This week we were lucky enough to have a sourdough presentation by Bryan (and thank you to Glen and Vanessa for the generous use of your home).
There are a few parts to the process, and again I may not have got them all down perfectly. Bryan has suggested that we use the website www.sourdough.com/blog/sourdom/beginners to check and refine our sourdough skills. The most useful section is headed “Beginners’ blog- slash and burn (hopefully not)”- about 6 pages.http://www.sourdough.com/blog/sourdom/beginners-blog-slash-and-burn-hopefully-not
The demonstration collapsed a number of hours of process into about 1.5 hours for convenience and most of us got a turn at kneading or proving the bread. We all got a taste of some of Byran’s bread that he’d created earlier. Amazing taste!
The process involves preparing the starter, mixing the bread mix, kneading, proving, shaping, turning out and baking.
The trick with sourdough, Bryan tells us, is that it involves minimum handling and maximum maturation. Mostly, be fairly gentle with the dough during the process.
Logically enough, we start with the starter. The starter is a mixture of yeast and bacteria that help the sourdough to rise and add flavour.
The starter consists of a natural grain (we used Rye, but you can use something like Spelt as well) which provides the yeast. This is mixed with an (unbleached) wheat flour that provides the growing substrate.
70g white flour
30g rye flour
100g (tap) water
The starter takes a little while to get going, so Byran brought his along for us to share. The above mix was inoculated with 1 dspoon of Bryan’s active starter. It can be kept in the fridge between baking and needs to be replenished when you take some out. Use the above mix plus the dsp of your active starter in replenishing . Discard all but the dsp of active starter in replenishing ( or use it to make a sourdough pancake for your dog).
The day before your bake, mix 1dspoon of starter with 90g of water and 90 g unbleached white flour in a bowl, cover with clingwrap and leave on the bench for 12 hours.
The next morning the starter should look bubbly (which is the yeast at work).
Mix it together with
- 320g water (tap is fine)
- 450g white flour
- 50g of flavouring flour (Rye or Spelt)
- Up to 10g salt (Bryan only uses 3g)
Let it sit for 10 minutes, then turn it out onto an oiled surface and knead for about 10 sec. To knead, hold onto one end of the bread and spread the dough using the flat of your hand (see image). Then roll the flat piece of dough back towards you. Turn it 90 and do it again.
Clean out the bowl and smear it with a little oil. Put the dough back in for 10min.
10 sec knead, back in the bowl for 10 mins.
10 sec knead, back in the bowl and leave for 1 hour.
Proving and stretching
After an hour, the dough should have risen. During summer, ambient air temperature will be fine. If it’s winter/cool, the rising (proving) will take longer. Bryan uses the top of his Espresso coffee machine which has a cup warmer to provide the warmth during winter.
Clean the workbench of oil and instead flour it lightly.
Turn the dough onto the side and (again quite gently) stretch the dough out.
Do this by holding one end of the dough with one hand and using the other hand (thumb out) to stretch out the bread (see images again). Fold it back in, and repeat on the other side. Turn 90 degrees and repeat the whole process.
Put the dough back into the bowl for one hour.
Stretch again then put back in the bowl for one hour.
Stretch again then back in the bowl for one hour.
Now you are ready to shape the dough. Holding the dough with one hand to keep it steady, use the other hand to push under the edge of the dough to lift into a dome shape. Rotate gently and push again. Do this about 8 times. The dough should now resemble a rounded loaf. Flip the loaf, bottom side up, onto a tea towel that has been sprinkled with rice flour or semolina (to stop it sticking) and place it into a rounded container (Bryan had specialist containers but an ice-cream container would suffice).
Leave it to rise for 3 hours.
Now you are ready to bake the bread.
For this you will need some equipment- a pizza stone and a peel (which can be a stiff piece of cardboard), a spray bottle filled with water and a sharp serrated knife.
Pre-heat the oven with the pizza stone inside (remove the other racks to provide more room) for 45 min at 250 degrees Celsius, fan forced (yes, very hot).
This part requires speed and agility!
Sprinkle the peel with rice flour (to make sure the dough doesn’t stick to it).
Carefully turn the dough upside down into your hand, then onto the peel.
Spray with water and slash across the top with the knife (4 slashes are fine).
Ease onto the pizza stone in the oven.
This should all be done in about 10 sec!
For the first 15min, spray the bread with water every 2 min.
Reduce the heat to 220 degrees C and bake for a further 25 min (baking time should be 40min in total).
The water helps to create a hard crust and the slashes help to shape and distribute heat through the top of the bread.
Rather than spraying the water, you can put water into a tray in the oven whilst it is heating up. This will provide steam.
Turn the bread out and allow to cool, then put that yummy stuff into your mouth!.
Thanks again Bryan for your demonstration and expertise. Very skillfully done and very much appreciated by the group.
PS- Guess what? After all that playing with the practice dough, G and V left it on the bench for 4 hours and then popped it in the oven. The result? Delicious!