• Nougat

    I really should be calling the title of this post, bread, bread and more bread, rather than nougat, but as the nougat was the highlight of my week, not necessarily to make, but to eat, I thought I would give my nougat the honour.

    The week started with bread: rye bread, soda bread, corn bread and ciabatta, and a few pain au chocolat thrown in for good measure as we clearly didn’t have enough to take home or eat.

    Tuesday was sugar-day and the beginning of a three-day process to make a banana assiete on Thursday. We made spun sugar (a wonderful, wispy ball of sugar strands), honeycomb and what was to become my favourite of the week, Nougat Montelimar. We also made filo pastry, the most wonderfully silky pastry which was a bugger to stretch into the required thin sheets – I did manage to produce something that resembled filo pastry, albeit that it was not even in thickness.

    Wednesday was the start of death by banana: banana and walnut cake, banana sorbet and banana crisps. Before I went nuts by having to temper chocolate again to make chocolate bands for our banana assiete, we made caramelised walnuts after painstakingly blanching and removing the skins from 10 walnuts with a small paring knife. I was supposed to make four chocolate bands and a chocolate bow. After another poor attempt at chocolate tempering and re-tempering, I managed to make two rather clumsy looking chocolate bands and a sort-of bow. I was delighted on Thursday at the unveiling of the dessert that the chocolate band remained largely intact and it made the required crack of tempered chocolate when hit with the spoon.

    Thursday, saw us complete our banana assiete by making banana caramel sauce, caramelised bananas, caramelised filo, banana mousse and chocolate sauce and plating up all our banana components from Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday into a highly elaborate dessert. Although I should most probably make my banana assiete the photo of the week because of its complexity and it was, after all, a labour of love, my nougat has to take centre stage on account of the fact that I loved it so much. You can see a photo of my banana assiete on my Instagram page.

    And then there was Friday …. chocolate tempering day. I approached the day with trepidation but also with the intention of mastering the art of chocolate tempering, finally. My fellow class mate and I had requested that chef was on hand to point out where we may have been going wrong. I tried my first temper and everything seemed to be going to plan. Chef said that it all looked good having watched me temper my chocolate so I dutifully coated my chocolate egg moulds with chocolate and placed them in the fridge to set. Diligently keeping my chocolate at a working temperature of 32 degree Celsius, while I waited to release my first egg from the chocolate mould, when I went to release my first egg I was informed by chef that my egg was not tempered and had bloomed and that I would have to re-temper my chocolate – so all that time maintaining my working temperature was a waste. So back to the drawing board or, more accurately, marble food preparation surface I went and tempered my chocolate again, this time more successfully than the last. Despite my ordeal, I finished the day with two chocolate eggs. Not good enough to give to anyone as gifts for Easter but at least they ended up in one piece and the wrapping hid a multitude of sins.

    After my challenging day in the kitchen and a trip down to Amesbury to spend the night with my sister and brother-in-law, I had to take the edge off with a glass or two of red wine, despite the fact that Jo and I were competing in the Battle of Lansdown on Sunday and really should have been abstaining from alcohol. You will be glad to hear that we did abstain on Saturday night, despite staying with my Mother and Father-in-Law in Bath on the Saturday night. The semi-abstenance was worthwhile as I managed to place 2nd out of the women (412) and 47 out of the 1055 competitors overall. A good end to the week after all.

  • Knife skills

    This is going to have to be quick as it is just gone 10pm and I have been up since 5am this morning so I need to go to bed shortly. Jo had to leave at 3.30am for the airport and while I decided not to get up quite then, I set my alarm for 5am so that I could do some of my course work. So now I am fading fast. However no rest for the wicked yet as I realised that I didn’t write my blog for last week. So here goes….

    It was decided that as patisserie chefs that we still needed to develop our knife skills, so for the first three days that we were back last week, we emersed ourselves in the world of savoury food.

