Wednesday, 19 December 2012

Sourdough Stollen

Sourdough Stollen my version

These are large 750 gram stollen (before baking)

These are 450 gram stollen, shaped as ovals rather than folded.

I took this recipe from Virtuous Bread

I made an initial batch, with which I wasn't satisfied. I wanted a wetter dough and only butter, instead of butter and lard, so that my vegetarian friends could eat it, which meant changing it a bit.

Also, there were stages that needed more explanation, like kneading in the butter.


- 400 g raisins
- 100 g candied citrus peel
- 150 g slivered almonds
- 150 ml rum or tea
- 1.1 kg plain white wheat flour
- 500 g refreshed white flour sourdough
- 150 g sugar
- 450 g full fat milk
- 225 g butter
- 1 teaspoon salt
- grated peel of one lemon
- 2 teaspoons vanilla sugar
- 50 g melted butter
- icing sugar to dust


The day before you bake:
1.  Soak the fruit in the rum or tea, if you want to be non-alcoholic. Or I suppose you could use any other liquor you want, like brandy or whiskey.  Cover it and leave until you need it.
2.  Refresh a white wheat sourdough starter so that you have 500 grams to use for the stollen.  I use a 100% hydration starter; that is, equal amounts of flour, water and original starter. If you use 200 grams of each, you will have 100 grams left over for the next time you bake.
Actually, I just keep refreshing my basic starter with equal amounts of water and flour, usually about 150 grams of each, every couple of days.

The evening before you want to make the stollen you need to take 600 grams of your refreshed  sourdough and add 350 grams of warm milk, heated to near boiling and allowed to cool to blood temperature, 500 grams flour and 1 tablespoon of sugar, about 15 grams. Mix all the ingredients and then work it into a rough dough.  It will be slightly stiff.  Cover it and leave it at least 12 hours or longer.

The morning you want to bake the stollen, take the dough from the first rise, which should be pretty bubbly and well-risen. Add 600 g flour, 150 g sugar, 1 tsp salt and the grated lemon zest. If you forgot to buy a lemon, use lemon essence, almond essence or something similar. Knead this for a good 10-15 minutes, until you have a good springy dough. Let it rest while you cube 225 grams of butter and microwave it for about 10 seconds until it's soft but not runny.

Flatten out the dough and put abut ¼ of the butter on top. Fold the butter into the dough and start kneading. When you have worked some of the butter in, put more of the butter into the dough and knead it in. Keep adding the butter and kneading the dough. This will be very messy for a while, but have patience. As you knead, the butter will work into and combine with the dough until you have a smooth and shiny dough, and the work surface is almost entire clean of butter.

I don't have any photos of this, because I was afraid to pick up the camera with such buttery hands.

It might be a good idea at this point to drain the fruit in a sieve over a bowl, so there's not too much extra liquid.

 Let the kneaded dough rest in the bowl, covered, for 1 hour and then fold in the soaked fruit.   The best way, I've found, is to flatten out the dough again and spread some of the fruit and almonds over it. Fold the dough over the fruit and keep pushing and folding until it seems distributed through the dough. Keep doing this, adding fruit and almonds bit by bit, until all the fruit is incorporated. You may decide to stop adding fruit and almonds if it seems you can't work any more into the dough.

 Put the dough back in a bowl, cover, and let rest for 2 hours. Every 50 minutes, take it out of the bowl, knead or fold it, and return to the bowl.

Take the dough out and divide into as many pieces as you would like. Originally, I used 450 gram sections, then tried 750 gram pieces (roughly) for the second attempt. I think a compromise of about 600 grams is probably best.

Press each piece into a rectangle and then fold one side into the middle and the other side over the top.  If you would like to use a sausage of marzipan, lay the marzipan in the middle of the dough and fold the dough around the marzipan - wrapping it up completely and sealing it in by pinching the edges together. I didn't do this, so I can't verify the results.

