Neil Robinson

On the trail of great bread!

A Continuation of the Journey

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I have been baking bread, bagels, pizza dough, etc. using both yeast and sourdough starters for a number of years. I recently went through a period of about 18 months where I hardly baked at all. I realized after a while that the reason I had lost interst was that I couldn’t seem to achieve the type of bread that I was able to buy, and that was really my goal.

That isn’t to say that what I baked wasn’t good, but it tended to be crumbly and not have a strong texture. That was in part because of the use of whole grain flour in most cases. But also, the real reason was something I didn’t understand until recently. A few months back, I bought a book called “Crust and Crumb”, by Peter Reinhart. I read through it and started to get inspired again. But I still wasn’t confident I could reach my goal. I then purchased the book “Tartine Bread” by Chad Robertson. That was when I had my ephiphany.

This past Christmas I got my wife to give me a Lodge Combo Cooker as my present. I also started trying to revive my ancient and decrepit sourdough. That failed (it hadn’t needed to, but I didn’t know that then). After Christmas, I began creating a brand new sourdough.

My first attempts weren’t getting there, so I tried a drier dough technique than I had been using, and suddenly I had success. After 10 days I had a reliable starter that could double itself in a few hours. The next stage is to start baking bread.

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One Comment

  1. I haven’t been eating anything made of grains for several years, but was puzzled by the veneration of bread by my ancestors (I’m from Slovakia, Central Europe). I then read some about sourdough and realised: proper sourdough is not a carbohydrate food, it’s animal food! Because the bacteria and yeast eats most of the starches and converts it into more bacteria and yeast and those beneficial byproducts (e.g. vitamins).

    So I started my own starter and baked several 100% rye sourdough breads. I love them, what a taste!

    Yesterday, we tried to bake a sourdough Lebkuchen, with success. If you can get hold of Lebkuchen spices whereever you live, I can send you a recipe (even its Czech original if you know Czech).

    Jan

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