    Monday saw us cut a range of vegetables into a number of different shapes to make a vegetable broth, as well as braise some beef for our suet puddings, which we made on Tuesday. We also made suet pastry, hot water pastry and pasty pastry – death by pastry.

    We completed our suet pudding on the Tuesday, which was accompanied with creamy mash potato and Koffmann cabbage for lunch. As a vegetarian/fish eater, I didn’t eat the suet pudding, but the mash and cabbage was delicious. We also lined (with the hot water crust pastry) and cooked pork pies for finishing on Wednesday. To finish the day, we made a brioche dough for our salmon coulbiac, which was to be rested overnight and a beef pasty to take home.

    Wednesday, saw us complete our pork pie (which Jo tucked into on the Friday after his travels), make a salmon coulbiac (encased in the brioche dough), saffron potatoes and fennel coleslaw with homemade mayonnaise (which I tucked into for dinner on Wednesday night, along with Montague as Jo was away).

    Thursday, we returned our attention back to patisserie, making a jaconde sponge, chocolate ganache and a caramel rectangle, which we painstakingly crafted into a Dobos torte. Possibly my finest creation to date – am I allowed to say this? To balance the day, we also made pineapple carpaccio, pineapple crisps and a basil sorbet for our plated dessert on Friday. To top off the day, we made sable biscuits – a feat in their own right as trying to squeeze stiff paste through a star nozzle into dutch biscuit shape is not the easiest of task. Somehow after my first attempt, which chef said looked like a cat’s pooh, I miraculously turned my sable paste into respectable looking biscuits, even if I say so myself.

    And then there was Friday. My favourite day of the week, not i.e. chocolate day. We had two things to make (well three, but we never got to the third), some moulded chocolate pralines and a chocolate bow. We, or should I say I, made a pig’s ear of it. We took a lot longer that expected, much to chef’s dismay (he makes everything look so easy), which meant that it ate into our theory time in the afternoon – details pertaining to our project (more of this later next time). All was not lost – I did manage to make some pralines (fewer and less glossy than others – allegedly, I did not clean my chocolate tray well enough which made my chocolates less shiny than they should be and I made the chocolate of my pralines too thin, which meant a number of them broke when I tried to demould them) and a sort of bow. Something at least to photograph and put in my workbook. One day, one day, I might master this chocolate thing. But until then, I will bid you farewell and night night.

  • On a break

    Well, it was supposed to be a week off last week. It was definitely a week off in so far as I had a break from my Diploma in Patisserie – our ‘half term’ so to speak, but definitely not in terms of what we tried to pack into one week.

    We completed a return car journey to Aberdeen from Liverton, Devon in just over a week. When I say ‘we’, I mean Jo, my husband, who as always was the designated driver. Okay, so we did have a stop or two on the way there and back (Swindon on the way up to see family and Westmorland and Swindon on the way back).

    During our week in Aberdeen, I fitted in a visit to my hairdresser, Alannah (it is amazing how much grey hair can show itself during 10 weeks in the absence of a hairdresser and of course, because of my age); my wonderful beautician, Amy who gives the most relaxing facial and refreshed my skin (I realise that you can’t make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear but it certainly helped my skin, even if temporarily); a couple of lunches with friends; a couple of coffees with friends; two gruelling sessions with Gregor, our personal trainer; two eight mile runs and a six mile run along the Deeside line; a clean out of our ‘scullery’ as while we have been away, the mice decided to play so I had to rid our scullery of anything the wee mice may have got into and our first obstacle course race of the season, the Devil Mud Run near Cheltenham on our way back to Devon. Oh, I should mention that I did do one bit of work for my Diploma of Patisserie when I was on my break. I had to come up with a Winter and Summer dessert menu for our Term 2 project. The lovely people at Design and Code designed a wonderful template for my project. They say that there is no risk for the wicked, so I must be very wicked.

