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Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Let's backtrack to where it all started...

This is how my journey started... My good friend attended a baking class conducted by Dan Lepard sometime in March 2006 and after which was telling me how wonderful it was. I did not manage to make it for that class or rather wasn't interested at that point of time. It cost quite a lot too!!! Anyway, one day when we were having a cuppa, he popped the question, "Eh, do you know how to cultivate a sourdough starter?" Huh,??!! I wondered and he started to elaborate on it, then I said to myself "is it that difficult?" Believing I can do it, I took his challenge of trying to cultivate one... I trawled the net for info and found many methods on cultivating a starter, the eleborate ones had yogurt, raisins, different flours added and so on... On the other hand, I took a cautious approach by using the simplest of them all, just by mixing flour and water then left it covered till bubbles appear. As a newbie, I was very anxious about it and kept checking whenever I could, it was agonising as the bubbles took hell a long to appear (a good 14 hours or so...) When it finally appeared, as instructed, I was to "feed" the starter with more flour and water, so I did. The end result after 3 days was a cup of "pungent, sharp smelling gooey gloop".

At this stage, I felt I was one up from my friend who never manage to get a starter going and gave up trying... With the starter ready, I found a recipe on the net and tried baking my very first sourdough bread, the revelation...

My 1st sourdough loaf

I was happy with it but did not know exactly what it should be, so I went surfing again and found a wonderful forum called "Sourdough Australia". I was astonished at what the guys were doing (call me blur or anything) and decided to post my loaf in the forum to get advice and feedback. One thing led to another and very soon I was log-in to a few forums(look at the "link" section). I was hooked and the baking was fast and furious, even my mum and wifey thought I was a little crazy baking almost every other day... Soon, I discovered with the help of many wonderful & helpful people, things like baker's percentage, dough hydration, starter hydration and much much more though I must admit, I am still trying to digest all these information. Arm with some knowledge and picking up books from the library, I attempted to bake doughs with different hydration levels and started experimenting with various types of bread. My next attempt was this soft and luscious Milk loaf by Dan Lepard,

I was really feeling good and baked another variation, Raisin Bread at the request of my friend, Moses who loves raisins(I wonder y???)...

Then, the next bake, I crumbled.... Was ambitious and tried baking a 100% wholemeal sourdough and this was the outcome... :(

After this, I decided to take a break and collect my thoughts. The story continues...


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