Now to my preparedness post!
Sour dough starter will be arriving in mail boxes in all sorts of places soon so I thought I would go on with Sour Dough tips this week. This isn't what I planned so hopefully next week will be the easy mixes and recipes.
The photos in this post are from you all!
This is from Rachel. Look at those goodies and the beautiful dried Peppercorns!
There is "Sour Dough" on the right hand side in the index. The getting started post is here. These are the instructions to get your dry starter going and begin making bread.
While I've been researching more things I can make myself I was amazed that you can make bread flour or bakers flour yourself! Bread flour is much more expensive than regular plain flour and when you get going in bread making this puts the cost up.
The reason you need bread flour is that it is slightly higher in protein than regular flour. That slight amount is enough to make a difference to how your bread rises. The reason is that both the starter and the yeast in your loaf of bread likes to feed on protein.
These cinnamon scrolls were made by Kelley!
To make your own bread flour you can add Vital Wheat Gluten to your plain flour. There seems to be differing ideas on how much to add. And there is a cost to buying this product and I am not sure it works out cheaper yet. If you are interested in that sooner than I can report on the results just google "how to make bakers flour" and there is plenty on it. Health food shops appear to sell it and it is available online.
(It is important to note bread flour is not "bread mix" as we are just talking about flour. Bread mixes are generally all mixed in with salt, bread importers and other things to save you all the trouble. They are commonly produced for bread mixers. Overall these are more expensive again. This is also something that you can make up yourself for quite a big saving!)
The information about making your own bread flour led me to some other discoveries. If yeast likes protein so much and the difference between bread flour and plain flour protein content is only about 2% then there are other ways to add protein to your baking mix. I am going to be trying this out a little bit more. So far so good.
Instead of using bakers/bread flour I am using plain flour and adding either a spoon of powdered milk or an egg to my mix.
I noticed with the sticky buns the rise on them was huge! They contained eggs! Ahh!
I will still buy bread flour to feed my starter and keep it going but for the actual baking I am now on plain flour plus protein. I will let you know how this goes over the next few weeks! This means Aldi flour will become my main bread making ingredient and less than half the price of the bakers flour I was buying!
Jane's Sour Dough bread (from Nanna Chel's and my starter) and beautiful pull apart bread.
Many blogs I read have you half your starter, throw half out and feed the remaining. Why I will never know! I suggested Patsy ignore that and feed it up and get making things! So far it sounds like she is on to a winner now! So I thought I had better mention this. I have never noticed the starter increase in size other than because of the actually added flour and water. I keep adding and it gets bigger but not in a "rising" kind of way.
Next I started researching getting your bread to rise as I was worried about the cold weather.
Normally I get some warmth into things especially when working on the second rise before cooking.
Some of the ways I warm things up are:
Put my baking pan in the oven for a few minutes to warm it. Turn the oven off. Then when my dough is ready to go into the pan let it rise in the now only slightly warm oven.
Put the pan in the car if it's in the sun.
Soak my baking pan in a sink of hot water. Just before filling it dry it, pop the mix in and wrap a towel around the base.
Heat up a hot pack and sit it under the dish...
Sit it in the window if its sunny and warm.
Sit the bowl in a few inches of warm water.
These have all worked really well.
Maria's Chocolate and Berry Brownies.
She made these low sugar for her husband. They look amazing!
My research paid off though! I found out professionals usually have a proving box. This always has something in it to provide moisture/humidity. I didn't know that!
A perfect substitute (if it is big enough) is your microwave. You boil a cup of water and immediately set that on one side and put in your bread. Close the door. The heat from the boiling water is enough to warm up that little space and the humidity will make the yeast very happy! I think you could do this in your oven too, perhaps with a larger container of boiling water.
Next I found that your rising dough absolutely should be covered. Covered in a way that actually doesn't touch the dough but still keeps the air off it. Without a cover the top of the dough dries out slightly and forms a bit of a crust. This crust is tough enough to keep it from rising more.
So a loose cover is a good idea.
This information seems to be good for the first rise and the proving box seems to be good for the second rise... as the steam seems to stop this crust issue. So more experiments coming there! Perhaps it is a case of either or... both these methods might stop the crust forming.
Finally I found that slashing or scoring your bread is a good idea as this also helps it to rise into a nice shape. Like cakes sometimes do, a loaf can split or rise oddly and that is the reason for scoring... it helps it to rise nicely without spilling over in some weird place. Two or three slashes into the risen dough, about 1 cm deep, just before cooking, seems to be the formula.
It is so exciting to see bread or a tray of buns or scrolls rising sky high as you know they are going to be beautiful! So hopefully these little tips will be a help to someone. Also I hope the information about the protein and making your own bread flour will save you money.
I truly think if what you are doing is working keep doing that. If you have trouble with bread being too dense, not rising enough etc then try some of these ideas. Bread making is a bit science and a bit art I think. Dough has a "feel" to it and after a bit you come to understand how it should feel.
I figure this would be like making pasta but I just haven't gone there yet!
What are your tips for bread making and yeast cooking?
If you requested starter I hope it arrives this week or soon!
I hope you have a very good week! I have a lot to report on Friday already! xxx