    The Devil Mud Run lived up to its name – mud, mud and more mud with man made and natural objects thrown in. Other than the weather which was cold, wet and windy, the race itself was great and it was an excellent start to our OCR season. Our next race is in a week’s time in Bath – the Battle of Lansdowne.

    I should mention that while on our break, we enjoyed the culinary delights at Lynwood & Co. in Lechlade, which serves the best sourdough bread and granola and the Wheatsheaf in Northleach, where we had a lovely lunch with family.

    It was back to Devon with a bump on Sunday night at around 8pm, ready for Term 2 on the Monday.

  • Mock the week

    The good thing is that I survived our ‘mock’ exam week. The bad thing is that I had a bit of a wobble on Day 3 when time pressure and failing to achieve what I was trying to achieve got the better of me, AGAIN. Although it was technically a revision week, except for Day 4, when we were working under strict exam conditions, we were not allowed to help each other out or really communicate with one another when we were in the kitchen – our focus was supposed to be entirely on what we were doing. It felt a little unnatural at first but after a while we acclimatised.

    Day 1 was a ‘mis en place’ day. We made a genoise sponge for a Gateau Fraisier on Day 3; croissant dough for Day 2 (a labour of love if ever there was one with the folding and all the turning); made and balled ganache for chocolate truffles on Day 2 and made sweet pastry and lemon tart mix for our lemon tarts on Day 2. These were all critical tasks which had to be completed on Day 1. In between these critical tasks, we were encouraged (and managed to complete) other essential tasks for the rest of the week: fondant icing and Gateau Fraisier stock syrups; strawberry pastry cream for our creme diplomat (another component for the Gateau Fraisier); lining our pastry tins with sweet pastry for Day 2. The only problem with the revision days, which still involve demonstrations from chef, is that there is quite a lot of stop/start activities and a full day in the kitchen, which makes it difficult to work out exactly how long each task took – something which was critical for us to establish for our exam week as in exam week we only have 3.5 hours in the kitchen, not 6. All in all Day 1 went okay, other than my near ‘elementary’ mistake of going to place my completed croissant dough in the fridge rather than the freezer. While chef corrected my faux pax (something which he wouldn’t be able to do in the exam) I need to learn from this potential mistake as making the same mistake in the exam would have ruined my croissant dough and there would be no time on Day 2 to have corrected my mistake.

    Day 2 was ‘temperature control’ and baking day in the main – a fine balancing act between blind baking sweet pastry cases at 180 degree Celsius; lemon tarts at 95 degree Celsius; croissants at 220 and the down to 200 degree Celsius and wholemeal baguettes at 220 degree Celsius, after we had made, kneaded, proved, shaped and proved the dough in the first place. Not to mention melting the chocolate for and coating truffles in chocolate and a light dusting of cocoa powder. If this wasn’t enough, we weighed up our ingredients for our choux pastry; prepared our Gateau Fraisier tray, which included colouring our marzipan for the top of our Gateau Fraisier with a rather vibrant green colour; made chocolate mousse to fill our profiteroles and eclairs and weighed out our fondant for Day 3. Our final act of the day was being graded on our products – we had to come up with a grade for each of our products and then chef told us what she thought we deserved. I was pleasantly surprised when she said that my truffles deserved a distinction and my croissants, lemon tarts and wholemeal baguettes deserved a merit. This was definitely progress from my first attempts at these products, except possibly the croissants, which at chef’s behest I had rolled a little too tightly which affected their shape and rise.

