I made my first sourdough bread at the end of 2009. The beginner's guide took me through getting started. I've been baking most weekends since, and in the past month have started to feel really satisfied with the results, both in terms of the quality of the bread, and the consistency of my success. Thanks to all for creating this resource. It has made sourdough more accesible to me.
One misconception I had when I first began baking bread was that I needed all sorts of fancy equipment in order to produce really great bread. This site cleared that up for me. I've spent no more than 20$ on my equipment (15$ dough scraper for easy cleanup and a 5$ second hand pizza stone). However, now that I am feeling comfortable with the basics I am more inclined to experiment with different ingredients and types of flours. Currently I use Woolworths brand plain white flour (50%) and Woolworths brand plain wholemeal flour (50%) for my bread. First question: Will there be noticeable changes in the resulting bread if I start using stone ground flours? Second question: I'm in Melbourne Australia. Where can I buy good flour?
Indeed, stone-grounded flour is different from cylinder grounded flour because of the mechanical aspect, the nature itself of the stone, the heat produced during the process, etc...
Usually, grounded flours are very interesting, especially when the germ hasn't been removed during the milling process.
A good way to find nice flours usually is to go in an organic shop. By the way, it is really important to get organic flour for wholemeal or semi-wholemeal flours because of the big amount of pesticides which can be found on the brans...
An other remark which is important when you use wholemeal flour : use natural leaven for the fermentation or very long yeasted fermentation. Why would you say ? Just because... ;-) Because of the phytic acid which makes a non-digestable complex with the minerals of the flour. So, using an acidic fermentation will activate the phytases (enzyme which hydrolyses the phytic acid) which are naturally found on the bran (the solution is just beside the problem). So, you will unlock the minerals and increase the rate of vitamin B analogs (the phytic acid destroyed is transformed in inositol).
The presence of phytic acid explain the addition of minerals in many flours in anglo-saxon countries due to the extra-fast fermentation processes used (ex.: Creta in UK).
That is great. This encourages me to step up my search for a good flour source. Thanks for the tip about organic too. I'll be calling around today to see where I can get some organic stoneground flour in Melbourne.
I don't think there's any doubt that quality organic stoneground flours make an appreciable difference to the quality of the bread you turn out. There's more on this topic on another current post: see here.
One good place that I know of is Marg and Maree's at Heidelberg (Melway 31 H4). I am sure that there are heaps of others (I have been to a place in Croydon as well). I have also found Lauckes Wallaby available in the supermarkets to be fairly satisfactory as well.
I'm new to this site and forum but my sister and I have been baking our own bread for a few months and have taken different approaches to learning. I have been consistently only baking white bread but trying to vary one thing each time I bake, whereas my sister changes loads every loaf she bakes and is much more creative than me. That said comparing notes is very interesting!
The one thing I've noticed though, is that different brands of "strong bread flour" make hugely different styles of bread. I'm sure the brands I use here in the UK will be different to what you have available but I was quite shocked at the difference between 2 loaves - both using identical kneading processes, same batch of yeast (I'm very, very new to sourdough) and both cooked in the same oven at the same temperatures. It's not always as straightforward as the more expensive the flour, the better the bread though! Tonight I baked my 2nd ever sourdough loaf and used a different flour from the first sourdough loaf I baked - it looks very different although I've not tasted it yet. I really tried to keep to the same timing and number of rises and reshapes so the biggest change should be from the flour.Basically whilst I'm sure stoneground will make a big difference, any change in flour seems to have a big impact on your bread.
I know this is kind of logical but I hadn't taken into account how much of a difference it can make!
Not sure if it's too far from you but I watched a UK tv show about people moving out to Oz today and the family featured run a bakery in Geelong - La Madre - they might help you track down a good source of flour if they don't sell it themselves. They seem be a decent artisan bakery but then I'm believing what I see on the BBC.... I'd love to know if this bakery is really as good as the show made out!
Anyway I'm off to taste my latest sourdough bread - yummmm