Over the last few years I’ve built up a reasonably steady routine of baking sourdough bread most weekends. There have been a LOT of dud loaves in the past but for the last year or two they have been more consistently good, but, still not quite as nice as the bread I can buy from a bakery. That is partly because I have a habit of following a recipe a couple of times then working from memory and winging it more than I should for the level of skill I have. Particularly when it comes to pizza bases. Having reached a plateau I asked for a new baking book for Christmas with the intention of being willing to go back and learn from scratch.
In Flour, Water, Salt, Yeast the first recipe is a yeast based loaf, which I haven’t used for a while as I prefer the sourdough starter based bread. Last weekend I tried out that ‘Saturday White Bread’ recipe for the first time and I think it turned out really well. The recipe quantities are enough for two loaves but I decided to try and do rolls with the second half of the dough as getting through two whole loaves before they turn would be a stretch even for me. The rolls need work (that’s me winging it again) or, as the recipe suggests, I could use half the dough for pizza or focaccia.
One of the things the book repeats over and over in the earlier chapters is the importance of precision with the measurements and percentages of ingredients. I managed to open the book on the wrong page and weighed out the wrong amount of water, too much, and only realised after I had added it to the flour and couldn’t take it out again so had to quickly recalculate the weights of everything else. It worked out well but I am planning to repeat this recipe again next weekend to get it right before going on to the next one and working my way through the book. Apparently there are different types of starter, using yeast not just flour and water, which I am looking forward to trying.