Roll the loaves slightly so that they are log shaped and like a fat cigar, trying to maintain the folded shape.

Place the loaves on a baking tray on floured baking parchment and cover and let it rest for two hours.
Preheat the oven to 250 C.  Place the stollen in and turn the heat down to 180 C.  Bake for 50 minutes.

When done, remove from the oven and brush them with melted butter.  Sprinkle with vanilla sugar and dust with icing sugar.  Let cool completely and then dust with more icing sugar. You can then wrap them well in baking parchment/greaseproof paper and let mature for 4-6 weeks, but I didn't.  Slice, toast (unless you used marzipan), butter, and have with tea!

On the left is my first attempt. Tasty, but heavy and a bit doughy. The ones on the right, I took to Bakehouse St Albans. They sold four out of six, which is slightly disappointing, but the women who work there said they were delicious and asked if I would bake more.

Tuesday, 6 November 2012

Firecracker Sourdough for Guy Fawkes Night

Guy Fawkes! Bonfire night! Fireworks, freezing your nose off while eating a sausage on a bun covered in brown sauce and fried onions (the sausage, that is; not you) standing in the park, jostled by lots of people and waiting for the fireworks!

Didn't do that this year, but hey - it's still fun.

I thought that the spirit of the night required a bit of heat, a few surprises and some spice. As it happens, this bread isn't as hot as I thought, but I like it. If you want more fire, use at least twice as much pepper, or a hotter variety. Or both. Since the heat seems to be absorbed and buffered by the bread, you might even want to roll the diced chilli into the bread when you're forming it into loaves. I haven't tried that, but it should work.


- 350 grams Bread flour, white
- 200 grams Starter, 100%
- 150 grams Cornmeal
- 300 grams Pumpkin, baked and mashed
- 50 grams Treacle
- 1 tbsp chilli pepper, fresh and finely chopped
- 1 tsp Ginger, fresh and grated
- 15 grams salt


1. Prep -  Preheat the oven to 180C. Halve the pumpkin(s) and remove the seeds. Put the pumpkin on one baking tray and the seeds on another, and lightly salt the seeds. Bake the pumpkin for an hour, or until soft, and the seeds for half an hour.

The seeds are for snacking.

When the pumpkin is soft, remove it from the oven and allow it to cool. Scrape the flesh into a container and squeeze as much juice as you can from the skins, then discard the skin. Mash the flesh, or put it in a blender.

2. Hydration -  Combine all the ingredients except the salt and allow to hydrate for half an hour.

3. Knead - Knead until smooth and add the salt. Knead the salt into the dough. Once it is smooth and bouncy, put it in a lightly oiled bowl to rise.

4. The pumpkin makes the dough much slower to prove. After about an hour, I took it out of the bowl and gave it a short knead, pushing any bubbles down. Then I formed it into a ball and returned it to the bowl.

5. Form into loaves -  After about three hours (really!) I felt the dough had risen enough. I turned it out and started to form it into loaves.

For the large bake, I actually made two kinds of loaves. All my breads for the larger bakes use loaf sizes of 450 grams. Half the loaves were freeform.

The basic shaping for all my bread goes like this:
Press the portion of dough into a rectangle. Roll it from the top down, stretching just a bit to get some tension into the dough. When you have a sort of jellyroll shape, turn it 90 degrees, flatten it out and roll it up again. The second flattening will be more difficult - don't force it too much. You'll end up with a thick roll, nearly a ball. Complete this by forming it into a round ball, with the seams on the bottom. One way of creating this round shape is to make your hand into a cup shape. With the dough cupped in that hand, roll it around the counter a few times. It will tighten the surface and move the open seams to the bottom of the ball.

Press those together and then roll it back and forth a both so you have an elongated shape. (Next time I do this, I'll try to take photos.) Now you can either out that onto an oiled and floured tray, or a floured non-stick baking sheet or a floured peel. You can also put them into oiled and floured loaf tins.

