Sourdough revived (sourdough no. 4)

You may have read my previous sourdough posts. I have killed a previous starter, in fact twice, I got some back from my brother and killed that too!
Last time I was in London my brother in-law gave me some more, this time from a pizza restaurant, it made very nice bread. I made a few batches, have left it two weeks and it was fine. Then last weekend I forgot to start it off on the Friday night… oops, then forgot to start it off on Saturday night… oops again. I work as a supply teacher and didn’t have work booked on Monday so I set a batch off on the Sunday night.
Sods law I got a call on Monday, worked, got home and found the starter bubbling away, now I had work booked on Tuesday and Wednesday and nearly threw it away, but the fridge had room so I put it in to see what happened, I do hate throwing food away.

On Thursday (so it had been 24 hours out then 2 days in the fridge) I had a day free, so I looked at the starter, it smelt fine, (kind of sour!) I mixed 50g of flour with 100g of boiling water and then mixed that into the starter from the fridge. I wanted to get an answer as to whether I would be able to use it as quickly as possible so wanted to warm it quickly. After about half an hour in a very low oven (about 40 degrees Celsius) it was obviously alive and well so I went ahead. I took away the flour and water that I had already added from the recipe. This time I also added about 80 g seeds, a mix of sesame, poppy and sunflower, I added them with the olive oil after the one hour proving.
I also tried the bread in a loaf tin for a change, that also seems to have done well, tin oiled and floured and dough proved in the tin.
I do use the oven to prove it, as the house is pretty cold at the moment, I just leave it less than the 3-6 hours recommended in the original recipe I was given, yesterday the loaves had doubled in size in about 1 1/2 hours.

So a recap of the recipe (with experiential changes)

24 g of the starter you keep in the fridge,
add 150g of tepid water and add 150g of flour,
mix and leave covered in a warm place overnight.

To the remainder of the starter add 10-20 g of flour and up to 10 g tepid water mix well, leave out of fridge for a couple of hours to allow the yeasts to get going on some of the new flour/food then put back in the fridge. (I left it overnight once and then had very active starter that kept trying to escape from the plastic pot in the fridge).

Next day (or some time later!) to that add;
250 g tepid water and mix
add 500 g flour (1/2 white, 1/2 brown)
5 g salt and mix.

Leave for 10 minutes in a warm place then mix by dragging the edge into the middle with your hands, repeat twice.
Leave for an hour.

Add 20 g olive oil and 80 g or so of seeds if you want.
Mix as above then tip out onto a work surface and knead for about 10 minutes, divide in two, prove, either in a basket lined with a flour dusted tea towel or in a tin, oiled and floured.
Leave in a warm place until doubled in size (1 1/2 to 6 hours depending on how warm it is).
Bake in a hot oven 220 degrees Celsius, (put a roasting tin with 1/2 pint of water in the bottom of the hot oven, this gives a better bake) for 30 minutes or until it sounds hollow when tapped on the bottom.

It freezes really well, lasts well and is supposedly easier to digest than “normal” bread.

I read (probably in McGee on Food and Cooking) that oil can inhibit the gluten release from the dough, hence adding it right at the end, salt on the other hand did something good, can’t remember what, so goes in at the beginning…


I’ve killed my sourdough!

Having been so pleased to get a sourdough starter off a friend last Autumn, I have been careless enough to let it die.
My excuses are a lack of the usual amount of “free” time I have had since mid January as I have had a part time teaching job, and a nearly 2 hour daily commute, and that we have a new bakery in the village which we have been trying to support.
I left it at least a month the last time, 2 weeks seemed to be fine, but obviously it ran out of food as I had not kept it topped up with fresh flour.
Anyway the good news is that I’m going to see my brother at half term and he had some off me so maybe he’ll give me a bit back. He has been much more scientific than me about the whole process reading loads of stuff on the internet. Typical of him! I tend to be a bit random with my cooking, usually it works well.
So here’s hoping he’ll spare me a bit and I can get back to great bread.

Sourdough Bread at long last.

I’ve been wanting to make some sourdough bread for years, since I started eating wheat again after 12 years of avoidance. SL701477I never had the courage to just leave some flour and water out to make a starter as I have seen on the internet. However when visiting an old friend a few weeks ago he had a starter, and offered to give me some of it. (I’ve known him a massive 30 years not that he’s old!) I gratefully bit his hand off and came home delighted. Didn’t get round to making any bread for ages, I thought I’d managed to kill it, but thankfully he had given me a copy of the instructions he had got from the course he had been on. So I refreshed it as per instructions and had a go, the first attempt was a total disaster, I didn’t follow the recipe exactly and was a little impatient which resulted in 2 brick like baps. (Although grated and soaked in hot water the chickens have enjoyed them…)

Last Friday I had another go and it worked wonderfully, even though I say so myself!

So the recipe…

25 g of starter mixed with 150 g white flour and 150 g/ml tepid water and left overnight.

