Sunday 6 October 2013

Thursday Baking

Third time lucky. An old English adage. Perhaps this time expressed with a hint of sarcasm.

We are now about two and a half days' sail away from the Atlantic island of St Helena and still we are having weather like we are in Cape Town, cold and reasonably miserable. Not what you would expect in this area. Like I said, third time lucky.

I managed to get some sun sights done today. Two sets, in fact. Through thick clouds, even though it took me almost ten minutes to get sufficient view of the sun to get three sights. This in an effort to get past the dead reckoning inaccuracies that plagued my navigation calculations to now.

My faith in my calculations were restored after finding that my first set of readings reduced to a fix quite closer to where the GPS would put us. The interesting point of these sights is that they give lines of position that cross as a result of taking them a few minutes apart. I shall look into that one of these days when the sun is out and the sea is calmer.

I am now over my sinus infection and can feel the positive vibe returning. That feverish, hangover-like feeling when your body is battling an bacterial infection is gone. Thank heavens for small mercies.

Today I rose from my bed feeling in a creative mood again, so I baked another loaf of bread. It was about time and would be the last baking before we arrive at St Helena. I made a loaf of mixed white bread and brown bread flour, adding a little sugar to help the fermentation and some caraway seeds for flavour.

The dough was made on the soft side and swallowed about a third of a cup of flour from the kneading board. This one was turned out on the kneading board and given ten minutes of rest. Then it was kneaded lightly and shaped by folding gently.

The loaf was then left for forty minutes to rest and have a second rise. The oven was brought to a low temperature, the loaf inserted and baked for forty five minutes. Then I doused the flame and left the loaf in the closed oven for another twenty minutes before turning it out on to a cooling rack for another twenty minutes.

This loaf came out the best of all my baking experiments to date. It had a nicely caramelised and crisp crust with a fluffy and slightly sweet tasting crumb. The sweet taste actually does not adequately describe the taste. It was actually quite complex, with flavours developing as you were chewing from the enzymes in your mouth. A wonderful result indeed.

I use measures by volume as we have no scales on board for weighing ingredients. My cup is one of the coffee mugs. The teaspoon is on the large side, but not quite a dessert spoon size. The vegetable fat comes in a small block from which I cut a slice. The volume of the slice is an estimation, but not too far off.

Don't add more water, the dough will be too soft. This one swallowed another third of a cup of flour during kneading before it got less sticky. It was still too soft to knead, so I just folded it for eight minutes or so.


2 ½ cups stone ground whole wheat white bread flour

2 cups stone ground whole wheat brown bread flour

2 cups water

2 teaspoons salt

2 teaspoons vegetable fat

3 teaspoons sugar

10 grams (1 sachet) instant yeast

1 dessert spoon caraway seeds for the dough

1 teaspoon caraway seeds for garnish

1 dessert spoon cooking oil for covering during rise


Mix all the flour, salt, caraway seeds and sugar thoroughly, then rub the fat into the flour mix. Add to this the yeast and ix through before adding the water all at once. Mix the dough thoroughly, ensuring that all the flour is taken up into the mix.

Turn this soft dough out on to a floured kneading board and fold for ten minutes. The dough will swallow some more flour from the kneading board and will get drier as a result. Take care not to allow too much flour into the dough in this fashion, else you will end up with a dough on the dry side.

Pat the dough with the cooking oil, cover and leave to rise until doubled in volume. This took an hour for my batch of dough. Turn the risen dough gently out on to a floured kneading board and leave to rest for ten minutes. Gently knead the dough by pressing and folding. I used this technique to fold the dough into the required shape and ended with an elongated blob with the seam side up. The seam was twisted into little points as a decoration instead of hiding the seam at the bottom of the loaf.

Sprinkle the last caraway seeds on top and leave to rise for another forty five minutes. Make diagonal cuts on top of the loaf to allow for even oven spring. Heat the oven to 200ºC/390ºF and bake for forty five minutes. Douse the flame and leave the loaf in the oven for another twenty minutes, then turn it out on a cooling rack for another twenty minutes. This will allow the steam inside the loaf to dissipate and the crumb to develop properly.

And, again, remember to use pure butter...

Bon appetit!

This blog post also linked to Yeastspotting!

Authored by Johan Zietsman

Last updated on 2013-10-03

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