    Day 3 was ‘finishing day’. Other than making, piping and shaping choux pastry into profiteroles and eclairs and making and chilling the creme diplomat, most of the day was spent finishing the profiteroles and eclairs (filling with chocolate mousse and decorating with fondant icing and tempered chocolate piping) and constructing and finishing the Gateau Fraisier. You would have already seen the words that strike fear into my very core i.e. chocolate, tempering and piping. And yes, my fears came true. Chocolate got the better of me again. Day 3 was definitely a day of moving forward in some areas (my marzipan was the right hue this time and my fondant icing was shinier and neater than my last attempt) and backwards in others (a dense genoise and poorly cut cake layers resulted in a Gateau Fraisier lacking in structural integrity; trying to create more substantial profiteroles and eclairs with choux pastry which required more eggs than last time resulted in over-inflated and slightly unsightly profiteroles and eclairs). My piping, as per usual, left a lot to be desired. It is not surprising therefore that when it came to being graded my efforts were given a strong pass. A fair assessment if ever there was one, given that yet again, I let my nerves get the better of me at a critical time, resulting in unattractive piping and a messy work space. I was heartened however, that despite being advised that my profiteroles and eclairs only achieved a strong pass, with ever so slight tweaks, they should achieve a distinction in the exams.

    With a firm note to self at then end of Day 3, I decided that a new approach was required for Day 4 (chocolate tempering and chocolate centre piece day under exam conditions) as I was frustrated that I had let my nerves get the better of me and that this was affecting the potential quality of my work. Armed with a couple of drops of Rescue Remedy under my tongue and an attitude that I had to approach challenging situations in the same way that I did when I was an HR Director (i.e. no matter how I felt, I would internalise the angst to appear professional externally) I went into Day 4 with a different mindset. Was I the neatest chef in the room? No. Did I create the best chocolate centrepiece? No. I did however manage to temper my chocolate; work more neatly and get the semblance of a chocolate centrepiece together. Could I do better? Undoubtedly. Fewer grubby fingerprints on my centrepiece would help for starters but all-in-all Day 4 went a lot better than expected.

    The week ended with a one-to-one with chef about progress this term and a chat with the IV about my work book. The IV was happy with my progress and chef suggested that despite possibly getting off on the wrong foot, he thought we had turned a corner. I am still not the model student as others have been told, but hopefully next term will see me move more in the right direction. On a positive note, I did get a Merit on my CIEH Certificate in Food Safety and Hygiene – three possible grades: fail, pass or merit.

    We are on a break for a week now and other than starting on our Term 2 project, I am going to try to recuperate from a very intensive 6 weeks by catching up with friends and a bit of pampering in Aberdeen.

  • All puffed up

    This week was dominated by puff pastry. Our third attempt at laminated dough – first came croissants, then danishes and now puff pastry; the most difficult of them all. With no yeast in the dough, the rise is all in the layers of butter and dough (729 layers in all). To get puff, you need to get the lamination right.

    With a large block of puff pastry at the ready, we divided the block into five, unequal portions (as instructed) – each of which were magically transformed into a different delicacy. We made natas (custard tarts); vol au vents with a wild mushroom sauce; Parmesan cheese straws; arlette biscuits; strawberry mille-feuille and chocolate mille-feuille triangle biscuits. In a nutshell, ‘death by sugar and fat’. I have to say that I breathed a sigh of relief when I baked my vol au vent cases and they rose as they should have – I could even see the lamination in the rise. Not as spectacular a rise as chef’s, but a rise nevertheless.

    If this wasn’t enough, this week also saw us produce a wholemeal baguette and mini baguettes; almond biscotti; amaretti biscuits; steamed sponge pudding with sauce anglaise; Saint Emilion aux Chocolat and Arnhem biscuits. I think of everything that we made the biscotti and amaretti biscuits were my favourite, although I have to say, I was also quite partial to the Arnhem biscuits, apparently a recipe which came from Roald Dahl himself.

    All in all, the week wasn’t a bad one. That is, until Friday when all the tiny steps I had taken forward took a giant leap backwards. Chocolate tempering or more accurately, the lack thereof in my case, was my undoing again. In addition to baking the Arnhem biscuits, our only other job on Friday was to temper some 70% chocolate and make a base for our chocolate centre piece, which we are supposed to be making on Thursday this week. The more I tried to temper the chocolate, the more I got myself into a state and a mess. So with the frustration came the tears. With the tears came the pep talk from the chef. With the pep talk from the chef came embarrassment and humiliation and the desire once again to ‘run away’. I haven’t yet. We will see what next week brings, although it is likely to be a tough week as we are going through the recipes that we are going to be doing in our week 13 exams, which I am still not sure I will be up to doing. I will have to hold that thought for a moment as I have more pressing things to do like revise my recipes for tomorrow, so I had better stop writing my blog and get back to my studies.

