Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Sourdough Bread Making

Sourdough Bread Making

You can easily make sourdough to give your bread that distinct sour taste. You will find that there are also other of good sources for it like your local grocery store or online. Over time, the process becomes easier, since you already have a pattern of making more to last you for several years. Here are some tried and proven tips to get you started.

To Begin

You will need 2 cups of all-purpose flour, 2 teaspoons of granulated sugar, 2 cups of warm water and 1 packet of active dry yeast. Mix the sugar, yeast and flour in a clean container. Stir the water in and mix continuously until you make a thick paste. Take a dish cloth to cover the container and let it sit at 80 degrees F. The dish cloth will allow wild yeasts to go through into the batter. The mixture will start to bubble as the fermentation process begins. You will notice foam building up as it develops.

You can put the container in the sink. Sourdough can be difficult to clean after it has spilled out onto the counter and dried. Let the mixture sit out anywhere between 2 and 5 days. You can stir it once a day. The starter will be ready when it develops a good sour smell and appears bubbly. As soon as the starter begins to bubble, you can begin feeding it once a day with water and flour according to the directions given. Stir everything in the mix, then cover with a plastic wrap loosely. Provide some breathing room and store on the counter top or inside the refrigerator.

Feeding the Starter

The sourdough starter should be fed daily if you leave it sitting on the counter. You should feed it every other week if kept refrigerated. For counter top stored sourdough starters, remove 1 cup of starter once a day and substitute with a cup of warm water (about 105 to 115 degrees F), plus a cup of flour. Let everything sit for a few hours. Cover the mixture to become active before you use it to make bread.

Refrigerated Sourdough

Refrigerator stored sourdough starters can consume a lot of time and should be fed everyday. You may need another person to continue feeding the starter if you are going out of town for a few days. If you decide to use the starter. Take it out of the refrigerator and allow it to warm to room temperature. It might take a whole night to make this work. Feed it with a cup of water and a cup of flour. Let everything sit for 8 hours or overnight. You may now use it for different sourdough recipes.

If you have stored sourdough starter in the refrigerator for a few months, you may need to feed it 2 to 3 times to activate. Take it out of the fridge 2 to 3 days before using it for baking. Continue the feeding process everyday. If you believe that the sourdough has turned very sour, throw everything away except for a single cup. Add 2 cups of water and 2 cups of flour. Allow it to ferment for 1 day.

Happy baking,

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

The Sourdough Starter Recipe

The Sourdough Starter Recipe

Sourdough started about 6,000 years ago when human found out how to boost the leavening and fermentation of grains to be brewed into drinks or baked into bread. A portion of the fermented grains were then saved by people in the past to begin the fermentation of the next batch of bread. Sourdough was then born from this recurring practice. The saved part is now referred to as a sourdough starter. The bread made from the mix is called sourdough bread.

What is Sourdough?

A sourdough starter is described as a natural leaven, or a mix of liquid and grains where wild yeasts and bacteria thrive to flavor and leaven the bread dough. The yeasts thrive naturally on the grain surface, in the air or soil and in fruits and vegetables. The bacteria are specific strains of the benign bacteria Lactobacillus.

Yeast and lactobacilli live peacefully in a symbiotic relationship. Both do not try to get food from each other. Yeast actually helps feed lactobacilli in certain cases. Lactobacilli, in turn, create an acidic area that is conducive for the yeast. The acids inside the culture will serve as an antibiotic wherein the lactobacilli can provide a protective environment for yeast. Lactobacilli help bread rise as well. Similar to yeast, the bacteria digest simple sugars located in flour to produce carbon dioxide and ethanol. The acetic and lactic acids created add flavor to the bread, having a wide array of flavors. In certain periods, the bread can have a sour tang because of sourdough.

The Recipe

The ingredients you will need are 2 cups of all-purpose flour, 1 packet or 2.25 teaspoons of active dry yeast, 2 teaspoons of granulated sugar and 2 cups of warm water (about 110 to 115 degrees F). You can also get good results by using whole wheat flour. Whole wheat start will not have a lot of rising action compared to something made with white flour. You have to plan longer rising periods. Adding whole wheat flour together with white flour can also be done to cut rising time.

More Tips

If you add some sugar, you will boost the yeast process. Yeast feeds on sugar to get extra energy. Yeast will rise by feeding on the sugars inside the flour and getting rid of carbon dioxide in the process. Do not put in too much sugar, however. If the water you use has chlorine, you can use bottled water, tap water or distilled water instead. Make sure you set this out for 1 days before you make the starter. Chlorine can cease the yeast development.

Mix the yeast, sugar and flour together in a sterile container. Ideally, you should only use ceramic or glass to contain 2 quarts. Stir in the water and continue mixing until you create a thick paste. Cover the container using a dish cloth and allow to sit at 70 to 80 degrees F. Temperatures higher than 100 degrees F usually kill the yeast. Observe how the yeast rises as you finish the process for optimum results.

