Tuesday, 4 November 2008

Your holeyness...

I've tried making sourdough before, and in my anxiety about the starter's activity, semi-sabotaged my efforts by adding some dried yeast; thereby producing an okay loaf of bread, but not a bona fide pain au levain.

In the meantime, my starter languished at the back of the fridge and went a bit furry. I disposed of it, although I later found out that some people have revived furry starters and made bread which didn't actually cause death or disability. Curses!

Having taken a week off to recuperate from getting my wisdom teeth removed (an altogether unpleasant experience, since one side of my face swelled up like a football), I decided that all this free time at home would be an excellent opportunity for me to get a starter going again. Using Dan Lepard's method, Laucke flour, some lovely biodynamic yogurt and organic raisins, I had a pretty active little jar of gloop after a few days.

Despite two minor disasters (the dough stuck to the proving cloth, and mucking the surface up; I burnt my arm on the oven shelf in my dismay), the result was quite successful. I am particularly pleased with the holeyness of the crumb. The loaf was about 80% Laucke wallaby flour and 20% rolled oats for interest.

My second attempt was a sourdough rye.

Because rye flour has less gluten than wheat flour, you don't get that proteinous scaffolding to support big holes in the crumb - hence, a much denser bread is produced. I don't think the bread proved long enough, which is why it's a bit flat, and my shaping abilities are terrible, but it's not a bad loaf at all. And I didn't burn myself this time!

Now if I can just sort out the problem of my oven drying the crust out too much (i.e. work out how to turn the fan off)...