I am writing this post while munching my way through freshly baked rye sourdough.. I thought I would have needed only a couple of slices..but the smell is stronger than me.So excuse me. I am going to grab myself some more so I have enough to get me through writing this post.. :)
Have you ever heard about sourdough bread? Naturally leavened bread with gorgeous smell, amazing crust and the best flavour? A real bread that feeds your soul and body; bread that leaves you feeling happy and nourished. Sourdough bread is a tradition, it is one of the life´s simplest pleasures.
I grew up in a small village. There used to be a bakery which baked massive amounts of bread a couple times of day. I remember that everytime I was walking pass by that bakery, I stopped for a moment. I was trying to inhale as much of the beautiful aroma of freshly baked bread as possible. It was something magical that everyone loved. The smell of fresh bread is unbeteable. It reminds me of home, it reminds me of comfort and family.
The smell of freshly baked bread reminds me of my grandma and greatgrandma baking their own breads using fresh yeast, mixing the dough with their wrinkled hands, using their old gas ovens, putting a lot of time, love and energy into their breads so they could make something that would bring the whole family together. Then we would torn the bread into pieces, spread proper butter on top, sprinkle it with chives and sea salt and.. and indulge in something so simple but phenomenal.
There is a very old tradition in my country – every guest that comes to your house needs to be welcomed properly; with piece of bread and salt. I don´t know whether there are people who still do it religiously or not, but let me tell you, I try to do so. I try to keep holding onto traditions, do what I was taught to do and appreciate the greatest gift of life – bread.
Everyone loves it, everyone adores ´fighting´ over the crunchy end of the bread. Everyone loves dipping pieces of torn bread into soups, letting the bread soaking up all the flavours from the dish. Everyone loves waiting patiently for a fresh bread to be cut, everyone loves the crunch of the crust. A real bread is life´s simplest pleasure. It´s a gift.. And I treasure it.
(Let me just get myself some more slices of my freshly baked rye as it smells so divine and irresistible!..)
Bread should be simple. It should be baked using only 3 simple ingredients. Flour, water, salt. (And time). It´s all about simple ingredients, traditions and beautiful flavours. It´s about being patient. It´s about believing in magic, because sourdough bread baking is kind of like a magic. Magic of creating something amazing out of nothing.
SOu, but let me tell you, sourdough bread baking is addicting. Once you start, you are unable to stop. It is rewarding and so bloody delicious. And to be honest, it is one of the best changes you can ever make for a healthier you, for a healthier body.
If you are drooling over your computer screen as I am describing the deliciousness of bread, well done me. This is what to do to get you started for your sourdough journey.
Let´s make our sourdough starter. It is the beating heart of your bread, it is what makes your bread to become.. wel.. bread. :)
My sourdough starter is almost 2 years young and I couldn´t be prouder to have it. It´s like having a little living creature inside of my fridge. I even named her. :) I call her Zuza- as I believe the name sounds powerful and strong. (It does, doesn´t it?) And that´s how we all want our sourdough starters to be, so it could keep baking gorgeous loaves of bread until the end of days!
You can make your own sourdough starter or get one from someone who bakes such a bread. It´s more fun to create it yourself though, so let´s do it! :)
Rye Sourdough Starter
In a glass jar (the biggest you can find), mix together equal amounts of rye flour and water. (100g flour+100g water). Mix it together until a thicker paste forms. It should be a little thicker than a pancake dough. Cover with a clingfilm and leave to ferment for 24 hours. Use only a wooden spoon/spatula when handling your starters/flours/living creatures. Leave it in a warm place.
After 24hours of fermenting, uncover your dough. There won´t be any massive changes happening, but don´t worry. It´s been only 24 hours.
Add in 50g of rye flour and 50g of water (always room temperature). Mix it into a thicker paste – add in more water if the mixture seems too thick. Cover with a clingfilm and leave it to ferment another 24 hours.
Small bubbles might start appearing on the top of your starter. Add in 50g of flour and 50g of water exactly like you did on a second day. Mix it properly (with a wooden spoon), cover with a clingfilm and leave to ferment for another 24hours.
On the forth day, your starter should be nice and bubbly with acidic smell. It should smell more or less like an apple cider vinegar.
Get rid of half of your starter and feed it with 50g of flour and 50g of water every day for the next 4 days. Just keep repeating the process.
On the 8th day, you starter should be really active, very bubbly and it should smell wonderful. A little sour, though. I mean, it´s called sourdough, after all. :)
In this stage, your starter is ready for some serious bread baking. So, use it in a recipe or put it to the fridge unti you´ll decide to bake bread.
I have got a starter, now what?
Use the starter in zillion of gorgeous recipes there are out there, or simply put your starter to the fridge. And don´t forget to name it! :)
You can keep the starter in your fridge for up to a week if you are not baking with it. So, if the starter is inactive for a week, you will need to feed it to keep the bacteria happy and healthy.
I normally keep only about a tablespoon of the starter in my fridge and feed it with a couple of tablespoons of flour and some water. I mix it and pop it back to the fridge. It lasts a week like this. And then you bake with it or feed it again. And so it goes like this. Try to bake with it as you want the starter to be strong, healthy and active. But I promise you that once you will start baking, there is no way back. :)
Also, keep the starter in the fridge, in a glass jar. Keep a lid on the jar, but don´t screw it all the way so the starter can ´breathe´.
Everytime you are handling your starter, use wooden and glass utensils only as the starter doesn´t like anything plastic or metallic.
That is all what you need to know, really. The rest you will learn along the way.
Now, get your starter going and we will try to bake bread together. Zeah? I will post the recipe for rye sourdough bread very soon-make sure you will have your starter ine the best shape! :)
It is fun, it is easy, so enjoy the ride whatever you do! :)