Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Sourdough bread

One of my new years resolutions was to resume bread making. For years I made our bread, then for some reason, not sure what I stopped, and then got out of the habit of it. But this time, I've decided to give sourdough another go (I tried it a few times but failed to raise a leaven). This time I have had some sucess, although there is so much to learn about the craft of bread making. I recently bought this book, and it re-inspired me. Good 'real' bread is hard to find, the stuff (or should I say fluff) supermarkets sell, is not 'real' bread. Bread should be wholesome and nutritious.

I am concerned about what we humans are doing to our food and how that will affect us and our kids, so I am doing all I can to provide my family with good food. We mostly eat organic (unless we eat out), and yes it costs more, but you are what you eat, and pesticides can bioaccumulate so every bit counts. The other important thing about eating organic, is that by doing so, you are supporting farmers who (mostly) care about doing the right thing. I have worked on farms, and know many people that have worked on farms, and I KNOW that the right thing ISN'T always done, and sprays that shouldn't be used (because they are illegal) do get used, and that crops are picked when they have just been sprayed (even if there is a longer whitholding period). This doesn't happen all the time, but at the end of the day, its a business, and if the fruit needs to be picked, well too bad for 'right or wrong'....

Anyway, back to sourdough. I know people probably think making your own bread is too much work, but it really isn't that bad. Especially if you use sourdough rather that commercial yeast (because of the the longer proving (resting) periods), as you can leave it during the day while you are at work or whatever, knead it and bake it when you can. To make a starter all you need is flour and water and a glass or pottery type of bowl, and a tea towel or cloth. You mix flour and water to a batter consistency (check the web for the various recipes there are so many individual ways), and let it sit for a few days (feeding it more flour after a day or 2. It should start bubbling if the wild yeasts have colonised it.

my starter!

Then you mix this with you flour - I usually do about 1kg of flour (2 loaves) at a time - and salt, to a dough consistency, knead it for a few minutes, let it prove (rise) for however long it takes to double or a bit less (I left mine for most of the day, which seemed about right for it), knead it, shape it, put it in a tin or basket to prove again, slash and bake. This is just my version of it, but do read up before trying it as I may have forgotten something.

I have got to work on the whole slashing, as all I seem to get is cuts rather than the really cool looking loaves I have seen, oh well, practice makes perfect and we do eat alot of bread - so there will be plenty of practice!

The breads that you can create are truly works of art (once you get the hang of it), its very inspiring. And the best part is that its actually good for you!

Next on my list is to buy a flour mill and grind our own flour fresh, as freshly ground flour has alot more nutrients in it. (and yes on the one day in the future list is growing our own wheat, and yep you guessed it, cutting it with the scythe!!)


  1. your bread looks great Sharon, I love homemade multigrains & wholemeal breads myself, but nowadays I very rarely eat bread anymore :)

    love your little orange package of goodies :D

  2. Ah, sourdough. I accidentally killed my beloved starter this summer. Time to get another one going, I think.