Thursday, 1 May 2014

Let's Bake Bread # 3 - The D'oh!

We are getting ever closer to putting our loaf in the oven. Onto the next stage.

Stage 2 -: Making the dough
-Your ‘sponge’ mixture (which will be foamy by this stage)
-3 to 5 cups of organic rye bread mix (or half white flour, half rye flour) -½ cup gluten flour (particularly important if your flour is not ‘strong’. Don’t worry about the gluten – the sourdough process itself , known as ‘pre-digestion’ will digest all of the gluten so your bread will be yeast- and gluten-free but without the gluten it may not rise enough)
-1 teaspoon salt
-1 tablespoon blackstrap molasses, or golden syrup or brown sugar (optional, but particularly tasty in rye bread)
-2T olive oil (optional)


  1. Take your bowl of ‘sponge’. It should be at its foamiest stage for maximum bread-rising power. What you are about to do is ‘feed’ your starter by adding more flour, but you are making it into a dough, so it will be solid, not runny like when you normally ‘feed’ your starter. What will happen next is that your starter will spend the next few hours ‘eating’ the flour in the dough. It will eat the phytic acid surrounding the grain and the gluten in the flour. It will leave little holes in the bread where it has eaten the flour (this is why bread has that ‘holey’ look ) and will give off carbon dioxide (that yeasty smell).
  2. To your bowl of starter add the salt, oil and molasses. Stir
  3. Add 1 cup of rye/wheat flour and the gluten flour. Mix.
  4. Keep adding flour in half cupfuls and stir. When it’s too stiff to stir, turn out onto floured board and pull together as a dough, adding more flour as needed.
  5. Keep kneading the dough for about 10 minutes, making sure to add more flour whenever the dough becomes sticky. You will probably be adding more and more flour right up to the end of the kneading time. Unlike regular bread, sourdough bread is very wet and ‘thirsty’. Just when you think you’ve added enough flour and it’s dry and pliable, it suddenly becomes all wet again and you find you need to add more flour to knead it! DON’T WORRY – just keep on adding flour as long as it’s thirsty. Sourdough yeasts, unlike commercial yeasts, are alive and need their food!
  6. After 10 to 15 minutes of hand kneading, you may be tired but you’ll have a smooth, not sticky ball of dough.
  7. Place in a greased bowl, cover LOOSELY with cling film (this speeds up the rising process by keeping warmth in as long as you leave air gaps), and cover with a tea towel. Leave in a warm place to rise for 2 to 5 hours, until it has doubled – or tripled if it’s a warm day – in volume.
Stage 3 -: Proofing the dough
Proofing is the most important stage: This allows the ‘pre-digestion’ process to take place and for the healthful yeasts to digest all the bad parts of the flour. Very important stage! The longer it ages, the more the slight sour flavour is accentuated. You need around 15 hours ageing to deactivate the phytic acid.
  1. You can tell the dough has not fully risen if you poke it gently and it springs back. When it has risen all it can, there will be a small indent left behind when you poke it with your finger.
  2. When the dough has fully risen, punch the dough down gently. Flatten down into a big circle and let it rest 5 minutes.
  3. The only tricky part – fold the edges of the dough into the centre and press with your fingertips to seal into a ball. Do not overwork dough. Shape by cupping our palms over the top of the ball and apply firm but gentle downward pressure. Stretch the surface of the dough down under to form a neat ball. Keep pulling and stretching downwards like this around 6 to 8 times, being careful not to tear the surface of the dough.
  4. Turn dough over and pinch the seam to form a very tight seal.
  5. Place in bowl and cover with several layers of plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator to age fro 8 to 24 hours, even up to 36 hours.
Next..... Putting the loaf in the oven!

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