Sourdough

A step-by-step guide to making both wheat flour sourdough and the gluten-free variety.

For the last two weeks I have been experimenting more with sourdough.  I made a plant last week from  wheat  flour as usual, using stone ground wholemeal flour and warm water.  All you need to do is mix 2 tablespoons of the flour with about 3 tablespoons warm water.  I use tank water which is free of chemicals.  I left this outside, bringing it in at night.  Each day I added a heaped tablespoonful of the flour and about 2 tablespoons water, mixing well.  In a couple of days it had started to bubble, very promising.  I waited until I had about 2 cupfuls and used it as the yeast in my bread, keeping back half a cupful as the plant for future loaves.    It worked really well.

I was told by a learned baker that the sign of a good sourdough loaf is a good texture and the lack of a “wet line” just above the bottom crust.  Mine fitted this criteria so I was very happy indeed.  All I needed to do was keep feeding the remaining plant the tablespoon of flour plus the water each day, putting it outside with a loose cover in the day and bringing it in faithfully each night.

I had often wondered if a gluten free sourdough starter could be achieved so tried this out at the same time, again using 2 tablespoons flour (I used Orgran gluten free plain flour) and enough water to make it into a quite liquid mix.  It needed  just a little whisking to break up any lumps.  Each day I added a heaped tablespoon of gluten free flour and more warm water (about 2 tablespoons).  It really worked – the lack of gluten was no inhibitor at all to the fermentation process.

Much encouraged I made loaves from each of my starters – that is one wheaten loaf, and a gluten free one.  Both were very successful so they are worth giving a try.  The gluten free loaf was far superior to any I’ve ever bought commercially (even then, they weren’t sourdough loaves).

The recipes for each of these plants and their derivative loaves follow.  Keep in mind that the rising is slower than when using commercially prepared yeast, but have patience –  it is well worth the wait.

I am afraid however, that my original plants came to a sticky end.  One night I neglected to bring them inside and the local possum made a feast of them.  All is not lost as I now have another successful plant of each on the go.

Wheat flour sourdough loaf

 1½ cups of sourdough starter (plant, as above)

3 cups plain flour

2 teaspoons salt

3 teaspoons sugar

2 tablespoons olive oil

½ to ¾ cup warm water

Mix all together well, using only ½ cup water at first, to make a soft dough.  Cover the bowl with a tea towel and leave to rise until about doubled in a warm place.

Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth.  Cut into two equal pieces and place side by side in an 18cm x 28cm greased deep loaf tin.  Allow ro rise almost to the top of the tin, then bake at 200°C for 15 minutes, then reduce heat to 180°C and cook for 25 minutes more or until the loaf sounds hollow when tapped with the fingertips.

Turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

Gluten free sourdough loaf

 1 cup gluten free sourdough starter (as per introduction)

2 cups gluten free plain flour

1½ tablespoons olive oil

1 teaspoon salt

1 ½ teaspoons sugar

Mix all together well, mixing in some warm water if needed to make a very soft dough.

Cover the bowl with a tea towel and leave to rise until about doubled in a warm place.

Grease a loaf tin 10cm x 22cm (approximately).  Beat the mixture with a spoon, then pour into the prepared tin.

Allow to rise almost to the top of the tin, then bake at 200°C for 15 minutes, then reduce heat to 180°C and cook for 15 minutes more or until the loaf sounds hollow when tapped with the fingertips.

Turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely.