Lazier Sourdough

I’ve read that there’s two ways of approaching sourdough. One is to take a careful, professional, scientific approach – and the other is to trust to instinct and hope for the best! I’m very much in the latter category, and I’ve been baking sourdough bread for about half a year now, ever since I worked out how to keep a starter without it going hyper-acidic or mouldy (hint: don’t seal it when not refrigerated, and change the container regularly).  The culture (named Aethelbread – I was watching Last Kingdom at the time) is now properly mature and I’ve been getting some great loaves out of it.

However, if there’s one thing that always puts me off bread-baking, it’s the act of kneading it – especially when the dough is sticky. I don’t know if it’s because I tend to use a mix of wholemeal and white flour, or whether it’s just a lack of skill, but I’ve always found it difficult to get my bread doughs to the window-pane stage. However, scanning baking blogs for a new solution, I recently stumbled upon the autolyse technique. It’s deceptively simple – just add the flour and water together before baking, and leave them to stand for a few hours for mixing in the starter and other ingredients. The result is a dough that’s so much easier to knead – and it seems to improve the texture of the end product as well!

NB – if you’re wondering why it’s so round, it’s because I messed up the shaping slightly so had to cook it a casserole dish. Still tasty though!

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Getting My ‘Bake Off’ On: Cherry Bundt Cake

Last Saturday was our annual street party, so I decided that for my contribution I should tackle a recipe I’d been meaning to try for ages – the cherry bundt cake technical challenge from series 5 of Bake Off! I’d bought a bundt tin ages ago, but given its size I’d never really had much occasion to bake with it, so I was glad to finally put that to some use as well.

Following the BBC’s recipe online, everything went smoothly up until the cake refused to come out of the tin. The shape of the bundt meant that trying to use a pallet knife would be a disaster, so after having tried and failed to get it to come out by gently tapping it, I ended up going for broke and giving it a massive thump – half expecting it to fall apart into a thousand pieces… Fortunately though it came out beautifully, looking for all the world like a giant doughnut!

Over-excited by this success, I did mess up slightly at the end by making the icing a little too thin. It tasted great though and none of the cherries sank, so I’m hoping this would score mid-table at least! 😀