To the resulting mixture, bubbling away, add a further 250 g/ml tepid water,

then add 500 g flour (I used half white half wholemeal bread flours) and 5 g salt and mix well.

Leave covered for 10 minutes then pull the dough from the edge of the bowl into the middle and turn it and repeat until you’ve been all the way round the bowl.

Repeat twice, then leave for an hour.

“Knead” by doing the same as above on a work surface a little bit more than before, split the dough into 2 parts, put in a basket lined with a tea towel with a bit of flour on it and leave to rise (prove) for 3-6 hours… yes that’s what I thought! Until doubled in size.

Turn onto greased and floured baking sheet and cook for 30-40 minutes at 200 degrees (fan oven), with a tray of water in the bottom.

Success seems to be dependent on the proving, it’s been pretty cold in my kitchen recently so rather than put the heating on I put the small oven on for a few minutes on 50 degrees and used that for the last part of proving in the baskets, I put the oven on a couple of times, making sure it wasn’t hot enough to kill the yeasts or singe the tea towels! It was around 34 degrees most of the time.

Friendship cake recipe or what to do with Herman!

Herman friendship cakes have been around for a while (sourdough of course goes on forever, apparently there is a bread maker in London using 170 year old starter), I remember a friend’s Mum making it back in the mid 80s.
One came round our town a few months ago and I took a bit of a friends… There was a recipe with it, and feeding instructions, involving a lot of stirring and counting days. I decided that enough people had it, some I know had had enough, so I thought I’d bake 3/4, and keep 1/4. I followed the recipe scaling it up (it was written for 1/4 – you’re supposed to cook 1/4 and give 2 away to friends) the resulting cake was enormous and quite bland so the next time I decided to change it. I also renamed the starter Dewi, as we are in Wales (Dewi is pronounced, around here, almost like doughy). After a few reasonable attempts I now have 2 good recipes to share, I hope you enjoy the results, we have.
The feeding regime provided on the sheet I got with it was not particularly straightforward, I forgot what day I was on, didn’t stir it for days and got in a muddle – but I didn’t kill it… So now I just feed it every 5th day, I don’t bother stirring in between and I cook it whenever I get round to it, usually after 2 feedings but once after 3 feedings and a couple of days… All have worked fine.


New feeding regime:
one cup = 175 ml = 6 floz
100 g plain flour
140 g sugar
175 ml milk
Add all to Dewi and stir, you don’t have to get all the lumps out.
Cover the bowl with a tea towel (a 2 pint /1 litre bowl is just too small and the tea towel will get a bit of Dewi on it when it bubbles up). Put it in a corner of the kitchen out of the way. DO NOT PUT IN FRIDGE, you’ll kill the yeasts/bacteria.

The reason for feeding it is of course to keep the bugs alive, (if the mixture doesn’t bubble a few hours after you have added the new stuff then it is dead!) There are benefits from eating starches that have been digested by a sourdough culture, it is apparently easier to digest and more nutritious.
So to the important bit…

Recipe 1 Chocolate and pear version:
You should have about 840-880 g of Dewi, save 1/4 of it, 210-220 g.
I use a 2lb loaf tin lined with baking parchment and a 20 by 24 cm silicon baking tray, or 2 2lb loaf tins and a 1 lb loaf tin all lined with baking parchment.
Oven heated to 180 degrees Celsius.

To the rest in a large mixing bowl add:
300 g self raising flour
400 g sugar
130 g sunflower oil
4 medium eggs
90 g sifted cocoa
Mix really well, you could use an electric mixer, but I don’t usually bother as the batter is really thick and elastic so it’s hard to wash the beaters, I just use a silicon spatula.

Then add the final ingredients when your oven is hot and the tins are ready.
I have used some pears that I had jarred a couple of years ago, not very tasty on their own but a nice texture in the cake, or you could use 1 or 2 tins of fruit or dried fruit or nuts, or not bother…
3 teaspoons baking powder.
Mix really well and quickly pour into the tins (the baking powder starts to work as soon as it is wet, so the longer it takes to get in the oven the less the cakes will rise), bake for 45 mins to an hour, until it is firm to the touch and a skewer when poked into the middle comes out clean.

Recipe 2 Banana and dried fruit version:

Method as above

300 g self raising flour
250 g sugar
3 medium eggs
130 g sunflower oil
Mix well.

Then add:
200 g sultanas or other dried fruit
2 large very ripe bananas (or 3 smallish or whatever)
2 teaspoons cinnamon
3 teaspoons baking powder
Mix well and pour into tins,
sprinkle a little sugar on the top of the batter to make a crunchy crust, and bake as above.

Take out of the tins after a little cooling and store when cool in an airtight tin or wrapped in cling film. They freeze well, and, because of the sourdough will keep for some time. (I have had one that lasted 3 weeks out of the fridge, though it was a bit dry by then!)

Please share any succesful versions you have tried, I’m always up for trying something new.