Monday, 13 August 2012

Sourdough goodness .....

As promised a long while back lets talk sourdough! Ive been making sourdough bread on and off for a couple of years now, I love it. So dense, aromatic and chewy, better for you too apparently! Amazing with blue cheese and quince jelly.... anyhow I digress.

When I first started making the bread, I was very lucky to be given some super ancient rye starter from a German friend. This starter had been handed down within her family for years. It made lovely bread, but unfortunately somehow, (I blame it on the plastic container it was accidentally put in to) it went mouldy, I know, couldn't believe it. Id had it for over a year, and now found myself with no starter.
Now for those of you who are not familiar with sourdough baking, the starter is the star ingredient. Its the yeast, it is what makes the bread rise and taste delicious! Each time you bake a loaf you use the original starter, make it into the sponge (more on this later) , then put some of the sponge aside to be the starter for the next loaf. Its a never ending cycle, unless it goes mouldy!

Being starterless, I had toyed with the idea of making my own but had always put it into the too hard basket, until I came across this blog post. It didn't look too hard,  the instructions were clear, and how cool is it to have starter specific to your own home!

So if you are interested in making your own starter, here's how I did it. One ceramic bowl, 100gms of rye flour and just enough luke warm water so it mixes to pancake batter consistency. Glad wrap the top of the bowl and put somewhere warm, by the fire in this house. Voila it really is that simple.

Starter day 1

 Basically the next few days you just feed the starter more flour and water, and around day 3 or 4 you will have to start discarding some starter or you will end up with bucket loads (lovely detailed instructions in link above). By the end of the week you should have a lovely bubbly, sour, yeasty smelling batter. Now you are ready to bake!

Starter day 7, ready to bake!

There are a huge amount of recipes out there for sourdough bread. I often use a traditianal french one that comes out really dense and chewy. It is a bit of a long process but very worth it. The other ive enjoyed recently is from the recipe off the link above. I have adapted it slightly to suit, as you do. I like this one as it cooks beautifully in a loaf tin, and is much less fiddly to make.
There you go, sourdough bread really isn't that scary. You do need to be patient as it takes a lot longer to rise then normal bread, but the wait is worth it and if you plan it right most of it can be done over night!

The best thing of baking in a loaf tin is toast!!

Basic Sourdough bread:

Make sponge:
Tip your starter into a bowl, add 100g ms of rye flour and enough water to bring to right consistency. Leave somewhere warm for a few hours until nice and bubbly.

Take half a cup of the starter out (this is for next time), then add to bowl: 100gms of rye flour, 100gms of wholemeal flour, 300gms of high grade white flour, 2 tbsps of olive oil, 1tsp of brown sugar, 2 tspns of salt. Add enough lukewarm water to form dough, tip on to a floured surface and knead for 10mins or so. (I usually do this step in the evening and let the dough rise over night next to the fire)
Pop dough in to an oiled bowl, cover and let rise to double in size.
Preheat oven to 200 degrees, shape and place dough on to pizza stone, oven tray or whatever you choose to bake your bread on, spritz oven with water and bake for 30-35 mins. Bread should sound hollow when taped.
If I'm baking bread in a loaf tin, I do the rising in the tin as well.
I also as mentioned above rise the dough through the night, then bake the bread in the morning,

Happy baking , Sarah xxx

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