Milk and honey rolls
Milk and honey rolls

I make a hell of a lot of bread.  I can’t remember the last time I bought a loaf.  Sometimes I go for weeks making the same old loaf and then suddenly I branch out and make a whole lot of weird and wonderful ones.

My favourite at the moment due to a fridge full of goat milk is my milk and honey loaf.  Another one at the top of my list is honey and oats.

I use fresh yeast if I can get it free from the supermarket, otherwise the dried stuff works fine.

A few years ago I was into making leaven bread and made a starter with flour, raisins, yoghurt and water which I fed everyday but only used once in a blue moon.  The main problem with it was the amount of time it took for the dough to rise.  Eventually I threw the gooey mess away and stuck with yeast.

My fizzing starter
My fizzing starter

Last week I decided to revisit leaven breadmaking and made myself another starter.  After a week of generously feeding the beast it was bubbling nicely yesterday so I jumped in and got going on a loaf.

Thank goodness I work from home otherwise it would  have been impossible.  I mixed a large dollop of the starter with water, flour and salt.  At first kneading was every 10 minutes, only 15 seconds at a time but it took 5 minutes after that to get the dough off my hands and if the phone happened to ring at the wrong moment I was stuck.

I moved on to 30 minutes, then 1 hour, then 2.  Eventually I divided the now lovely smooth dough into two and left it for 4 1/2 hours to rise on the warm and cosy rack above the Rayburn.

More like large rolls than loaves
More like large rolls than loaves

Well, it didn’t rise exactly, just kind of spread out, but I baked it anyway.

The Rayburn wasn’t at it’s best, anything that requires a hot oven is best cooked in the morning.  By the evening it’s winding down ready to relax with it’s embers overnight.

After about an hour I removed two smallish loaves which were more like large rolls.  They were heavy and felt quite dense.  I would have to wait until tomorrow to try them.

For breakfast I cut a small sliver off the end and toasted it for myself.  Himself, of course, had a couple of slices smothered in peanut butter so it could have been anything underneath.

Inside the leavened bread
Inside the leavened bread

The inside certainly looked the part with large air holes, although not as many as I had hoped.  I was a bit disappointed with the texture, instead of being soft and crumbly it was quite solid and even waxy.

For dinner we had a sausage casserole, made with the sausages from last week’s epic sausage making day and to accompany it we had the leaven loaf.

It had the classic flavour of sourdough bread, I think it’s just the texture that needs improvement.

Looking at my starter today it’s almost fizzing out of the jar, whereas yesterday it was only bubbling so it would probably make a lighter loaf now.  I shall have to wait a few days before baking more bread as not only will we be drowning in goat’s milk we will be up to our eyebrows in loaves.

Two books I recommend for inquisitive breadmakers are The Handmade Loaf by Dan Lepard and Dough by Richard Bertinet.

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