Lesson Three: Questions and Answers
This is the only post in the course that will disappear. We will use the questions asked here to improve the content of the course when we re-release it. You will have access to the course indefinitely, but this post will change with each new intake group.
Fiona Asks: how much flour do you use a week and do you bulk buy from the mill or have a local supplier?
We buy all of our flour from Mungoswells Malt and Milling in East Lothian. We easily go through 10kg a week and find that bulk buying is easiest for us. I like using a local mill and the wheat they use is all grown within a 5 mile radius of the mill, so it’s about as local as we can get here.
You can also buy in bulk from places like Amazon, a green wholesaler, or bakerybits.co.uk
Jackie Asks: I’d like to know more about scoring the loaf. Does this affect how the loaf rises and if so, why?
When you make your bread, there will naturally be weak spots in the dough from air bubbles and stretch and folds. If you don’t create an escape route for the steam created by cooking your bread, it will break out of those weaker spots and create a very cracked crust. If those weak spots are at the side or towards the bottom of the loaf, then the bread will naturally expand in that direction.
Making intentional cuts in the bread, towards the top third of the loaf in the form of scoring will help the bread rise in that direction as the steam pushes to escape. Generally, you should make your score in the top third of your loaf, so that it aids in the rise created by the steam escape (also called oven spring).
Lottie Asks: Can you give some tips on testing for doneness please? Also what to do with the loaf once you take it out of the oven - leave in tin, transfer to rack, how long to leave before cutting etc?
Testing for doneness is best checked with a thermometer. Bread should be just under boiling point at the centre, so 90C/200F ish. You can also check for doneness by tapping to see if it sounds hollow, but I always find this needs a bit of a trained ear.
As all flours and ovens are slightly different, unfortunately sometimes you have to simply use trial and error. If your loaf is coming out underdone, try baking for an additional 10 minutes covered and then uncover it for an additional 10 minutes. Also check your oven temp with a thermometer as not all ovens cook at the right temp.
Once you are happy your loaf is done, remove it from the oven and then take it out of the pan to either rest on a rack or cutting board. If you leave it in the pan, condensation can form.
Penny Asks: My question is about why some starters are extra hungry? I’m a little behind so still building mine up, but i keep getting that extra liquid and I’m not sure if it’s something I’m doing!
Some starters are just hungry. It has to do with where you are in the world, the flour you are using, how warm your house is and your own unique bio chemistry. To help keep it fed up, you can either add an extra tablespoon of flour to give it a bit more to eat or put it in a cooler place to slow it down. Either way, I am sure your starter will make great bread, as long as the hooch on top isn’t too smelly, it will be fine.