Sourdough Club with Rock Paper Flour & Organic Ease

Sourdough Club..

1.12.2020

The 1st rule of sourdough club is - do not talk about sourdough club!

The 2nd rule of sourdough club is - it’s all about timing and temperature

The 3rd rule of sourdough club is - actually do talk about sourdough club, tell your friends, your family and your neighbours. Bread’s alive baby! BREAD’S ALIVE!

Organic Ease and RPF’s Launch Promotion

Sourdough 101

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Sourdough for starters...

Thank you for joining us, if this is your first loaf then welcome to the wonderful (and sometimes frustrating) world of sourdough. We’ve sent out over 350 sourdough starter packs to subscribers of Organic Ease and we couldn’t be more happy to welcome you to join us on our journey. Below you’ll find a recipe and some tips on how to feed and care for your sourdough “mother” culture and make your first loaf of sourdough bread. Please subscribe to our newsletter or connect with us via social media if you’d like to be a part of our workshops or AMA’s with our Miller and Baker at RPF, James Fisher.

If you have just received your Sourdough Starter Pack then you will have 500g of Fresh Stone Milled Biodynamic White Wheat Flour and 50g of sourdough “mother” culture (starter) - don’t worry if it’s at room temperature by the time you get it, just bang it in the fridge until you’re ready, it’ll be fine for up to a week before it need another feeding. This is a living culture that you can use as a base for all your bread making in the future, just keep a little aside and keep feeding it.

You will need to use 50g of flour to feed your starter, 50g to prepare it for baking and 350g to make a loaf of bread, leaving 50g for finishing the loaf and dusting (or a very tiny cake).

We recommend you feed your starter as soon as you have a chance - if you can’t get to it right away then chuck it in the fridge until you are ready. You will have received approximately 50g of starter and to “feed” your starter, we recommend you use 10g of starter, 50g of flour (supplied) and 50g of tepid water. Follow the instructions below or check out our video - Sourdough Starter for Starters.

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Starter for Starters..

 

This is our simple “mother” culture (or starter) feeding schedule and how to produce a leaven for baking bread.

Feed your starter once a week with a simple ratio of 1:5:5 of starter, water and fresh flour. This will give your “mother” culture the best chance of staying balanced and productive.

If you’ve received one of our “Sourdough for Starters Starter Pack with Sourdough Starter” then mix 10g of starter with 50g of water and 50g of flour, leave to double in volume and then refrigerate. Feed weekly.

Follow the same process to create a leaven but instead of waiting for it to double in volume use it after a 20% increase - the remaining fermentation will happen during the fermentation stage (called the proving stage in non-sourdough bread baking). This will make more sense as you begin the process below.

Tips

1: I feed my starter on bin night because I’m terrible at remembering

2: Don’t throw out your left-over starter - check out our recipe for delicious fried bread

3: Use a rubber band around the (jar) you store your “mother” in, placed at the level of the top of the starter so you can easily see how much it has increased in volume.

4: If you ferment your “mother” in a place with consistent temperature it will always take the same amount of time to double, if fermenting on the benchtop in winter it will take longer (overnight?) than in summer when it is much warmer.

5: it is hard to kill your starter but it is possible to have it fall out of balance, if you forget to feed it and it goes “soupy” then just increase your feeding schedule maybe once a day for three days until it looks and smells more like it usually does.

Sourdough 101

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Ingredients:

 

350g Fresh Stone-Milled Flour

265g Tepid Water

7g salt

80g Sourdough Leaven (see above)

Equipment:

Things you will need:

A mixing bowl

A dough scraper

Fingers (not absolutely necessary but highly recommended)

An oven

A rubber band

A resting / proving basket

A baking stone AKA heavy stone paver from bunnings

A razor blade or very sharp knife

Good things to have:

Sauna stones

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Sour-do’s and Sour-don’t’s..

 

Don’t expect your first loaf to look like the ones from a fancy uptown sourdough shop.

Do expect your first loaf to look more like my fist loaf, which looked like the starter course at a dinner for “flat earthers”.

Don’t get discouraged, sourdough can be tricky to learn, but keep at it, and remember you’re part of a community of bakers now so if you need help, just ask, you’ll find people are eager to help and offer advice (and tell you that they’ve been there too!)

Do keep notes, on your phone, in a book, on the wall or in a calendar. Record things like the recipe you’ve used, temperature you baked it at, the ambient temperature and anything that you think will help inform you in the future.

Do have fun!

What to expect when you’re expecting sourdough?

