Something so simple, but when made right.. It is crunchy on the outside, soft and airy inside and the best of all - the taste is so good no matter what you put on it. So what is the magic that makes some of the breads so much better than others? What makes the bread so nice you keep thinking about it?
Learning something new is always fun and the ongoing social distancing has given us an opportunity to spend more time at home. Learning to make the good bread is something we have wanted to do for a while so we thought now is the time.
After studying different recipes, ingredients and methods of bread making, the idea starts to be more clear. All the breads we've liked recently are made into sourdough instead of yeast. So what is sourdough and why it makes the bread nicer?
Wikipedia says: "Sourdough is a stable culture of lactic acid bacteria and yeast in a mixture of flour and water. Broadly speaking, the yeast produces gas (carbon dioxide) which leavens the dough, and the lactic acid bacteria produce lactic acid, which contributes flavour in the form of sourness."
Sounds simple, right? Well, let's not delve too deep into details of chemistry and concentrate on the fact that the sourdough bread does taste very good, and finally learn how to do it.
The best part of sourdough bread is the simplicity of it. You only need 3 ingredients to make it - water, flour and salt.
It does take some time and patience to make good bread but it is definitely worth it. We've now made around 10 loaves (and crisp-breads and pancakes and..) during last few weeks and start to slightly understand the secret life of our new sourdough friend.
There is a million ways to make the starter and the bread but this here are the MOIMOI recipes for the starter and a bread.
The starter takes around 2 weeks until it's fully active for proper baking. You'll need organic white flour and luke warm water.
- Day. Put 80g water and 50 flour into a jar. Mix.
- Day. Sit back and relax, starter is starting.
- Day. Add 80g water and 50g flour into the same jar. Mix.
- Day. Pour 50g of starter into another jar. Add 80g water and 50g flour. Mix. Throw the leftover starter in bio waste.
- Day. Pour 40g of starter into another jar. Add 40g water and 40g flour. Mix. Leftover starter can be made into a pancake or thrown into bio waste.
- Day. Repeat the Day 5 task. Keep repeating every day until the starter floats in water.
Float testing is easy. Put a little bit of the starter in glass of water. If it floats, it is ready for the first bread tryout! When your starter is active and good for baking, it can be refrigerated and doesn't need feeding until you want to bake again.
This method takes around 6h to make. This is mostly waiting time so it is possible to do other stuff at the same time. Once the dough is ready we like to add slow cold fermentation over night into the process. This allows the bacteria to break down the carbohydrates and gluten and also neutralizes the phytic acid, making it easier for the body to digest + the taste is better.
You'll need 250g luke warm water, 375g flour, 100g starter and 7g salt to make 1 loaf of bread.
Step 1. Autolysis - 30min
- Mix starter into water.
- Add flour into the mix. (Don't knead, just mix) Cover and let it sit for 30min.
Step 2. Folding and pre-proofing - 4h
Folding is a very simple stretch 'n fold operation from four sides. Internet is full of instructions on this.
- Add salt and poke it into the dough. Make first folding and transfer the dough to a clean bowl.
- Fold 3-4 more times every half hour.
- Cover and let it sit until 4h has passed since first folding.
Step 3. Preshaping and shaping - 1h 30min
We use only hands for shaping since we don't have a scraper. Check inspiration from internet on how to do shaping. There's a few different ways to do this.
- Pre shape the loaf and let it sit on the table for half hour.
- Make the wanted final shaping to the bread and transfer to proofing basket covered with a cloth and flour (any bowl or sieve etc. is fine). Let it sit wrapped in the cloth for 1h in room temperature.
Step 4. Cold fermentation - over night
- Transfer the proofing basket into refrigerator and keep it there over night until the baking time.
Scoring and baking- 40-45min
- Place a dutch oven into the oven and heat the oven to 250°
- Transfer the cold fermented dough straight from fridge to the dutch oven carefully.
- Score the bread. One long functional angled cut is good so the loaf has room to grow from it. Rest of the scoring is up to your artistic taste.
- Bake ~20min with lid on
- Take lid off and drop the temperature to 220°. Bake another ~20min until the bread is nicely browned
- Remove the bread from dutch oven and let it rest at least 1h before cutting it
Enjoy the bread 🥖
The taste of the slow fermented sourdough bread is something else and doesn't necessary need anything with it. However curious mind always wants more and experimenting with different tastes is endless. We got carried away with fermenting and made other ferments (like Dijon mustard that goes WELL with the bread) but maybe that's a story for another time.
It's also good to remember that making bread is fairly forgiving science. Sometimes it feels you've ruined the dough completely but decide to bake it anyway. Surprise, it tastes good every time!
Finally a small word of a warning! Once you get the starter, dough and finally the breads going the way you like, there's no turning back to anything else but your own precious piece of crunchy, soft and delicious loaf. Enjoy!