Starter from Scratch: Vermont Three Ways

As recently noted, I decided to give the two new starters, Wally and PJ, a little bit of a competition and threw my standard starter, Carl of Oregon (a purchased starter that originated in 1800’s), into the mix to basically see which, if any, was the best of the lot. Just to explain, Carl, regardless of his ‘roots’ has been an active starter in my house for well over a year so has had plenty of time to become mature. So he’s up against two “new kids”.

V3-CulpritsNow I didn’t get into the usual step-by-step photo thing for this post because it was actually a little too hectic keeping track of everything. I basically had to mix three different batches of dough each with it’s own starter. I also decided this would be a good time to work up the next BBA Challenge bread: Kaiser Rolls.

Yeah, pretty much nuts.

So last night I set up the levain build, as per Hamelman’s instructions, but with a distinct change: I took the recipe and divided everything by three. So into each jar I made 1/3 of the levain ingredients but using PJ, Wally and Carl in each. Those got set aside for the night while I worked on the poolish for the Kaisers.

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Pane Italiano: Molto Delizioso

ItalIntroHere we are with Italian Bread, recipe #15 in The Bread Baker’s Apprentice Challenge. (And no, I won’t butcher the Italian language for this one any more than I just did.)

This recipe was pretty much a repeat of the French bread I made two weeks back so the steps along the way are nearly identical. The most obvious difference is the shape – the French bread was a baguette and this is a batard. There’s also sugar, malt and oil in the ingredient list where the French bread was strictly flour, salt yeast and water. The process itself, otherwise, was pretty much the same so as easy as the French bread was, so is this.

Let’s have a look at that.

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English Muffin Loaf, Peter Reinhart style

bakedLoafAs it looked like we were about to run out of bread (I gave away the remainder of the Focaccia to a neighbour) I decided to give a go at Reinhart’s version of the English Muffins (loaf style) after all to compare  it to the Mike Avery version I made a few days back.

The Bread Baker’s Apprentice recipe has slightly different ingredients; it requires buttermilk where Avery’s uses milk powder, Avery adds a tiny amount of baking soda which Reinhart does not  and of course the most obvious being that Avery’s uses about 2c of sourdough starter vs Reinhart’s 14g of instant yeast, albeit the sourdough version makes two loaves and the BBA makes just one so the Avery version would have an equivalent of about a cup of starter.

Will that still affect the flavour significantly? How do they compare? Let’s go through the process and see…

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Focaccia!

Welcome back, dedicated followers, first timers and anyone else who’s just stumbling on this little blog! Today’s post is going to look at my first time try at Focaccia, The Bread Baker’s Apprentice Challenge recipe, where a whole whack of people are systematically going through each recipe in Peter Reinhart’s book as a personal challenge and to try out lots of recipes they may not ever have attempted otherwise.

With summer being half over already, we’re now at recipe #13 out of 43 total. Those who are keeping track of such things may note I’ve hopped over a couple of recipes in the list, particularly the last one which was English Muffins. The only reason I skipped that one is that I had a bunch of extra starter (“excess” starter I’d actually been feeding) and I wanted to use it up. I happen to come across Mike Avery’s English Muffin Loaf recipe which uses Sourdough, so I made two loaves of that. Totally didn’t click English Muffins was one of the next Challenges. They were similar, so I’ll just assume my batch counts. You can read that officially non #BBA post here.

Anyway… enough of that, let’s look at Focaccia. This is a very simple bread, based on number of ingredients:

Focaccia1

A short list of ingredients for this one! Continue reading “Focaccia!”

English Muffin Loaf, Mike Avery style

Decided to make something today to try and use up some of the extra sourdough I have hanging around. So I hunted around and came across this recipe from Mike Avery’s SourdoughHome.com website.

We’re probably all familiar with English Muffins, whether bought from the bread shelf at the local grocery or, if you’re lucky, home made. And one of the big calling cards to an english muffin is the texture and the “nooks and crannies” you get by spitting them with a fork and toasting, then those little peaks and valleys crisp right up and manage to hold on to way more butter and/or jam.

Well, this isn’t like that.

But it’s close: instead of being individual rounds of bread cooked up on a griddle (yes, the “normal” english muffin is cooked on a stovetop, not baked) this one is formed into a loaf and baked, then sliced. Just like regular loaf bread.

We’ll discuss the taste and texture at the end. So let’s get our ingredients out and mix us up a batch.

EMB-MEP

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