  • What a week

    I am not sure where to start. It was such a busy week. We started with a great day of bread making on Monday, brioche and zopf. Very decadent and highly enriched loaves of bread, which went down a treat that night with some honey and fig cheese. Best not to think about the calories.

    Tuesday was choux pastry day, which we formed into eclairs and profiteroles, filled with creme diplomat and decorated with peach fondant icing and chocolate piping. I was commended on my choux, but my piping left a lot to be desired. I was also left with a slightly limp eclair as a result of faffing about with the oven too much during the bake.

    Chocolate piping was my downfall again on Wednesday, when we made a Sacher Torte. All was going well – I had a well-risen mousse cake, a relatively even apricot glaze, a shiny mirror glaze and then we got to the chocolate piping and everything went tits up. My inadequacies as a chocolate piper was evident and all the hard work from the previous stages of the baking process were somewhat destroyed by my piping attempt. An uncontrollably, shaky hand didn’t help matters. On a positive side, the Sacher Torte tasted delicious.

    Thursday was a day of hot and cold plated desserts. We made a raft of components for our iced lemon souffle (lemon compote, marshmallow and lemon souffle) and caramelised orange rice pudding (armagnac prunes, buttercake) and raspberry sorbet for our raspberry sorbet truffles, which we finished off on Friday. Unlike my Sacher Torte and eclairs, which were definitely not the finished articles, the lemon souffle, rice pudding and raspberry sorbet truffles came out largely as intended.

    Friday was a relatively quiet day with my tempering of chocolate attempt resulting in shiny chocolate – a definite triumph. Now I just need to learn how to temper without making a mess.

    Although I have settled into the course a bit more, I am still not quite there. My nerves still get the better of me, but I am trying to take one day and one task at a time. The week was however successful in that I submitted all my written assignments in time for the weekend, which Jo and I spent at the St Enodoc Hotel in Rock and dinner at Restaurant Nathan Outlaw, our belated Christmas gift to one another. It was well worth the wait. Off to bed now as another busy week in the kitchen awaits.

  • Getting your fingers burnt

    Another week on the Diploma of Patisserie has just flown by. I started off a bit wobbly, but got a little more settled during the week, except for Friday, when chocolate tempering got the better of me again – I couldn’t get the chocolate to 49 degree Celsius to start the tempering process and it went downhill thereafter. I did, however, manage to dip my ‘three brothers’, hazelnuts in caramel, which I had risked life and limb for earlier in the week when we had to mould 4 hazelnuts into petit fours from freshly made hazelnut praline when they were still hot (cooked to a temperature of 156 degree Celsius). I still have the blisters on my fingers to show for it. No pain, no gain, as they say.

    Having an absent partner in crime (we are paired up with a different person each week) on Friday, didn’t help matters as I had to do the paired activity on my own – passion fruit pate de fruit, which was deemed too dangerous by chef for 10 students to be making in the kitchen at the same time, on account of the high temperatures we were working at (109 degree Celsius), so we were supposed to be making it in pairs, except of course little ol’ me, who had to make it on my own despite the dangers. I managed to finish the task in the allocated time and it set and looked as it should, so all in all not too unhappy with my effort.

    The most technical challenge of the week (except for the chocolate tempering) was making a Gateau Fraisier on Wednesday – a multi layered cake consisting of layers of genoise sponge, strawberries, strawberry creme diplomat, topped off with a green marzipan disc, decorated with chocolate. While my gateau required a little bit more care and attention to the finer details, all in all it wasn’t too bad (chef said it tasted good) except for the overly green marzipan disc (a little too much MSK green colour – more Shrek-like than strawberry leaves) and chocolate writing (at least I managed to temper the chocolate this time) could have been a little more refined.

