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Posts posted by gsquared

  1. If you have the time, add 0.5% by weight powdered gelatine to the warm liquid, leave for 15 mins, stir, freeze it, place the frozen chunk in the fridge in a sieve over a beaker. After 12 hours or so, the liquid will contain all the flavourants, but will be perfectly clear:- compliments of a process called synereses.

  2. Get one of those plastic sheet chocolate moulds - the disc-shaped ones. Put a sliver of basil in the bottom of each hollow. Fill with verjuice and freeze. Offer as a palate cleanser between courses, with a small pair of tongs to place it on the tongue.

  3. I make a croque madame at the guest house for breakfast:

    Cut a round out of a slice of toast and spread lightly with minced garlic. Cut two rounds of ham with the same cutter. Fry an egg to sunny side up using the cutter as a mould. Make a creamy cheese and herb sauce: bring cream to the simmer, add grated cheese - you want one that is not too strong, cheddar will do fine- add dried oreganum, simmer until thick and the cheese melted.

    Assemble by placing the ham in the middle of the plate (if you start with the toast the assembly tends to slide around on the plate), then the toast, then the egg. Cover with the sauce - it should cover the assembly entirely and spread out on the plate. Sprinkle chopped fresh oreganum over.

  4. A short update. There has been a temporary hiatus in my odyssey. My daughter has been visiting for 10 days, to introduce the new boyfriend. He is gluten intolerant and it would have been insensitive to continue with the baking experiments. This week will, however, see me once more into the fray. I will report back later in the week.

  5. Green tea smoked chicken breast. Green tea, covered with a layer of brown sugar, smoke for 15 minutes only:- the tea smoke taste can get a bit overpowering. The chicken will not be cooked fully. Chill and then later slice thickly and sautee briefly in butter.

  6. Anyway, on the heels of Jack's comments, I'm expecting we might hear next you've hired somebody to take over the handling of the inn so you can make time for handling more dough.

    Congrats. It makes me glad.

    Devlin, I owe you a special word of thanks. You post still haunts me. I am generally coldly analytical and logical. I am still pondering what you wrote. There is no doubt that it will have some impact. Not sure what it is. I'll let you know.

  7. Another thing I am currently experimenting with is the amount of the flour that is used in the preferment. I've had good results with doubling it, thus the preferment is 200g flour, 200g water, and the dough is correspondingly 400g flour, 220g water.

    Softer flour (use ordinary pastry flour) will also give you bigger holes.

    Be warned...bread making and good bread is addictive

    And if I become an addict, Jack, you will be held responsible. And have to live with that awful burden for the rest of your life.

  8. It lives!

    It could be a bit underproved still - I guess you just have to experiment as to what suits your environment. The crust is very red, which indicates there are still fermentable sugars.

    Other things that help get bigger holes:

    Hotter base - maybe bricks or tiles or a pizza stone in the oven

    Wetter dough if you can handle it

    Enjoy the Billecart-Salmon Rose. One of the nicest Champagnes I think, Will you use a sabre to open it?

    I also have a feeling that it may be underproved. From here on, at least I am in a position to experiment meaningfully.

    Thanks Jack:- this has moved me a quantum leap forward. I am of good cheer and will continue to work at it. Maybe, just maybe, I will in the next few weeks produce a loaf that I will be truly proud of. This is all due to your prodding, advice, and the encouragement of the eG community. When next I post on my bread, it will be to report perfection.

    I have returned the Brillecart to its brethren in the wine cooler. The result today is cause for only a minor celebration. Hence a Pol Roget seemed more appropriate. Opened conventionally.

    Again, thanks to all. The seagulls are circling disconsolately....

  9. Your signature shape -- a bent loaf! Go for it!

    I'm still liking what I see. How much handling?

    I have been loathe to invest time and effort at getting sorted with a decent peel. Bent loaves is the penalty you pay for makeshift equipment. :smile:

    Not much handling - 5 mins in the stand mixer, rest for 15 mins, fold for 30 secs, rest for 15, shape.

    I have munched a few more pieces. The texture leaves a lot be desired, but, note this down somebody, this is the first bread I have ever produced that is eminently edible.

