My first attempt

Well, my starter was excellent, but the cook needs a lot more practice:>) My first attempt today was less than brilliant, I think I made the mix too wet, it was really difficult to work, and impossible to put slashes in. The loaves looked OK, if a bit small, but when I cut into it, there was a huge gap between the crust and the bread, which was a bit on the heavy side. I'll have another try next weekend. I think the right equipment might make a difference too, I don't have bannetons, so ended up juggling baking tins lined with tea towels.

3 comments

If it makes you feel any better, my first loaf would have been better of used to constuct a wall than as a food source!  But it was so much fun making it!  Keep at it, it took me a while to get a "feel" for the dough. I kept thinking "this'll never work out and added more flour and kneaded it more, which was probably why it turned out heavy and solid!  There are some great recipes on this website (and others) and great hints and help from great people - you will eventually make loaves you are really happy sharing with your friends :o)

KC

Sarniagirl, that gap between crust and crumb may be to do with your shaping technique.

I used to think shaping was all about aesthetics, but I soon came to know better...through lessons we all go through when we start. Have you watched any shaping video tutes? If not, there are plenty on YouTube. Here's one by one of the gurus:

a Boule - Peter Reinhart

You'll find tutes for different types of shapes (batard, baguettes etc), and also for things like folding and stretching. Actually, there is lots of good intructional info right here on Sourdough Companion. Well worth browsing through in preparation for your next bake.

Re the dough being too wet, are you using digital scales to weigh your ingredients? Some folk rely on intuition, and that's fine, but I prefer weighing precisely, then adjusting according to "feel" if necessary. It's good to be able to duplicate your favourite loaves, so I record any adjustments and observations about the end result, so that next time I can refer to my notes to modify anything that was not quite right (or repeat the process exactly if the outcome was good). Digital scales are a relatively inexpensive investment IMO - I now see mine as indispensible.

Different flours will absorb water differently and affect the consistency of the dough even if you follow the recipe exactly, so that is worth bearing in mind.

Of course, you may already be aware of everything I've mentioned. If not, some of this info may assist.

Cheers and good luck with the next bread!
Ross

Thank you Ross and KC for the helpful suggestions and tips. I've watched some videos on shaping and folding, and will shop for some  basic equipment this weekend. I think my technique needs refining somewhat.....the precise folding on the video didn't resemble my more..*ahem*...robust technique!