Playing with Sourdough

I've written about sourdough bread before and came to the conclusion that it just didn't fit in with my lifestyle, in that by the time I had made a loaf it was bed-time! I want the bread for sandwiches etc at lunch!

However, the fascination of making bread with just flour, water and salt, no yeast, is so intriguing I just couldn't resist revisiting it. My idea being to be able to make a loaf that could be refrigerated overnight in it's uncooked state and baked fresh from the fridge the next morning. I want a process that's easy and that won't become a chore.

I'm halfway there in that I've got a good starter going. I did this by mixing 50 gm of bread flour and 50gm of water in a preserving jar (holding the lid down loosely with an elastic band rather than the catch). After a day I added a further 50 gm flour and 50 gm water and on subsequent days threw half of it away and topped it up with the same amounts of flour and water. This is a 100% hydration starter: that is the water weighs 100% of the weight of the flour. This method of calculating recipes is known as baker's percentages. They differ from normal percentages in that all other ingredients are expressed as a percentage of the flour rather than the total amount of dough.

I won't post my recipe and method yet as I'm still working on it. I'm not at a stage yet where I'm confident that the dough won't collapse in the fridge overnight and also need to adjust the method to improve the crust - it's too crusty at present. However, in the absence of anything else here's a picture of one of the test loaves; this long fermentation system produces a bread that is infinitely more tasty than breads made by normal methods so I'm happy to persevere in my endeavours.

Trial sourdough

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Smoked Salmon and a Soggy Bottom

This post was going to be about the art of making the 'perfect' quiche, or as we say around here - egg and bacon tart. It was only after I took the photo of it that I noticed it had a soggy bottom. It didn't seem so when we ate it. I baked the case 'blind' and coated it with beaten egg to seal it; you can't do much more. Even so the photo made me look like the amateur I am! Anyway, the whole art of making the quiche can be summed up by - use fresh ingredients, double cream not milk, bake the case blind, and bake the egg mixture at less than 160°C so that it doesn't separate/curdle. To me it should be like an egg custard but savoury.

In the absence of the quiche, you'll have to make do with smoked salmon:

Smoked Salmon

Yes, greed got the better of me and I bought some cut price whole salmon from a supermarket that I wouldn't normally be seen dead in. The salmon was filleted and then put into plain sea salt for 6½ hours followed by about 34 hours of cold smoking. It's been in the fridge for a couple of days to allow the flavour to 'mingle'. It deserved the 'poncy' presentation and tomato rose; it was superb.

It never ceases to amaze me how a bit of salt and smoke can turn this:

Raw Salmon

Into this:

Smoked Salmon

It looks like my filleting technique needs a bit of work though!

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