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Friday, February 3, 2012

Adventures in Sourdough

We have a lovely active sourdough starter which is around 5 months old now and makes the most amazing bread. Although there are a lot of ways you can do it, we thought we should share how we did it.

We pretty much followed the recipe and method HERE though we substituted malt for the honey as that is what we have. There are lots of ways to make a starter if you don't already have yeast, but they seem to take longer and you get varied results. Once this process is done, you just need to make sure you feed it regularly so that the yeast doesn't die.

We found that if we fed it the 1/2 cup water and 1 cup flour, it would always vary as to the consistency we got after it had been fed, so now we feed by weight. Usually I feed 100g plain flour and 100g luke-warm water.
I found this information on a website that I can no longer find, but it has worked for us so far.

You will notice that when you check your starter (before you feed it) there will be a green, grey or brown liquid sitting on the top- don't worry- this is just the alcohol from the fermenting yeast. If it turns pink or the starter smells bad (its meant to smell alcoholic), then your starter has gone bad. If you get to this point, then there might be a way to fix it here

I should have taken a pic of our starter before I stirred it, but here it is in all its wonderful, gloopy glory.
mmm potent...

I have experimented with a few different recipes but this one seems to work really well, and is done all by weight, which is much more accurate than volume. I cant, for the life of me, find where I originally got this recipe from, though it has been a little modified. Apologies to whoever created it!

Sourdough using a 'fed' starter
*your starter needs to have been fed a couple of hours before using until its doubled in size

300g fed starter (~ 1 3/8 cup)
500g flour (~ 2 7/8 cups)
2 TB oil (we use rice bran)
3 tsp sugar (sometimes we substitute honey or malt)
2 tsp salt
enough luke warm water to form a dough

Add the flour to the starter gradually. 
Add in enough water to form a kneadable dough (but you dont want it too sticky) 
Mix in the rest of the ingredients. 
[NB: I also added a handful of kibbled wheat]

Knead the dough for 6-8 minutes until elastic (make an indent and if it springs back, its elastic) 
see here for some great info on basic breadmaking

Then I clean the bowl, oil it a little, put the ball of dough back in and let it rest for 15 mins.

This information I got from reading, re-reading and reading a bit more, a bread book by a kiwi lady called Take Our Bread (by Marcelle Pilkinton). I made bread before reading this, but through her book I've really learned how to make bread.

After the rest period, form into loaves (or whatever- I love to make plaits) cover and set aside to rise for 1-2 hours, or until its doubled in size. The day I made this load, it took around 3, but it was a relatively cold day and I dont think I let my fed starter sit for long enough before using.

Before baking, brush with an eggwash or milkwash if desired (and it does make it look awesome)

Dont preheat the oven. Place in a cold oven and turn to 190 bake.

Bake for 30-45 mins or until the loaves sound hollow when tapped and look golden brown.

Let cool for 1 hour before slicing.


We are still newbies to the whole idea of sourdough, so any advice would be warmly welcome.