Top positive review
24 people found this helpful
The best sourdough bread book I have had
on 28 August 2015
I'm going to be honest with you. I failed my fist 11 "Basic Country Dough" attempts because I didn't use a cast iron pot. I played with the hydration, tried different brands of flour.. But after 11 time I was adept at every step of the dough development. All I got were fat tasty pancakes with still more open/wet crumb than store bought sourdough.
At 12th attempt within 2 weeks I put my dough in an airtight cast iron pot to bake. Voila. The most beautiful loaves I've ever baked.
I've also tried the whole wheat, walnut country, croissant, olive oil brioche; and have no interest in the weird spread recipes in the book. I simply put Nutella, Mascarpone+Honey, or Peanutbutter on my bread. No need for anchovy tartare, ew. Keep in mind you can use the brioche recipe to make sticky buns/cinnamon buns although they are not in the book.
If you buy this book and decide to try it out: work hard to master the first recipe; all recipes in the book use the same dough/technique. Once you get it right, you can simply add other ingredients and try out the other recipes.
If your dough seems "wet" after 3 hours of bulk fermentation; try giving it a good 15 minutes knead in the stand mixer after you add the salt. If you are in a high altitude area, try reducing its hydration to 70%. Don't do more than 4-5 turns during the preshaping before the bench rest. Your dough should have risen by 30% before that. It will feel "full" but not like a wet sticky gummy substance at that time.
The 30%-40% rise is important. If you feel thousand tiny bubbles bursting when you last fold and stretch your dough, and it feels "full"; then it's ready to stop the bulk fermentation. Could be 3 hours or 6. Aim to create surface tension on the top dome of the dough during the preshaping "turning". The bottom of the dough sticks to the UNFLOURED working surface and you softly guide the edges with your floured hand and a dough knife to stretch the gluten strands in a spiral. When there is tension; stop and start the bench rest. If your dough looks like it's proofing too fast and goes over the banneton; immediately refrigerate for 8 hours and bake a retarded (lol) version of the bread. Otherwise it will feel like soup and you risk getting a fat pancake because of over-fermentation (breaks the gluten which will help in oven spring)
Sealing the steam in is important in the first 20 minutes of baking. Make sure to heat the oven up with your lodge/cast iron pot inside it for 1 hour and use a cheap oven thermometer to read 500F.
It was difficult for me to get the first "correct" loaf, but you will gain confidence and try out the other recipes once done.
Also you will never want to eat bread other than the one you baked at home. This has been the best bread I have tasted. I finished my first loaf in a few hours with spreads and in sandwiches. It was so good!