Look what arrived in the mail as a surprise for me from T!!
Don’t get me wrong. I still love our popsicle stick handled lame and it will remain on display. But this new handle really is superior. It has been sanded smoothly; it’s easy to open and shut (as long as my thumbnail has been trimmed neatly and recently); it fits perfectly into the front pocket of our mandolin bag.
One of the biggest advantages of this new wooden handle is that there is no chance of the handle hitting the bread as it is being scored. (This has been a problem with the popsicle stick handled straight lame.)
After looking at fabulously scored loaf after fabulously scored loaf on FB, YouTube, and library books, I couldn’t wait to try again.
I drew my design. I put the shaped loaf in the fridge to cool it down.
And I began carefully slicing. Into the oven it went….
Back to the drawing board….
However, I will take comfort in James Morton’s words in his latest book, “Super Sourdough”:
You’ll see beautiful loaves […] with magnificent aeration, scored with intricate patterns made by the bursting of the crusts as the loaf rises in the oven. It’s okay if yours doesn’t look like [that]. Mine don’t, mostly. These only look like this in a particular light from a particular angle, and you haven’t seen the ones that didn’t quite make it. And besides, a picture tells way less than half of the story: […] Most important is that each loaf is yours. Each loaf is truly unique. Your yeast, or the magical blend of yeasts and bacteria and other things that we call your sourdough starter, has never been used by anyone else in the history of the world. It is yours. The flavours it creates are yours, and the breads it rises are yours. Pay your loaf, and yourself, the respect they deserve.
– James Morton, Introduction, Super Sourdough
Of course, James Morton is right to remind me. Because the bread really does have fabulous flavour. While the design may not have turned out quite as I hoped and expected (it does look like a raptor has tried to steal it away, doesn’t it?), there was still great oven spring. The holes had that shiny quality as well. And the bread tasted fabulous.
It made great chicken sandwiches (remind me to rave about the chicken roasted in our new – to us – glazed cast-iron casserole dish). It made great toast. It will make great bread crumbs.
I’ve said it before; I’ll say it again: Wild bread really is the best!
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
I’m just half-way through James Morton’s really informative book, “Super Sourdough: The Foolproof Guide to Making World-Class Bread at Home”, that delves in detail into all aspects of sourdough. What’s great is that he approaches everything with the home baker in mind. He is quite upfront with the fact that he is NOT a professional baker. Nor does he run a bakery. He simply bakes bread and is completely fascinated by the process. The book is particularly refreshing because, unlike in his first bread book, Brilliant Bread (2013) – when he didn’t want to get all sciency in his explanations, he goes into great detail. I especially like the warnings at the beginning of the detailed explanations for people who don’t want to read them to simply skip to the next chapter.
Particularly fascinating is Morton’s method for creating his starters. That’s right: starters. He also beginning a starter with flour and acidic fruit juice(!) rather than water, before continuing with just flour and water. He does note that all that is required to create a starter is flour and water and time, but includes a rather large section about his reasons for including fruit juice.
He also advocates not becoming attached to a particular starter. His notes on drying and freezing them are quite refreshing: If you are getting good bread with a particular starter, the reality is that it probably has little to do with the starter itself. […] I’ve a simple policy on drying and freezing starters — don’t do it. There’s no point. […] Stick your starter in the fridge [or] just start a new one […], and delight in its individuality […] even giv[ing] it a new name, if you are that way inclined. [Understanding Starters]
He never tosses any of the starter away when feeding it (yay), and suggests keeping the starter healthy and active enough that it can be used directly out of the jar, whether it is being kept on the counter or in the fridge.
However, Morton does acknowledge that many people (including him in his first years of baking sourdough bread) do toss off portions of their starters when feeding. He offers 5 recipes using leftover starter: pancakes, crumpets, cornbread, pasta, and sourdoughkraut.
Granted, I haven’t tried James Morton’s method; it seems a little bit complicated and not quite fool-proof. I still far prefer Jane Mason’s 5 day method of beginning and keeping a starter going, outlined in her book “All You Knead is Bread”. But, skimming ahead, I see there are many many bread recipes – several very good looking ones – included in the book, only one of which (Tiger Bread) calls for the barest hint of commercial yeast in the outer layer to create the coating. All the other recipes (even for the breads that are heavily enriched with nuts, fruit, cream, butter, and/or sugar) are made raised with just the sourdough starter.
And scoring? Why yes. There are detailed explanations about scoring. Finally, a bread book that addresses the subject with much more than a few lines saying that scoring is important to guide the rise, but nothing much more than an instruction to make sure the angle of the blade is correct and to practice practice practice!
Morton begins by showing a photograph of a straight razor, utility knife, as well as curved and straight lame handles on double-edged razors, then goes on to explain the need for a very sharp implement:
[Y]ou’ll need something with which to score […], your sharpest knife will have to do. If you’re an obsessive Japanes knife enthusiast with razor-sharp blades, you need look no further. [Ingredients and Equipment | Lames]
How you score it will dictate how it rises: your bread will rise in the oven perpendicular to your scores. […] [I]f you’ve made a loaf that’s perfectly round and you give it one almighty score, your bread will widen perpendicular to this score in the oven. […] You’ll figure it out. When scoring, less is more. [Pain au Levain | Score]
Ha. Perhaps I should take a leaf out of James Morton’s excellent advice and take several steps back when wielding our beautiful new straight lame….
(I still have an urge to try scoring with one of T’s straight razors though.)
It’s Sourdough September
This post is to “share the delicious delights of genuine sourdough”, “encourage more people to bake genuine sourdough”, and “help people to say no to sourfaux and avoid paying a premium for something that simply isn’t the real deal”.
Wild thing, you make my loaf spring
Since 2013, the ninth month of the year is when the Real Bread Campaign goes on a mission to help everyone discover that: life’s sweeter with sourdough!
The aims of #SourdoughSeptember are to:
▪ Share the delicious delights of genuine sourdough
▪ Encourage more people to bake genuine sourdough
▪ Celebrate the small, independent bakeries that bake genuine sourdough
▪ Help people to say no to sourfaux and avoid paying a premium for something that simply isn’t the real deal
In 2020, a special focus is helping more people to discover that a sourdough starter is a gateway to every type of bread on the planet. This year we’ve welcomed many #LockdownLoafers around the world starting (or resuming) love affairs with sourdough bread, some baking or buying it for the first time.
– Real Bread Campaign, Sustainweb.org | Sourdough September
Rather than strive for Instagram ideal, let yourself be carried away by the flavour.
– James Morton, Understanding Dough, Super Sourdough
» Wordless Not-Wednesday: Peach Rescue (Sourdough September 2020)
» More Scoring Adventures (BBBuddies and BBBabes August 2020)
» Adventures in Scoring (BBB August 2020) (popsicle stick straight lame handle)
» Tartine variation: light rye with red miso (bookmarked)
» Still Wildly Baking… Tartine Bread, revisited (Sourdough September 2019)
» Wild Pull-apart Bread (BBB September 2019) (Sourdough September 2019)
» If at first you don’t succeed… (Sourdough September 2019)
» Virtually Photo-less Not Friday: Tasting Somebody Else’s Sourdough (Sourdough September 2019)
» Almost Wordless Not-Wednesday: Not Genuine??? (Sourdough September) (2018)
» Wild Bread Notes (or… KISS) (Sourdough September 2017)
» Score!! (Burnt Whisker Forge curved lame handle)
» Not-quite-Wordless Not-quite-Wednesday: Have lame, now what? (Silver Vanity Set curved lame handle)
» And we have a new pet… (Jane Mason whole wheat starter, July 2017)