After having ordered and finally received my first bread baking books late last year, I am now excitedly working my way through them.
One of the first recipes I made was the "Mill Loaf" from Dan Lepard's "The art of handmade bread". I really like Dan's technique for kneading ie knead for about 10-15 secs on oiled bench leave for about 10 mins or so to rest then repeat a few times then stretch is out to about 1/2 hour between kneads (or folds). It sure beats standing kneading for 12-15 mins straight (I have no machine to help with the process so everything I do is by hand), but then you've got to have the time. So generally I prepare my loaves in the evening, proof overnight in the fridge, then bake sometime when it suits the next day - sometimes after work, sometimes before, depending on how organized I am, and how late I was up preparing the loaves!
The instructions for shaping bread in Dan Lepards book were also really good. There are great diagrams and they have definitely improved my somewhat random technique of making a loaf look good!
I was in charge of making bread for a friends Christmas function (no pressure) and so I decided a plan was required as there was no room for stuff ups - and I hadn't made bread for 30 odd people before! So the breads included the Mill Loaf, White leaven bread and 47% rye - nice balance of wholemeal, white and rye sourdoughs.
The 47% rye I've made loads of times before (www.wildyeastblog.com) and its a fabulous recipe! The other two are from Dan's book and I'd only made both of them once before.
It would seem I didn't quite judge the size of my fermentation container for the starter correctly, as when I came home to make the dough, it had tried to escape, but it was a lot of starter. The dough made some lovely bubbles after first ferment too!
As I mentioned above, the shaping techniques in Dan's book are great. So once your dough is ready to shape, flatten the dough into a round shape and fold the top two "corners" into the centre, Then fold the centre piece down into the middle:
Rotate the dough and repeat with the other side:
I didn't take any photos of the next part. But you just fold the top over to meet the bottom and seal the edge with the ball of your hand. The gently roll it from the centre out to shape into batards - I did try to give the ends a bit of a point, but don't appear to be too hot at that just yet! I let them proof in a floured cloth, tucked up in a plastic bag in the fridge overnight.
Then the next day was the bake-fest! I think my poor small little oven was cooking for about 6 hours, but considering its so special-needs, it did a stella job!
It was amazing listening to the crusts crackling after taking the loaves out of the oven. You could clearly see all the lovely airbubbles blisters across the surface - especially on the white loaf. Wonderful! The white leaven loaf didn't look so great as the slashing wasn't very good, but they all sure tasted very fine and my friend was quite happy with the boulangerie services used for the day!
Happiness is baking bread!