Charlecote Mill is just a few miles away, and the wheat is also locally grown. I follow Charlecote Mill on facebook and feel very connected with the work that Karl puts into to making the mill a viable proposition. The mill is in a quiet village on the River Avon, within sight of the National Trust Charlecote House. During the week, you can pop in and buy the flour, though it usually best to phone to check that he is in.
It is however on account of the wholemeal flour that I have been going back time after time. He manages to get a fine bran which suits Mr S perfectly. I think I have been using this now for over eight years.
The first bake on the Facegroup page, where we are working through Jane Mason's Perfecting Sourdough, has been a really challenging bake: Mixed Grain Sourdough. It uses white flour and spelt flour. Its my fault: I chose this one for our first bake, and it has proved, no pun intended, to be very challenging!
For my first attempt I had to use a round lined proving basket.
I was a little disappointed with the spread and that the holes were not evenly distributed. However some traditional Eddington Bannetons were on order, and of course I had to have a second attempt. There were many tips from more experienced bakers to help, and the author Jane Mason suggested that painting the baskets with a cornflour paste would help of the release. Just the ticket I say!
The total dough weight was 1.1Kg, and the basket said suitable for 1Kg dough...but this left very little room for the rise! Having measured up the baskets they are smaller than the size stated!
The bread spread quite a bit before attempting a little rise in the oven...but I loved the patterning on my first banneton bake! The flavour was really lovely.
Maybe the white flour was not quite strong enough, so I tried Waitrose Canadian Very Strong Flour. I am learning more about Spelt as I go along. I've used it for ages, as I love the flavour and the mouth feel of the bread I have baked with it. It is in vogue at the moment and I am not surprised.
When we were down house hunting we stopped for a snack at Kilver Court, a short walk from our B & B. We were surrounded by lovely spelt bakes, and I happened to pick up and leaf through a copy of Roger Saul's book: Spelt. Then I made the connection: Shapham Park Flour. Other good organic spelt flours exist, I know: I have used Shipton Mill's, and I have some of Dove Farm's White spelt flour on the go too.
I've borrowed the book from the Library and this may just be one I buy for continual reference. In it, I read that the spelt has a more delicate gluten structure - maybe I have been overkneading it.
This third attempt of the recipe saw various more techniques adopted, all tips from other bakers on our facebook group: folding, slow bulk proving, and overnight final rise in the fridge before baking from cold. I also decided to measure 800g dough, and used the balance to make a fougasse sprinkled with chilli salt. This was eaten straight away with a dip!
However, the loaf developed a 'hernia'. Who said soudough was going to be easy?...but I love a challenge. As I write this up I am trying this one for the fourth time! This time I am reducing the ingredients to make a smaller amount...oh no, no fougasse!
I can't get an even distribution of holes, and above the hernia, I had a huge gap! I left this end till last, but it was still delicious toasted and mounded up with scrambled eggs.