Sourdough bread is a type of bread that uses a natural yeast and lactobacilli culture, called a sourdough starter, instead of commercial yeast. It has a tangy, complex flavor and a chewy texture that makes it a popular choice among bread lovers. In this guide, we’ll cover the basics of sourdough bread making, including how to make, maintain, and bake with a sourdough starter.
Making a Sourdough Starter:
Obtain a small amount of wild yeast and lactobacilli from the air, flour, and water.
Combine equal parts flour and water (e.g. 100g each) in a large bowl and mix until well combined.
Cover the bowl with a clean cloth and place it in a warm, draft-free area.
Repeat the process of adding equal parts flour and water every 12-24 hours for several days, until the mixture becomes visibly bubbly and has a sour aroma.
Once the starter is active and robust, use a portion of it to bake with, and store the remaining in a lidded container in the refrigerator.
Maintaining a Sourdough Starter:
Feed your starter equal parts flour and water every 12-24 hours to keep it active.
Use a portion of the starter for baking, and store the remaining in the refrigerator.
If not using the starter for an extended period of time, give it a weekly feeding to keep it alive.
If the starter becomes too sour or develops a strong alcohol smell, discard a portion of it and give it a fresh feeding.
Baking with a Sourdough Starter:
Remove the starter from the refrigerator and give it several hours before you plan to bake.
Combine the fed starter with flour and water to make a dough.
Knead the dough until it is smooth and elastic, then let it rise until doubled in size.
Preheat your oven and bake the bread at a high temperature (450-500°F) for 30-40 minutes, or until the crust is golden brown.
Allow the bread to cool completely on a wire rack before slicing.
In conclusion, making sourdough bread is a simple but time-consuming process that yields delicious and nutritious bread. By following these basic steps, you’ll be able to make, maintain, and bake with a sourdough starter with confidence. Happy baking!