Cover with a dusting of flour and a tea towel. I have some plastic wrap I use over and over, or you can use a plastic bag. You want to prevent the surface from drying out.

6. Preheat the oven to 240C, with a baking stone in it. If you don't have a baking stone (I don't; they all broke) put a heavy tray in.

Allow the loaves to rise again, until they are nearly doubled. This took almost an hour and a half for me.

7. Bake - Score the loaves. I tried to make firework shapes.

Put the loaves in the oven and use a mister to spray them. Turn the heat down to 220C and set the timer for 35 minutes.

Spray three times in the first ten minutes, then leave them.

Test after 35 minutes to see if they are done. They should feel lighter and when you tap the bottom of the loaf it should sound hollow, like a drum. If they are done, take them out and cool on a rack. If not, give them another 5 minutes and try again.

Toasting brings out some of the heat of the chilli. This bread goes very well with ginger marmalade.


Saturday, 3 November 2012

Pumpkin Sourdough

Hello, anyone who might still be out there! It's been a long time since last I updated this blog. I need to rebuild the discipline, and post all the recipes I've been trying out.

I now deliver 6 loaves of bread each Saturday morning to Bakehouse St Albans, a cafe in town. It's something of an ego boost, but the need (on my part) to have an interesting set of loaves each week has made me push my creativity. If I keep this blog properly, I will post the recipes. They may not be seasonal now, but I'll intersperse the older ones with new ones.

Let's see if I can keep that promise. Sometimes laziness and diffidence win out over chattiness.

First, my Jack O'Lantern Pumpkin Sourdough.

On display at Bakehouse St Albans

I wanted to make a Halloween bread, so of course there had to be pumpkin involved. It couldn't be a quick bread, since sweet bakes are the province of the Bakehouse, and besides, what I do these days is sourdough. Hurrah for signatures.

Pumpkins are not as prevalent in England as in the US, and usually are only sold for carving or display. There's no way to tell what variety you're getting, for instance. My first try used only pumpkin, and the flavour was a bit bland. I knew that I didn't want to steam or boil the pumpkin, so I baked it hoping to caramelise the sugars and reduce the liquid content a bit.

Only white flour was used: no competition for the pumpkin flavour.

Well, it seemed unable even to compete with the flour. So, think hard. Also, consult with someone with lots more experience: my Mom! She suggested adding another type of squash, perhaps butternut. Ah-hah! Loads of that on sale.

I also wondered what the actual taste is of pumpkin? Really, when we think of it, we're thinking of pies and quick breads and so forth. All the recipes I found for those use spices: cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves. I decided against cloves (don't know why, just did) and added the first two, plus a bit of honey. You could use treacle (molasses, in the States) but I wanted to save that for another day. It can overwhelm the other ingredients.

This is what I ended up with:

Pumpkin Sourdough Bread


- 200 grams Starter, 100% hydration
- 500 grams Flour, white bread
- 200 grams Pumpkin puree (part pumpkin, part other squash, to taste)
- 100 grams Cider
- 15 grams Salt
- 25 grams Honey
- 1 tsp Cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp Nutmeg


1. Halve, deseed and bake two small pumpkins and butternut squashes at 180C for 45 minutes, or until soft. Allow to cool and scrape the flesh and any liquid into a bowl. Although I didn't, you may want to blend this into a puree. Also, spread the seeds out on a tray, salt lightly and put the tray in the oven with the squash for 30 minutes.

2. Autolyse  -  Combine all ingredients except the salt and allow to sit, covered, for 30 minutes.

3. Knead   -  Knead the dough, adding the salt once it starts to come together. This is a nice, smooth dough, and will feel very responsive. Knead for ten or fifteen minutes, and put in an oiled bowl to prove.

Remove from the bowl every 50 minutes and stretch and fold the dough.

It's hard to say how long to prove the dough. My experience is that the rise is very slow, so it might take several hours.

