Sourdough

The making of Suse’s sourdough.
A short story.

There is someone in our blogsphere who has a life I crave aspects of – the home with an outlook, the new kitchen, children at a Steiner school, the ability to knit, to name just a few. She makes bread. This is probably the pinnacle anyone can reach in my esteem.

So one day, she generously shared her sourdough recipe with the world. This caught me by surprise as some of her other baking efforts were well, funny looking.

I made the starter. It doesn’t look like hers. But it smells all fermenty and sour.

I followed the recipe. I may have forgotten one of the cups of flour, but am not sure. I (very very stupidly and completely due to total sleep deprivation) started making it after dinner with children everywhere and crying coming from what seemed like every possible orifice of all of them.

So I had to keep adding flour. And more flour. And more.

Due to my kneading insecurities I was leaving that job to the Kitchen Aid. Maybe this was part of the problem – kneading too fast? too long? Who knows. It kept ending up like a very smooth silken goop.

I sort of gave up, knowing it was going to be a leaden mass due to all of this. And then it was really late. So I moved it to the laundry to stop it rising anymore (it was cooler in there) and then faced it the following morning.

I cooked it, but as suspected, it was just a dense dense dense mass. The taste was sensational – a really decent sourdough flavour – and it had a really good crust (I can’t stand sourdough which has a soft crust) and tasted magnificent with salted butter.

Next time I’ll do all the kneading by hand and add a little more salt.

But still the cooking mojo is not quite as it should be. (And you know, when I cook something that doesn’t hit the mark or is not quite right, it affects my mood. Greatly.)

Suse’s Sourdough*

The starter
2 cups tepid water
2 cups bread flour (a good quality all purpose flour with a high protein content)
2 1/2 teaspoons yeast

Mix together in a ceramic or glass bowl with a wooden spoon (do not use metal bowls or implements)
Sit the starter, covered, in a warm location for a week, gently stirring once a day.

When you use some of your starter to make a loaf, you must ‘feed’ the remaining starter with 1 cup of flour and 1 cup of water.
If you don’t use your starter once a week, throw away a cup of it and feed it with fresh flour and water.
It can also be frozen if you are going away on holiday. On your return, thaw it in the fridge, and then when thawed, remove a cupful and feed as usual.

The dough
1/2 cup tepid water
1 cup sourdough starter
2 1/4 cup bread flour
1 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp oil
1 tsp salt
3/4 tbsp yeast

Mix the ingredients together, turn out onto a bench and knead. Return to the bowl and let rise for an hour or until doubled in size.
Punch the dough down and knead gently, pulling all the creases to the bottom.
Place the dough smooth side down into a bowl lined with a floured teatowel.
Cover and stand in a warm location for an hour or until doubled in size.
Turn the bowl onto a greased oven tray and gently remove the teatowel.
Score the top of the loaf with a sharp knife.
Bake on the middle shelf of a hot (210 celsius) oven with a dish of boiling water on the bottom shelf to create steam, for 20 minutes.
Reduce to a moderate (180 celsius) heat and bake for a further 15-20 minutes or until the loaf sounds hollow when tapped on the bottom.

*For the original with glorious pictures, visit Suse here. Suse – if I’ve got any of this wrong, let me know and I’ll amend it!

** UPDATED **
So I know make it following the recipe above and knead it by hand for 9 minutes. It is a wet dough so I just add more flour as required as I knead it. I then give it a light knockback, shape it as I want and let it rise the second time.

For an olive loaf, roughly chop 1/2 cup pitted kalamata olives and fold through after you’ve knocked it back.

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  • Suse

    Ooh thanks for all the linky love.

    Now. My starter no longer looks anything like the one in the photo did (that was a photo of about a year ago). That’s because the one in the photo was made from wholemeal flour, and these days when I feed it, I use white so the wholemeal has been bred out and the starter is silky and creamy. In fact it looks like pouring cream. But smells like sweaty feet. Noice.

    The dough too, is silky and sloppy, much more so than a normal bread dough so when you knead you need lots of flour to keep from cursing.

    It does taste sensational though, doesn’t it.

  • Suse

    Oh, and I’m home today and about to make the NOT FUNNY LOOKING bran and molasses muffins.

  • Muzbot

    Does sourdough bread always have to be crusty? I don’t mind a crusty bread sometimes, but I really love a bread with a soft crust more.

  • Suse

    Me again, a week later. I just wanted to let you know that I updated the photo of my sourdough starter in my post, because I was becoming so self conscious about how different it looked.

    So, go look and see what mine looks like now, and tell me if it resembles yours.

    (If you have the time and inclination, I should add. Not trying to be pushy or anything).