Bread, glorious bread

A quick Sunday night post.

I’ve been making my own bread for several months now, ever since we got a bread machine. It’s changed our lies! So easy and we have fresh, additive free bread; we know exactly what’s in it and can omit all sugar and limit the salt. I usually make it using half wholemeal/half white flour, and sometimes add seeds, herbs, sundried tomatoes, etc, depending on what’s in the kitchen. I’ve also made dough for focaccia and pizza. Lovely!

I’ve been reading more and more about sourdough. This bread is made using a “starter”, flour and water left to ferment to a wild yeast. This is apparently excellent because essentially the gluten is already partially “digested”, and it’s much easier on the system than standard yeast-leavened breads, which can leave you bloated and uncomfortable. Starters can be passed on generation to generation; the longer it’s kept and fed properly, the better the bread.

Unfortunately I don’t have a granny who baked so I have just made my own starter, which is now sitting on the kitchen counter.

It couldn’t have been simpler: 4 ounces flour (I just used plain white) and 4 ounces water (weighed), mixed well, and left in a Kilner jar. For the next four days I will “feed” it using the same quantities of flour and water; then, depending on the kitchen temperature (central heating is on), by Friday it should be ready to use. It’s ready when the bubbles are evident and it smells quite sour. Once I start using it, I need to replace whatever I use with more flour and water. I also have to feed it once a week regardless of whether I use it or not. Looked after this way, it should be the one and only time I ever need to make it.

The tricky bit seems to be actually making the bread. I’m all about simplicity; so far, I’ve only found fairly complex instructions. However, my bread machine has a sourdough cycle on it; I shall investigate this. No doubt it will be nowhere near as nice (or authentic) as the handmade loaf but let’s see.

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