Hopefully those of you who have joined us for our bread making class are enjoying perfecting the techniques you learned with our bakers in your own kitchen.
We’ve noticed that there were a few home-baking questions that crop up on a regular basis, so we compiled a list of FAQs and asked e5’s head baker, Eyal, to share his answers with you…
Q. My dough is too flexible to shape, it is sticking to the proving basket, it has come out of the oven more like a pancake than a loaf of bread! Why?
A. Most likely the leaven is too sour and without enough wild yeast activity. This will cause a sticky dough, without a lot of life. Before making your next loaf, try refreshing your leaven a couple of times, with 12 hour intervals. That should lower the acidity, increase the yeast production and bring your leaven back to form.
Q. Help! My starter is in bad shape – I forgot about it, I think I might have killed it! What should I do?
A. Don’t panic! Try refreshing it a few days in a row and see if it comes back to life. Next time, if you’re not going to be able to use your starter for a while, freeze it. Then when you’re ready to bake again thaw it out and do a couple of refreshments to get it going again.
Q. I’m having difficulty with the Hackney Wild recipe unsupervised, can you recommend a basic sourdough recipe I could follow to begin with?
A. There are many basic sourdough recipes to choose from, the best thing is to try a few and figure out which one works for you. We found that for a basic loaf, a 70% hydration dough works quite well. You can use any kind of leaven for such a loaf. I would start with a flour combination that has at least 80% white wheat for your first loaf.
Q. When using the fridge to “pause” after proving the bread can the bread then be baked direct from the fridge or should it be allowed to return to room temperature first?
A. When using the fridge to retard the dough, we tend to take it out and let it warm up a bit before baking. If you find that your bread is coming out very flat, it could be that it over proved, so next time, maybe try baking it straight from the fridge
Q. My dough felt really good and strong, but the bread came out flat. What went wrong?
A. It could be that your dough over proved, which means that it rose to the maximum and collapsed. If that is the case, try shortening your final proving times.
Q. Everything felt ok but when baking the loaf, it sealed where I scored it but burst from the side/bottom of the loaf. Why?
A. It sounds like there wasn’t enough steam in your oven, so the crust formed straight away and the loaf burst in the attempt to rise in volume. Try creating lots more steam, or bake the loaf in a cast iron pot.
Q. Does leaven equal starter or can it become one given time?
A. Our recipes are designed so that you will have a surplus of leaven, which can be used as a new starter. Any old starter that you have should be discarded. This leftover leaven can be used immediately as a starter in any of the recipes.
Q. Is there an upper limit to how long I can prove in the fridge? For example if I want to make the dough the night before and bake it in the morning.
A. There is no definitive time limit to how long you can prove bread in the fridge. Even in the fridge the dough continues to prove; just much slower. So, in theory, you could prove the dough in the fridge as long as it doesn’t over-prove. The longest we retard the dough, after shaping, in the fridge is 24 hours.
Q. I want to make a bigger batch of bread do all recipe ratios remain the same?
A. Yes, all ratios remain the same as you increase the total amount of dough you are making.
Q. Where can I buy malt powder?
A. Follow this link to an online shop where you can find Light malt extract. www.the-home-brew-shop.co.uk
Q. When using dried yeast what ratio do I use to determine the amount if using a fresh yeast recipe?
A. If using dry yeast, you want to use half the amount of fresh yeast in the recipe. In terms of a particular brand to use, they’re all fine to get the job done and of much the same quality.