Thursday, 15 October 2009

Just like sourdough

I thought I'd try my hand at making sourdough bread.

I took a voyage out into the internet to find out how and discovered this webpage, which gave a broadly easy to follow guide. There may be better websites for this sort of thing out there, but this page came top of the google rankings.

For the past few days I've been cultivating a 'sourdough starter'. This was just a load of flour and warm water in a mug, stirred every few hours. The idea is that it collects wild yeast and bacteria in the air, they like the warm watery flour and grow. Each day you're supposed to chuck away half of it and top it up with more flour and more warm water. So essentially the only thing that flourishes in there is yeast and good bacteria. It all gets killed of in the baking process anyhoo.

I used this strong white breadmaking flour I'd picked up on my last supermarket trip, and then just to be cheeky, on the second day I topped it up with broad wholemeal breadmaking flour, and a wee bit of Allinson's yeast as recommended by Andy Bonar from Q Without U and the Secondhand Marching Band.

Some hours before the bread is required, you pour half of the starter into a bowl and start calling it 'sponge'. You add more flour and warm water, and leave it for a couple of hours so it bubbles up as the yeast gets a good old final meal.

Then I added four teaspoons of icing sugar, two teaspoons of salt, a splash of vegetable oil and a load more of that white breadmaking flour. I started off stirring it all with my trusty wooden spoon and once it started to 'gel' I kneaded it by hand.

When it got too sticky I added more flour, and kept going.

After a while I got bored, so I put it back in the bowl, sprinkled some more flour on top and left it to 'proof' for about two hours.

Crikey, it grew, it like double din size, do I had another go at kneading it until it was wee again, then divided it into two pieces for for each of the former takeaway tins I was going to use to bake it in. More kneading followed and a bit more leaving the dough to proof. At this point I discovered that leaving it on top of my computer tower was nice and warm, I think the yeast likes it.

I grew tired of waiting, so after about half an hour I slung both tinned dough loafs into the over at around 170C and took them out again after exactly half an hour. They came out of the tins easily and tapping on the bottom gave a successful hollow sound.

This sort of thing is easy, it just takes a little time.

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