Thursday, August 23, 2012

Sourdough blues

I really like making complicated food.  The steps involved in making hard cheeses for example, excite me.  Deciding on three complimentary types of stuffing to make turducken was also fun.

But I'm not quite sure I have the passion for sourdough bread.

In my previous post I mentioned that I found a book on bread making and was very enthused with the techniques I'd learnt.  I've enjoyed playing around with different types of flour, purple wheat being a favourite. And it wouldn't surprise anyone who knows me that I impulse-purchased a packet of sour dough starter when shopping for interesting varieties of flour.  The supplier can be found at Commonsense Organics or on Trademe.

If you are unfamiliar with genuine sourdough you spend a few days building up a starter (five or six days when using the sachet of sourdough grains).  Each day you weigh water and flour and add to the mixture.  Once you have your starter you are within two days of getting a loaf of bread!!!  You then need to create the 'mother' starter.  You add some flour and water to your starter and then leave it for about eight hours or overnight.

Now you are ready to add the rest of the ingredients - more flour and water and a small bit of salt.  This needs to double in size and should take a couple of hours.  When I say a couple of hours if your starter isn't that great or not yet at full potency it can take most of the day to double in size.  I drew a line with a marker pen around the bowl so that I knew if it had risen (I need external validation - I am too impatient if left to me to guess)!

Once the dough has doubled in size you turn it out into a tin or tray for shaping and more growing.  You treat the dough gently (unlike other breads you do not knead again).  I found this step very slow, and the hour or two that the instructions suggested in reality took much longer.  In fact, I ran out of time so put the mixture in the fridge overnight and bought round to room temperature the next morning. 

Finally, about 2pm it was ready to cook.  I preheated the oven for the suggested time period but didn't take into account that I would probably run out of time due to school run requirements.  The bread was slightly undercooked.
Starter culture and 'mother' in the foreground

Second batch of bread - great flavour, heaps of work.

This was actually my second loaf of sour dough.  The first batch was very unspectacular and barely rose.  It also used a lot of flour - and then you only need 50grams of the mixture for the 'mother.'  Given that the original starter used 140grams of flour a day you either need a lot of friends wanted the culture, a lot of waste or a fridge full of starter. 

I suspect each batch gets better, but I'm not sure that I have the planning skills to be able to pull off the two-day turnaround.  I would seriously have to be making a loaf every day for it to be worthwhile, and we just don't eat that much bread!

I may just add some of the starter to a standard wholemeal loaf with a pinch of commercial yeast - this should provide some of the flavour - and it is a very tangy flavour but cut down production time to something a little more reasonable.  After all, I am 'Make-Do Mum' and I think that the daily palaver of genuine sour dough bread production is more than I truly care for.

No comments:

Post a Comment