While the men were battling it out at Wimbledon, and the sun was shining outside, I was in the kitchen yesterday, baking 2 yeasted and 2 sour dough loaves.
The 2 loaves at the back in the picture are yeasted wholemeal wheat. Three quarters of the flour was milled at the Heron Corn Mill, topped up with a cupful of Carr's because I didn't quite have enough of the delicious gold dust produced at the Heron on the first Friday of the month.
The 2 loaves at the front in the picture are half Salkeld organic white and half Heron wholemeal wheat with a little sourdough culture in place of yeast. The culture is about 12 years old, and I got it from the Staff of Life in Kendal. It's been developing Arnside characteristics in my fridge for about a year now, and is pretty stable. It still needs to be cut back occasionally, but the main thing I do is to put the whole culture into each bake, and make sure to take some out to carry forward to next week at the end of my overnight sponge. Using the whole culture every week ensures that what is in the fridge never gets too acid from lying around for too long.
I started both breads off the night before, with a quarter sponge - a quarter of the flour with half the water, no salt, and either a spoonful of the sourdough culture or half the yeast. This develops extra flavour over night, and ensures you get a vigorous rise the next day, although vigorous is a relative term when it comes to sourdough!
I added the rest of the ingredients to the sourdough about 9 a.m. and left it to its cogitations till about the time the tennis started, so it had about 5 hours rising in the bowl before I got on with the yeasted bread in the afternoon.
The yeasted bread is easy to time -
- overnight sponge
- 10 minute knead
- 1 hour rising in the bowl
- 5 minutes to fold and shape
- 1 hour in the proving basket
- 50 minutes in the oven
The sourdough continued to rise in the bowl until the yeasted dough was in the first pair of proving baskets at 3.15 p.m. I then moved the sourdough on into the second pair of proving baskets, so it had about 1h 45m for its final proving before reaching the oven about 5 p.m.
You just have to let the sourdough do its own thing until it's ready, so it helps to have other things on the go, like the yeasted bread, or Wimbledon. But it's a sobering thought that I started the bread off about 10 p.m. on Saturday, and took it out of the oven about 6 p.m. on Sunday. So they are not joking at the Handmade Bakery in Slaithwaite when they call their bread "sleepless white". As Elizabeth Botham's in Whitby puts it - some things just take time.