Becoming a Bread Angel

I spent a fabulous two days with Bread Angel Juli Farkas a couple of weeks ago and learned SO MUCH about baking bread.  As I am planning to sell beer bread at the Hammerton Brewery once a month, I thought I should get my act together and take the Setting Up a Micro-Bakery Course.  It was utterly brilliant.

Before I met Juli, we exchanged some emails about how much bread baking experience I had, and what I wanted to get from the course.  When Juli heard that I was planning on making bread with beer she was on the case STAT, rummaging around in her bread books for recipes.  So the first thing we did when I got to her lovely welcoming kitchen was to make a beer barm from a bottle of Hammerton’s Life on Mars to a Dan Lepard recipe…

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If only I had Smellovision installed on my blog, this smelled DIVINE.  We were excited to see how the bread made with this turned out, and it was SO GOOD.  I’m fiddling around with the recipe, but the Loaf on Mars (geddit?) made to this method will definitely be on the menu for the brewery.  Here are a few loaves I made last week…

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My slashing pattern for the Loaf on Mars is a zigzag…

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ha ha!  Every time I bake it now, I will have some Bowie on the stereo…

At Juli’s house over two days we drank a lot of tea, ate stacks of her delicious bread, and made A LOT OF LOAVES…

Here are a few photos from the weekend…

I was very pleased with my plaiting!
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Loved Juli’s bread book with all her formulas…
This photo will probably only make sense to sourdough nuts like me...
This photo will probably only make sense to sourdough nuts like me…
That bread's got my name on it!
That bread’s got my name on it!
Apricot and hazelnut bread
Apricot and hazelnut bread
Just a few of the loaves I made over the weekend...
Just a few of the loaves I made over the weekend…
Juli and me
Juli and me

I am so pleased to have met Juli and spent two days at her lovely home gossiping about bread, making bread and eating bread.  What a weekend!  She has kindly invited me back this Wednesday for some “shape and slash” training.  Can’t wait…

There’s a sweet post on the Virtuous Bread site welcoming me to the Bread Angels fold and I am loving being part of this community so much.  If you want to learn about making bread or are thinking of setting up a micro-bakery,  I cannot recommend Juli’s courses highly enough.  If you would like to know more about the Bread Angels movement, click here…

The motto of the Bread Angels is “Bake Well.  Do Good.”  I love it.

Like the Brownie Guides would say, I promise that I will do my best…

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N7 Sourdough

I loved #SourdoughSeptember and I made another two sourdough loaves to the Bojon Gourmet recipe, this time with N7. I wanted to see if the beer flavour was more pronounced, and just to practice, practice, practice sourdough techniques.

Biggest lessons learned:

1 – don’t think you can make two loaves of sourdough bread before work, and still get in on time.

2 – don’t walk away from the oven without checking you haven’t knocked the temperature dial a bit.

3 – always pay full attention to the recipe.

4 – don’t put a cup of water on your carefully written out testing notes…

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So the jottings that follow cover what I did a bit differently to last time. I did some time shifting basically, beginning the process at 5.30pm with a sourdough starter that I took out of the fridge to warm up a bit at 1pm.  Here’s a link to the original recipe that I’m basing the N1 / N7 Sourdough on, with lots of fiddling around…

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Rather than using my stand mixer, I decided to try the Magimix. It did not go well. In fact I thought I had broken it (luckily not). Too much dough for the Magimix. It took me one hour to get to the proofing stage.

I put the dough in a large bowl with cling film over the top out in my fire escape overnight. There’s never any room in my fridge (it’s tiny), so I treat my fire escape like a larder…

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Next morning at 6 I brought the dough into the kitchen to warm up a bit (would have left it for longer if I’d had time). It had risen very well, and looked good. I shaped it into two boules and popped in my airing cupboard inside a blown up bin bag as per Boujon Gourmet’s recommendation.

The first loaf went into the oven at 8am (I’d put the oven on around 7.10am with my Le Creuset casserole dish inside to heat up.

This time I just used cornmeal on the bottom of the dish – I didn’t bother with the baking parchment, it didn’t seem to affect the bottom of the loaf.

I must have knocked the temperature dial at some point, as when I checked at 20 minutes, it had been cooking at around 235 degrees, and I can’t read in my notes what I did next because of the cup of water!  I think that I turned it down to about 205 and looked for another 10 minutes.  Whatever I did, the loaf looked fine.

I turned the oven back up to 225, which is where it should have been (it took around 5 minutes to get back up to temperature).  Cooked for 20 minutes, and then another 10, forgetting to turn the temperature down – doh!  The loaf was a little bit burned on the bottom but not too bad.

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Both loaves tasted great.  I didn’t feel as though the N7 loaves tasted more beery than the N1 loaves.  In fact, I preferred the taste of the N1 loaves.  For some reason, the rye flavour was more pronounced…

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#SourdoughSeptember was brilliant and there is a loaf in the oven right now, made to Dan Lepard’s recipe using a beer barm.  I have used Hammerton’s Life on Mars so am thinking of this loaf as a Barmy Bowie Bread…

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Ghostly Blueberry and Buttermilk Cake

This turned out a bit strangely… I think it was probably because I didn’t have enough plain flour so used 1.5 cups plain flour and half a cup of self raising.  The cake looked perfect after 50 minutes (recipe stated about 55), so I took it out and turned it out of the loaf tin.  Some runny mixture dribbled out of the crack in the top. Disaster!  I bunged it back in the oven for 10 minutes with foil over the top and hoped for the best…

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I used this recipe from the Beeroness and blame my oven, and the flour, for it not turning out as nice as it looks in her picture…  I just adore her blog, so many delicious looking things to try.  Sooooo inspirational.  Here’s her lovely photo of her version…

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Pauline, the birthday girl at work, loved her cake and there were lots of compliments for it.  Vero said: “you can taste the beer, in a good way!”, Obi loved it and said that it would be great with some custard, I agreed.

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The cake was lovely, and my blueberries didn’t all sink to the bottom which pleased me…  The main alteration I made to the Beeroness’s recipe was to rinse the blueberries and then mix them in with the flour.  I’m sure I’ve done this before with fruit in a recipe – I think that doing this somehow makes them more “sticky” so that they don’t all sink straight to the bottom with their dry shiny skins offering them easy slippage down, down, down…

I have a feeling that Geist Weiss is about to become a collector’s item so I’m glad I swiped a few bottles from the brewery tap room on Friday night.  It’s my favourite beer for CAKES.

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