I’ve been trying to work out how I can make more bread. I love making it and trying new recipes, but there are only two of us in this house & we can only eat so much! Of course I can give bread to family/friends, but I still want something more regular to work on. So I’ve been debating getting some part time work in a bakery or selling some loaves, which would be amazing because I could try more loaves, learn more and hopefully make some money at the same time. Wins all round I think.
I was on the Real Bread Campaign website (which I frequent) and spotted an advert from a local cafe looking for home bakers to help them supply bread to their market stalls. I had heard of the Hornbeam Cafe in Walthamstow, but I’ll admit I didn’t know a lot about it. It turns out that all of their bread is provided by the Hornbeam Bakers Collective, which is made up of a group of keen local bakers. They also provide bread to three market stalls on a Saturday, one outside the Walthamstow cafe, one in Leyton and one in Stoke Newington.
Last week I went and met with Pilar from the collective and took her a couple of my loaves to try, a mixed white & wholemeal loaf made with tea (top) and a 50% spelt loaf (above). It was the first time I’d made the 50% spelt, so it wasn’t perfect but I was really please with the mixed grain loaf. Thankfully they both went down a storm, so from this Saturday I will start to provide bread to the stalls. Just 8 loaves at first as I only have a little oven, but if it goes well then who knows where it will lead…
Last night I mixed up a couple of 60% white flour, 22% spelt flour & 18% wholemeal flour sourdough loaves following Dan Lepard’s recipe for the mill loaf. After 4 hours fermenting with periodic stretching and folding, I shaped them just before I went to bed and left them in the fridge overnight to proof. Then this morning, while getting on with various chores I baked them for 50 minutes each and by lunchtime I had fresh homemade bread to enjoy.
As I took the loaves out of the oven they were making cracking and popping sounds, which was rather worrying, but after a quick google I discovered that this is a good thing. The loaves were ‘singing’ to me, the sign of a well baked loaf apparently.
Upon cutting these open I discovered a really soft, spongy crumb with lots of holes. I think the spelt had a real impact on the smoothness on the crumb, and it tastes divine. Just a little nutty from the wholemeal flour and rye starter but otherwise a light texture with a delicately sour flavour. I think these might be my favourite loaves to date.
As I had this beautiful fresh bread to use, for lunch I made my perfect fried egg sandwich. Fresh sourdough bread smeared with butter, a sliver of mature cheddar cheese and pile of crisp lettuce topped with a juicy fried egg. A decadent lunch that’s hard to beat.
I realised that after documenting my struggles with learning how to make sourdough bread, I never got round to blogging my successes!
White Leaven Bread
I finally got Dan Lepard’s White Leaven Bread recipe to work after repeated disasterous attempts. I was already placing a baking sheet in the oven to get hot and sliding the dough onto it, but this time I added a cloche in the form of an enormous saucepan, upturned on the baking tray. I baked the loaf under the cloche for 30 minutes, enough time for the steam to work it’s magic and then removed the cloche & baking sheet to finish the loaf on the wire oven shelf for the last 20 minutes. The result was a beautifully risen, light and airy white loaf.
The Mill Loaf
As I felt like I’d finally conquered that recipe, I turned the page and attempted the second recipe in Dan’s The Handmade Loaf, The Mill Loaf. This is a 60% white flour & 40% wholegrain flour sourdough loaf. The recipe makes two much larger loaves than the White Leaven Bread recipe and shaped as batons rather than balls and because of this I couldn’t fit them under my makeshift cloche which left me expecting disaster. I needn’t have worried. Both loaves came out beautifully. The first I baked seam side up and it split spectacularly, the second I slashed and baked, it split a little on the bottom seam and opened up at the top slashes. Interestingly while everyone in the online sourdough world loves enormous rips and ears on their loaves, all the non-bakers I showed the pictures to thought the slashed version looked more professional.
I much prefer wholemeal bread so for me this bread wins over the white loaf as it’s much more flavoursome. I will definitely make this again and I’m looking forward to experimenting with different flours to see what happens.
Sour 100% Rye Bread
Then this week I moved on to the third recipe in The Handmade Loaf the 100% Rye loaf. My shaping needs work, hopefully I’ll learn some shaping skills on the E5 Bakehouse sourdough bread course next month. The result was a dense and moist loaf with that rich, nutty rye flavour. I loved the feel of this dough too, it was very sticky and springy. I left this loaf wrapped in greaseproof paper & tied up with string overnight as instructed and cut into it for lunch today. I topped slices with pesto, soft cheese, ground black pepper, lettuce & cherry tomatoes for a simple, refreshing lunch. These classic flavours worked with the dense, nutty bread perfectly.