A good sourdough to me is science and I am on a quest to master it. If like me you are interested in the "whys" and "hows" rather than just a recipe then welcome to this journey. I won't lie but I have tried few times and failed, the last time I tried I reached as far as creating a starter and then gave up. I long to hold that freshly baked loaf of bread that is gentle on the gut and pleasing to our palate.
“The smell of good bread baking, like the sound of lightly flowing water, is indescribable in its evocation of innocence and delight...
Breadmaking is one of those almost hypnotic businesses, like a dance from some ancient ceremony. It leaves you filled with one of the world's sweetest smells... there is no chiropractic treatment, no Yoga exercise, no hour of
meditation in a music-throbbing chapel. that will leave you emptier of bad thoughts than this homely ceremony of making bread.” ― M.F.K. Fisher,
Flour Talk -
Art of Fermentation is what determines the quality of your bread. The flour you use will be one of the factors that dictates the speed of fermentation as the enzymes that breaks down carbohydrates into sugars that the yeast can access. A flour's enzyme levels depend on where in the world it was grown and British flours tend to have high levels of naturally occurring enzymes because they are grown in a maritime environment. This results in high levels of enzyme activity, which means that the dough ferments more quickly as yeasts are more active and more carbon dioxide is produced making the bread more voluptuous and bouncy. Where possible stone-ground organic flour is said to be the best or atleast knowing where your flour comes from and the way it has been treated is important. I decided to use organic strong wholemeal flour by Doves Farm . As Chad Robertson rightly says in his book Tartine, “The baker’s skill in managing fermentation, not the type of oven used, is what makes good bread.”
Vanessa Kimbell suggests in her book The Sourdough School that we use wholegrain or rye to make starter if we want to make the bread more digestible and nutritious. These type of flour have higher levels of acetic acid which aids breaking down of flour further thus producing a more digestible loaf.
Starter Talk -
160g organic strong wholemeal flor
160g lukewarm water (roughly 25-28 deg C)
Begin by putting flour and water in a non-reactive large jar. (I prefer glass like Kilner or Wecks). Whisk the mixture vigorously and cover with a clean tea towel or disposable shower cap (any breathable cover). Leave to sit in a warm place for 12-24 hours, but make sure there are no other cultured foods nearby or there will be a crossover and you may not get the microbes you need. We might be able to see some bubbles/activity hopefully post 12-24 hours.
Watch this space to see how our starter is coming along.