As a part of learning how to do this I’ve also found my oven goes up to 275 C – dare I go that high? These were started at 260 and turned down to 200 after 10 minutes.
Doing slow things quickly – what does that mean?
I’ve heard it said that people don’t make bread at home because they don’t have time. Having a breadmaker makes it easy because it does it all for you. What they are missing is the hands-on feel of mixing, kneading, smelling, judging, flouring, slashing, and finally baking. Something I have found with trying sourdough is that because it is really slow, it is paradoxically really quick and easy because the amount of baker intervention is small and spread out. With yeasted breads they have to be watched reasonably carefully to make sure they don’t rise too quickly and the cook books give periods of time like an hour, or an hour and a half, things you need to measure. Sourdough is happy to fit in around the baker. For instance, with the River Cottage approach I have been using I add starter to flour and water and leave it ‘overnight’, or in my case, ‘about six hours while I’m at work’, then it needs mixing with more flour and some salt and kneading for about 10 minutes. I do that stage when I get home before going to do the school run. Then it is left for an hour, and then worked into a ball. So I do that when I get back from the school run – but with no rush. Then it is rested and worked into a ball again – up to four times in total – you decide! I decided on one more ball stage while I made and ate dinner and then worked into three loaves and left it to rise. Again, you have to wait for the dough, so the book says 1 to 4 hours. For me last night it was about three hours and in that time I went swimming and put Adam to bed, see no worries about the bread. Then finally when everything was quite I could bake the bread and it’s done and dusted and ready for the morning.