As the pandemic panic continues to build, I ventured out to my local megamart for some of what my mother would call “the basics” (Salt, Sugar, Coffee, Tea, Flour). At the bread counter I note that not a crumb is available. Even the “Healthy, Gluten-Free” stuff is gone.
Time of start practicing some of those skills I learned from my mother and grandmother. I.E. Baking bread, now to do this in a healthy manner, I’ll fall back to an ancient, (at least ancient to the COVIDIOTS..) technique called SourDough.
It is NOT complex, or hard, just requires something we may all have plenty of … TIME….
Sourdough bread is made by the fermentation of dough using naturally occurring lactobacilli and yeast. Sourdough bread has a more sour taste and better inherent keeping qualities than breads made with baker’s yeast, due to the lactic acid produced by the lactobacilli.
The preparation of sourdough begins with a pre-ferment (the “starter” or “leaven”, also known as the “chief”, “chef”, “head”, “mother” or “sponge”), a fermented mixture of flour and water, containing a colony of microorganisms including wild yeast and lactobacilli. The purpose of the starter is to produce a vigorous leaven and to develop the flavour of the bread. In practice there are several kinds of starters, as the ratio of water to flour in the starter (hydration) varies. A starter may be a liquid batter or a stiff dough.
Obtaining a satisfactory rise from sourdough takes longer than a dough leavened with baker’s yeast because the yeast in a sourdough is less vigorous. In the presence of lactic acid bacteria, however, some sourdough yeasts have been observed to produce twice the gas of baker’s yeast. The acidic conditions in sourdough, along with the bacteria also producing enzymes that break down proteins, result in weaker gluten and may produce a denser finished product.
The starter is mixed with flour and water to make a final dough of the desired consistency. The starter weight is usually 13% to 25% of the total flour weight, though formulas may vary. The dough is shaped into loaves, left to rise, and then baked. A number of ‘no knead’ methods are available for sourdough bread. Due to the length of time sourdough bread takes to proof, many bakers may refrigerate their loaves prior to baking. This process is known as ‘retardation’ to slow down the proofing process. This process has the added benefit of developing a richer flavoured bread.
Quick Sourdough Starter
- Large Glass Jar
- 2 ea Baking Potato Peeled, large cubes
- 2 cups Water FILTERED / BOTTLED (see notes)
- 1 pkg Dry Yeast (The Cheat)
- 1 tsp Granulated Sugar (More Cheat)
- 1 cup AP FLour
- In an saucepan over medium heat, add water and potatoes, simmer until potatoes are tender, 15-25 minutes
- Strain potatoes, reserve the cooking water, and cool water to ~ 100 degrees F
- Combine cooking water, sugar, yeast and allow to sit. Yeast should activate in 15 minutes, (I.E. prove the yeast)
- Once the yeast has proven, beat in the flour and cover with a dish towel and place in warm area.
- Allow to rise and ferment for 24 hours.
- Once can now remove 1 cup starter, to replace 1 package of yeast in a recipe
- You will need to reserve at least 1/4 cup starter to keep the batch going
- DO NOT USE TAP WATER, It probably has chlorine, which will kill the starter
- Use Charcoal filtered
- Use Water you have boiled and cooled
- Caring for the Starter: Each time you remove a portion of the starter for a recipe, reserve at least 1/4 cup and replace the amount you have taken out with equal amounts of flour and water.
- One can adjust the feeding percentages to vary the taste
- I.E. Large dose feedings keep the acidity, (twang) low.
- I put this through a week of "building", take out 1 cup of starter, add 1 cup flour, 1 cup water, daily.
- I.E. Use 1 cup of starter, replace with 1 cup flour, 1 cup water and BEAT.
- Yes, you can store this in the refrigerator, I will usually do this AFTER I have my starter established. The slower fermentation in the fridge yields much more twang
- One the starter is established one must maintain the starter, by feeding every 3 days or so.
- Feed by removing 1 cup of the starter (DO NOT THROW THAT AWAY) and adding 1 cup of flour and 1 cup of warm water. Whisk until blended. Cover loosely and return to the refrigerator.
- Whence you wish to bake, remove the starter from the fridge.
- Feed the starter and wait 2 hours (warm up and get active)
- Divide your starter and replace unused portion back into fridge
- Continue with your recipe
- That starter you just removed, what to do with it?
- Bake Bread
- Make Rolls
- Make Waffles
- Make Sourdough biscuits ... (post forthcoming)
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