Brisbane Local Food

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Re: Sourdough starter for Dianne, Christa and Anne

I'm posting this as a discussion for the ladies who got a starter today. It's ok in the plastic Baggie for a couple of days in the fridge but soon it would be good to put it into the jar you plan to keep it in and feed it with 1/4 cup of plain flour and a little less than 1/4 cup of water (best if previously boiled and cooled).  After it becomes bubbly and frothy in a few hours you can divide it in half (each half should be close to 50g) then feed each half the same again.  Put one half back in the fridge until the next time you want to make bread and leave the other on the bench.  When the starter you have left out gets bubbly and active again you are ready to make dough - or delay it by feeding again.

To make a basic loaf of sourdough with this starter I use a recipe based on 'everyday sourdough.' Recipe of Emilie  Raffa from the blog 'The Clever Carrot' and the brilliant book 'Artisan Sourdough Made Simple'.  Emilie is was given her original starter by the same lady who gave me mine -Celia of 'Fig Jam and Lime Cordial' blog.  The reason this is significant is that this particular starter performs perfectly for all the recipes in the book.

So the basic recipe from memory is:-

50 g of starter 

350g water

500g bread flour

9g of salt (about 1 1/4 teaspoon)

You just combine the lot ( I mix the salt with water first, then starter then flour). Many recipes say to add the salt after the other ingredients have been mixed together and left for 20minutes or so but I have never found it made a bit enough difference in the texture of the bread to bother. I mix it together roughly, then leave it for half an hour. Then I pull up one side of the dough and fold it on top, turn the dough a quarter turn, pull and fold. I do this for about ten folds and soon the dough becomes more smooth and elastic. The turning shapes it into a nice ball which I flip over so the seam is down. I put a little bit of oil on the ball so it doesn't dry out, cover with a damp tea towel and leave on the counter overnight (or 10 hours during day) or fridge during summer.

In the morning, I work the now puffy ball out of the bowl without deflating the dough too much and transfer onto a piece of parchment paper, usually sprinkled with polenta. I lift that paper and dough back into the bowl and cover again to rise. I find in about 45minutes it is ready to slash with a sharp knife or razor blade. I lift it into a Dutch oven (with lid) or put into a pie pan with a steel bowl upside down over it  and put into a hot 250c oven. If I use a soaked Romatopf clay baker it goes into a cold oven.  If possible another pan in the bottom of the oven with some water in it will give some steam which can help with 'oven spring'.

After 30minutes covered, I take off the lid and leave for another 20 minutes to brown. I usually turn down the oven to 200 at this point. When done take it out and wait until cool to slice.  

Once you have made this recipe a couple of times you can play with other flours etc, add fruit and nuts etc.  Better yet, buy Emilie's terrific book and make her recipes.

Hope this helps you get started with sourdough. 

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Thanks so much for posting that info, Cathie.  It may take a couple of weeks for the book to arrive in the post. So the recipe will be handy.  This method for mixing and baking sourdough bread is very much the same as the one I was going to use.  

Is there a reason for boiling the water when feeding the starter? 

I had used filtered water.

Filtered is great. Just better to have unchlorinated water and I believe boiling removes the chlorine.

You can also leave tap water in an open container for 24 hours and the chlorine will dissipate.

You would need to check where your water supply is coming from as for Brisbane Water, Ammonia is added to the water so as the Chlorine doesn't dissipate so quickly. I always use boiled water for my Cheese, Cordial, Bread and Preserving Making.

Actually for current Brisbane chlorinated practices, allowing the water to stand will not remove the more stable chlorine being used here. A easy method is to purchase water conditioner from a pet shop and make up the volume you need.

I keep a barrel of de-chlorinated water on hand for ferments and sourdough. The conditioner is easy to use -- and is cheap.

People with aquariums need to remove these chemicals because they kill the fish.

You could also use tank water -- so long as you boil it first,.

I stand corrected.  Last time I take advice from the US on these matters :)  I get spring water delivered, so I use that for all cooking and drinking, even for watering seedlings.

Che, I wasn't sure if you were in another shire to us that had different practices. I also use a lot of Spring Water but it does get expensive when you have to use a lot. Where do you get yours from?

Sorry to take so long getting back, Dianne.  I get mine from spingwaterman.  They're based in Toowoomba.  It's $11 for a 19 ltr bottle and $99 each year to hire the base.  Eventually I want to get one of those ceramic ones that sit on the bench.

Another alternative is to buy a stand-alone water distiller. I use it for making coffee, it doesn't kludge up the coffee machine as does tap water. I have inline filters on my town water - a sediment filter and a chlorine filter. Reduces the krud but doesn't take out the medication stuff forget its name.

Anyway the distiller I use and recommend after trying several others over the years, is a Divine 4L which takes 3.5 hours to make 4L of distilled water. You end up with water without any krud.

Thanks so Much for the entry Cathie - I have just purchased 'Artisan Sourdough Made Simple' BY Emilie Raffa from fishpond.com.au $29.95.  I usually buy my books there. Thanks so Much Cathie. We will all have to have a Sour Dough Bread Baking Taste Off one day with all the different bakers breads. What do you think?  

Cathie one thing I should have asked before buying the book does it have metric weights as well as  imperial as it is a book published in USA? 

Absolutely has weights in grams, Dianne.  I want to work my way through all her recipes. Apparently her Foccacia (looks thin and crispy) is worth the cost of the book alone, according to Celia (Fig Jam blog).  One omission in the book is Sourdough pancakes which I have a good recipe for and will post soon. It is very easy on my digestion which is not the case with regular pancakes.

I made the Pancakes a couple of times before my Sour Dough Starter gave up and they were yummy. I also water down any Starter that I would through away and put it into the garden as I do with my Whey from the Cheese Making. 

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