Happy baking,

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Comparing Sourdough and Sourbread

Comparing Sourdough and Sourbread

Originally, sourdough points to the cultures of various microbes located in the San Francisco area. Later on, the term refers to miners who brought sourdough starters everywhere they go. In recent periods, the growth of huge-scale commercial baking, plus the invention of different dough flavouring agents, led to sourdough referring to any type of sour bread, regardless of whether it is leavened with natural leaven starter or using commercial baker's yeast. The term may confuse a number of individuals, but knowing the details and understanding how it is made can better improve your technique.

The Differences

Sourdough starter is a culture of natural or wild yeast, together with lactobacilli in a medium of liquid and flour. It is propagated using ongoing feedings or refreshments with the sole purpose of leavening bread dough. It is ongoing and continues from one activation or bake to another. Sourdough bread has been leavened using a sourdough starter. It may or may not be a sour bread, based on the characteristics of the starter.

Sourdough is the term used to describe the natural leaven of natural or wild yeast and lactobacilli. It is the process of leavening bread using a natural leaven. The yeasted starter describes the starter that has the commercial bakers' yeast.

Being Sour

Sour bread, also known as faux sourdough, describes any kind of bread that has the sour flavor, because of a flavouring agent like souring salts, ingredients like vinegar or yogurt or process that does not include a natural leaven starter or a sourdough.

Sourdough bread does not have need to be sour bread. Sourdough bread can be very sour, although it is also normal for it not to be sour. It can be subtly flavored using delicious and rich wheaty flavors. With sourdough, the level of sourness will depend on several factors like the kind of grains, temperature, length of fermentation, specific yeast strains and lactobacilli and the amount of water.

About Hooch

As the starter is left in the refrigerator, the mixture will begin to separate, leading to a layer of liquid forming at the top. The liquid will have about 12 to 14 percent alcohol. Hooch is described as the alcoholic by-product of the process of fermentation. This is will feature a unique brownish color. The alcohol dissipates while baking. You can stir the liquid back into the starter before you use it. Hooch can build up in the starter, especially if you keep it in the refrigerator. You can pour it or stir it back inside. You can mix the hooch back in if the sourdough starter is on the dry area. Throw it away if the starter is very moist.

Natural Leavens

Starters created using commercial bakers' yeast are not natural leavens. These are actually yeasted starters that do not produce the same results in terms of shelf-life, flavor and texture like natural leaven starters. It is possible that a yeasted starter can be taken over using natural yeasts and changing it into a natural leaven.

Happy baking,

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Sourdough Starters and Bread Recipes

Sourdough Starters and Bread Recipes

Sourdough used to be made using wild yeasts. The wild yeasts, particularly in San Francisco create a special flavor in breads. A number of sourdoughs are actually hundreds of years old. The starter or sponge is described as a water and flour mixture that has the yeast used to rise the bread. You can get dried versions of these too and activate these. You can make your own sourdough starters by acquiring local wild yeasts.

About Yeast Measurements

When using different kinds of yeasts in bread making recipes, you have to ensure that the conversion is accurate. Multiply the amount of instant yeast by 3 to get the corresponding amount of fresh yeast. Multiply the amount of active dry yeast by 2.5 to get the corresponding amount of fresh yeast. Multiply the amount of instant yeast by 1.25 to get the corresponding amount of active dry yeast.

More Info

The expiration date of yeast is printed on the package. Yeast can expire, and usually lasts longer than the date printed on the packet if it is kept inside the refrigerator. I can last longer if placed inside the freezer. Testing yeast can be done using sugar. To test, you can add 1/2 teaspoon of sugar to the yeast when stirring it into the water to dissolve. If the yeast foams and bubbles within 10 minutes, the yeast is described as active and alive.

The Yeast Starter

You can easily make your own yeast start by taking equal parts of water and flour. Mix them together and leave everything in a warm location. Leave the mixture for 2 days. Afterwards, the starter should appear frothy. The flour and water should have developed by then. The water will also have a distinct smell at the top. This will be the starter of wild yeast.

Making Sourdough Starters

To make sourdough starters, take a cup of starter from a known bakery. Add water and flour to the starter to make more. The starter can go on for decades. You can make the sourdough starter using normally packaged yeast that you can purchase at a local dealer. You can also purchase packaged sourdough starter mix at the grocery. The internet actually now has several dealers and sellers of sourdough starter mixes. All you need to do is make the order, pay the seller through money transfer or credit card, and have the item shipped right to your doorstep in a few days.

Using the Starters

Make sure you save up some of the homemade starters so you can continue developing these for months and years to come. You will need the yeasts and sourdoughs depending on the type of bread you want to make. You will find that these also lead to certain features and characteristics, depending on how much you put in and the kind of ingredients that you add to the mix. Make sure you also place the starters in the right container, so that these do not expire and you retain the properties that lead to quality and great taste.

Happy baking,