Thursday, 1 May 2014

Let's Bake Bread # 2 - The Sponge (No, not the Seinfeld Episode)

Now the moment you've all been waiting for, baking our first Sourdough loaf. This is beyond exciting, and can I say 'good on ya mate' to everyone who's stuck with me so far. You've done a beaut' job to get this far.

Aussie jingoisms aside, thanks for coming on this ride and here's to the success of your first loaf. Let's get started!

Part B
Baking Bread

This is such a satisfying process: you won’t believe what you can do with your own two hands!

Stage 1 -: Making the ‘sponge”
What on earth is a sponge? It’s basically a great big bowl of foamy starter and it’s the basis of a good loaf. It’s the first step in baking:

Ingredients:
-Your jar of starter from the fridge
-1 cup filtered warm water
-1 cup plain white organic flour
- Clean bowl (sterilise with boiling water at this early stage) and wooden spoon.

Above: Look closely, this fully active starter is really foamy and ready to bake bread!

Method

  1. Remove your starter from the fridge and pour into clean bowl.
  2. Add water and stir with wooden spoon till dissolved.
  3. Add flour and mix. You want the consistency of very thick pancake batter. Add more flour or water to reach this consistency.
  4. Cover LOOSELY with plastic wrap, leaving a bit of space on the sides for air and cover with a tea towel. I use the plastic wrap because in winter or cooler climates you want to keep the heat in and this really speeds up the process.
  5. Leave in a warm place (sunroom, windowsill) for between 4 and 12 hours. It will begin to get a few bubbles in the first two hours, then more and more bubbles will form until it’s foamy. At this point it’s ready for the next stage…..
Note: sometimes I’ll age my sponge by leaving it out overnight, especially if it’s slow to bubble, like in winter. By morning it may have a layer of hooch so I’ll mix in half a cup of flour and leave it for another 3 or so hours till it bubbles a second time. This makes a stronger sponge, but it’s not really necessary unless your sponge is having trouble getting going.