I’ll start by saying that I’m an hobbyist baker. I can usually end up with something edible, and for the most part, I’m pretty happy with what I get. BUT BREAD IS VERY DIFFERENT.
This was my first time trying to bake bread with my own starter and it wasn’t easy. There are just so many variables: yeast, the water temperature, the temperature of your kitchen the first rise, the second rise, over proofing, under proofing, the list goes on! But after this experience I’ve learned the hardest thing to do is to be patient with your yeast and the process.
Growing Your Wild Yeast
For my first sourdough bread I made my own natural yeast using distilled water and all purpose flour. I also tried to grow yeast with whole wheat but I had no sucess the firs two times. I am trying again and am hoping that I get it right on this third try.
Sourdough Bread Recipes
Over the last few days I’ve been trying my hand at several different bread recipes. We’ve been eating some sort of bread with almost every meal and sharing with family members. Here are some we’ve tried:
I feel comfortable baking bread now and have recently purchased the Flour Water Salt Yeast book. Two of my best friends have been baking bread long before this quarantine started and they recommended I try this book.
Bread Making Essentials
Lastly, if you’re gonna do some baking, you’re gonna need some tools. Over the year’s I’ve collected a good amount of baking tool essentials which I know use weekly, but I’ve also added some new ones to my collection. Luckily, most of these tools are so basic that they already exist in some form in most kitchens, so don’t worry too much if you don’t have one! Bread making can still be achieved without these.
1. Electric Scale – When it comes to cooking, guesstimating is totally fine. Baking, on the other hand, is a more exact science, and getting the correct proportions of ingredients is essential. That’s why most baking recipes will be given in weight (120 grams of flour) rather than volume (1 cup of flour). I bought this little scale 4 years ago, and I use it several times a week.
2. Bench Scraper – This is a handy tool for dividing dough and scraping it off counters. A sharp knife will also work for dividing dough, but I use my scraper for a lot of other things (like frosting cakes).
3. Good Set Of Bowls – These work as mixing bowl, dry ingredient/wet ingredient bowls, proving baskets, you know name it. It’s especially important to have one good, big bowl for mixing your dough in, and letting it rise.
4. 64 oz Mason Jar – If you’re going to making your own starter then you’re going to want one of these to house it.
5. Banneton Proofing Basket – This isn’t an essential, any bowl with a linen napkin will do for letting your dough prove. But this is the bowl that’s going to give you the pretty circular pattern you see in fancier loaves.
6. Flour Sack Cloths – You’ll need these for covering bowls during dough rises, and for lining bowls during dough proofing. They’re the simple, basic workhorses of your baking ensemble.
7. Dutch Oven – Besides a basic loaf tin or cookie tray, this is what I’ve been using to bake my rustic round loaves in, and what most recipes call for. I own a 5qt. Dutch oven and it works just fine.
8. Bread Lame – If you want to get artistic with your bread scoring, then you’ll want to use a real razor.