Sourdough is a type of bread, which is made without using commercial yeast.
Instead it is made from a starter culture, which is prepared from mixing water and flour and left to ferment over a period of time. The fermentation period usually usually lasts about a week and during this period the culture needs to be replenish on a regular basis with more flour and warm water. It is also referred to as 'feeding'.
The starter is best kept in a glass jar or container with a secured lid. It is ready when it has almost double in volume, 'bubbly' looking with a distinct acidic aroma emanating from the mixture.
There are many sourdough recipes out there but sourdough has a certain mysterious aspect about it. There are many factors that affect sourdough bread making process. The type of flour, where it comes from, the type of water used, the season and even location all has a bearing on the performance of the starter culture and the actual loaf.
A recipe is only a guide. A sourdough loaf that has been prepared and tested in a commercial kitchen will often have a different look and character when baked in a domestic kitchen.
There is also no short cut to sourdough bread making. The dough is prepared by mixing a portion of the starter culture with warm water, flour of choice (rye, spelt, barley, wholemeal unbleached, strong premium white or a combination of several) and sea salt. Different flour will produce loaf with different character, texture and taste.
This is followed by a series of kneading and resting over a period of several hours – between six to eight hours depending on the season and / or ambient temperature of the room.
Oven temperatures also play an important role in the final product. A low heat will produce sourdough bread with thicker crust. All ovens are not made the same. Familiarization with the oven and its temperament would be a great benefit when it comes to sourdough baking.
Often it would take more than one attempt to produce the perfect loaf. The adage "practice makes perfect" is the secret to the art of sourdough bread making.
Sourdough also makes excellent base for pizza, pies and other sweet or savory trees requiring a pastry like tarts.
Source by Zainil Zainuddin