After saying I would never again bake bread ... Scarlett’s blog inspired me to have another go and this time using Sourdough rather than yeast.
Scurrying about the internet brought a predictably large amount of conflicting information. Instead of remaining confused, I’ve thrown in my lot with Yoke Mardewi and will go with her suggestions until I know a bit more about what I am doing (I should live so long!). She wrote the book for Australian home baker (Wild Sourdough) and the instructions seem straight-forward enough.
Learning that the starter comes from the grain itself gave some familiarity since I’ve made Sauerkraut which uses the wild yeasts on the Cabbages - so no surprise that organically-grown is regarded as the most useful. I bought some stoneground organic Rye flour from the bulk shop in Morayfield (Simply Good) and some conventional (no organic available) wholemeal Wheat for the bread. The Rye is for the starter and the Wheat for the bread. The Rye flour starter is the better regarded (according to what I read) as it’s slower to spoil as Wheat-based starter works quickly and goes off quickly.
A fascinating fact (is it really proven?) is that the fast-acting commercial yeasts make bread very quickly but don’t allow the minerals to be available to the consumer. According to Yoke, the sourdough because it works over several days, allows the bread’s minerals to be available and best of all, reduces the amount of starch so sourdough has a GI of less than 50. I’d love to see some real scientific evidence for that but it sounds reasonable so I’ll go along with it. If what she says is true it might account for some of the number of Coeliacs we have - leaving aside that diagnosis is better than it was.
It’s chilly and the starter appreciates temperatures between 20℃ and 30℃; it’s less than that indoors so I moved the basins to the top of the electric hot water heater which did make a difference. Shrouded in a towel and a tea-towel the contents have increased activity. The flavour of the Rye starter is changing by the day and is now a nice sweetish-lemony kind of flavour. The Wheat-based starter smells ‘Yoghurty’ but hasn’t developed the breadth of flavour - it hasn’t been going as long though. But it is the Wheat-based which goes into the bread, the Rye is the ‘original’. The starter has a gelatinous or mucilaginous consistency rather like Kefir.
The author I’m following uses 500g of starter per kilo of flour. It seems a lot and it was a lot since I had my starter going for a few days and it was bubbling along but found there was only 250g available without depleting the original too much. So I halved the recipe. Maybe not the best idea I have had but I needed to give it a whirl and had to start somewhere.
The bread while looking a little weird, tastes just fine, nice and nutty and a very crisp crust. There’s some holes in the bread similar to the holey bread pictured in the book. Not sure if I want such holey bread but I’ll live with it for the time.
It was fascinating first steps into real bread-making, there’s much to know and many questions still to be answered. I’ll be making more in the days to come and hope to have a loaf looking like a loaf when I get some bread tins rather than using a Pizza stone to bake it on.
When we ate the bread quite hot, the crust was very crisp and tough to chew. The next day the bread is still moist (stored in paper in a plastic bin) and the crust while chewey is much softer. The sour flavour has developed a little too.
Update: 16th June 2011: I've had another go at baking an almost-wholemeal sourdough loaf. I am trying to eliminate the tough crust so added some white bakers flour, added some oil (actually Coconut oil not the Olive you might expect), some honey and left it to rise for, as it turned out, 22 hours. And rise it did!
The recipe called for 2 or 3 rises but since the making of this loaf had taken nearly 24 hours so far, I figured on seeing what I got when I baked this.
Minus the cling-wrap! I did cut it with a sharp knife to stop it from breaking, but that didn't work ...
And this is the proof of the baking ...
It's about double the height of the 100 percent wholemeal loaf I made originally. The crust is still a bit tough but quite edible. And wonder of wonders, it tastes like sourdough!
Quite pleasant and I've made some progress but need some expert help. I checked Elisabeth Fekonia's site to find she is running a Sourdough workshop at Scarborough on 25th June. We're booked in. Watch this space ;-)
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