Friday, May 11, 2012

Tips and Terms

We'll update this post as necessary. If you find something in a different post that you want clarified let us know and we'll do our best to sort it out.

Bread Terms:

Leaven: Recently fed starter. If you plan on making bread soon, it works out best to get a leaven ready one half of the feeding cycle ahead of time (I usually feed the starter every morning, so I make the leaven the night before the morning I plan on making the bread). To make the leaven throw out most of the starter and feed it equal parts flour and water, just like for a normal feeding. The main differences here are that: 1- you are getting rid of most of the old starter so that the majority of the active yeasties in the leaven will be fresh and vigorous, 2- you are feeding it way more than usual so that you have lots (up to two cups) of usable active leaven with enough left over to be more starter, and 3- you are planing on using it when it is still young and fresh (instead of letting it get all flat and funky like the starter does if you give it a whole feeding cycle).

Bakers percentage: The total amount of flour used will be the 100 for the given recipe. All of the other ingredients will be given with a number that represents a percentage of that 100. So, if you aim to make a lot of bread (three loaves I made for a big dinner party) start with 1000g flour and go from there.

How to make a starter:

Easiest thing ever. Just put a few hand fulls of organic flour in a bowl, add enough unchlorinated water to get an oatmeal-like consistency, and let it sit at room temp for a week covered with cheese cloth. After a week, it should be pretty nasty looking and strong smelling. Throw of this out "its called a "sponge" now) and add another healthy dose of flour and water. Let it sit again for a few more days until it gets nice and funky.

At this point, your sponge should be feeling strong enough to respond well to some more regular feedings... Just throw half of it down the drain and mix in enough new flour and water to get it back to its original size. After a week or so of regular feeding it should be smelling pretty nice. Et Voila!

Bread Making Tips:

-Feed starter regularly. Feeding it on a schedule (like at the same time every day, or consistantly gapped days if kept in fridge) really helps it perform more predictably.

-The longer it takes, the better it tastes!

-Use a dutch oven, or something to keep the moisture from the bread from being vented during baking. I bake the bread on our pizza stone with our big stock pot covering it like a hood. Bread house.

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