I took Friday and Monday off work last weekend as a bit of a treat to myself because it was my birthday at the end of January. Along with seeing some friends and our beautiful new god-daughter I took the opportunity to do a big batch of baking and use some of the presents my wife had bought me (a new straight lame, bigger proofing baskets and a granite baking stone). I have been reading Jeffrey Hamelman’s “Bread” a lot recently so most of the recipes were taken from that splendid and educational book.
Starting Friday night I did the prep for the Norwich More-Sourdough from Wild Yeast (here), which is based on Hammelman’s Vermont Sourdough. I’ve made this a few times and it is starting to become really familiar, in a good way. The dough is relatively easy to work with and seems to be really reliable. It was cold retarded and baked in the morning ready to be taken along to a friend’s house for lunch on Saturday. I was very pleased with the results and think it was definitely my best looking sourdough yet.
The crust had a lovely crackle and at last I managed to get some half decent ears on the scoring. Definitely felt much more confident using the straight lame I got for my birthday. I just kept getting snagged on the dough using the curved lame. Also being able to bake a loaf as big as this one felt really satisfying (1.5 kg). A bit of a crowd pleaser too, whipping one of those out of your bag.
The crumb was quite open (forgot to get a picture during lunch unfortunately) and had a really nice nutty flavour, presumably from the rye flour. I plan to make another one of these loaves soon but replace the rye flour with spelt as an experiment.
While I was taking the chill off the dough for that loaf I finished off some Sourdough English Muffins I had made the sponge for on Friday evening (again from Wild Yeast (here). They came out really well, open and bubbly enough to catch plenty of butter, and made a great breakfast to start the day with.
I hadn’t made any rye bread for a while so on Sunday morning I put together the Rye with Walnuts from Hammelman’s “Bread” (50/50 rye and wheat). Having been enticed by the description suggesting goats cheese as a particularly good accompaniment (any excuse for cheese). After some initial nerves when working with the dough I relaxed a bit and I think it came out fairly well. The texture was relatively dense as you would expect from this level of rye but definitely lifted by the wheat flour. The walnut flavour permeated the bread and gave a really lovely background sweetness. My wife particularly liked this one and she is definitely not a natural rye lover. Oh by the way the tip in the book about goats cheese is absolutely on the money. Also makes excellent toast.
I would be the first to admit that rye bread scares me a bit but I was happy with this one and it definitely tasted great. In fact I think this will be breakfast tomorrow.