imageWith REAL BREAD WEEK fast approaching (14-22 May), I thought it would be a great opportunity to share some thoughts and recipes about bread and bread bags with you! We recently visited our lovely local bakery in Kingsand to film one of their wonderful Sourdough classes and have included Chris’s recipe and a link to our exciting new video below.

The idea of bread bags is a fairly new concept for us here in the UK…the French have been using them for years, but with the rise in popularity of home baking and bread making, comes the need for something in which to store bread. I’m sure we have all once owned a bread bin and witnessed the mould which seems to miraculously grow overnight….! Bread likes to breathe and in a sealed container it gets hot and sweaty – a perfect breeding ground for mould spores. Put your bread in a linen bread bag and it’s a different story. Linen, being a natural fibre, allows the bread to breathe. It is a fabric with a high water content and this in turn helps to keep a good crust (quite unlike a plastic bag that will soften the crust and cause the bread to sweat…not a nice thought!).

We are obviously big fans of linen bread bags here in the studio; they’re not just very practical, they are beautiful too. They take up much less space on your work top and for those with limited kitchen worktop space, there is even a hook for handy hanging. Add this to the fact that you can also use your bread bag, with the top rolled down, to serve bread at the table, as a basket…they have to be a winner. We have two in our kitchen, one for the sourdough and one for other bread products. Long gone are the plastic carrier bags and the bulky bread bin!!

It’s not just us that are fans either….River Cottage in Axminster recently commissioned us to make bread bags to help celebrate their 10th year at Park Farm….you can find them in their lovely shop along with our linen tea towels, both especially printed with their birthday logo.

Have a look at our new video ‘Making Bread Bags & Bread’….do let us know what you think. Special thanks go to Matilda Butler for making another great film.

If, like us, you are passionate about real bread, you can get involved in Real Bread Week here.

If you fancy having a go at making your own sourdough then try Chris’s recipe or even better book yourself onto one of his courses.

Making A Starter
Before you can begin to make sourdough bread you will need to make a Starter.

Day 1 Weigh 50g strong bread flour.  Add 50g water, ideally at 24o centigrade.  Mix and leave for 24 hours in a warm place
Day 2 After 24 hours, take 50g of the mixture, add 50g flour and 50g water, ideally at 24o centigrade.  Mix and leave for 24 hours in a warm place.
Day 3 Repeat day 2.  You should be seeing some bubbles on the surface of the mixture.  If not don’t worry.
Day 4 Repeat day 2.  You should be seeing some bubbles on the surface of the mixture.  If you don’t have any bubbles, something is wrong and you should start again.
Day 5 You should see bubbles and it is now ready to be used to raise bread or can be stored in the fridge in a lidded pot ready for your to use to bake bread. 

Preparing your Starter
Twenty-four hours before you want to start to make bread you need to prepare your Starter.  This is called making a Levain.

Method
The day before you want to bake

-In the morning, take your Starter out of the fridge and mix 25g of Starter with 25g of flour and 25g of water.
– Leave this mixture in a warm place – approximately 22o centigrade
-In the evening use 25g of the Starter and mix with 75g of flour and 75g of water
-The following day your Starter will be ready to use.  It will be bubbly and should have increased in size by 20%
-Keep 50g of Starter in a lidded pot in the fridge.  This is now your Starter for the next loaf.  It can be stored for up to 3 months

Sourdough Recipe

Ingredients

450g Strong White Bread Flour
50g Wholemeal Bread Flour
7.5g Finely Ground Sea Salt
300g/325ml Tap Water
125g Starter/Levain

Method

  1. Weigh 450g strong white bread flour and 50g wholemeal bread flour into a large mixing bowl.
  2. Measure 325ml tap water into a small bowl/jug, tare scales, weigh 125g Starter into the tap water
  3. Pour the water and Starter into the flour
  4. Roll-up sleeves and mix ingredients together for 2-3 minutes until all the ingredients are completely combined
  5. Cover the bowl with a tea towel and leave for 15 minutes
  6. After 30 minutes sprinkle salt over the dough and mix thoroughly for one minute
  7. After 20 minutes, pull and stretch the dough, repeating several times
  8. Cover the dough with a tea towel and leave for 20 minutes
  9. Repeat this process of folding the dough four times, leave in a warm room (22o) for 15 minutes between each fold
  10. Leave the dough to prove for 3 to 4 hours.
  11. Score your loaf. Bake for 40 minutes at 240o or 220o fan oven until the bread is a deep golden colour.  To test whether your bread is baked tap the bottom – it should sound hollow.