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Friday, March 13, 2015

Flour power

Bread has been missing from my blog because until last weekend, I hadn't baked bread for over a month.  When it comes to bread we don’t eat homemade one hundred percent of the time, usually it complements a variety of store bought bread.  But, I find having a stash of wholesome, homemade bread in the freezer very comforting. 


Life has speed up lately and feeding my sourdough starters regularly is all I have managed to do.


Last weekend I was determined to get back into the swing of it.  Out came the starters, flour, water, salt, banettons, cooling racks and the slashing knife.  On Sunday morning the wood oven flickered back into action as I started mixing, proving and shaping six white loaves.   

From the first step of refreshing the starters through to fueling the fire, I find the whole process very soothing.  


Later in the afternoon I made the decision that the oven was hot enough and I raked the fire and coals out into a blackened steel bucket.  This step can still be rather daunting.  Judging the retained heat is very much guided by instinct rather than an exact formula.   The moment of truth arrived when the ash was mopped off the oven floor, the loaves slashed and swiftly placed into the depths of the oven with the heavy metal door slammed behind them.

Taking the loaves from the oven can be joyous or occasionally heartbreaking, depending on so many variables.  On this occasion it was joyous. 



Do you sometimes feel the power of flour and bread?

I know some of you do x

34 comments :

  1. Oh yes I love making bread! I made an olive oil pizza dough last night, and even pressing out the bases was enjoyable. I've got to feed my sourdough starter this morning, I haven't fed it for a while because due to an order stuff up with our co-op, our order was delayed by a whole month, so we've haven't had much grain in the house. Now our order is here I can't wait to get back into the swing of baking sourdough.

    I do envy that beautiful wood-fire of yours. I image it would be quite a skill to learn to cook on it, but I'd love to try my hand at it one day.

    Enjoy those beautiful loaves Jane! They look perfect x

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    1. Thanks so much Sarah. Happy baking to you! x

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  2. I'm new to your blog....visiting via Chantille Fleur and just wanted to say hi. Your bread looks so delicious. I used to make bread, when my children were little. But, it's been years now. Seeing yours makes me want to start making bread again.

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    1. Thanks Laurie, it is funny how it can draw you back, even after an extended break!

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  3. YUM! I miss eating good bread, I'm coeliac. But I live vicariously through others. The smell of fresh bread with olive oil. YIKES I'm hungry!

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    1. Oh Carla, I would miss bread so much if I couldn't eat it. Thanks for calling in!

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  4. It must be something about Autumn, getting back into breadmaking. Your loaves look heavenly Shady Lady Jane.

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    1. Thanks Francesca, happy baking to you!

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  5. Yes, I sometimes feel the power of flour and bread. Often in fact. But hey, you knew that. :)

    Lovely loaves - as always, you bake some of the prettiest bread around - and I'm always so impressed that you fire up the big wood oven. Such a big job! I just flick the switch on the Smeg.. :)

    PS. I thought of you this morning. I was making mini loaves, and as I was shaping the 12th one, I thought, "how on earth did Jane make all those tiny rolls that time?" :)

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    1. I know you feel the power Celia! Thanks for calling in as I know you are on a blogging break.

      How did your mini loaves work out? I bet they were delicious. I haven't made those tiny rolls in ages...perhaps my patience is diminishing over time! x

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  6. Your baking always looks so inviting Jane. I think the Gods are telling me to bake...I just watched an episode of River Cottage about bread to and between Hugh and you it has put me in a baking mood!

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    1. Thanks Kate! Lovely weather for baking x

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  7. I'm glad you're back in bread making mood if that means we get to see beautiful photos of your loaves. I'm amazed that you can turn out your loaves onto the paddle and have time to photograph them - mine would have flopped off and onto the floor. Makes me think my dough is not firm enough so I shall have to experiment a little today - the starter is bubbling away on the table just waiting to go. Have a happy weekend. Anne x

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    1. Thank you so much Anne. I admit I have to be quick with the camera and the paddle! Also, if my loaves are fully proved but the wood oven is not quite ready I put my loaves into the coolroom for a little while. They remain nicely proved but they also firm up a bit, this also makes them easier to slash. Happy baking x

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  8. Glad I saw your article - just realised I haven't fed my starter this week - oops!

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  9. Your loaves look beautiful! May I ask where you got your bannetons from? I have looked in several homewares stores and havent been able to locate ceramic forms at all.

    Cheers - Joolz xx

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    1. Thank you Joolz, lovely to hear from you. I am not sure if I have interpreted your question correctly but my banettons are cane, not ceramic. I purchased them online...from The Sourdough Companion. I hope that helps!

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  10. Thanks, Jane. Yes, I thought they were ceramic. Silly me, I thought you baked the bread in them but now I see you form them in them then tip out to bake, right? I'll have a look online, Cheers - Joolz xx

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  11. Those loaves look seriously delicious. I can just taste slices of them with butter and vegemite. YUM!

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    1. Vegemite is my favourite too Anne, lovely to hear from you :)

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  12. Every time I bake a loaf of bread I think of you and your homemade outdoor oven.
    I've taken to baking a loaf every second week, enjoying a slice while still warm from the oven then putting the rest of the loaf in the freezer to enjoy as toast later on.
    Those banettons are beautiful. What are they made from? pottery?
    I hope you had a lovely day at the races. I was called in for night shift last night, my first real shift after orientation, so spent the day recovering.
    x

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    1. Thanks Zara. Your baking schedule sounds perfect. The banettons are made of cane, they are quite light. They support the dough as is proves.

      The races were great. I hope the new job is treating you well and the night shift isn't too harsh. x

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  13. what glorious photos. sometimes you need a break, even from doing/making what you love, and to come back refreshed. i know i do feel that way about cake bakign sometimes.
    i can see a slice of those loaves slathered with butter and ... vegemite on one slice, apricot jam on another :-)

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    1. I like your bread suggestions e, I find it hard to go past Vegemite at any time of the day :)

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  14. Oh this is just glorious Jane! I too haven't been baking bread like I've been wanting too and this is just the perfect inspiration I needed to get started again. I'd so love to make it part of my everyday. Thank you, yes indeed bread is very powerful, a connection to the earth, to sharing, family and home. xx

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    1. Lovely to hear from you Sophie, I know you understand x

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  15. I certainly think it's powerful...why though I'm not sure. Maybe because there are just so many outcomes from the simple ingredients of flower, water and salt. I don't know, always amazes me. I get a bubble of excitement every time I open the oven door, just waiting to see what it's going to look like. (You know there is an entire other instagram bread world out there just waiting to explore don't you Jane ;-)

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  16. Your bread looks so delish Jane!
    I have just mastered (ahem!) pizza bases after years of trying to perfect 'em courtesy The True Neapolitan Pizza recipe on SBS. So proud (ridiculously so!) x

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    1. I would be ridiculously proud too Kylie x

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Hello and welcome. I will try to reply to all comments eventually because I love the conversation! Jane