle and both make a wonderful addition to the flavour of bread.

We primarily use strong white bread flour. Even adding a small amount of wholemeal, rye or spelt flour to your loaves will change the flavour profile, but keep it light and easy to work with.

Water and Salt:

The water you use in your bread can be straight from your tap, even in cities. If you have chlorinated water, you can leave it standing on the side for a bit before you use it to evaporate off the chlorine - doing so won't effect the outcome of your bread by a discernible amount, but it will mean you ingest less chlorine. 

Generally speaking, you want your water to be slightly warm when you add it to your bread.  I tend to use lukewarm water straight out of the tap.  This helps speed up the fermentation of your bread, though conversely, cold water can slow down fermentation and is useful if you know it will be awhile before you can get round to baking your bread. 

Salt has two main functions in making bread.  The addition of salt slows down the fermentation of bread, helping it remain in check.  It also is a flavour enhancer, bringing out the different notes of flavour in your loaf.  Biting into an unsalted loaf is always a disappointment as it just doesn't taste "right".  We like sea salt flakes, for no other reason than we buy it in bulk for all of our cooking.

June Bake Along: Starting a Sourdough Starter
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With the first of our Sourdough Bakealongs starting next week, I wanted to give everyone who wanted to learn how to make sourdough bread the opportunity - not just those of you who have purchased kits from us. I mean, by all means, do buy a kit if you want to hit the ground running, but it is very easy to establish your own starter for baking.

As with everything on the internet, there are roughly 11.2 million ways to make a starter for sourdough...and all of them are probably in some way right. A starter is simply a way of creating the right environment for friendly yeast and bacteria to grow, so there are naturally a multitude of ways to do this entice different microorganisms. 

Whether you bought one of our kits or are following the method below, the starter we will be working with is a simple 100% hydration (all this means is that the water is equal to the flour) flour and water starter. Depending on the kind of starter you want, you may want to start with a rye or wholewheat flour.  As these flours have more natural bacteria in them and offer food for a wide range of microorganisms, starters made initially with this flour do tend to ferment faster.  However, which ever you pick to start you can always change later.

Ingredients and Materials:

1ltr jar (glass or food grade plastic)

500g strong bread flour, white, brown, rye or spelt*

500g of water *

* you only use 100g of each at a time

“Method for Starting a Starter
Day One: In a glass jar with a loose fitting lid, mix 100g of bread flour (white or wholemeal, your choice) and 100g of water. Give it a good vigorous stir. Cover loosely and leave in a warm place for 24 hours.

Day 2-7: Discard 100g of your starter. Add 50g of bread flour and 50g of water to your starter. Give it a good vigorous stir. Cover loosely and leave in a warm place for 24 hours.

By day 5 the starter should start bubbling.  It is ready to bake with when it doubles in size and or is very bubbly about 4 hours after feeding.”

Maintaining A Starter.

Like any living creature, your starter needs to be fed on a regular basis.  Starters are much more forgiving than people are led to believe and you can pretty much clean out the jar, leaving only a tiny bit of starter at the bottom and your starter will re-grow.

We have changed how we feed our starter. We used to keep more in a jar, using 2 parts starter to 1 part each of flour and water.  This creates a more acidic starter, which we like and great if you are baking regularly.

If you are baking less regularly, a starter with more food in it is better: 

1 part existing starter

2 parts water

2 parts flour

(ie 50g of starter, 100g of water and 100g of flour) 


Using a Starter:

When using your starter for sourdough bread, it is best to use a freshly fed starter.  Generally, you want to feed your starter between 4-12 hours before you bake with it. For example, if I want a loaf of bread for morning, the day before, at breakfast, I will feed my starter, for mixing up that evening. Or if I plan on baking bread for the next day's dinner, I will feed my starter at bed time the night before.  

This isn't hard and fast, if you forget to feed your starter (and it isn't smelly and gross because it was left TOO long), you can usually use it to get an ok loaf of bread, or as an alternative, feed it right away and use it a couple of hours afterward. Starters that are fed more regularly are more active and make better bread, but by no means should you start being a slave to it...that is the fastest way to starter burnout!

Now that you have a starter, you are ready to either bake your first loaf, or join in on the June Bakealong on Instagram and Facebook!

Kat's Everyday Sourdough
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We bake sourdough bread most days. Be it as a morning breakfast/vehicle for melted butter or a staple in the summer time "stuff on bread" dinners we have at least twice a week, sourdough is embedded in our life.

We've tried a lot of methods and recipes, but with so many of them, there was a level of technicality that simply didn't fit into our busy family life.  While technical aspects of hydration and starter peaks are important to know, we have come to the understanding that the best bread is the bread that fits easily into your every day life. This bread dough isn't very wet, which makes it ideal for a starter sourdough, as its a lot easier to handle.

I've written this recipe for people who make bread regularly - every day or every other day.  If you are baking once a week, you may not get the rise you need from your starter, so feed it about 12 hours before you are due to make bread and see if that helps.

I start my bread as I am making dinner in the evening and it sits next to the aga for the first few hours before it goes in the fridge for over night.  I then turn on the oven to bake when I go down in the morning for coffee. 

Ingredients:

  • 200g 100% hydration starter (This is a good method for starters here, or you can buy a kit here).

  • 400g tepid water

  • 650g strong bread flour

  • 20g salt

Method: 

1. In a large bowl, mix all the ingredients until the flour is completely incorporated.

2. Cover and let stand at room temperature for 3-4 hours, depending on the warmth of the room.  Every so often (at least 3x), stretch and fold the dough to help with the gluten development.

3. Tip dough out onto a floured surface and shape into a tight round. To get a nice surface tension, stretch the dough from the outside and bring it into the centre all the way around. This will be considered your seam.

4. Place seam side up in a banneton or bowl lined with a lightly floured towel. You can either leave for about an hour in a warm place and then bake or place in the refrigerator over night.

Baking:

1. Place your dutch oven in the oven and heat the oven to its highest temperature.

2. When the oven has reached temp, place your baking parchment on top of your banneton, then the baking tray on top of that and flip your bread out of the banneton onto the tray.  There is no need to remove your bread from the refrigerator prior to this, in fact it is easier to work with a cold loaf.

3. Score your bread using a knife or razor blade.

4. Slide the loaf into your hot dutch oven and put the lid on.  Place it back in the oven and reduce the temperature to 220c/430F. Bake for 35 minutes with the lid on. Remove the loaf from the dutch oven and bake for another 12 minutes or until the crust is brown.

 

Variations:

– Replace 200g of the white flour with brown flour

– Add 2T of turmeric at Method stage 1. Then add about 2c of finely chopped leeks and onions on your final stretch and fold.

Want to know more about Sourdough baking? We have on online course!!