  10. Oh yes, I almost forgot.

    1. Flouring the couche with rice flour worked well. No sticking at all.

    2. Semolina on the peel was another great idea.

    In all, these suggestions made the process of extracting the loaves from the couche and slipping them onto the baking plate totally painless. Thanks.

  11. The yeast in the preferment was so enthusiatically multiplying that I mixed the dough after 8 hours. I used the table top mixer because it was the easiest method, given the gumming up of the food processor. After 4 (yes, four) hours, the jar guage looked like this:


    Given what Jack said about "barely double" I decided to bake. The bread is in the oven. I am cautiously optimistic.

    Any explanation for the lengthly rise, Jack?

  12. What? We don't get to see a witch doctor? No added local flavour?

    LOL, glad to see that the battle's half won. Getting the champagne ready......

    If I don't get a decent loaf today, you may yet see a traditional healer in action. In the Zulu culture the healer is called a Sangoma, and amongst the Xhosa people (where I live), it is an Igqirha. (The g is pronounced "k", the q is a click and the h is a "g":- "eek-click-eerga"). If you think that is difficult, you should try "uqongqothwane" - the knock knock beetle from "the click song".

    I am planning a simple dinner tonight: cheeses, olives, tea smoked chicken breast with a mango salsa. Chilled pink Brillecart-Salmon. All with a freshly baked baguette.

  13. Very strange. 40% preferment (200g (100g flour + 100g water) to 500g flour) should be plenty. If you have only used 100g that will about double the time..

    I guess just wait and see...it must move eventually...

    I meant 200g preferment of course, not 100g.

    In any event, when I went to bed, the status was still as reported. This morning, however, all has come to life! You hit it on the head, Kouign!


    All the shaped doughs were well risen, and fell back onto themselves in the middle.

    Here is one cut open:


    This is now easy. I shall repeat a two sample experiment today - one whizzed for 2 minutes and one using the mixer. Those were the two easiest methods. Devlin will no doubt point out that the folding jar did the best! I will allow sufficient time to be able to observe for at least 5 hours.

    What a relief! I can cancel the exorcism.

  14. Anyway, back to the topic. I'm gonna have to work through this thread again. I was convinced in the beginning that the sourdough starter wasn't fully active, and I'm still not convinced that might not be the case. I was about to agree with Tepee's suggestion too that perhaps you simply weren't letting the dough proof long enough. But now I'm not sure.

    What's the temperature at your place?

    Okay, I have to admit a certain perverse satisfaction at seeing somebody struggling at least as much as I did when I first started baking bread.

    With friends like us, G, ya hardly need enemies.  :raz:

    But even if the starter was partly active, I would have expected some evidence of yeast activity. Even just a teeny bubble.

    The ambient temp today was 26C and right now it is 22C.

    Maybe 100g of the preferment is not enough?

    I am not despondent - I have been here before, many many times. But I am puzzled. Is there any way of testing whether the starter is full active?

  15. After 2 hours - here are the test jars.


    It is quite apparent that there was no activity at all. Dead.

    I cut the shaped dough open to double check - here is one:


    Again no activity. All the other batches look exactly the same. At least a consistent result. The yeast dies in the context of the dough. There can be no doubt that the preferment is alive - in fact, with the 600g flour today, it was positively sizzling. As soon as it gets into the dough, it expires. The only three things that, to my mind, could cause this are the water, the flour and the environment. The flour is an unlikely candidate, as it works fine in the preferment. The water also works fine in the preferment. If it is the environment, I am buggered - there is no way we can sort that one out. That leaves me more or less up a gumpole.

    Jack? Someone?

    I swear I did not sing.

  16. A few more notes:

    I stopped the bread maker after its dough mixing cycle was complete and before it started proving - about 30mins.

    The Magimix has difficulty whizzing for the full two minutes. It inevitably gets gummed up around 1:45.

    The mixer with the dough hook was the quickest and the easiest - simply switched it on and left it for 10 mins.

    I confess that I like folding the dough. I am totally convinced, though, that the extended time required is not practical for me. I have done the initial 30mins or so, and still have 2 hours to go. The logistics do not work out. I cannot go through that every day to prepare bread for breakfast. That said, there is of course no reason why I should not do that once or so a week to bake bread for personal consumption. I like the silkiness of the dough and the way it changes as you work with it. There is something sensual about working the dough with your hands.

    The Artist is giggling.

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