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Wednesday, September 22, 2010

The Grand Sourdough Experiment

So heres the deal - everything I have read about bread baking all points to Sourdough. Capital letter. And from my tries in the past, it has always been difficult to get a really good loaf.

That is until I got a random packet of Doves Organic Rye flour with an easy sourdough recipe on the side.

After six days of painstaking waiting, building up the started and finally baking it it turned out...OK.

Im not giving up on sourdough, and have started a starter two days ago, in a basic strong, white bread flour.

Its alive. ALLLIIIIIVVEE! The yeast is doing its thing and making the whole mess of starter dough move, bubble and spit. It looks amazing, in a really primordial way.

As soon as I figure out how to stick a  photo in a post, then I will prove it (no pun intended..)

The first time I ever tasted sourdough was in San Francisco when me and my (now hubby) were dating. And lets face it, thats the best place in the world to taste your first sourdough. I fell in love with it (and with the guy) and bought cultures to bring home and create myself. Unfortunatley I didnt realise that in order to keep the starter from dying on you, you NEVER freeze it. Well after two loaves made, and the novelty of the sheer amount of attention the process takes, I thought I would freeze the starter to make more loaves at a later date.

The starter keeled over and died.

I will get around to sending for some more from teh home of sourdough, but until then I will be using my cheaty methods and adding a pinch of yeast and letting it develop over a few days.

So anyway - here is how you make a sourdough starter -

200g of flour (rye is traditional, but any bread flour will work)
a pinch of yeast
mix in enough hand-hot water to make a sticky, shaggy mess of dough. Sloppy is the word, here, folks
cover with cling film and put somewhere warm
feed with a little more (like 50g) of flour and enough water to keep the same consistency every day over the next four days.

With any luck you will have a big, bubbly mess by the end of it that smells very strongly of beer. Fermented bread. Wonderful.

Next post will have how to make the actual loaf ;)

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