…you have just received a new member to your family. If cared for correctly a sourdough starter can span generations.Maintenance of the starter is the most important part of making sourdough bread and is often over looked.
The ‘Mother’, which it is often referred to, is the giver of all life to bread.
LOOKING AFTER MOTHER
The Journey Begins: You have received 100g of sourdough starter which comes directly from our own mother starter at Baker & Graze. You will need to feed this 100g of starter with 100g of warm (30c) water and 100g of strong white flour. Mix this thoroughly and leave in your glass jar for 3-6 hours.
Overnight Feed: in the evening remove 200g of starter from the glass jar leaving the remaining 100g inside. Add 100g of ambient temperature water (16-18c) and 100g of flour. Mix well until fully incorporated. Leave this feed overnight (10-12 hours) at room temperature (16-20c). Its advised to leave the starter in your kitchen and to avoid all drafts and any sudden temperature changes.
The Morning After: remove 200g of starter from the glass jar leaving the remaining 100g inside. Add 100g of warm water (30c) and 100g of strong white flour. When the starter becomes bubbly and has noticeably increased in size by a third (3-6h) then you are ready to make sourdough.
You can repeat the three previous steps to maintain your starter at room temperature permanently. This method of daily feeding is recommended for someone making bread very often.
If you prefer to make bread less frequently then it is advised to place your starter in the fridge after the second feed for up to five days. When removed from the fridge following the above method until the starter becomes bubbly and rises well after feedings.
Flour: You can use a range of flours in your recipe but initially I would suggest you use a blend of white and wholemeal. The white will provide strength and the wholemeal will provide flavour and aid fermentation.
Mix Stage: We will start by only mixing the water, flour and starter and leaving it for one hour. The hour long rest of the dough will allow the flour to absorb the water.
Add 750g of warm water (30c) to a bowl along with 200g of ripe starter and 900g of strong white flour and 100g of wholemeal flour. Mix by hand for 5 minutes to incorporate all the ingredients. The first initially mixing of sourdough bread is just to incorporate all the ingredients. Cover and leave for one hour.
Now add 20g of salt and 20g of water to the dough and work this in until it has been fully combined. Mix for a few minutes and then move to an oiled container that will allow space for the dough to grow.
Bulk Prove: The aim of the bulk proof is to keep the dough warm (26c). This will allow the wild yeast to multiply inside and create a strong dough during this period of fermentation. The dough must increase by a third of its initial size during this phase.
Leave the dough for 3 hours in total. During the first two hours you can give the dough two folds to improve strength.
After three hours shape the dough and move to a lightly floured basket. When shaping remember to not disrupt the strength and gluten networks you have created.
Final Prove: You can now leave the shaped dough at room temperature for 3-6 hours. Alternatively you can leave the dough at room temperature for one hour and then place in the fridge overnight.
Baking: The use of a ‘Dutch oven’ can increase the quality of the final product and would be recommended. You are creating a sealed environment for the loaf to bake. You can use a cast iron pot with a lid to create this Dutch oven. This technique helps simulate the baking chamber we bake our bread in at Baker & Graze.
When ready to bake preheat your oven to 240c and place your cast iron pot inside. After 45 minutes remove the pot with heat resistant gloves and place the bread inside. Place the lid on top and put the pot back into the oven for 20 minutes.
Now remove the lid and lower the temperature to 220c for a further 20-30 minutes. If you feel the crust is to light then increase the temperature for the last 20-30 minutes.
If you do not have a cast iron pot then you can bake the loaf on a heavy duty oven tray using the previous times and temperatures stated.
Lastly, remember that sourdough takes practice it is important to understand that you will develop your own understanding of the dough. Regardless of the final result this technique of making bread is fairly inexpensive. So far we have baked upwards of 15,000 loaves and we are still striving to fine tune and improve our ideas and techniques.
Best of luck!