So! It’s time for a little magic in the kitchen…
Everyone has heard of sourdough bread and maybe some of you have tried it. It is liked for its “wild” and a little “sour” flavor… Most of you may have bought it at the bakery but might not have thought to make it at home. You might think it’s something too strange or complicated or difficult to make and you don’t want to take any chances!
If you have never baked your own bread at home you might want to give it a try and see how it works out for you! It is truly worth the effort and it’s not as difficult as you may think! Nothing can beat freshly baked homemade bread. Read the article and see what you think by the end of it!
Everything starts with air…
In the air that we breathe, there is oxygen, nitrogen and carbon dioxide. Apart from these, there are also a plethora of other microorganisms. Some such microorganisms are developed in the dough and help it rise. These are the ones you want to bring into the dough from the air to make your sourdough.
All microorganisms need food in order to grow and reproduce. The foods we provide them are the sugars that exist in the flour. There are so many thousands of different kinds of microorganisms in the air that fight amongst themselves to see which ones will survive! You want to make sure to keep the “good” ones. Microorganisms are generally creatures of habit. They like the keep the conditions surrounding them unchanged. Each one of them has different kinds of ideal conditions for their growth.
These facts are very important and will help to keep them in mind while making an effort to make bread.
So let’s take a look and see what is needed in order for you to make sourdough. It is a microorganism culture in a medium consisting of dough and water. Since microorganisms are creatures of habit, you have to offer them the same sustenance continuously. It is also good to give them their food at the same time. While your microorganisms are few, they don’t need so much food. The more they multiply the more food they need.
And what is their food? Flour! But what kind of flour? Wheat flour? Barley? Rye? Whole wheat? Soft? Hard? The best kind of flour to use to make sourdough is rye flour…. but any of them can be used for a good result. You can also get very good results by using a mixture of flours, so I will use a mixture of rye flour or whole wheat flour and hard flour.
In order to keep our little creatures of habit happy, I suggest you make your flour mixture from the start so that they can always have the same thing to eat. To make this, combine 200 g of rye flour or whole wheat flour and 200 g of hard flour in a bowl. Mix well, cover securely with lid and store in a cabinet.
The next ingredient is water. The best kind of water to use is spring water or filtered water. You can also use good quality bottled water. Make sure you leave it in a bowl overnight so that you get rid of any chlorine it contains.
What else do you need? You need spoons, glass jars, like the ones used for jam and a scale. The scale is very important so that you can make sure you are always feeding your sourdough the same quantity of food.
The Sourdough process…
On the first day, begin at 9. Weigh a clean jam jar. Write down the weight on a pad so you can keep track and add 40 g of your flour mix and 40 g of water. Mix thoroughly with a spoon and seal lid. Place in a warm, quite dark space in the kitchen.
On the second day, use a spoon to remove and discard as much of the mixture as necessary so that the mixture’s weight is 40 g. Add another 40 g of your flour mixture and 40 g of water. Mix thoroughly and store in the same place.
On the third day, check to see if your microorganisms have started to grow in your mixture. This can be seen in the form of little bubbles on the surface of the mixture or on the bottom of the jar or even on the sides. Another way to check this is by the smell of the mixture which should begin to smell a little sour.
Even if none of these things have occurred do not despair! Keep on… Remove enough of the mixture again so that you are left with 40 g and add another 40 g of the flour mixture and 40 g of water. Mix and store in the same place.
On the morning of the fourth day you should have more bubbles. If you don’t, don’t worry… they will start to form slowly. A good tip to know is that the cooler the surroundings the slower the process. Gradually you will begin to see more and more bubbles appear in the mixture and the smell will remind you of the smell of vinegar.
Throw out all but 40 g of the mixture again and add 40 g of the flour mixture and 40 g of water. Mix and store.
The fifth day will be the last day that you feed the sourdough once. You should now see quite a bit of activity in your jar. Large and small bubbles and an intense smell. If your mixture is quite thin, add a few more grams of flour when “feeding”.
Once again, throw out enough of the mixture so that only 40 g of it are left in the jar. Add 40 g of the flour mixture and 40 g of water. Mix and store in the same place.
On the sixth day begin to feed it double the amount. At 9.00 in the morning, throw out all but 40 g of the mixture and add 40 g of the flour mixture and 40 g of water. Mix and store.
Do the same thing at 5 in the afternoon…
On the seventh and eighth day, feed it twice again, once in the morning and once in the afternoon. Your mixture should really be active now! It should rise and be quite strong! If you want to start kneading it, prepare the mixture in the evening or else continue to feed it.
Of course if you don’t knead it constantly there is no reason to feed it daily. If, for instance, you knead it once a week (every Sunday let’s say), after baking you can refrigerate your jar of sourdough and remove it on Thursday.
So then on Thursday morning you can feed it an hour later and once again on Thursday evening. On Friday and Saturday feed it 3 times a day and on Saturday night prepare the dough that will be kneaded on Sunday.
Keep your sourdough refrigerated the rest of the time and you will have no problems! Now as far as kneading goes… we can look into that in my next diary!!