Saturday, June 27, 2009

Levain Bread with new rye starter

After a week of feeding, the culture was ready to do some work. I was planning to bake the bread at 9.00 pm last night but after mixing the dough, I realised that I was going to finish late into the night. I had already done a previous baguette bake earlier in the afternoon and after a whole day of playing with my new electric guitar, I was feeling a little tired.

It was a good chance to see if the culture can withstand a night in the fridge. When I woke up in the morning, I was hoping to see the dough reach the top of the container. I was disappointed to see the dough barely a third of the container. I had no choice but to let it continue on the kitchen counter.

After about 2 hours, it was ready to shape. I tested it out on 2 different shapes.  They looked beautiful when they came out of the oven. As it came out around noon, I was able to photograph them outdoor in natural light. The results were much better than the usual photographs I take in the kitchen at midnight.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Rye berries looking like grains of rice

The active bubbly starter with chunky bits of the rye chops

Rye Starter

I chanced upon some organic rye berries  recently. It was something new and this was a chance for me to play with building a new sourdough culture. The rye berries were ground up and some water was added into the container. It was able to double without any additional flour. Since it was active and well, I fed it with a teaspoon of flour and it doubled in 3 hours. The starter had a very pleasant aroma and it looks promising for making some sourdough loaves out of it. I have never started  a culture with rye berries so it would be interesting to see how this new culture works out.

I had cultured a starter out of organic wheat berries before and it was so easy to make that I did not even bother maintaining the culture. Instead, I maintained my Carl's sourdough culture faithfully. This was more for sentimental reasons than for the fact that it was reputed to be 150 years old. It was sent over the mail to me by Charles Perry from Carl's friends and I received invaluable advice from him. 

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Stone vs Sheet Pan

I have always felt guilty using a baking stone and try to reduce the time for the pre-heat. Simple physics tells us that this is probably worse that baking on a sheet pan as energy is sucked up by the stone. Despite my using a baking stone and copius steaming, the results I get for those on the stone were no different from those on the sheet pan. 

For this bake, I preheated the stone for a longer period and the results speak for themselves. Those baked on the stone had a more pronounce grigne. It showed that my previous preheat was insufficient. The 3 shorter loaves were baked on a stone and showed great oven spring.