I have had a couple of exciting months breadmaking during which I have made some of my best loaves and also tried some new techniques and recipes. It was topped off by a fantastic Birthday present from my parents: a baking stone which came with a peel and proving board, a proving basket, a ceramic bread baker for breads such as focaccia, a scraper and some yeast (which was good because I had just disposed of my last lot – I am still yet to finish a packet of yeast before the use by).
The last loaves of 2012
A white spelt loaf with a ladleful of sourdough starter to give added flavour and artisanery. I got a lovely (loavely, as I just typed) soft loaf with a delicate crust that we served with our ‘soup in a bowl’, an Abel and Cole recipe for pumpkin soup that is baked in the actual pumpkin. It was nice, although a bit sweet. I prefer pumpkin to be mixed with sweet potato in a soup rather than on its own.
Two white loaves with poppyseeds. One was supposed to be shaped as a stubby cylinder, the other a tapered loaf (my favourite shape as it feels so natual when I am making it). I still need lots of practice at making sure the dough is all tucked in properly as the ‘seams’ split all the time! We ate one loaf and I froze the other which I then took to my parents’ over Christmas (I made them a special food hamper with two loaves of bread, homemade pate, delicious honeyed cashews from our health food shop, date butter (recipe courtesy of Beckie), and my Christmassy coffee from Kopi).
This was my most delicious loaf to date made with half-and-half of wholemeal spelt and white spelt. Spelt is by far my favourite. It is delicious and so beautiful to knead. I prefer this over any other flour at the moment. Harry decided to give me a hand just at the critical shaping stage so it nded up a very bizarre shape (not clear in the picture). I even remembered to slash the top for once and the slashes opened up quite nicely which is a good sign!
My breadmaking cupboard :-). I had to rearrange my kitchen just so I could fit all my new kitchen bits in (for Christmas I got a massive stock pot and some silicone muffin trays; Harry also got a baking set!).
The first time I used my baking stone wielded my best loaves to date and got firm approval from my husband. They were made with white spelt and a ladle of starter. I remembered to slash the tops again and again they opened out pretty well! Especially the first, which was the one I proved in my beautiful proving basket. The texture of these loaves was great too. I was going to freeze one but we demolished one with cheese that evening so I didn’t need to! The loaves did go a bit of a funny shape because I did as my book said and loaded them from the peel to the baking stone one at a time and found it hard to fit them on neatly next to each other. I think I would have done a better job if I’d transferred them at the same time. Actually, for my first time I probably should have just done one big loaf. Not that it matters because they were yum!
Breadsticks! The dough makes A LOT of them, so I divided it up and have freezed it in batches so we can make them when required. I coated them in a variety of things – plain ones, paprika, sea salt and pepper, and poppy seeds. They were extra crispy because I rolled them too thin and baked them for too long (of course, if I hadn’t rolled them too thin, the time in the oven would have been perfect!).
I used my new bread baker and made a focaccia for the first time ever and wow wow wow it was amazing! I halfed the recipe so it would fit the dish, but it was still a bit too big. Nevertheless, it was still cooked OK and tasted beautiful. James thought it was a bit too salty but he probably got the bit where I didn’t sprinkle the sea salt too well. I will definitely be making this again, probably on a regular basis.
I tried my hand at sourdough again but this loaf wasn’t as good as my first attempt. I think the main problem is that it is so cold at the moment so the rising process takes longer. The loaf was too dense and did not have the airholes that sourdough should, but it still tasted good! Especially with the acacia honey we have at the moment.