Sourdough bread is made without store-bought yeast. While we are trying to be more self-sufficient, baking at home may be just the way to go. All you need is flour and water.
Sourdough is made by lactic acid fermentation of dough. Lactobacillus culture in symbiosis with yeasts are responsible for fermentation process in the mixture of water and flour. The result is CO2 which is responsible for leavening the dough and the distinctive taste and sourness of the bread comes from the lactic acid.
This traditional method of making the bread is not complicated at all. But you need to understand some basics to properly manage to make the starter and to care for it, so you can use it again and again. The same as we do with other cultures like milk and water kefir grains, kombucha SCOBY, etc.
How to make the starter?
Sourdough starter also known as the “chief”, “chef”, “head”, “mother” or “sponge” is a fermented mixture of water and flour. You can buy it or make it from scratch.
To make it from scratch, you need a glass jar with enabled airflow. Kefirko kefir fermenters are perfect for this because of the two-part lid. Then you need flour and water. Make sure, you use quality flour and non-chlorinated water. Rye and whole wheat flours are much more active, so this maybe the way to go when starting.
You start making the starter with small amount of flour and water in the ratio 1:1. Stir the mixture and leave it on the counter until next day. Stir it twice during the day. Then repeat the process every day. In about six days, the starter should be ready to make bread.
How to make sourdough starter with kefir?
You can make sourdough starter with kefir easily and much more faster. This recipe is from our partner 220degreesdiagonally:
- 5 tbsp rye flour (120 – 130 g) – you can use other kinds of flour
- 200 ml homemade milk kefir
- 1 tsp sugar
Mix all ingredients together and leave in warm place until it doubles in quantity and gets bubbles. These amounts are used to prepare approximately 330 g sourdough starter that can be used for 500 g of flour.
Make that dough!
Once you have your starter, you can use it to bake bread all the time. Find the recipe you want, it does not matter what flour is used there, you can feed your starter with other kinds of flour too. You have to make sure to use the starter at the phase when it’s most active, that is usually around 3-5 hours after feeding it.
Before you add sourdough starter, make sure to autolyze your mixture of flour and water that will be used for the bread. This means, you need to mix the water and flour then leave that mixture for at least 30 minutes to rest. This process is important for the gluten structure in your dough. Then it’s time to add the starter and salt and start working the dough.
You can use different techniques and approaches to work your dough. In next few hours, you will be returning to the dough with quick strething and folding of the dough, then leaving it to rest for half an hour. Great cooking channel that will help you with sourdough bread is this one.
Leave to rise and bake the bread
It’s also important to leave the dough enough time to properly rise. This is also called final proofing. Make sure the dough rests in a right-sized basket and covered with a cloth. It should rise at least once in size before you bake it. Just before you bake the bread it’s important to score it, so the crust does not break during baking. You can get very creative here!
There is many interesting content on this on the web, made by home cooks who have baked plenty of bread and are willing to share their experience. There is no excuse now, you can start today.