    Other delicacies this week included a cheese and spring onion quiche (absolutely delicious); Danish pastries (four varieties in all); orange and hazelnut ice cream; chocolate mousse in a chocolate band; hot chocolate soup with a chocolate, almond crumb and sugar cups.

    When I am not in the kitchen, I am spending my time doing write ups; reading patisserie theory; generally living and breathing patisserie. I did manage to treat myself this weekend with a back massage at Blush and a quick lunch at Number 14 in Ashburton followed by some carrot cake from Taylors in Ashburton. It wasn’t just relaxing though as we ran 8 miles yesterday and 6.5 miles today with a quick upper body session at the gym yesterday. Today has been study and more study so with that in mind I am off to bed. Another day dawns.

  • Acclimatisation

    I think I have had to acclimatise more to my Diploma in Patisserie than I had to the altitude when I climbed Kilimanjaro a few years ago.

    I have come to the conclusion that I don’t do well under pressure. The question is whether I let my stress levels get the better of me or whether I get the better of them. Only time will tell.

    I set up this blog to document my trials, tribulations and triumphs. So far there have definitely been more trials and tribulations than triumphs. Leaky lemon tarts (my lining of the pastry rings with sweet pastry, definitely left a lot to be desired), dense croissants with a dull crust (apparently, this comes from incorporating too much flour in the croissant dough during preparation and not removing it off the surface of your croissants before adding two coats of egg wash), chocolate truffles with insufficiently textured ‘coats’ and an absolutely abortive attempt and chocolate tempering where everything that could go wrong did.

    On the bright side, my lemon tarts had a good colour (despite being thin and leaky, the cooking of the sweet pastry was apparently good); the lemon filling was tasty; my ganache for my chocolate truffles was smooth and didn’t split; my panna cotta set and had the required wobble and my apple streusel with sauce anglaise looked as it should and apparently tasted good, according to the ladies on reception, who sampled my offerings.

    Long days in the kitchen and the classroom and write ups in the evening and morning are limiting the time I have to do the things that make me happy and keep me sane i.e. running, going to the gym, spending time with my family etc. I am not defeated yet, but like my panna cotta, I have certainly had the odd wobble this week and like my lemon tarts my eyes have been a little leaky.

    I love being in the kitchen and baking things, but at the moment I am fearful that the thing that I thought would fuel my passion is the very thing that may put it out.

  • Teaching old dogs old tricks

    Okay, so it has been a a very long first week.  We started the week with a one day general induction, followed by three days of food safety and hygiene training.

    While I found the training very interesting, albeit that it has instilled in me a newfound fear of contaminating and cross-contaminating food through negligence, thereby rendering food unsafe; the week was somewhat tainted by the knowledge that on Friday that I was going to have to sit an exam; the first exam that I have had to sit in about a decade.

    It was definitely a baptism of fire, relatively long days in the classroom, followed by five or six hours at night studying for the exam, as well as a bit of early morning studying for good measure.

    So intense was the week that my OCR Scotland, 1000 mile challenge, had to be put on the back burner for a couple of days – no running on Wednesday and Thursday.  The latter was set to right after the exam on Friday, with a run from home to Ashburton to meet my fellow students on the course at a local pub to celebrate completion of the exam.  One, rather large glass of wine later and my stomach began to twist in pain (the aftermath of a week of stress, I presume), so rather than going out with my husband, Jo for a meal at No. 14, we went home for simple meal and an attempt at a bit more wine.  A week of abstinence and exhaustion from the week’s activities meant that alcohol was of little interest and I fell asleep quite promptly at 9pm.

