Homemade sourdough!

29 Mar

The king and queen went to Tasmania in February, and had a great time. They brought us back some presents, the best of which was some Organic Sourdough Wheat Starter from here.

It came as a dehydrated starter mix to which I had to add water, and leave it to ferment for 12-24 hours until there were signs of fermentation such as “strong aromas, growth and/or bubbles”. Eww!! But luckily these things did happen! I had to ‘feed’ (all the terms when talking about sourdough are so creepy!) it once before I could use it to make bread. This involved taking 50 grams of the original starter and adding 200 grams of flour and water, and leaving to ferment again.

Starter pre-fermentation 

So once that long process of getting the starter ready is done, I can start the bread-making process! This starts with adding 1 kg of flour to 600ml water (at 15-20 degrees celcius) and 400g of the starter. This is left to sit for 20-60 minutes.

After this you add 21g of salt and knead for 5-10 minutes until smooth and elastic. Leave in a warm place (20-26 degrees celcius) to rise until the dough has risen to 1.5 times its size.

At this point, you pour the dough out onto the bench, fold it several times (without getting rid of all the gases) and make the bread into loaf sizes, and shape them into balls. I made 2 loaves from this amount.

The dough balls are left to sit for 20 minutes, then the balls are gently flattened, and the dough folded to make the top more narrow than the bottom. The dough is then rolled top to bottom to create a cylinder/oblong-y shape. These pieces are then meant to be placed in floured bannetons but I sadly didn’t have any of these, so I just used oiled loaf tins. The loaves are then left to double in size.

Finally, the top of the loaves are cut with a sharp knife, and cooked in a 240 degree oven for 45 minutes, gradually turning down the temperature to 180 degrees. The recipe that came with the starter also recommended steam at the start of the bake, which is achieved by pouring boiling water straight into a pre-heated baking pan in the oven!

And ta-da! Bread!

It was so delish!! We ate it with fancy butter from Meander Valley in Tasmania, and sometime there just is nothing better than bread and butter!

I’ve made the sourdough twice now, and its been a success both times (yay!). The first time I just used white flour, and the bread was perfect – nice soft crumb, dense but with a crunchy outside, slightly sour but not overwhelming taste. The second time I used half white, half spelt flour (also from tasmania!). Although the texture was nice with the spelt, the taste was a little too strong for me, and the bread a little too dense. I’ll have to keep experimenting!

Till next time,

Alice

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