I’d like to take a moment to introduce you to our new pet, Paul.
I admit he doesn’t look like your usual pet and it’s probably a bit odd to keep a pet in a jar, but there you go, according to Mr Hollywood he is to be treated as a pet.
If you hadn’t worked it out, Paul is a sourdough starter and Mr Hollywood is Paul Hollywood of ‘Great British Bake Off’ & ‘Paul Hollywood’s Bread’ fame. You can also work out that when Paul recommended that we treat a sourdough starter as a pet that needs to be fed and watered, we didn’t go too far to get a name!
Having managed to master the art of making bread, I felt it was time to move on a challenge and make some sourdough. Years ago I attempted to make a starter and it went horribly wrong. So this time I initially looked at trying to blag a starter or buy one. But then I bought a bag of flour which had a recipe for a starter on it so I thought I’d give it a go. Over the course of a week Paul, as he is now known, was created and nurtured. Then came the point where there was enough starter to make some bread, so I looked up a recipe on the internet.
There are hundreds of slightly differing ways to make sourdough bread on the internet.
I eventually settled on one that I though would fit into my routine, make the dough, prove for two hours, knock back, prove for 8-12 hours, bake. So I timed it that the 8-12 hour prove was overnight and we would have fresh bread for breakfast. Sourdough is very sticky and on this occasion, as I didn’t use enough flour to line the bowl therefore it got stuck and didn’t tip out easily so it was a bit of a mess that made it onto the baking stone. The resultant loaf looked alright, tasted good, but had an enormous air hole the whole way through.
For the second attempt I tried another recipe that didn’t require quite so much proving. Again it looked good but was a bit flat, not very holey and tasted a bit under cooked. I did a bit more research and came across the opinion that sourdough bread making is very much trial and error, knowing your oven etc. I also reflected that it had taken us several goes to get the normal bread making right so I shouldn’t be surprised that this was taking time.
This is the third attempt…
Not bad. But could probably do with a harder crust and a few larger holes. It tastes delicious though. This bread had a two hour prove, followed by a five hour prove.
This week I watched Paul Hollywood’s Bread which focused on sourdough and realised that our Paul is quite sloppy compared to those shown in the programme, so I need to cut back a bit on the water I am giving him. This might make some difference. I also noticed that Paul H was doing his kneading with oil rather than flour, which I assume is a way of kneading the bread without adding too much extra flour into your mix.
So when I attempt to make another loaf this weekend I’ll experiment with kneading it in oil.