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I did allude to the fact that I also bake breads.  So, I thought I might start a thread about bread making.   You may well ask, "What got you so excited about breads tonight, Andy?"  Good question!

I've been making bread for a little while now.  Yes, I cheat and use a bread maker.  I don't often use it to cook the bread anymore, but it is just such an easy way to make and leven (raise) dough.  Anyway, the apparent nirvana of bread making is a really nice sourdough.  I didn't really understand that.  Gimme a break guys, I make a fab. olive french bread and a few others that I would have been willing to use as high stakes in any bread poker game.  What's all this nonsense about sourdough?!  

Alright, I admit, I let the hype sway me.  I made myself a sourdough starter.  Waited till she'd brewed a few days and then started to play with it.  O.. M... G.. !  The first loaf was pretty good. Great crusty crust with a really lovely soft light bread (and I mean SOFT and LIGHT!).  Huh, might be something in this nonsense.  

So tonight, as I was distilling, I thought I'd make some sourdough bread-rolls (I can freeze them without worrying about cutting a whole loaf into slices).  Naturally, I had to try one while they were still warm (do you have any idea how good fresh cooked bread can make a house smell?). 

The crust is crispy and perfect.  The bread is soooo light and fluffy, it's incredible.  The hype is real.  If there is interest, I will continue this crazy post.  If not, I shall suffer through eating the best damn bread I have ever tasted and say no more.  

Oh, here's a pic: 

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Wow, Andrew ... look fabulous! There are some posts on BLF about Sourdough, searching will bring them up. There's even some photos. My efforts resulted in very tough crusts despite using several recipes. I was using organic wholemeal wheat flour though. There's a tasty point with the starter, too - often mine gave me a quite sour loaf - now I've never eaten genuine sourdough bread so really didn't know what to expect. Just too pervading a flavour for me to persevere to get that crust crunchy but not tooth-breaking.

I cheated and used bread yeast in the starter.  You are meant to just let wild yeast grow.  However, there's a fair bit of risk that you'll end up with a yukkie tasting wild yeast as the prevalent taste.  So, I started with bread yeast and now just let whatever local varieties wanna come and play. 

and as Shirley-Alison points out.  You probably need a wholemeal and white mix.  Maybe start with 60/40 and adjust as you learn.  

Great baking Andrew, I or husband have been baking for about 40, yes 40 years!!

But never done much with white flour & wholemeal always seems to make it heavy. But we do like bread with some guts in it.

Have experimented with sourdough but again never seem to get it right, maybe I need to start with the white then move on to wholemeal. My best efforts at the moment are foccacia made with 1/2 spelt & 1/2 white flour, also I do a good fig & walnut loaf.

Hope to see more from you.

I'll put my starter recipe up tonight Jane.  I suspect that you could start it with white flour and then continue with wholemeal.  It'd be worth a try.  

The starter recommended in whatever-it-was I was reading at the time, was organic Rye flour. Fortunately I was able to buy the flour at the bulk foods shop in Morayfield. The organisms are on the Rye kernels just as they are on the Cabbages for Sauerkraut. The lactic ferment smells wonderful.

You'll get fermentation no matter what yeast, flour and water you use Elaine.  The yeast manages to eat the sugar molecules in the flour.  There's wild yeast everywhere, I just wanna know what I am working with will taste good.  I suspect you can use pretty much any flour, some will just take longer, depending on the sugar content.

thanks for details of your starter Andrew, I'm going to wait till after Xmas to give it a go as we will be away for a couple of weeks.

Now remember, this is the starter, not the bread! Recipe curteousy of Taste.com

Sourdough Starter

Directions:

  1. Dissolve yeast in 1/2 cup warm water, rest for ten minutes.
  2. Mix in flour, sugar& remaining water.
  3. Allow to stand, loosely covered, in a warm place for 3 or 4 days. Use a large (preferably ceramic) bowl as it will rise considerably.
  4. Every time the batter is used to make a product set aside 1 cup to be used as a "starter" for another batch.
  5. Keep covered in the fridge (a pint jar works nicely).
  6. To make it into a basic batter again, add another 2 cups flour & 2 cups warm water and allow to stand at room temp overnight. It is now ready to use, but again reserve a cup of the starter.

I am into making sourdough, have made good and bad loaves.  I have found that measurements have to be precise, even weighing the water, that way I have achieved success.  I have made a sourdough starter from Dan Lepard's book The Handmade Loaf, great book, lots of recipes and quite detailed.  True sourdough does not contain any packaged yeast at all and once you have a good active starter going you just have to keep feeding it to keep it going and it certainly improves with age.This is a photo of the current starter I am using, it is spelt and as you can see is very active.

This is a loaf I made yesterday using the spelt starter which I always feed with organic spelt flour.  We prefer a wholemeal loaf but it is always very heavy, after much research I have found that using 60/40 white bakers flour/wholemeal flour I get the best result, not to heavy with a nice chewy crust.

Here is a website that has just come back on line that I am going to purchase my bread making supplies from, their postage is great and lots of free info on there too.

http://www.basicingredients.com.au/

Great post Andrew, bread making is addictive lol :)

have to agree dan lepards book is the bible , great sourdough starter instructions

and great bread recipes 

Thanks Shirley-Allison.  Now that is a damn beautiful looking starter (and loaf)!  

I knew I was cheating using bread yeast but I am reassured by your comment that it gets better with age.  I leave it out to let the wild yeast in before I use it and I figure it will balance out eventually.  Do you pour off the alcohol from the top of the starter, or just mix it back in? I can't find any reference to that. 

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