Friday, January 25, 2019

Sourdough bread making...

I'm not much of a baker, usually.

It's not that I don't like cake - after all, who doesn't like cake?! I'm just not that much of a domestic goddess and while I enjoy eating (a lot), I don't really enjoy the process of cooking and baking all that much. I can do the occasional thing, sure, but the routine task of putting food on the table is not something I particularly relish and I don't usually strive to spend any more time in the kitchen than I absolutely have to.

That said, there are certain things I just miss, and one thing that I have missed ever since I left Germany and settled in the UK nearly 20 years ago now is a good loaf of sourdough bread. Whenever family or friends come to visit from Germany I ask them to bring some, and they usually oblige, but it's not quite the same, because they obviously have to buy the bread in advance, and by the time it gets here it's already not that fresh anymore. Still good, sure, and one of the fabulous things about sourdough bread is that it keeps much better than a normal yeast loaf, but I miss that taste of crusty fresh bread with butter on, baked that day, and dug into as soon as I get it home. 

I'm a bit of a bread snob I think.

A while ago a friend of mine gave me a bit of her sourdough starter and I proceeded to occasionally bake with it. All was well, but the recipe I had was quite time-consuming - sourdough, it turns out, needs a fair bit of hand-holding. It's not at all like the bread maker loaves that are so easy to just put in the machine. Instead you are talking about kneading, rising, more kneading, in a seemingly endless cycle. I did a few loaves, then gave up. And because I forgot to feed the starter regularly it eventually died. 

At Christmas I wished for another starter. I'd seen one on Amazon of all places, and thought I'd give it another go. D got the starter for me and I have been feeding it, more or less once a week. This seems little (a lot of recipes insist on you feeding your starter once a day at roughly the same time), but it turns out that a well-established starter can live in the fridge and, if kept cold like that, only needs feeding once a week. I take the starter out and feed it, then leave it on the worktop for a good 12 hours so it can warm up and get going. Then back in the fridge it goes.

Up until yesterday that's all I did with it. Christmas is busy, and to be honest, I felt a bit daunted by attempting another sourdough loaf. 

Then I found a recipe on Pinterest that I thought I should try. It is simple in terms of ingredients (but then, all basic bread recipes are - you are just talking about starter, bread flour, water, and salt after all), but it asked you to mix up a fairly liquid dough at first, then cover it and let it do its magic in a warm place in the kitchen overnight, for 12-17 hours. That's easy, I thought.

After that point you end up with a sort of sour-smelling bubbly thin dough. You then start mixing and kneading, adding as much flour as it takes to produce a stiff dough that isn't sticky on the outside anymore. The whole thing goes in a floured proving basket for another 1 - 1 1/2 hours and then it goes straight in the oven at around 230 degrees C. for around 50 minutes. The recipe suggests baking in a Dutch oven, but I don't have any such thing, and it turns out a normal baking tray works just as well!

I can tell you, the result is awesome! I'm so pleased with my loaf! It's crispy outside and fluffy and soft and aromatic, with a sour tang on the inside. It's delicious.

I can see a lot of sourdough loaves in our future!

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1 comment:

  1. Well done, its looks amazing. I must admit I cheat and use a bread making machine as we are great fans of a multi seed loaf.