sourdough bread

May 12, 2013 at 1:54 pm

The more I travel and get exposed to different cuisines, the more I realize that there are similar meals in almost every culture. The culinary evolution built on more or less the same ingredients (grains, milk, meat, sugar, salt, etc.) comes up with the same preparation processes and results. Usually it’s the final touch of spices that differentiates the tastes forcing us to explore huge variety of exotic restaurants.

There’s one thing that I realized is not that common: a sourdough bread. While toast bread is widely spread almost everywhere, sourdough bread takes effort to find and sometimes it’s just *not available*. I literally grew up on rye sourdough bread back home (Czech Republic) and the taste of fresh bread with butter and pinch of salt on top is deeply imprinted in my brain.

Long story short – being an expat in India for last few years I started to have dreams of sourdough bread and decided to make it on my own! Since there’re lot of blogposts, scientific articles and discussions on how to prepare good bread (mixtures, ideal sourdough yeast, the effect of gluten on the bread structure, etc.), you won’t find any of this here. I just wanted to simply share my experience with specifics of baking in India and brag about my results, period ;).

Ingredients:
700g of fine wheat flour – maida (Shakti Bhog)
340g of sourdough yeast (2-3 day old fermented mixture of atta and water)
90g of rye flour
28g of gluten
410g of water
18g – 20g of salt
big spoon of caraway (aka persian cumin) – can be replaced by whatever taste you prefer: rosemary, garlic, fried onion, etc.

The original recipe (in Czech) had to be slightly spiked up with a gluten as Indian maida is considered a weak flour (pastry flour) resulting in lesser gas being captured in the batter and thus making the dough less porous. The amount of gluten differs based on the flour used, from my experience with widely available Shakti Bhog, 4g of gluten per 100g of maida is enough to give the bread nice structure (gluten can be skipped completely, the taste of the bread doesn’t change).

  • Mix 700g of maida with 90g of rye flour (as rye flour is only imported to India, it can be replaced by ragi flour or simply atta flour), 28g of gluten and caraway (or any other flavouring ingredients). Add 340g of sourdough yeast, 410g of water and mix till all the ingredients form a batter; let it rest for 10 minutes.
  • Add 18g – 20g of salt as per your taste and mix again.
  • Knead the batter on floured desk, remember that kneading is the secret of a good bread :). Let it rest for 30 mins.
  • Knead again and let it rest for another 30-45 mins (simple windowpane test tells you whether it’s enough or require more kneading).
  • Once there’s no need for kneading anymore, split the dough into two halves, roll them into round balls and put them in the baskets to raise (baskets with floured cloth).
  • After 4-5 hours the dough should have risen enough (depending on the temperature, here it’s usually 30°C) and ready to be baked; preheat oven to 250°C with the baking dish and oven-safe glass of water inside. When the oven reaches 250°C  place the bread (turn the basket upside down so that the bottom is the top :) on the baking dish and put back in the oven.
  • Let it bake first 10 mins for 250°C then lower the heat to 220°C and bake for another 25-30 mins.
  • Take the bread out of oven, place on grid and cover with a cloth; let it cool down before you start slicing it ;)

Et voila, homemade sourdough bread!

Do you bake at home? Do you have favourite recipe to share? Please share your experience below.

PS: just ordered vegetarian rennet, homemade hard cheese coming next :)