March 2014

March 2014

Sunday, April 7, 2013


I am not a bread maker – and really shouldn’t eat it due to the calorie content - but sourdough has always held a fascination for me. Of late, it seems to have become ‘rediscovered’ and ‘fashionable’ despite its origins dating right back to ancient Egyptian times. The dough is produced by using natural ‘wild’ yeasts. These organisms transform components in the flour into a simpler form that is more easily digested and produces carbonic gas causing the dough to rise. The resulting bread should have a crusty coating, with a soft and holey texture inside, and has a wholesome and rich aroma and flavour.

So, not to be outdone by several friends regularly making sourdough bread, I begged a little ‘starter’ from them - several methods to make this culture or ‘starter’ can be found on the internet - and set to this weekend to make my own.
I used 300g of starter, 500g white bread flour, 200ml warm water and a pinch of salt and mixed and kneaded the whole lot together using a dough hook in my stand- mixer. After about 5 minutes, the resulting dough was smooth, stretchy and slightly sticky. I left it in the bowl to rise for a couple of hours.

At this point I realised that I would have to improvise the vessel used for raising or ‘proving’ the dough as I don’t possess the traditional ‘banneton’ mould. After scouring the internet for possible alternatives I came up with the idea to use a kitchen colander, lined with a clean linen tea towel and dusted liberally with semolina. It was worth a trial. I shaped my half-risen dough, placed it in the colander, covered it, crossed my fingers, and then left it overnight to rise.  

To my delight, by morning, the dough had risen to the top of the colander and I carefully turned it out onto a hot baking tray and baked my bread at 220C (fan oven) for ½ an hour.

Et voila!  My very first delicious golden sourdough loaf had been produced. It wasn’t the perfect shape nor has it a hugely holey crumb but I am happy that it’s certainly acceptable and this novice bread maker – after feeding and nurturing my ‘starter’ from Monday to Friday – will certainly have another practice session next weekend.

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