All Things Bread No.5

COVID is bigger than anything I write about here, stay home, stay safe (and bake sourdough!)

Hello Friends of Sourdough!
Today’s newsletter has a window on the exciting world of bread variations and additions and a discussion on starter management in the fridge. Thanks to Ruks I’m also giving you all some homework to do! 

The whatsapp group is everything GK said it would be and more! It’s already becoming our own personal forum and a resource for all things bread. I’m so grateful it exists and if you know any fellow BreadHeads who’d like to join please add them.

All Things Bread 
On the last zoom we discussed flavourful additions to your loaves such as pepper and even toasted flour! When it comes to additions and flavours, the world is your oyster (Oyster flavoured bread?!) Last year I was lucky enough to visit the famous Wo Pao Chun bakery in Taipei and I tasted Chef Wo Pao Chun’s stunning breads including his red wine longan sourdough. It’s made using a variety of longan fruit found only in Taiwan that is smoked over 6 days and soaked in red wine! These are then added to the dough along with wheat sprouts and walnuts. Folks I tell you it was divine. That bread won him the Les Masters de la Boulangerie world-championship and I could see why. 

Now I DO want you to get very (VERY) excited about the possibilities but I’ll use this opportunity to emphasise the importance of getting your Base Recipe right.
When we do get to baking I’m going to encourage you all to start with a 100% All Purpose (Maida) dough. This will allow you to get all the other variables in control before moving on. Remember that each addition brings in its own set of variations and required adjustments.

For example these days I’m doing a lot of porridge breads that are basically just the Base Recipe for sourdough but with Rye or Oat porridges mixed in (after the porridge has cooled down).
As you can probably imagine the porridge adds more moisture to the mix and so the Base Recipe has to be adjusted accordingly… and so on for each addition you will try.

I’d like to introduce you to another fantastic resource that is I have learnt so much from FreshLoafers over the years and you will too. There are two links to TFL recipes below. They use a lot of abbreviations and baker’s jargon so its a good idea to start here.

Once you do get familiar with your base recipe, maybe you’d like to try Chocolate Stout & Fresh Cherries & Hazelnut bread?! Or perhaps a sourdough classic and one of my favourites: Roasted garlic, sundried tomatoes & cheese.

HOMEWORK (God how I hated this word as a kid)
Ruks and I spoke about shaping dough into pizza bases today and I was going to send her some videos then I realised we should all be watching these because we are all going to be shaping soon and its one of those things that might not come across very well on zoom.

So please do study the two links in the next sentence when you get the time. Working and shaping dough with our hands is one of the absolute joys of baking and because we don’t have one hand free for twitter / ‘gram it can be the closest thing to a meditative, absorbing activity we have!
Relax your shoulders, relax your forehead, breathe deeply in then exhale slowly out and let your hands really become one with your dough. Don’t stress if this seems hard – it’s just a matter of practice. 

Zoom Debrief
SO GOOD to see starters coming along but more importantly to see our understanding of starters growing by leaps and bounds. If you do see that line of fermentation liquid forming, don’t worry! It’s a good sign of healthy fermentation activity so go ahead and proactively remove it and do a quick feeding.  
We discussed management of your starter once it gets to mature phase : Once you are happy with your starter (and vice versa) and once they are rising and falling reliably you can start to store them in the fridge after feeding them.
Do check in with them every so often while they are in the fridge, especially in the first few days and weeks to make sure they are ok. If they do seem upset, pick them up, soothe them, feed them and then rock them back to sleep in the fridge. 

See you all today at 4pm Dubai!