4. After the dough has doubled in size, take it from the bowl. I formed two round loaves. Put the loaves in bannetons or rest them on an oiled and floured piece of parchment paper to rise. Flour the tops generously and cover with plastic. Again, allow to prove fully. Pressing a finger into the dough will eventually make a dimple that doesn't spring back. It may take longer than you think, and will depend on the vigour of your starter.

5. Preheat the oven to 240C. If the loaves are in bannetons, turn them out.

Slash the tops. I tried to create Jack O'Lantern faces.

Bake in the 240C oven for 5 minutes, spraying with water three times, then turn the heat down to 220C and bake for 35 more minutes, or until done.

I think I may not have allowed these to rise long enough. The pumpkin makes them very moist. I pressed a pumpkin seed into each "eye" before baking. Still, I was pleased with the results.

We had a coffee at the Bakehouse after delivering the breads. This was my wife's cappuccino:


Monday, 25 June 2012

Sourdough sandwich buns

I've been working on these for a couple of weeks. I made about fifty hamburger rolls for our street's Jubilee picnic on Monday 4th June, but was in such a hurry that there are no photos. Still, they went over pretty well. Only a few things needed some work, I felt.

The recipe was originally from Ed Woods's book World Sourdoughs From Antiquity, which I find very useful for the basics. I found an identical recipe on, but both recipes needed some tailoring. First, like most American recipes, they contain sugar. I just don't like putting sugar in my bread, on the whole. Honey, certainly, and if I'm using a Carol Field recipe, malt syrup. Maybe that's a bit odd of me, but if it's not a sweet bread, why add sugar? Second, everything is in cups. I'm trying to be more precise these days. If you're just doing these recipes at home for fun (which is what I do, so far), cups are fine as a measurement, but today's cup of flour on a warm dry afternoon probably won't be the same on a damp wet day, or if you pack it a bit harder or use a different cup. It still won't make too much difference; bread is mostly about feel.

Anyway, this is what I did:

Sourdough Sandwich Rolls


- 450 grams sourdough starter, proofed and active
- 50 grams butter
- 115 grams milk, lukewarm
- 2 eggs, beaten
- 5 grams salt
- 400 grams bread flour (may be up to half wholemeal; in this case, I use 100g wholemeal and 100g spelt wholemeal)


Stir together all ingredients except flour.

Add flour, mixing until it comes together enough to be turned out and kneaded.

Knead until dough is smooth and satiny (this can be done on a mixer or bread machine, if preferred). You can add some more flour, if you feel it's right.

Divide into portions of about 125g. Roll these using your cupped palm, resting your fingers against the work surface. It may help to form them into balls first, by folding the outer edges into the centre.

Lay them on greased trays. Cover and let rise until doubled in bulk, about an hour or more.  If you want, you can brush the tops with water or milk and cover with sesame or poppy seeds.  I also used about a third of the dough to make a sandwich loaf:

Preheat the oven to 180C, and bake for 20 minutes until lightly browned. They may need slightly more, if they are large.

Cool on wire rack.

They look pretty good, and the texture is just right for our lunchbox sandwiches.

The only slight problem with these is that I'm finding the wholemeal spelt flour stales a bit faster than I like, but the taste can't really be faulted.

I'm going to try submitting these to YeastSpotting.

Thursday, 14 June 2012

Panmarino - sourdough with rosemary

After my last post, I've decided not to show the loaves that didn't work out. Fortunately, since then, everything has gone well.

We were working in the front garden last weekend, making things neat. My job, as usual, is to cut things off, or down, while my wife makes things grow and blossom. I was trimming some box hedge and some euonymus bushes into ball shapes, because they were getting a bit shaggy. That went well. Maybe I'll take up hairdressing; as long as the customer has a perfectly round head, I'll be okay!

At the end of the garden, near the door, are a few herbs that, much to my surprise, have been flourishing. The sage in particular is trying to take over the garden, and the rosemary bush is pretty lush. My dream is to have a hedge of rosemary, like one we saw in Tuscany one memorable holiday. It wouldn't be a bad thing to have sun like that, too. Anyway, I decided to trim the rosemary a bit rounder, so it would fit in with the general theme.

