By: Beth Rotto, Cheese and Chill Buye
What a response to my last article on fermenting! Many of you are joining in the fun, fermenting everything from rice wine to sauerkraut to kefir and more. I’m learning so much from you. At the moment I’m on a quest to perfect sourdough bread using the sourdough starter we sell from Waving Grains Bakery. Now I’m using potato water (the water I drain off when boiling potatoes) instead of plain water, and I’m letting my dough rise overnight or longer in the refrigerator and I’m baking it on a sheet instead of in pans. I’ve purchased an instant read digital thermometer (very inexpensive) to check the temperature inside my loaves. (Every experiment has actually been delicious.)
What do I love about making my own sourdough bread? I love that it does not seem to spoil. I used to be discouraged when I made homemade bread because I always made two loaves and often the second one was moldy (summer) or dry (winter) before we finished it. I just hated that. With sourdough bread, it just keeps on being good.
I also like the fact that the dough is so simple to put together. It’s easy to incorporate a little salt, olive oil and flour to make the loaf, and I only knead it a little while. Simple. What I don’t like is that if I don’t wash anything that had the starter on it right away, it cements to the spoon or bowl and needs soaking. No procrastinating!
The third reason I love sourdough is that it is easier to digest than regular bread. The action of the enzymes in the starter work on the wheat flour, which is a complex carbohydrate and naturally difficult to digest, to make it more digestible. This is fermenting’s claim to fame. You are actually fermenting with the soaking and longer rising time of sourdough baking.
Isn’t it funny how you can be thinking of something and suddenly that thing keeps coming up in all sorts of different conversations and contexts? Recently I attended a poetry reading by Co-op member Richard Simon Hanson at ArtHaus. He shared a poem he wrote for his wife, Rita, which is full and rich with imagery of fresh-baked bread. For years, he and Rita kept a sourdough starter, and they shared it with their friends, Perry-O and David Sliwa. Now, for your pleasure, here’s Simon’s poem, and the Sliwa’s reflections on sharing sourdough and a tried and true recipe with variations.
Richard Simon Hanson’s Sour Dough Bread
(makes 4 loaves)
1 cup starter
4 cups lukewarm water
6 cups white flour
Combine in a large bowl, cover and store in a warm place overnight.
In the morning:
Reserve some starter for next batch. Put in refrigerator.
To remainder add:
6 tablespoons sugar or honey
2 tablespoons salt
½ cup wheat germ (optional)
This can be divided into two bowls to make two kinds of bread:
Anise Orange Rye and Garlic Basil Golden Wheat (2 loaves each)
For Anise Orange Rye Bread – add:
¼ cup anise seed
¼ cup orange peel
1 cup rye flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup any kind of flour
For Garlic/Basil Golden Wheat – add:
8 cloves garlic, crushed or chopped fine
1/4 cup basil, chopped
About 3 cups Golden White flour
Instructions for both types: mix in flour and other additional ingredients and knead until smooth. Cover, let rise in a warm place until doubled in size (about 1 hour). Punch down, shape into rounds and place on a cookie sheet. Cover, let rise until double in size (about 30 minutes). Pre-heat oven to 450 degrees (hot). Bake 20 minutes at 450 degrees. After first 5 minutes, spritz with water. Repeat after 5 minutes. After the initial 20 minutes, turn temperature to 350 degrees and continue to bake for and additional 20 to 25 minutes. Bake to an internal temperature of 190 degrees. Cool on a rack.