Another year, another new skill…
Last year I promised myself that I would learn a few new skills, so I took on food styling and photography and managed to do pretty well – picking up a few clients and learning on the go. This year, I want to do a million more things. Butchery, sewing, pottery classes, knitting, bread baking – the list carries on.
My awesome family gifted me a beginner’s bread course for Christmas at a place in the south of Joburg called Crust and Crumb. Mom was a bit worried that I would be too advanced for the beginner’s course – incorrect. I forgot everything I thought I knew about bread baking and walked into the course with a completely open mind. Sjoe, I learnt so much. My experience when it came to baking bread was always letting yeast chill in some lukewarm water to let it bloom, chucking it into flour and kneading until it was soft and silky. And so on. Yes, I knew that there was a whole lot more to ‘real’ bread, but it turns out that it’s actually quite involved but quite simple at the same time, once you learn the basics.
I’ve started practising at home using the recipe given to us by Dominique and Nathan at Crust and Crumb. This particular dough is a 70% hydration (that means that there is 70% water to the 100% flour) so it’s quite sticky and tricky to work with. But I want to perfect it before moving on to others.
If you’re looking for a great intro course to bread, definitely check Crust and Crumb out – the course is from 9am to 4pm on a Saturday; you get to make a pizza for lunch and three breads to take home and they patiently answer every silly question you may have. They also offer an advanced sourdough course which is my next move.
Above: The initial mix of flour, water, salt, yeast and Poolish
Above: Before its first fold
Above: After a few hours of folds and proofing – this is the pre-shaping phase
Above: My first batard (The one in the middle)
Above: Ciabatta, baguette and that gorgeous batard
Above: I have no clue if this is a good or a bad loaf of bread, but it tasted delicious!
And then I started baking at home…I started my own sourdough starter/culture – her name is Sugar. She started off really well and fermenting beautifully and then the weather turned cold, so she freaked out a little. After a bit of Googling, I’ve made her a lot happier and she seems to be consistently happy now. Today I am using her for the first time in a very basic sourdough recipe, based on a recipe from Tartine Bakery. (Please check out Tartine on Instagram if you love bread – Chad is the KING of the crumb.)
Sourdough bread, sourdough bagels, sourdough doughnuts – sourdough e’rrrrrything!
Below: Sugar on her second day. She is now consistently rising with each feed which means she is mature and ready to use.
Below: This was my first loaf baked in my oven at home – I had a slight panic attack halfway through and had to consult the bread guru, Jason Lilley from Jason Bakery in CT. He managed to sort me out and help with my concerns – thanks God for friends in high places!
The bread was delicious, but it needs lots of work. I think it could’ve done with a few more folds, a bit more proofing and I need to work on my shaping and scoring. I’ve bought some razor blades because those apparently score bread the best. Baking again today, so let’s see how it goes!
I think pottery should be next, yes?