Since my last post about bread-making I have continued to make bread regularly. We have had hardly any bought bread in that time. On the whole I have stuck with the same basic recipe, just varying the flour and trying both fast action dried yeast and fresh yeast and generally using a measure of the sourdough starter as well. The results have been good - a dough which rises surprisingly quickly and a fairly consistent, even-textured loaf.
Yesterday I decided it was time to branch out and make a different style of loaf, so I flicked through my book and settled on Pain de Campagne a rustic French style bread which uses just the sourdough starter and no additional yeast. After my previous experience with the sourdough solo I was a little anxious about whether it would work and warned Steve that he might have to go out and buy his breakfast bread today!
I was pleasantly surprised because it did in fact rise quite well. It was slow, and I went to bed rather later than I had planned, but I was very pleased with the final loaf. The recipe creates quite a slack dough and I resisted the temptation to add more flour, using the French-style stretching and throwing kneading technique that I learned at a workshop with Mark of Mark's Bread.
Because the dough is rather formless it needs support during its second proving so I sat it in a colander lined with a well floured tea towel. The trick then is to turn it out quickly on to a pre-heated baking tray and slam it into a hot oven before it has a chance to collapse.
This loaf has the more airy uneven texture of artisan bread and a very good flavour.