[u]Dedicated to Bill[/u]
It could only happen to me. At the start of May I did a three day ?Going Professional? course with that noble son of Oz, Paul Merry, baker, teacher and oven-builder ? [url]http://www.panary.co.uk[/url]. It was an excellent course, only four of us reducing to two for the last day (not because of the quality of the course ? two people could only escape for a couple of days). There was me, about to set up a bakery, a woman who already ran a café wanting to expand their appeal by producing their own bread, a chef from a famous London museum where they wanted to include good quality bread on the menu, and a biker who was a total beginner. We were allowed a load of scope to say what we wanted to bake.
Excellent experience - get home, oven dies. Spend next few weeks making flat breads in a skillet (but did not succumb to buying bread).
We actually have state-of-the-art NZ oven in storage waiting for new kitchen to be installed but that is weeks away.
Finally buy mini oven off eBay for £34 (note my famous black book under the work surface):
Spend the first three days baking like a mad thing even though the oven is not a subtle beast. (Found a new way of getting good oven spring. I got carried away with quantities and made two loaves that only just cleared the sides of the oven. Of course after they hit the heat they expanded, hit the sides of the oven and had nowhere to go but upwards! After half an hour after they had firmed up a bit, I prised them out and leant them together on their sides, wigwam style, to finish baking.)
Anyway, one thing I learnt on the course was Russian Rye, a pure sourdough rye which is so simple and really good. Paul reckons that rye starters are so easy to make from just rye flour and water that he doesn?t bother to keep a rye starter but makes one each time he is going to bake. He refreshes his starter in the following proportions ? leaven 1: water 5: rye 3. The basic recipe is ?equal weights of sour leaven and fresh rye flour, sufficient water to put it back to the consistency of porridge and salt at 1% of the whole bulk?.
For a single loaf, this works out at:
Active rye leaven 50g
Rye flour 150g
Dough 24 hours later:
Rye Flour 400g
Hand mix until liquids absorbed. Oil a bread tin. Wet your hands, lift the dough out of the bowl and roughly shape in the air to fit the tin:
Allow to rise. This was 4½ hours but it could be much quicker depending on your starter and temperature:
Bake in a hot oven for about an hour. With the new toy oven I burnt the top of my first loaf. With this second one I brushed the top with water before it went in the oven, reduced the heat a little after ten minutes, and brushed it again a couple of time during the baking:
I know that a loaf like this does not have the spectacular beauty of a slashed pain de campagne but the subtlety of the olive gold surface on the loaf makes my little knees weak.
Cool, store over night in a poly bag before trying and, unlike wheat bread, keep in a poly bag until used up.