That worked, but I now had a lot of fresh rosemary, and my hands smelled great. We love fresh herbs, but this was probably more than I could use in any one dish, and I didn't want it to get too dry. I already had a branch that broke off another bush:

I didn't photograph the fresh rosemary, which is rather too bad. It was fragrant, with that piney scent that stimulates the appetite and lifts the spirit. Instead, I chopped it up very small. 

I looked through my books, and decided that I wanted a softer bread. The recipe on page 161 of The Italian Baker by Carol Field looked perfect, but I needed to adapt it for sourdough. Also, all her recipes are in US measures with cups and tablespoons. I used to work that way, and it's fine, but now I need more precision, so I changed everything to grams. I may have changed some of the proportions along the way, but the result was great.

First, I took the starter out of the fridge and prepared it. I usually do this last thing at night, so this is where I do use cups. I add one cup of flour and 2/3 cups water to the starter, and mix. Then it's left, covered, overnight.

In the morning, I put 400g each of the starter, warm water and bread flour in a bowl, mix well and cover with cling film. This part depends on many factors: the weather, how warm is the kitchen, what is my mood  . . . I let it rise for about three or four hours.

Then I start the main recipe.

Panmarino - Rosemary Bread


- 800 g Sourdough starter, 100%
- 235 g water, warm
- 235 g milk, room temperature
- 60 6 olive oil
- 4 tbsp rosemary, fresh, finely chopped
- 20 g salt
- 900 g bread flour
- sea salt, as required


1. Pour the starter into a large bowl, and add the milk, water, oil and chopped rosemary. Stir well to combine. Add the flour, about 200g at a time, and work into the liquids. With the last addition of the flour, add the salt. The dough should be coming together by this time, so turn it out onto your work surface. It's a wet dough; as usual, I use Bertinet's method to knead it.

After ten or fifteen minutes, it will reach the right consistency, and you'l probably be able to do the windowpane test. It will be soft, but pliable and smooth. Put it in an oiled bowl and allow it to rise until doubled. This took me about two and a half hours.

It makes a nice smooth dough. I pulled and turned it until it started to clean my hands a bit. Of course, they ever seem to clean right up. Maybe someday I will get the hang of that, but somehow I doubt it. Until then, my sink will have bits of dough that I've cleaned off my hands, and then need to be scraped up and put in the compost.
2. Once risen, turn the dough out and divide it into three equal pieces. Don't knead it. Form it into three balls and put them on oiled baking sheets. Cover with a towel (I use my apron, generally) and allow to rise for 45 minutes to an your, until less than doubled.

Preheat the oven to 230C

3. Slask an asterisk into the tops of the loaves and sprinkle the sea salt into the slashes. Put in the oven for 10 minutes at 230C, spraying with water from a mister three times in that period. 

Lower the temperature to 200C and bake for 25 - 30 minutes. Turn the trays to make sure the loaves brown evenly.

These worked out just as I'd hoped. The salt crystals sparkle, the crust is thin and not too chewy.

The oil and milk soften the crumb, so it would be a perfect sandwich loaf. The rosemary comes through, adding a wonderful herbal fragrance and tang. It also toasts really well, and the toasting accentuates the rosemary. A bit of butter and some honey, and it's practically addictive.

As usual, I froze one loaf, and the others are keeping well in the bread box. Well, I say keeping well; actually, they are shrinking rapidly as we eat them.


Thursday, 24 May 2012

Pan de Mie bricks or Sourdough's End

I had a dilemma: three new starters, but none of them very active. How was I to test which I wanted to keep? Also, I wanted to try to make a bread with a very soft crust, possibly suitable for sandwiches.

