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A few years ago when I took up baking again I became very interested in sourdough. After much time and effort I was getting good results. While I was baking excellent freeform sourdough I realised that I had missed out on many of the basics like shaping a tinned loaf. I moved to mainly baking tinned loaves with commercial yeast. Gradually I worked out how to shape dough for a tin and how hard to knock it back to get an even crumb. I started reading and experimenting exploring my interest in British bread of the early twentieth century. I was having fun learning about bread as it was in the good old days when it was made by skilled bakers. Unfortunately my bread production is limited to what I can eat or give away to my friends. So during this time my sourdough baking took a back seat. Then other things started to take up my time and my baking reduced till I was not doing much more than baking a once a week. Doing one or two yeasted tins to keep me supplied with my daily bread.
At the moment I have the time to focus on baking again and I need to reconnect with sourdough somewhere along the way I have lost the feel for it. Last year I baked the odd sourdough loaf but the results were nowhere near as good as I used to get. I have decided put some effort in to gatting back into the swing of sourdough.
This week I have done three sourdough bakes with mixed results. I am using up the last of some flour I bought that I did not like. I have nearly managed to chew my way though 32kg of it and I am beginning to find a way of working with it.
The first loaf I made looked really good I was pleased with the shaping and the way the slashes opened up when it baked.
When I cut into it it looked good and photographed really well. It was nice to eat the same day it was baked. It felt heavy the next day and was only good for toast. The dough had been under developed.
My second bake was much better, the shape was not quite what I had wanted but the bread made good eating. The crumb did not photograph so well yet it was much nicer to eat which after all in the real test.
My third bake was even better, a friend had jokingly asked if I would be able to reproduce the results of my second bake. This batch was slightly different I was very pleased with the dough development and I paid more attention to the shaping. There was still room for improvement with the shaping and oven management. It smelt great in the car when I took it to my friends and was a pleasure to eat.
Last weekend I headed off to Caernarfon to meet up with some friends for a bit of baking fun. Mick of Bethedsa Bakers fame had organized the gathering as an off shoot to the annual Bethesda baking weekends. I always like to play the fool and find something silly to bake for Mick as he is such a great and serious baker.
This time I decided to bake something with a Cadburys cream egg inside. In the baking section at Waitrose I found some freeze dried raspberries and I settled on the idea of a raspberry bread with a cream egg surprise. Our gatherings are very friendly and informal so I felt comfortable making up my own recipe and giving it a go.
Luckily the formula I came up with produced a beautiful dough that behaved the way I wanted it to.
After 15 minutes in the oven they continued to look good.
A quick brush with sugar glaze to glam them up and they were ready for their audience.
To my delight Mick did the honours and cut into the first one.
It was great fun everyone seamed amused.
I was pleased with the way the bread turned out.
It even tasted ok.
The weekend wasn’t just baking it was also a chance to spend time getting to know each other.
Gert looked after us very well and gave us the most amazing meals. http://orencaernarfon.wordpress.com/
With plenty of wine and Jay’s wonderful cider we relaxed and enjoyed ourselves.
As the weekend went on the collection of different breads started to grow.
There was a good mix of serious baking alongside all the merriment.
We had the use of the kitchen and dining room for the weekend. With the oven in the kitchen and Micks little oven set up in the dining room we had plenty of room for baking.
After enjoying a glass or three of Jay’s cider while piecing this together I thought it was only right and proper to end with a pic of the great blogger himself. http://thepartisanbaker.com/2014/03/28/bethesdabakinbijoux/
Thank you Mick for organizing this great weekend I had a wonderful time.