Feelin' springy...

The Blackthorn is flowering, blessing the hedgerows with its delicate white fuzziness. And I have been continually obsessed with fermentation. Sourdough experiments are abounding and the starter is chugging merrily away between periods of rest in the fridge. The starter was made by adding a cup of flour to a cup of water, leaving it in a warm place and waiting for it to bubble slightly, then adding a cup of flour and a cup of tap-temperature-water each day for about a week. I used wholemeal, but you can use any type of flour. When the starter went from smelling completely rancid to nice and sour, it was ready. This is the recipe I used for the bread.

Sourdough Bread
This makes three loaves

To make the sponge:
1 good ladleful starter
500g flour
600ml warm water

Mix it up and leave overnight in a warm place if possible. Cover the bowl with a plastic bag or use a shower cap (incredibly handy for bread-making)

The next morning it should look like that - all frothy, and bubbly and beautiful. Now add

2 and a half tsps salt
600g flour

Knead until nice and rubbery. You may need to adjust the quantities according to your starter - mine is quite wet and my doughs have been fairly wet - I've had to add a fair bit of extra flour. But the dough has been really soft and fluid, practically pouring out of the bowl -a really beautiful material to work with! Puffy, light, airy... (Yes, I am turning into a bread-nerd.)
Shape the dough into a round by placing it flattest side down, flattening it slightly and going round in a circle folding all the outward edges in - this stretches the strands of gluten that are forming and makes it all the more effective. Put it back in the bowl, leave for an hour or so - it may not have risen much, then pour it out and shape again. Repeat this 2 or 3 times - the longer you leave it, the more flavour develops - then shape into loaves and leave for the final proving, until just under double its size. Bake for the first ten minutes at 260 Celsius, or as hot as your preheated oven will go, turning down to 180 or so after ten minutes, depending on how fast it is browning, and cook til done - another 20-30 minutes.

It still amazes me that flour, water, salt and time can produce such flavourful incredible stuff!

On another springy theme - inspired by the seedlings poking their little but strong heads through the soil in the greenhouse and garden, I knitted this little plant for a friend.
Hurray for spring!