Tuesday, 5 April 2011

Sourdough - a natural starter

David's amazing olive & seeded sourdough
We have been busy in the bakery making a variety of enriched sourdoughs and perfecting flavour combinations with fruit, nuts, seeds, herbs, spices and olives - I absolutely love olives, always have since a very early age and so the olive and mixed herb was most definitely my favourite!

Anyone can make sourdough, you just need to create a starter culture. This natural bread making process is an age old tradition when there was no commercial yeast available. People would make their bread this way and often use the foamy top from the brewing process to get them started. 
A starter culture contains just flour and water. By mixing flour and water together and keeping it at ambient temperature over a period of 3-5 days, fermentation occurs where the natural yeasts and bacteria present in the flour multiply to form a natural rising agent that replaces commercial yeast, aerates the bread and gives it that 'tangy' flavour. You can tell when its ready to use as you will see the bubbles present as it becomes active. 
an active bubbly sourdough

Lactic acid bacteria (Lactobacilli) are the dominant micro-organism in sourdough that given warmth and regular refresh of water and flour give benefits of; better digestibility, fuller flavour, longer keeping qualities & nutritional value.

tomato sourdough
with onion & celery
The selection of sourdough breads we made today looked amazing! They were perfectly saleable and we were all very proud of our creations. I could just imagine serving platters of sourdough varieties matched together with the perfect cheese and wine partner. The bakery would be full of speciality breads from around the world, beautifully presented - like wine you could sample & select with tasting notes scribed on a chalk board to help you decide.

7-seeded with oat topping
Whilst beetroot was the most talked about the top 5 favourites were:
1) Olive & mixed herb 
2) Hazelnut & currants
3) Fig & walnut with star anise
Beetroot & fennel seeds
4) Tomato with celery & onion seed
5) Potato (roasted)
Hazelnut & currants

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