Sunday, May 22, 2016

An Easy Guide To Making Wholesome Sourdough Bread At Home

I've decided to write about sourdough bread after reading and watching about its countless health benefits plus its semi-therapeutic side that comes with time management for lazy asses like me. I'll spare you from speaking of  how nutritious and delicious these breads/dough are.

After tons of reading i saw in dismay how people take the making of this noble, ancient, nutricious and delicious bread as something of a very daunting challenge. It is not. Just follow a few right procedures and you'll nail your bread as i've done consistently.

This link HERE was the best guide i've found, but you do not have to follow all the steps thoroughly, rather, heed the photos and some technical points. With a few loaves under your belt (and waste) you'll not keep track of how many cups for this and that any longer. 

The ingredients: Mineral or filtered water, good wholesome flour (i used king arthur's) and later on salt.

It's very important the use of good quality ingredients. Don't go cheap on this. Again, good quality ingredients. They are just TWO and one is almost free (water). I use cups of flour and water according to my mood. More for bigger breads, less for smaller ones. I've reached a point i do things using eyes and hands to feel the leaven and dough and couldn't care less for strict rules. That's a recipe for kitchen rebels!

Step 1 -- Bread starter

Use a small bowl to create your starter. Now that you know what they are i'll tell my way of creating them:

Every day once a day i feed the creatures with a few table spoons of wholesome flour and equal amount of water. Stir with metal spoon, store back somewhere in the kitchen. Don't be as anal about this as someone people are. Use good flour and water and the little creatures in the air and our hands are going to do the magic (see pictures on the web about starters).

After 5 days or so (temperature can slow down or speed up process) the starter is ready for the leaven. Some people say 7 days suffice. Well, you'll see for yourself. Don't bother with the acid/vinegar aroma in the kitchen. That's a good sign, your starter is alive.

IMPORTANT: if a dark/blackish layer of water builds up on the very top layer of the starter, discard it immediately. Add more flour and water and stir. Don't fret. Just do it and the starter will resume having its healthy looks (bubbly).

Step 2 --- The leaven

The leaven is your second step out of 4. In my case i just add more flour and water in a bowl and pour 2 or 3 table spoons of my starter. I add 1 generous cup of flour and water. Fingers and hands just squeeze and squeeze the leaven. Be a child here. The right consistency of the leaven here is pure sticky. It's messy, gluey. Use hands, fingers and spoons. Do it for 10 minutes give or take.

Set that aside for 4 hours. Let is rest and start the fermentation over. You'll notice the leaven will show a fluffiness and bubbles everywhere. A great part of the taste will come out of this part. The fun with sourdough bread is that almost every bread can must be different! It's natural, it's not industrialized crap.

Step 3 --- Add flour and water to the leaven

Now i'm almost done. i'll add flour and water and start the battering of the dough. It's supposed to feature a doughier, firmer trait now. Just playing along in the bowl. Feel that dough looks like a bread to be? Good. Let it rest ON the counter overnight. More fermentation will take place and more molecules are being broken down and more delicious the bread will be. Now the gluten ought to be showing what it's for. Elasticity.

Step 4 --- Batter, fold, flour and Bake

The fun meets its ending: Add salt to taste. With a little bit of flour  you'll play with the dough. In my case i fold it a lot. In order to avoid the dough getting stuck on my hands and wasting dough, i use a lot of olive oil. I just fold and fold and fold the dough. At this point in time i should say the oven it's already very hot (max temp). Normally it takes 20 minutes to reach that temperature. Shape the dough as you wish. Round? Square? A loaf? Ciabatta like? Your call. By the way, you can add herbs and cheese at will, whenever.

I put my dough inside an iron/ally pan and i put the lid on. For the next 30 minutes i'll keep the lid on just so i can get a perfect crust. Tap if off, and leave the bread in for 15 or so minutes. You're done. Get the pan out of the oven and allow it to cool off on a wood surface or a basket. Enjoy! Welcome to the wonders of discovering what kept old civilizations alive and what has brought joy to peoples and peoples for millennia. .

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