Tuesday, 24 November 2009

The long road to a loaf

Today we delivered our first small batch of loaves to our local deli. We're completely exhausted, but delighted to have got over the hurdle of the first 'full' bake, especially as Matthew was writing the web site at the same time.

Baking sourdough bread is a slow process. For the batch of loaves delivered this morning (Tuesday) we started on Saturday night. At that point Matthew calculated the amount of started needed to make leaven for the four different loaves we were to make - sourdough, brown, oat and five grain - and mixed up the rye and wheat starters.

On Sunday night the leavens for the oat and grainy loaves were mixed up. This involves mixing a small amount of the sourdough starter with flour and water and letting the yeasts and acids develop over night. I measured out the grains and put them in the slow cooker. Those are the ones in the picture in the previous post - oat, wheat, spelt, rye and barley.

On Monday the serious work began. Matthew mixed up the doughs for the oat and the grainy loaves whilst I kept the girls occupied elsewhere - trying to answer a stream of 'why' questions whilst measuring out oats does not make for ideal dough mixing conditions! They were kneaded periodically throughout the morning.

At two the oat and grainy doughs were measured out and put into their tins and left to rise in our cool-ish kitchen.

At four o'clock Matthew mixed up the dough for the sourdough (basically a light brown, hand shaped) and the brown. They were kneaded over the next few hours.

Things were going very well to plan at this point. Thereafter we slipped at bit with timings, partly because I selfishly took myself off to yoga at half past five! Also because Matthew was desperately trying to get the website up and running .

The tinned loaves were baked at eight in the evening coming out after an hour.

The brown and sourdough shaped and put in the retarder at ten. We finally fell into bed at about half eleven.

Matthew got up in the wee small hours to get the hand shaped loaves in the oven. I confess I took this picture at the weekend at a rather more civilised hour.

It is a long process, and at this stage a lot of work for a small batch, but we need to start small whilst we don't have a proper bread oven. However, in spite of the long process, it is a gentle one. There are many hours in the day, even on a busy mixing and baking day such as Monday when the dough is happily doing it's thing by its self. One of the reasons for wanting to bake like this is to work together more, but also to have more time to spend all together as a family, and at the moment sourdough baking on site seems well suited to this.

As if to prove this point I managed to accidentally take an hour long nap with E this afternoon. Ooops. Matthew and S managed to look after themselves whilst I dreamed of scones. Of which more later . . .

Oh, and the deli sold half of our first batch. Which, on an especially foul and wet Tuesday, we're pretty pleased about.

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