doughy delights and simple pleasures…

dough proving

Last week I was chatting to one of the lovely chaps at Norwich Providore (they have a stall on Norwich Market where they sell award winning bread and the lightest, meltiest croissants and  pastries)….he was telling me how their bakers work through the night and I was saying how I get up early on a Sunday to make bread for my boyfriend but it’s only really ready in the evening (due to the natural starters taking longer to rise) and he suggested making the sponge for the bread before I went to bed, that way the natural starter will have been able to do it’s thing in the way it likes best…slowly……then when I get up I can add the other ingredients, knead the dough and then let it prove and hopefully it’ll be ready around lunch time.

It seemed such a simple and clever idea that I felt a bit daft I’d not thought to do it like that before now…….anyway, Saturday evening I weighed out the ingredients for a bread sponge while waiting for the kettle to boil for a bedtime drink, these are only ever approximate measures as I didn’t write them down and each time I make it my bread always comes out a litle bit differently….the joys of being a home baker.

200 g bread flour (I always use flour from Shipton Mill)

100 g of oats

a good dollop of honey

300-350 ml of warm water

200 g of natural starter

Everything goes into a bowl together and is gently mixed together, then is covered with a large cloth and left overnight.

scored into eights

Sunday morning was lovely, glorious Winter sunshine filled the kitchen and we had the windows and the back door open so I could let in the fresh air and hear those long tailed tits I wrote about yesterday…..

I lifted up the cloth and checked the sponge, there was a good old bubble going on, also the sponge smelt stronger than usual, it’s that lovely warm bready aroma that bread always seemd to have when I was a little girl……

To the sponge I added some more flour, just a handful or two at this stage, a glug of oil (we had some rapeseed from Cornwall and that worked fine), a generous pinch of Maldon sea salt rubbed together between my fingertips and a handful of sesame and sunflower seeds……then it’s a case of slowly mixing everything together…adding a bit more flour until the dough is ready to be kneaded which is probably the most relaxing part of making bread….every so often I add a little more flour until the dough feels cool and silky.  I always add a splash of oil to my proving bowl and smear it around the inside before popping in the dough and covering the bowl with the cloth again……..I left the dough in a sunny spot on the table for a couple of hours then lifted it out, gently knocked the dough back, re-shaped it and then placed it in a floured muslin cloth which sits in a big wooden proving basket.

bread flour a few good handfuls…how much exactly depend s on the flour, your dough, even the weather…..

pinch of Maldon salt

glug of oil

handful of seeds

and out of the oven

Then I sprinkled a bit of flour over the dough, lightly covered it with the muslin cloth edge and left it for about 40/45 minutes…turned the oven on to get good and hot which in my oven takes about 15 minutes…..then I just turned the dough out onto a lined baking sheet and scored the top with a sharp knife….gently placed it into the oven on gas 7 for about 15 minutes, then turned it down to  gas 6 for another 30/35 minutes before allowing to cool on a rack where plenty of air is able to move about underneath.

The crumb of the bread seemed a little lighter than normal, and even with a cold and a snuffly old nose I could really smell that lovely warm wheaty aroma….and as with all things edible, proof of the pudding being in the eating of …..the toast taster said it was really good.

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13 thoughts on “doughy delights and simple pleasures…

    1. Thanks Janey, it’s not hard to make and always get eaten with a smile…..I appreciate it’s not so easy finding the time to bake bread on days when you may work but on a day off this way makes it a lot more manageable x

    1. Thank you…it always smells so good but bread makes my tummy ache so I just bake it these days for my boyfriend….I tried not to let the baking take up too much of my knitting time x

  1. Thanks Erica. Am going to try this. We have a rye starter in the fridge that I will use. Happy Springtime to you and Bernard.

    1. WIsh I could use rye as that smells amazing but the boyfriend doens’t really like it…I use a wheat flour to feed the starter and tend mix in spelt when I’m making the dough. The overnight method doesn’t take any of the pleasure out of making bread, but makes it a bit easier to fit into a schedule….

      1. My first attempt came out well. Used white flour in the mix but will try spelt next time. Husband loved it. We are doing another one on weekend. Thank you.

      2. Yay, I’m so pleased. Adding the oats helps the bread from drying out too quickly, I often also add a grated apple (one about the size of a child’s fist) to the sponge as well….it’s amazing how the bread changes smell with what you add…..I made some yesterday with just sesame and the whole house smelt good……I used to love adding carroway seed to bread but the boyfriend doesn’t like it. Last year I made hot cross buns for Good Friday with the natural starter (calling them Hot Cross Buns for Hipsters), the recipe is on the blog. they came out really well and tasted just like the ones I used to stuff my face silly with when I was a littel girl x

    1. Sharon, I’m looking at you over the top of my glasses…..I’m not sure if the natural starter works in a bread oven but to be honest it doesn’t take too much time to do it the old fashioned way, mainly it’s just leaving the sponge and then the dough to rise. x

      1. Not lazy if it makes your neck ache….Dan Lepard has a method where you don’t really kneed the dough for more than a few seconds, you have to come back to it a few times for a prod but it makes for a really nice bread…..I’d really recommend getting it out form the library as barely any of the recipes in there call for a traditional long knead like our mumns and grannies used to do. (failing that, get that Josh in the kitchen for his pocket money) x

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