Right so I do have my favourites and I have chosen them for their health benefits but also for their amazing flavour!
The beggining of everything for me is bread! yes bread, particularly Sourdough Bread.
Bread has an essential presence in our diets so lets have some bread that we can easily digest and absorb all the goodness that nature has gifted wheat. I am no scientist and I know very little, but it fascinates me that the simple fermentation of water and flour opens up the “bullet”the grain releasing all the nutrients and vitamins that it contains, allowing us to absorb them and benefit from them.
I have been baking it for a while and still perfecting my loafs, takes some time, but most of it takes some patience and passion and perhaps a pinch of obsession, but the outcome is a glorious loaf, packed with nutrients, vitamins, minerals and strong bacteria that has survived the fermentation process, the wheat is fermented with lactic acid bacteria and wild yeasts. In this process, the wheat is metabolised by the bacteria and lactic acid is produced. Sourdough has reduced simple sugar content and high levels of lactic acid, which makes it unique from other types of bread (1)
“Only when wheat gluten is properly fermented is it healthy for human consumption. When not it is potentially one of the most highly allergenic foods we eat. Correctly fermented wheat contains 18 amino acids (proteins), complex carbohydrate (a super efficient source of energy), B vitamins, iron, zinc, selenium and magnesium, and maltase.” (2)
So there you go, sourdough makes a great healthy bread, low in sugar as naturally the fermentation process eats a lot of the sugars, preserves better than any other bread, as bad bacteria gets eaten by the fermentation process, preventing the loaf to create mold, and also is free from any preservatives or nasties found in any commercial bread. Also the flavour of this bread is priceless, the texture of the crumb is heavenly and the crunch of the crust exquisit! I love sourdough and has changed my life, now bread has become a healthy option, rather than a lazy one!
Homemade Sourdough bread.
First of all you will need to make a starter
place 50 ml of water and 50 g of flour (wholemeal, rye or a mix of wholemeal and white)
Feed your starter everyday with exact same quantities
By the 3rd day you will see some activity happening, maybe small bubbles or a difference in size.
Watch it grow, keep and eye, give it love and time. It will happen.
By day 5 your starter should be ready!
Now after trying and baking lots of different recipes and different ratios, this recipe is the best so far, it’s easy and makes two delicious loafs!
Get your scales and place a bowl on top.
Tartine Basic Sourdough white Loaf (75% hydration)
- Measure 700g of warm water
- Add 200g of your starter/ levain
- then add 900g white flour and 100g wholemeal flour ( this is for a white loaf, but you can do any flour you like, the ratios with water might vary… will post other recipes soon!)
- now mix with your hands and let it rest for about 30 min so the dough relaxes.
- Add 20g of sea salt ( Maldon salt is great! ) and add 50 ml of warm water and mix. Make sure you disolve the salt with your fingers.
From now you will start what it’s called the “bulk fermentation”, normally I will do a set of folds every 30 min, to oxygenate the dough, to get some bubbles in! the bulk fermentation will take you around 3 -4 hours, folding every 30 min. The last hour I only fold once as dough now has a lot of oxygen, bubbles and we don’t want to overwork it!
Then with a dough scrapper, place your dough in the counter and dived loaf into two.
We can now fold again each loaf, and shape it. (will post a video on how I do it) and now you can get a bit of flour on your hands and on top of your loaf.
(Shaping is basically folding the dough like if you are folding a jumper, and tidying it to the shape of a ball. Fold sides in, then the upper and bottom corner, then fold it in half in two steps.)
Let it rest for another 30 min in the counter (this process is called bench rest)
When its time shape your loafs again, if they seem flat, like a pancake, it probably means that they havent build enough strenght, so fold them again (like if you are folding a jumper) shape them and give it another 30 -45 min of bench rest.
If not fold, shape and place in your floured proving baskets.
I now let the dough rise for around 2-4 hours, depending on the room temperature.
You can watch your loafs and make a decision. Have they risen enough? do you see them happy and with bubbles? are they spongy? It is all a learning curve, but one gets use to it pretty quickly! The trick is the go ahead and bake, bake bake, and every time your loafs will get better and better!
Ok so now we have the two loafs that have risen and you can now bake or store in the fridge for a longer slow proving and you can bake them in the morning ( this is my favourite as bread has extra fermentation and is easier to score!
Anyway when you decide to bake, preheat the oven. Ideally would be to have a woodfired oven, but most of us don’t! so I preheat my oven at the max temp 220 C, and place two cast iron pots with lids and let them get hot!
When the oven is ready, I tip my proving basket upside down with the help of a chopping board and I score the loaf with a sharp razor. Then I place the dough inside one of the pots, sprinke some water on top and cover quickly to not loose any steam. I repeat the same with the other loaf and bake at max temperature for 25 min.
Then I open the oven, remove lids and check how my bread is doing! This step is so very exciting as you can now see what your bread will look like!! Normally it has risen a good amount and just needs to get a nice colour, so I cook it for a further 20 -25 min until golden brown!
Ok so that’s the process I follow for my sourdough. This is a basic recipe. You can you add seeds, olives, you can add nuts, vegetables, cheese, other flours etc… will post other recipes and photos to support the recipe soon!
With the starter what I then do is feed it again, I feed 100ml water and 100g flour, then as soon as it has risen a bit you can place it in the fridge or if you are planning to bake next day you can leave in the counter!
The trick to know that your starter is ready for baking it’s to do the floater test! I got this tip from searching online and it’s great! You place a bowl of water and drop in a teaspoon of your starter, if it floats it’s ready, if it sinks, not ready! So if it sinks could be because it needs more time (if you just fed it) or it needs to be fed! Smell your starter if it very vinegary, get rid of some and add fresh water and flour and let it sit until it grows again. sometimes if I’m in a rush, I feed the starter, and place jar inside a bowl of hot water to help speed the process.
Happy baking and happy eating!!