I have been baking bread for years, and it's one of my favorite things to do. I bake it for my family, for friends, and to sell. But I had never attempted making Sourdough, and had certainly never attempted gathering my yeast from the air. Well, thanks to the Advanced Botanical Medicine course I am taking through Vintage Remedies, I had the opportunity to complete an assignment doing just that.
As I have learned about the history of bread and the benefits of creating a slow, naturally leavened loaf, I realize that it is even more important than I thought for us to make our own bread. The modern day loaf made through the commercial baking process has removed virtually all of the nutrients once found in this staple food. By gathering yeast through the naturally occurring microbes in our air, and allowing our grain to slowly leaven and ferment, we are able to retain all of the nutrients and create a very nutritious loaf of bread. However, the process of gathering yeast from the environment, allowing it to ferment, then mixing a bread dough that takes 48 hours to rise was a little daunting. My loaf of sourdough literally took nearly a week to create.
To gather yeast from the air to make the starter was not difficult, it just took time. I started by mixing 2/3 cup flour and 1/2 cup water in a quart size mason jar. I whisked it together really well, then covered it with cheesecloth and a rubber band, set it on the counter and ignored it for 24 hours. The next time I looked at it, the mixture had begun to bubble on top, and some liquid (known as the hooch), had started to form. I knew it was time to feed my starter. So I mixed 1/2 cup flour with 1/2 cup water and whisked it into the original mixture, covered it back up with the cheesecloth and ignored it for another 24 hours. When I went back, there was about 1 inch of hooch, and the mixture below the hooch was bubbly. I fed the mixture one more time, and waited 12 hours, then I knew it was time to create my bread dough using this recipe.
Slow Sourdough Bread
2/3 cup starter (mix it well before adding)
2 cups unbleached flour
2 cups wheat flour
1 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon raw honey
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 3/4 cups water
Mix all of the ingredients together with a fork, using your hands to blend completely. The dough will be very moist.
Place the dough in a large bowl, cover it with a damp muslin cloth, and let rise for 12 hours.
Knead the dough a few times to reduce the size, cover and let rise for another 12 hours.
Since the dough is very moist, it won't hold a shape on its own. Place it in a casserole, bread pan, oven proof bowl, or anything else you can bake it in.
Preheat the oven to 400 F, and bake the loaf for 10 minutes. Turn the oven down to 375 F and bake for about 45 minutes, or until the loaf sounds hollow.
The final flavor and texture of this bread were very different than any others I have made. My family enjoyed it, and I know that they were getting more nutrients than with some of my other breads.
So will I make this slow sourdough again? Yes, most likely!
And I would encourage you to try at least one Sourdough Experiment.