    We have a long two week wait until we receive the results of the course.  Apparently we can be awarded a fail, pass or merit.  Here is hoping for a pass or preferably a merit, but only time will tell.  Let’s hope that teaching old dogs old tricks will help them achieve even at this late stage in life.   There was no rest for the wicked this weekend either as I had to complete course work, which I want to submit tomorrow.  Three to four hours this morning and the deed was done.

    With the food safety and hygiene behind me, the cooking can finally begin.  Tomorrow is the day that I finally get to don my chef whites and start baking.

  • Don’t get me started

    Okay, so here is a truth.  I love sourdough bread and although I have sampled many a sourdough bread (my favourite being from Lynwood & Co. in Lechlade); other than trying a ‘cheat’s sourdough’ from BBC Good Food, I have never attempted to make sourdough bread in the true sense of the word.  Well, that is until recently.  Just over a week ago, on the 08 January 2017, to be precise, I took the plunge and decided to make my own sourdough starter.  So armed with one of my favourite recipe books, Roger Saul’s ‘Spelt’ and a couple of bags of Sharpham spelt flour (one white and one wholemeal), I started the painstaking process of making my own starter.

    According to Emma Christensen from The Kitchn, ‘making a fresh batch of starter is as easy as stirring together some flour and water and letting it sit.  That’s right!  No expensive heirloom starters, mashed up grapes or mysterious rituals required – just flour, water, and a little bit of patience’.   My starter recipe suggested a variation of ‘mashed up grapes’ in the form of two teaspoons of raisins, as well as a couple of teaspoons of natural bio yogurt plus Emma’s ingredients of flour, water and a little bit of patience.  And as you know from my croissant episode, patience is not my strong point.

    I diligently followed the recipe for five days and on the six day was excited that my starter should have been ready for use.

    According to the recipe I was using, ‘On Day 6, the mixture should be bubbling and ready for use’.  I think I must have just read ‘On Day 6, the mixture should be ready for use’ as while there were definitely a few bubbles in the mixture, it was definitely not as active as it should have been, nor did it have the ‘acidic tang’ that it was supposed to have on Day 5.

    Undeterred or more accurately, impatient to wait any longer (see reference to patience above), I decided to used some of my ‘well nurtured’ starter to make a loaf of sourdough bread, religiously following the recipe in my book.

    Although the quantity of lukewarm water stipulated, seemed disproportionately large to the quantity to flour required, especially given that my sourdough starter was still quite liquid compared to the images of sourdough starters on Google, I continued to follow the recipe, ignoring my gut feeling to reduce the amount of water significantly.   Although I did not use the full amount of the water stipulated, my end result was a rather sodden dough instead of soft dough as suggested in the recipe, even after 10 plus minutes of frenetic kneeding.  Not put off completely, I persevered and saw the recipe through to its completion.  After two hours of ‘proving’, and I use this word loosely, given that I don’t think my bread did an iota of rising during this time (it did a lot of lateral seeping instead), or the 25 minutes it was baking in the oven, I removed my sorry excuse for a sourdough loaf out of the oven, just in time for lunch.  Although my loaf resembled a dense, flat bread rather than a nicely risen loaf with the characteristic sour dough ‘holes’, it still tasted quite pleasant.  While it tasted quite pleasant, it certainly was a too embarrassing a result to photograph.

    Not entirely put off, but frustrated with my initial failure, I fed my sourdough starter with equal amounts of flour and water to that which I had removed; thinking to myself that I may try again.

    Spurred on by the fact that my newly replenished sourdough starter seemed to be rapidly developing its Day 5 ‘acidic tang’ and Day 6 bubbles, I decided to try to make my second sourdough loaf today.

    While not a perfect triumph, my second attempt at least resembles a loaf of bread and has the slightly acidic taste, characteristic of sourdough bread.  Despite these improvements, I still need to work out the right balance between water and flour to ensure that my sourdough loaf has the characteristic holes, which it is still somewhat lacking.  A little more perseverance and a lot more patience and next time I might just get there.

    In the meantime, my sourdough starter is bubbling quite nicely, thank you very much.