Monday, March 24, 2008

Mmm Sourdough

I'm a bread lover. I always want to be able to have it. One problem is that you need yeast to make it. So you're a few months into the latest and greatest disaster. You're running low on yeast or your yeast supply was ruined because the power grid is down and you couldn't keep it refrigerated. That's when you go back to baking bread the old fashioned way.

Before you can start making sourdough you need to make a starter. It's basically a cultured vat of wild yeast. Start with a cup of whole wheat or unbleached flour and a cup of water. Mix it up and put it somewhere dry and dark. Every day pour half of it out and add half a cup of flour and half a cup of water. After a few days it will start to bubble. It should have a yeasty, doughy, sour smell to it. You'll also notice that a layer of liquid forms on top of it. Once it starts bubbling then you can start using it to make bread.

Pour the starter into a mixing bowl with a cup of water and a cup of flour. This is your sponge. I usually just cover my sponge and leave it out overnight. After a while the whole thing will start bubbling and you should get a white froth forming. Now take about half a cup of the sponge and put it back in your starter container (make sure that you clean it so that other nasty crap can't start growing in it). Add another half cup of flour and half a cup of water. Now you've got a starter for next time.

Now pour your sponge into whatever bowl you plan on mixing it in. Add 2 tablespoons of sugar, 1 tablespoon of salt, a tablespoon of vegetable oil (optional) and a cup of water. Then gradually mix in 3 cups of flour. Once you've got a good, solid dough let it sit covered for an hour or so till it starts to rise. Once it starts to rise you'll want to punch it down again and form it into whatever shape you want the loaf to be. Put it on a pan covered in corn meal and then put it in a warm, dry place and let it rise for a few hours. For me sourdough tends to take a lot longer to rise and it needs warmer temperatures than normal bread. Once it doubles in size you bake it at 400 degrees for 25 minutes or so. You know it's done when the top starts to turn brown and the bottom sounds hollow when you thump it. Let it cool and voila. You have bread.

4 comments: said...

Excellent post, an idea I will have to try. Plus it makes me hungry just thinking about it.

Anonymous said...

I have a friend who is a chef. He told me in San Fransisco and a few other places there have been starters going for a 150 years. A most useful item to have on hand.

The Urban Survivalist said...

I've heard the same thing about starters. I just got into sourdough baking and have only been using my starter for about a month so far but as long as you keep refreshing it it should last a long time if not forever.

Anonymous said...

sourdough is great I bake bread three time a week for my family.
One tip, if you bake to 200 deg F. on a thermometer punched in just under the crown, you get fully baked bread that is not dried out.
I bake loves in a loaf pan at 350 for 35 min and free form loves at 325 for 30-35 min. good eating.
Tip in lost wages