I have had my rises and falls with bread making over the years, mostly falls, but that can be passed off as the flat foccacia. I usually just grab a packet of dried yeast and go from there, but sourdough is worth pursuing.
Why is Sourdough so good?
Because this traditional bread making method produces the best tasting bread and the best texture.
With its beginnings lost in the mists of time Sourdough or Fermented Dough encourages the baker to work with and enhance the bread's natural ingredients as opposed to the modern method of engineering the end product to fit a plastic bag.
||An early Ramesside Period mural painting from Deir el-Medina tomb depicts an Egyptian couple harvesting crops. The staples of both poor and wealthy Egyptians were bread and beer, often accompanied by green-shooted onions, other vegetables, and to a lesser extent meat, game and fish. Wikipedia.
The making of sourdough bread dates back thousands of years, all bread was sourdough before the advent of commercial yeast.
Sourdough bread has a lovely chewy crust and moist wholesome centre, it is more flavoursome than conventional bread and keeps exceptionally well.
It is easy to make in the home kitchen once the starter is established.
Basically sourdough bread is made with a “starter” instead of commercial yeast.
The starter is made by allowing a flour and water mixture to ferment, collecting natural yeasts from the surrounding air.
The starter requires daily feeding with flour and water (similar to a ginger beer “plant”).
|Sourdough starter made with flour and water refreshed for 3 or more days. Photo/Wikipedia
If you are not making bread on a daily basis the starter can be refrigerated for up to a few months (without feeding), this is called a dormant starter.
Last March as part of the Slow Food group on the mountain I organised 2 sourdough bread making days with a lady at Logan.
Interestingly she started to make her own bread because her children were gluten intolerant, but they can tolerate the sourdough.
We were all very enthusiastic and we came home with a jar of starter and a booklet of recipes. I am sure that we all made a couple of loaves to begin with and then the starter stayed in the fridge and was forgotten about.....and eventually...died.
So it’s back to square one, I could contact the baker for some more starter, but I am having a go at making my own!!
There a numerous ways to make it, but they all have one thing in common, and that is the use of organic flours- the processed supermarket ones won’t work.
There is one recipe that just uses flour (a mixture of rye and wholemeal) and water, it is left on the bench and beaten twice a day to encourage the natural yeast spores in the air into the dough.
The other two ways are with the addition of grapes and potato water.
So I have three bowls bubbling away; my kitchen looks more like a laboratory than a food preparation area! So in about a week I will be making my own sourdough bread again!
It is thrilling to bake your own beautiful bread!
There are pleasures to every bake that I never tire of: the wonderful aroma that fills the house during the bake, the rising of the dough, the first exposure of the ‘crumb’ (inside of the bread) when you cut your initial slice – and best of all, the first taste.
There is something grounding, calming, and deeply satisfying about baking.
It really is worth baking your own bread so I am going to persist with the sourdough, but if that fails there are plenty of good bakeries that make it, including a local one at Eagle Heights, here on Tamborine Mountain.
Sour dough comes up beautifully toasted as a winter accompaniment to hot soups and under eggs. I like to use it toasted is as a base for Bruscettas. It looks great with a mixture of colorful vegetable based toppings. They look very impressive on a large white platter.
Here are some of my favorites using produce in season.
- Roasted slices of red and yellow capsicum mixed with capers and anchovies
- Thinly sliced grilled egg plant with feta cheese.
- Pan fried mushrooms with lots of freshly diced herbs and a splash of truffle oil.
- Pumpkin diced and roasted, mixed with olives and chives.
- Soon broad beans and peas will be available and they are delicious mashed up with garlic, olive oil and parmesan.