The second part of that shouldn't have been difficult, since I've made various farmhouse loaves and other soft breads, although not often with sourdough. The first part was the real trick. My new starters, made with rainwater and local flour, were not behaving the way I wanted. Usually, the best idea is to boost them with feedings, to create a vigorous and happy sponge with a sense of purpose and a mission. The downside to that was that I don't want pots and pots of starter in the fridge, giving me a sense of guilt that I'm not baking for the multitudes. Also, it's a waste of good flour if the starter just doesn't cooperate.

I decided to use half-recipes, and test two starters against a loaf made with fresh yeast. For the softer bread, I decided to try the Pan de Mie from Dough by Richard Bertinet, one of my favourite books.

I made two classic mistakes here:

1 - If you want to experiment with a new technique, don't use a recipe you've never tried. Too many variables.

2 - If you are experimenting with a new recipe, don't use one that needs equipment you haven't got.

It's not that Pan de Mie is hard. After all, it's just bread made with a bit of milk. The real variable is that you use a covered loaf pan. Normally, this sort of loaf is baked in a pan known as a Pullman. It has a sliding cover that restricts the rise and the oven spring of the dough. The crust isn't exposed, so it's lighter. The bread should have a tighter crumb, without being too heavy.

I don't have a Pullman pan. I've never used one, either.

You might see where I'm going with this. All my blogs are not about successes. Sometimes? Bread fails.

Anyway . . .

First, I fed my wholemeal starter with 400g each of flour and water, and set it aside. I did the same with my rye starter.

Then, I went ahead to make the yeast version of the bread.

Pan de Mie, 1/2 recipe

5g salt
10g fresh yeast
250g white bread flour
25g milk (half fat)
150g water

As usual with Richard Bertinet's recipes, I rubbed the yeast into the flour, then added the milk and water, forming it into a rough dough. Then I added the salt, turned the dough out and kneaded it until it was springy. I was trying for the 'windowpane', where a bit of dough stretched out is translucent and thin. I have to admit that this is very hard to achieve by hand, but I got there in the end.

Form the dough into a ball by taking the edges and turning them in towards the centre. Pull the edges up to create a sort of purse effect, and pinch the dough together to seal it. Put the ball, seam side down, into a lightly floured bowl, cover it with a tea towel or cling film, and let it rise until doubled.

That took about an hour. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and form it into a loaf. Put the loaf into a loaf pan.

Now, and this is very important, oil the underside of the lid, if you are using a Pullman pan. Otherwise, oil a baking tray, put it on top of the loaf tin, oiled side down, and weight it.

Preheat the oven to 250C.

I forgot the oil part. After about an hour and a half, the dough had risk to the top of the pan. When I took the weight and the baking tray off to look, the dough stuck to it and collapsed. 

Foolishly, I put the tray back on and stuck the whole thing in the oven. 

Turn the heat down to 220C and bake for 20 - 25 minutes, covered.

This was the result.

Major fail.

In my next post, I'll show you the sourdough version.

Fortunately, things picked up after this.

Friday, 27 April 2012

Potato Bread with Thyme

It's been some time since my last entry; I suppose that I'm not a natural blogger. It's been a busy time with a job I had; that's not really relevant to a baking journal, though.

There were breads and other baked goods in that period. I'll have to catch up and post them retroactively. Christmas cookies and Easter buns, and some failures (which I didn't photograph; not in a good mood, I guess.) Now I'm between work again, and can be a bit more active in my writing and baking.

The blog wasn't all that was neglected. My wife's family came to visit the UK from where they now live in New Zealand and Australia. They were here for three weeks, and we spent so much time doing things together that I barely even cooked, much less baked. During that time, my sourdough pretty much expired - at least, it seemed to lose the vitality it once had, and became sticky and gluey. It still worked, but I didn't like the texture or flavour any more, so it's gone to the compost bin, food for worms.

I plan to create a new one from rainwater and local flour, as I did with the original. There's been a lot of rainwater, so I may make a few starters: rye, spelt and regular flour. The flours all come from the Redbournebury Mill nearby. I'd love to rent their bakery onsite, but The Pudding Stop uses it. I highly recommend their goods; truly delicious.

