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First easy sourdough bread

As I am very often asked how to start making bread with sourdough, I will show you how to make your first sourdough bread, explaining in detail the what, the how and the why of every step of the sourdough bread making.  

Let’s start first with, WHY to bake sourdough bread? Why is sourdough bread so special? The answer is simple, because it is healthy, tastes and smells incredibly.

Unlike the yeast bread, sourdough bread requires more time and its making spreads over several hours or even days. The sourdough bacteria needs time to eat the sugars in your flour and this works also in your advantage in order to develop amazing flavors and to make more digestible and healthier bread. 

Sourdough bread making has the following successive phases: 

  • First, is the flour hydration, in a phase called autolyse

  • Then, when the sourdough starter is added, starts another phase called bulk or first fermentation

  • Then it follows a second phase of fermentation, known also as final fermentation that starts after the bread is shaped.

  • Then is the baking and

  • In the end, you let the bread to cool at room temperature.

The entire process takes almost one day, starting, lets say, Saturday at 2pm and putting the bread on the table for the Sunday’s lunch. However, only 30 to 45 minutes in total you’ll need to effectively dedicate from your time to make this bread.

Sourdough focaccia

I made a lot of types of bread but foccaccia is one of them I haven't try so far. 
With the purpose to have fun with the kids, I gathered my son and daughter in the kitchen and start playing with ingredients. Of course, the dough was already prepared, so I gave them 2 trays and 2 dough. It was fun for them to deep the fingers into the dough that was really wet. Then, the artistic arrangement came naturally. No inspiration from somewhere else. I just explained them that we need to make a painting out of the ingredients and the imagination opened its wings.
First one, on the top, was done by my 3 years old son, with just a little help from my side. Second one was fully the work of art of my 7 years old daughter. The entire activity was so much fun and we spent such a great time together. In the meantime, my husband prepared the wood fire in the oven and, in the end, we baked the 2 focaccia inside. It was tricky to know how much time was needed for the baking but finally they turned out to be just perfectly cooked.
Mmmmmniam.
An experience that for sure I'll have to repeat.

White Sourdough Bread

 

When you target a high hydration loaf (and this one is 80% hydration) you need to have a bit of understanding about how the dough behaves and what you need to do. I did high hydration loaves before and they were a total mess. They almost all finished in a bread pan to avoid having a flat bread on my stone.
But the dough handling is a continuous learning process. You learn specific techniques and the dough behaves much better. These techniques must be applied by yourself many times in order to develop the right skills and the right eye.
Although I bake sourdough breads for more than 6 years, I still feel myself a novice. And yes, during these years I made tasty and beautiful breads. Did I take out the best flavors from the flours? Did I raised them to their maximum potentials? Probably not, but I learn with every single bake. And you know that feeling, you feel today smarter than yesterday.
Yes, this is an 80% hydration dough and I honestly say that I didn't feel this at all. With a good strong flour, with a proper autolyse, with the right kneading and folding techniques it looks like a piece of cake. This challenges me to try an even higher hydration dough, and I know that one day I will try again my limits.
For the moment I enjoy this lovely bread made with my own hands ....

Autolyse. How to make better sourdough bread ?

 

Today, is not about a recipe, it is about a technique used in bread baking. This is autolyse. I invite you to watch this video about why you should do an autolyse, what are the benefits and what is the science behind autolyse.


Enjoy!

Sourdough pancakes

Since I am keeping my sourdough at room temperature I need to feed it twice a day. I remain with some quantities of discarded sourdough that I keep in the fridge in a closed pot. I do not like to through away flour so the discarded sourdough I use it in many recipes. I feed my sourdough in 1:2:2 proportions (sourdough:water:flour), more exactly 15g of sourdough + 30g of water + 30g of flour. This means that I remain with 60g of discarded sourdough at every feed. I use both white flour and whole wheat flour and the type of flour doesn't really matter if this discarded part arrives in a pancake composition.

This recipe uses exclusively the flour in the sourdough and no extra one is added. My sourdough is kept at 100% hydration, meaning that half is flour and half is water. It took me a while to perfect this recipe and I am happy that I finally found a good formula. The pancakes should not be cooked too much otherwise become crispy. If this is your style feel free to brown them well, but I prefer them soft, so I can roll them with a spoon of chocolate or jam. This means that immediately they turn brownish I turn them on the other side or remove them from the pan.

These are flat pancakes in the French style not on the American style. The difference is that the American ones are more thick and small, while the French ones are flat, thin and larger.

I give here the basic ingredients for 100g of sourdough. From this basic recipe you get about 3 pancakes of 22 cm. If you have more sourdough, just multiply the ingredients. What I like is that as soon as I have some left over sourdough I bake few pancakes to have them fresh in the morning. For this particular photo, I baked a huge quantity of pancakes from 1500g of sourdough that I gathered for 2 weeks in the fridge.