Monday, March 5, 2012

My first Sourdough

The world has seen prettier breads and breads with less flaws but that's ok for me. The only thing that counts for now is that I am in. In in the circle of sourdough bakers!

What is wrong with yeast fermented bread? Nothing.
You can make tasty homemade bread (better than anything from the big bakery chains) with yeast and without fuss.

(Google for no-knead-bread. Or just mix 1/2 kg flour with 1/2 tsp dry yeast, 1 tbs salt and so much water that it can be stirred with a wooden spoon. Let it rise for at least 12 hours. Stir again, let it rise and bake. You won't regret it.)

If you haven't made this type of bread with yeast yet, you don't have to bother with sourdough at all. And there are too many fantastic yeast breads left to conquer.

But after countless no-knead-breads with yeast made on my
own, I found out that the aroma and the structure was always the same. And although I don't eat bread on a daily or even on a weekly basis, I was getting bored.
And getting ready for the next bread-baking-level. When the range of yeast bread is a world of its own, sourdough breads make up a universe.

When Bridget presented a country bread by the Tartine Bakery, I thought that this would be the ideal recipe to start. It didn't sound as complicated as all the other ones I had read before.
And when Cenk issued a step-by-step illustration of growing a starter for the Tartine country bread there really was no more excuse to put it off.

Growing a reliable starter (you see, inevitably sourdough bakers start personalizing their starters) took me 2 weeks. It demands no skills, only patience.

However, in this period you don't have to be deprived of sourdough goods because after each feeding there will be remaining starter left to use right away.

I tossed away the remaining starter for the first couple of days. As soon as the starter started to smell pleasantly I collected the remainders in a separate Weck jar and made amazing sourdough waffles out of it (by adding the same amount of flour as the amount of starter, 1-2 eggs, milk, salt, sugar and melted butter). Or decent sourdough bread (by adding the same amount of flour as the amount of starter and so much water that the dough could be stirred with a wooden spoon).

And even now that I have my starter finished I start slowly and don't follow any recipe, but only some principles to make the first very basic sourdoughs.

Whenever I feed the starter (once to twice a week, kept in the fridge) I mix the remaining starter with the double amount of flour and equal amount of water and let it sit for at least 12 hours. Then I add additional flower and water and stir it every now and then. After at least 6 more hours I bake it in a baking form. It yields to a fluffy bread with irregular holes, a sweet sour aroma and a crispy tasty crust.

And as soon as I am getting bored with these basics, I will start with leavens, bigas, folds and turns. But that point of time could still be a while to go from here:)

Btw my starter has no name but I marked Feb 7th 2012 in my calendar as the day of its birth. The day that showed that it was a reliably living thing, ready for its first feed.

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