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Top 10 tips for making the perfect sourdough at home

by Lauren Branson

Local Top Ten Tips for Making the perfect sourdough at home

Nothing smells better than fresh bread straight out of the oven and when it comes to bread sourdoughis the holy grail! Flour and water transformed into something so incredibly moorish, one loafis never enough.

local sourdough at your food collective

It took me years to start baking sourdough, always in the too hard basket. But it’s not and perhaps one of the simplest and most rewarding things to cook. It’s incredibly satisfying sitting down to a family meal of bread, local olive oil, veggies and cheese. We do it far too often but keep coming back because it’s so satisfying.

Just like most of you I’m not a qualified baker but we bake often and there’s never any leftovers!

So here are my top ten tips for making sourdough a habit in your home.

  1. Get a good book. I love Tartine by the guys in San Francisco. They take you through the baking process like it’s a journey which it is. Bake and learn that’s how you’ll grow. Everything I am sharing with you here is a product of my journey through the Tartine book. Thanks Chad!
  2. Geta good starter to kick you off. Making your own starter is incredibly rewarding but does take some time, so lets short cut it. Then you can also be confident that you’ve got a strong starter that works.
  3. Use the same flour to grow your starter that you will bake with. I use 80% plain 20% wholemeal.
  4. Unless you are religiously feeding your starter every day, create a leaven the day before you bake. A leaven is a young dough that is strong enough to grow your loaves and will mean you have a more consistent loaf.
  5. Make sure you leaven floats before you use it. Place a teaspoon of leaven in a bowl of room temperature water and if it floats you’re ready to go. If it’s not floating wait until it does.
  6. Be aware of the temperature, it makes a difference. Your bread will grow slowly on a cold day and quicker on a hot day.
  7. Don’t be s stickler for process, if you’re not at home then don’t worry about folding the bread, if you bench rest it for too long just see what happens. Typically you’ll find it pretty forgiving.
  8. When you’re scoring the bread go deep! If you give it room to grow whilst it’s baking you’ll be so much happier with the result.
  9. Always bake in a moist oven or use a crock pot. To make the oven moist just add water to the griller tray and leave it in the bottom of the oven. It’s simple and easy and makes the bread so much tastier!!
  10. Have fun and mix it up with flavors. We love coriander seed, olive bread, herb bread and even a simple fruit loaf with sultana and cinnamon.  

 

To get you going here is a very brief version of the recipe that we follow based on our journey through the Tartine Bred Book.  We typically bake twice a week and love it.

  • Start this process two days before you want to eat bread!
  • The night before you want to bake create a leaven. 200ml water, 200ml flour and a generous tablespoon of starter. Make sure the water is at room temperature and mix the starter into the water before you add the flour. Once it’s all combined cover it and leave it on the bench overnight to grow.

Leaven at your food collective

  • In the morning mix up the dough. 700ml of room temperature water, 200ml of leaven (if the leaven does not float in the water it’s not ready. Leave it on the bench a little longer and keep testing it until it floats). Mix in 1kg of flour, we use 80% plain and 20% wholemeal. Again mix the leaven into the water before you add the flour. Once the flour is just combined leave it to sit for 30min. It will look like a rough mix.

floating leaven

Floating leaven

 Sourdough at Home at your food collective

The dough mixture. 

  • Save some of your remaining leaven as your new starter. Mix a tablespoon of leaven with two tablespoons each of water and flour, mix, cover and let sit. Your can discard the remaining leaven. The starter you should feed daily with a little more flour and water. We usually place ours in the fridge until baking again which is never more than 2 days away. If you’re leaving it longer between bakes make sure you take the starter out and feed it every two days.

Sourdough at your food collective

Reserving some of the leaven as your new starter. 

  • Back to the dough. After 30min add 40g salt and 50g water and combine. Cover the dough and start the first bulk fermentation for 4 hours. During this period you can gently fold the dough every half an hour. (I usually skip this but hubby swears by it!)

sourdough at home

  • At the end of the bulk fermentation turn the dough out onto the bench and cut it into two loaves. Shape the loaves, so fold them in neatly and then let them rest for 30min. Don’t over work the dough here or ever. Be gentle.

Shaping the loaves

  • Transfer the loaves into two bowls to start the second bulk ferment. Line the bowls with a cloth covered in rice flour so that the dough doesn’t stick to the cloth. Cover and leave the loaves to rest for 4 hours. If this means you’ll be up all night waiting to bake, pop them in the fridge and bake them in the morning.

Resting the loaves at Your Food Collective

  • Now you are ready to bake. Heat the oven to 250 degrees and fill the griller tray with water and place it at the bottom of the oven. This will mean you’re steaming the bread rather than dry baking it. If you put the loaves in the oven overnight bring them to room temperature before baking.  
  • Transfer the loaves into loaf tins or we use cake tins, scour the bread deeply and bake. Make sure the tins aren’t too small, you want the bread to be able to rise and fill space in the tin.

scouring the bread at your food collective

  • Bake at 250 degrees for 20min then reduce the temperature to 190 degrees and bake for a further 20 min or until cooked. If you like a heavy crust you can take the bread out of the tin and bake for longer until you have the crust you want

Enjoy, you’ll manage to devour a loaf pretty quickly when it is straight out of the oven.
    Local Lauren Branson
    Lauren Branson


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