Sourdough…And Surprises!

And this is how it all began…the surprise being that it actually worked!

I am joining in with Chef Shoko of http://The Canadian Cats and Da Phenny over at http://easyweimeranerwordpress.com and this is my offering..

There seemed to be a thing here for making sourdough bread in the wake of the pandemic as yeast took on the scarcity of unicorn tears. I was footling about on the internet and I saw someone say how you could harness natural yeast, feed it with flour and water and lo and behold you have your very own thriving, bubbling yeast colony, ready to add to a multitude of wonderful recipes. If the first bit works…

The jar on the right (George) is ready to use, you can tell from his bubbles, and when you open the jar, there is a pleasant, yeasty smell.

Now. Generally I am fairly easily discouraged when it come to my baking ability, but I persevered with this because the whole idea of making something out of nothing appealed to me…

I followed a basic recipe where you use 400g flour – so far I have only used bread flour, to roughly 7 and a half fluid ounces of water, with 12 – 14 g of starter.

A useful hint is to “autolyse” the flour and water – basically just stir them together and let it sit in a warm place for an hour or so…this lets the gluten in the flour absorb the water and do its stretchy thing.

Then you can mix in your starter, cover it up and leave in a warm place to prove. You don’t get as much rise as you would with traditional yeast, that’s why it’s left longer. Some people leave theirs up to three days, I find overnight is generally good.

Now you can start playing…through trial and error I discovered bun tins work best for me, also, grease and flour your tins before use, that way it comes out easier.

This was one of my earlier attempts. Not long enough in the oven…

Sourdough bread is more close textured than usual bread, something to do with the gas given off by the yeast and expanding..

I should also mention it’s a wetter dough too but don’t worry about it, just flour your hands and pull it about to shape, or scoop into tins – whatever. You’re aiming for a stretchy dough that is almost translucent. I had to enlist the service of Mr.CC as I have pulled a muscle weeding..

And there you go. I have discovered you can add stuff before you bake like poppy seeds…I must also say sourdough has a unique chewy crust, so to get this, put a little dish of water in your oven to make a steam effect.

These are poppy seed and cranberry…Don’t forget, a wetter dough means a slightly longer cooking time. I seem to be averaging 35 minutes with these little buns. Test by tapping on the bottom – if it sounds hollow it’s generally done. I tip mine out and let them have two minutes extra just to make sure they are cooked inside.

Then enjoy! They freeze well too and I promise you will feel positively prehistoric in your baking triumph!

Bread.

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My mother’s freshly-made seeded bread

Looking back at this midpoint in my life, it’s funny to see how many markers are set in childhood, at least for me. By this, I mean how memories, smells, associations, images and even sensations like touch are ingested in early life, remembered both mentally and physically, and how they continue to have an emotional effect in later years.

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Brioche…with onion rolls on the right

When I was a little girl, we used to live in a village- a medium sized one, as it had its own little church and school – but most importantly, a bakery. Just across the road from our house, where it had been for years…

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Fig and walnut, sweet and rich…

I don’t know if it’s still there, I hope so, as it was the genuine article, big old bread ovens, kneading counters and proving trays, a real step back in time.

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Cheese and tomato flabread

And of course, the smell… that wonderful, evocative smell of bread baking, yeasty and warm, soul soothing and body nurturing.

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Wonderful artisan breads, thank you Alex for use of your photo

It was such a treat as a little girl to go carefully across the road with my mother and sister to collect the bread, choosing the great warm pillowy loaves, crisp and still holding the heat of the old ovens.

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Wholemeal…still warm… 

Then, at home, watching my mother break them open to reveal the complex textured inside, a miracle of tiny bready caves conjured by yeast, warm water and flour. A childhood memory layered with taste, smell and feel…

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A machine made cheese and onion loaf

This love of bread has stayed with me, and I am fascinated by the different varieties you can get nowadays…so essentially this is a food porn post… just look at that butter… melting…

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