My sour dough education – still in primary school….

sourdough mark 2 soughdough loaf

Right so I might have underestimated the task and the science behind making sour dough……

Things I have learned as I am finally getting bubbles into my bread (as opposed to dense bricks of flour):

  1. The starter, which should be renamed the slower takes some time to mature.  My early bubbles within the first few days were not the required bacteria and natural yeast to leaven fairy floss. The starter is now three weeks old, smells like a cross between rotting fruit and nail polish remover and is bubbly in the mornings.
  2. Bubbles are your friend.  Because bubbles are your friend (to offset loaf density) your dough needs two periods to rise.  Today, for the second rise, I left mine out in full lounge room sun in the morning and when I got home it was filled with wonderful bubbles. Because of the long periods required to rise, the bread maker just does not cut it.  Bake and rise settings are too short in a machine.
  3. The way you knead counts.  You need to stretch and fold (as opposed to just getting your biceps into it without any precision).  The gluten needs to stretch.
  4. Even though I want to make a rye sour dough, I am not yet enough of a sour dough aficionado. I need to use the lightest possible bread flour with the most amount of gluten to get these babies to rise. Denser flours – you’ll have to wait.
  5. A pan with water also in the fridge provides sufficient moisture in the oven.
  6. The oven needs to be super hot (I crank ours up to the max of 250 degrees centigrade).
  7. Finally – I need to oil the pan a little bit more.  Today – pan remnants, scraped off, slathered with butter received some teenage daughter squeals of “give me more” but my bread today had no bottom (still stuck to the bottom of my loaf tin…….).

So in the interests of not curating a perfect life in a blog – here is today’s improved loaf. Still not high enough, still not enough bubbles, still a little bit moist in the middle – and stuck to the pan – but it’s improving. I am so excited. I am definitely the type of person who starts exciting things and leaves the finishing to others. I am persevering. I WILL learn to be a sour dough expert. I can’t wait to share my (perfected) Canberra north side suburban sour dough starter to someone else, to engender a love of making bread at home.

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