I decided to use up a few of the leftovers in the fridge, and what better way than in bread? We get a weekly organic vegetable box from Riverford, which always includes a small sack of potatoes. We don't eat that many, and I have to figure out creative ways to finish them off. This time, I had some leftover mash in the fridge, and it's been a long time since I made potato bread, so . . .

Potato Bread with Thyme

600g white bread flour
550g mashed potatoes
300g milk
50g butter
15g salt
10g yeast (All I had was dried yeast in the cupboard)
2 tbsp chopped fresh thyme

The potatoes are what I had left - use what you have, and adjust the flour. This may have been too high a ratio of potato to flour, really. A better one would be about 300g potato to 500g flour. This dough is about a 50% hydration; that is, a ratio of 2 to 1 solids to liquids, if I count the mashed potato as half liquid, half solids. That's a guess, but it feels about right. It may actually be more liquid than that. I will need to experiment more.

My other problem, which didn't materialise until later, was that the dried yeast had pretty much died. It's sell-by date was February 2012, but I think I bought it a couple or three years ago, so it had been opened a long time ago. I'd got out of the habit of proofing the yeast in warm water. My mistake.

Anyway, heat the butter and milk in the microwave or on the stove until the butter is soft and the milk warm. Let it cool enough to stick a finger in for five seconds without saying, "Ouch." Licking the milk and butter off your finger is not only allowed, but recommended ;-)

Rube the potatoes and flour together in a big bowl, add the milk, butter, yeast, chopped thyme and salt  and mix until it's come together enough to knead. Turn it out on the counter and knead it for about ten minutes. This is where I started to suspect that something was wrong. It cam together, but lacked some of the springiness that means the yeast is starting to create gluten strands from the flour. That almost happened, but then the texture started to break up a bit. I decided to stop kneading, and formed it into a ball, put it back in the bowl and covered that with some cling film and my apron. It wasn't a bad texture; it was only that it seemed to be going past the stage where the dough feels springy and alive. That's why I stopped. It should be very hard to over knead by hand, but don't bet against it.

I thought I should (finally) test the yeast. I have never had dried yeast go off before, and I've neglected it a lot in my life, but for about three years or so, I've been using fresh yeast or sourdough, and the dried yeast has gone unused. I warmed up a little milk and put a half teaspoon of yeast in it. Half an hour later, I had cold milk with mushy yeast grains. Not good.

Still, it's very hard to kill yeast, even if you're me. Rather than waste the materials and effort, I thought I'd just leave it a bit.

The next day, I peeked into the bowl. Lo and behold, the dough had risen! I left it until a full 24 hours had passed since I put it into the bowl, and decided to give it a try.

I turned it out onto a floured counter. It felt pretty good, but a bit delicate, so I decided to put it in loaf pans. Divided, formed loaves by folding it into envelope shapes and put it in the pans:

In case you're wondering, the pans are lined with non-stick baking liner. I've used it for years, because the pans rust a bit if they get wet, so I need to wash them as little as possible.

Covered again with cling film and the apron for three hours while they rose again, then into the oven at 180C for 55 minutes. The high butterfat content meant that they browned quite dark, but this morning I cut into it. There is a denser line at the bottom of the loaf, which isn't perfect, but it's a surprisingly light bread perfumed with thyme. Potato bread is a lot lighter than you might think, if you let it rise properly. There's not as much gluten in it, because of the potato, which means that the dough is delicate and easily overworked.

The second time I ever made potato bread, I rushed it, and it didn't rise long enough. It was a disaster, heavy and dense and pretty much inedible. Every other time, it's been really very tasty. I have to be careful when I toast this one, because the butter means that the crust has a tendency to burn, but it is delicious toasted.

By the way, I have no relationship to any of the companies mentioned in this blog. I just like their products.