Woops… sorry for the strange title. I am so used to writing “What To Do About…” whatever that it just came out. I decided to leave it since it is appropriate in this case.

I have always wanted to make some good bread… sourdough bread. I have just had my first success. Check it out:

sourdough raisin

Sourdough made completely from scratch. I think the coolest thing about making sourdough is using the yeast and bacteria that are in the air without adding any yeast. If you have never made sourdough bread before I will give you some pointers.

First you need a starter. The starter is basically your yeast and bacteria that you have captured from the air and keep alive in a batter or dough. I think a batter is a little easier to maintain so I use that instead of a dough, but you can use either one. So grab a glass jar or container and add 1 cup of flour and 1 cup of water (this will make a batter). Let it sit out at room temperature for several days. It is good to pour half of the mixture out and add fresh flour and water (1/2 cup each to replace the half you poured out). This fresh feed is just that… it is fresh flour for the bacteria and yeast to feed on.

The starter should become yeasty, beery, soury, and maybe bubbly. It should have a pleasant fermenting aroma. You may also notice a hooch. That is the layer of alcohol that is on the top. I usually just mix it back in but you can pour it off… whatever. Once you have a nice fermenting starter, place it in the fridge to drastically slow down the process and keep it till you are ready to make your bread. You can keep it for a very long time… it would just be good to take it out and feed it every now and then.

Once you are ready to make your bread you need to proof the sponge. So take a bowl and add your starter. Then add a cup of flour and a cup of water. Now let that set until it is bubbly and fermenty and soury, and pleasanty (I realize I made most of those words up)… you get the idea. This process goes faster than the original because you already have your starter which ‘starts’ the fermenting. It should be proofed in 6-8 hours. Some are ready in 2 hours…. others can sit overnight. The longer it proofs the more sour it will be. It is an art, not an exact science.

Once you have your proofed sponge you can make your bread. Add 2 cups of it to your flour till you get the consistency of dough that you are looking for. (Let’s say 3-4 cups as a guide). Depending on the type of bread I am making I may add olive oil, honey, rapadura, sea salt, etc. For the bread that is pictured, I rolled it out and then put butter, raisins and cinnamon on it after the first rising (let it double in bulk). The rolled it up with those ingredients and let it rise again in my bread stone baking pan. Once it doubled in bulk again I popped it in a 350 degree oven and baked till it sounded hollow… about 35–45 min. I think It was on the longer side though… actually 45-55 minutes. Keep an eye on it.

Well I have to go. Hopefully you can make some wonderful sourdough for yourself. I think I will talk more about ingredients to use tomorrow or tuesday.