Photo: Onion and Bay Loaf by Teck PohWhen I stumbled into the world of Sourdough 5 years ago, little did I know I was going to be addicted to making healthful bread which was also good to eat. Here I am almost five years down the road still learning and discovering new breads, and loving every minute of it. The kick of being able to make bread just out of flour and water has not diminished; I never miss watching my bread spring in the first 10 – 15 minutes in the oven. These few hundred words will not even scratch the surface of what you can learn about the Sourdough world.
What is Sourdough Bread?
I mentioned earlier that it’s thrilling to make bread out of the basic ingredients of just flour and water. It was negligent of me to omit to mention the all-important players in this elementary recipe - natural yeasts (as opposed to baker’s yeast which is saccharomyces cerevisiae) and lactobacillus. These natural yeasts rise bread in a different and slower way than bakers yeast giving Sourdough its wonderfully rustic look and good keeping qualities. Sourdough is bread with (a lot of!) flavour, and varying degrees of sourness (depending on the fermentation process and flour used).
Where do I start?
The first step is to get a starter going. A starter is simply flour and water, left to ferment and it is used as an agent to rise your bread, using wild yeast instead of commercial yeast. See the bottom of this guide for links to various tutorials across the web.
A word of warning for those of you about to embark on this adventure. I quote Jack Lang, “Why sourdough? Because it tastes better. This is the real stuff ……..You will make bread you just can’t stop eating, and that will spoil you for mass-produced bought bread.” It happened to me. And, my family (who initially fought the foreign taste). And, my friends, who give me a nudge every now and then, for bread to satisfy their craving. Hey, if it’s a good thing, you should spread it, no?
- How to make your own starter.
- How to use short kneads to handle moist doughs and bake a loaf with a yeast-based preferment.
- The subtleties of proving a loaf using a ‘biga’.
- How to shape a loaf using a hybrid recipe.
- The final crucial steps and putting it all together to bake a 100% sourdough loaf.
- Starter Experiments
Dom uses three different methods to get a starter going from scratch. One uses "organic sultanas which are fermented for a couple of days in water with a little sugar - before adding the flour..."
- Baking timetables
"One of the things that puts people off baking at home is the amount of time that it seems to take. Everyone loves the smell of freshly baked bread, and the idea of baking your own loaves, but the time involved can seem overwhelming..."
- Sourdough Bread and Artisan Baking Links - An extensive list of Bakeries, Ovens, Books, Articles, Websites, Ingredients and Courses.
- Calculators and Tools - Excel spreadsheets and online calculators.
- The Sour Dough - Mary's insightful bread section.
- Dan Lepard - Not specifically Sourdough but still worth a visit
- Stir the Pots - Jeremy Shapiro interviews people at the heart of the baking scene. Checkout his website for interviews with the likes of Dan Lepard and Maggie Glezer.