Throughout this process we will be managing the dough whilst it ferments, essentially taking what you do when feeding your “mother” culture, to it’s inevitable conclusion (WARNING: NERD LANGUAGE USED IN FOLLOWING SENTENCE, PROCEED WITH CAUTION) . Fermentation is a process in which the microbes present in the culture metabolise the sugars (carbs) in the flour and produce a variety of by-products in that process that contribute flavour and (when entrapped in a developed network of gluten) volume or rise in the bread, but a word of caution, fermentation is a one way train. at every fermentative stage there is a perfect point of fermentation that will set the baker up for success in the following fermentative stage of bread making. if you miss this perfect point you can’t go back. all you can do is learn from the experience and make better bread next time. 

What happens when a dough or a culture over ferments? Over production of acidity which breaks down (predigests) gluten. that’s good up until a point but given that gluten is the architecture of wheat bread, if you digest it before you bake the bread it has no network of membranes to entrap the gasses so the loaf collapses instead of rising. 

pro tip: if in any doubt give that starter one more feed before building the leaven. each time the starter is fed if increases vigour (population density of yeast cells) and reduces acidity (the arch nemesis of gluten structure)

Whilst we are managing this process we will be manipulating the dough to create nice strong gluten (the protein) and a tight and tense surface. The combination of these two will give you a loaf that captures the gas (giggle!) created leaving it with a light “crumb” and a well developed crust. Before working the dough the gluten chains are rather like a big pile of spaghetti or a load of string or rope that’s been dropped in a pile, stretching the gluten aligns the chains.

Anyway, enough of the nerd talk - lets bake!!

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Step #1 Introducing the ingredients.

 

“..water, meet flour.  Flour, meet water, let’s get this party starter(er)ed! Some people say that water’s a bit of a drip because he’s often drunk and end’s up making a pool of himself.  Flour is quite fond of magic and will inevitably turn herself into scrummy baked goods.. uh oh.. here comes Mother, she’s always complaining about our lack of culture..”

-          Pour (265g) water into large mixing bowl and add (80g) of leaven (our prepared “mother” culture), a good indication that your leaven is ready is that it will float.   Combine these two with your fingers and hands until the leaven is evenly distributed.

-          Add flour and mix by hand until there are no lumpy patches of dry flour.  At this point, “shaggy mess” should describe what you are looking at.

-          Rest for @30minutes (preferably somewhere with an even temperature)

 

Step 2: the fold..

OK peeps, this is where it gets real.  This is the bit that has you questioning your relationship with your mate that told you making sourdough was “easy”. Sure that jerk has been doing it for years and has forgotten the awkward moments spent learning this technique.  Take faith, riding a bike is tricky too but 8 year old’s can do it; don’t worry, you’ve got this!!

First of all we will need to add the salt; mix with a 30mL’s of water pour this mix over the dough and press into the mix with your fingers until all the water is absorbed, this is a gentle way to mix in the salt and a great way to practice poking.

The goal of this process is to stretch and develop the gluten proteins, the bits that hold everything together and makes coeliac’s green with envy as they watch you chow down on your light as air croissant or Danish.

So, turn out the dough use your scraper to remove the sticky bits from the bottom of the bowl. Wet fingers and slide them beneath the dough pull it off the work surface and give it a little dangle, slap and fold back down on the bench picking it up from the top and bottom end of the left side, of (yes - I realise it looks mostly like a circle at the moment - improvise!) then turn your hands back perpendicular to your body, turning the dough 90deg.

Watch the video, have a go, scream a little, bang the bench in despair and then realise that actually this isn’t so hard and.. hang on a minute, you’ve got this!  Suck it jerk friend, now everyone is going to be talking about YOUR bread at the next dinner party!

Whilst you’re doing it notice how the dough tightens up and becomes a bit trickier to stretch. At this point, let it relax, you and your dough can sit for a minute or two, have a chat and then resume the folding repeat this process of folding and relaxing until you can “window the dough”. which may take from 5 - ten minutes.

To window the dough, cut off a small piece and stretch it out with wet fingers to pulling from the centre until you can see light come through and it doesn’t tear.  If it tears then repeat the folding routine one more time and try again. It will be ready when its ready and when its ready we will know that the gluten is good, the pain is over, you’re a legend and the dough is ready for the next stage – the ferment.

So scoop that bad boy up, tuck it up back into your bowl and give it some privacy whilst things get reproductive *note – I like to think playing a little soft jazz helps this process.  The science is still out on this. This should take about two hours.

