It was “National Sourdough Bread Day”  and “Easter Sunday” yesterday so I had a day with my family and there is too much chocolate in the house so I am going to bake something savoury because we are all fed up with chocolate. I am going to make some of this Sourdough Bread today but as I have never  made Sourdough Bread I needed to look up some recipes for baking this type of bread and the reasons why it is called a sourdough? I am assuming that it is made using yeast and probably yoghurt to help the sourness develop but I may be totally wrong.

After reading up on this type of bread I need to mix flour and water – bit like making glue – hehehe!! This mixture is then left open to the air which allows wild yeast along with friendly bacteria called Lactobacillus and Acetobacillus to grow. These bacteria and wild yeast then ferment the sugars in the dough just like standard commercial yeast. So I was wrong no yeast is added so it is a lot like Irish Soda Bread which is delicious and rises well without the addition of yeast but it does have the bicarbonate of soda and buttermilk combination going on. I have a recipe for my Irish Soda Bread on my recipe page.

Irish Soda Bread

On looking further it appears that a starter culture of flour and water is needed as you are supposed to keep the mixture in the warm and open to the air in order for wild yeasts and bacteria to develop. This fermenting mixture is left for up to week but you need to constantly check, decant, stir and top up the ingredients in order to improve the sourness of the end product but I don’t really have the time to do this ( I don’t think). You can buy sourdough starter cultures online from Amazon if you want a bit of help with the starter culture and don’t have the time.

It may be what they do in established bakeries and so on where only some of the starter culture is used in the recipe and the rest is kept and fed to create more starter culture but I may have to make “untrue Sourdough Bread“. I know a bit of a cop out but needs must as I only have a certain time frame. I may try both and leave a culture to develop for a week – if the children don’t contaminate it. 🙂

I wonder how the supermarket bakeries make their Sourdough Bread – if they use a starter culture or standard commercial yeast. Maybe it is something I will never find out – trade secret and all that?

Once you make a starter culture you keep it in the fridge and maintain it by feeding it with fresh flour and water and keep using it to make bread with.

  • When it comes to using it you decant some off the night before and leave it to “leaven” but make sure to replace what you have used by adding more flour and water. Leavening involves mixing a small amount of your chilled culture with more flour and water which is allowed to ferment at room temperature overnight. When you use the “leaven” it should be bubbly and smell slightly sour.
  • Once the dough is made you leave it to “autolyse” for several hours so that the dough is fully hydrated which allows the enzymes in the flour to break down some of the starch in the flour into simpler sugars in preparation for the next stage where the wild yeast use the sugar to ferment the dough.
  • Salt is then added, if required, as it can hinder the autolysis stage if added too soon. After this is done you then “fold” the dough then rest the dough rather than knead it. This creates a dough that is shiny and smooth in appearance.
  • After this stage, the dough needs to be proved and this is where it gets tricky especially if you don’t have the fancy proving baskets or dutch ovens. I am going to look into this further to see if this can be overcome or completed a different way.

Well, there are many ways to make Sourdough Bread some of them more authentic than others so I am going to just make mine up as I go and pick the best bits/bits that I can do with the equipment I have and see what happens. I am definitely going to try adding yoghurt to the recipe at some point but in the meantime I am off to make some glue – ooopps  I mean starter culture and leave it for a while. I will take photos along the way but this is going to be a week long process just to make some authentic Sourdough Bread and I will make some Sourdough Bread using dried yeast in the recipe. Sorry needs must and all that. I may have to ask my commercial breadmaker friend if they have a sourdough culture stock so I can try and make the Sourdough Bread three different ways. 🙂