Step #3 the bulk ferment (or should that be fer(wo)ment?)

OK I’m going to spare you (and me) the science – but if you like you can find any number of YouTube bakers drone on about it for hours. Basically this is the bit (probably the critical bit) where our tiny mates in the dough go to work, converting all those carbohydrates into simpler sugars and the yeasts sweats ethanol and burps carbon dioxide (the gas). As the bacteria’s produce both carbon dioxide lactic and acetic acids which gives sourdough it’s name.

Whilst this is happening we are going to stretch and fold 3 times (once each each half hour). We are re-establishing the elasticity. Keep your fingers wet, and , and poke/lift the dough at the edges and stretch and fold it up over itself.

Tell tale signs that it is ready will be a slight but obvious increase in size of around 20%. look for a gassy bottom - visible signs of active fermentation. Lots of tiny trapped co2 bubbles will be noticeable on the exposed dough when you tease it away from the  side of the bowl. When it is ready it will feel lighter on that last fold, like its turning into a marsh mallow. When you’ve judged it ready to go give it a final rest for around 10- 20 mins then turn it out and begin the pre-shaping.

Hum along to your favourite song as James from Rock Paper Flour silently demonstrates how to stretch and fold sourdough through it's bulk ferment

Step #4 - Shaping

Ok, so you’re still with me good, we’re nearly there, the tricky bits over so pour a glass of wine (who cares if it’s just after breakfast, time, do breakfast time like it’s 2020).

Shaping is the process where we create what will be the final form we will bake, it consists of a quick pre-shaping and then a more thorough final shaping before it goes into a basket (or colander) to rest and finish the ferment.

  • step one: this is a good time to pre-heat your oven we suggest 230 or as hot as the oven gets, as you get more confident play with the temperature and baking time to find what works for you and your oven.

  • step two: lightly dust the surface of the dough as it sits in the container you’ve been fermenting it in. Using wet fingers, get in and around the dough and gently pull it away from the bottom of the bowl - notice the fine network of bubbles forming in the dough beneath the surface. Then using your scraper invert the bowl and let the dough fall out onto the bench.

  • step three: you can again dust the top of the loaf and then using your scraper with a light push and tuck motion work around the dough forming a ball, and gently lifting the edges from you work surface. Keep the surface tight and imagine, if you will, a small circle in the centre of the ball that as you circle and stretch the ball the circle enlarges and tightens. This surface tension will assist with the crust crispness.

  • step four: when you’ve got a nice firm ball of dough it’s time to let it relax a little and then repeat the process one final time before scooping it up and placing it upside down onto a (lightly) dusted tea towel over your proofing basket.

  • step five: let this rest and finish fermenting, it will take maybe 20 minutes, the surface should be slightly resistant to your touch and slowly bounce back when poked.

 

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Step 5: the bake..

Ok so here we are, oven’s hot, breads ready to go you’ve a head full of dreams and hands full of dough. Soon, so soon, you will be feasting on fresh baked bread! You’re over the hump and on the back straight, and best of all no more reading!! It’s certainly not too soon to start imaging what you’re going to do with your final loaf. Will you eat it direct from the oven with too much butter and some of that jam you’ve been saving for a special occasion or char-grill it and serve it with eggs, avocado and a side serving of smug? Actually now I think about it we probably should have made two loaves..

  • step one: open the oven door and remove your baking stone, quickly close the oven to retain the heat and place the stone on a heat proof surface.

  • step two: open the tea towel that you’ve closed over your loaf and quickly invert the loaf onto the stone, no need to flour the surface, use baking paper, oil the surface or fuss about.

  • step three: score the top of the loaf with a razor blade. If you don’t have a razor blade (which is probably a wise choice during 2020) then use a serrated “tomato” knife - we suggest the Victorinox brand. this score should be 2- 3cm deep and run 2/3 of the length of the loaf. This cut will allow the loaf to burst through and create an “ear” like them fancy loaves they sell at those fancy big city bread shops.

  • step four: bang it in the oven (pre-heated to 225-230deg) with some steam, you can use some sauna rocks available through our store or just pour some hot water into a baking tray at the bottom of the oven. Bake for around 25 minutes, it may go quite dark on top but that’s a great sign, whilst its cooking on top its getting its bottom baked by the stone.

That’s it. You did it. You’re a baker!

This concludes Sourdough 101: Sourdough for Starters

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Whether your loaf looks like this - (thanks James!!)

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Or this.. “Yay!! I’m a Sourdougher now!!” Glen

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Someones’ going to think you’re the bees knees!!