Simple Sourdough Solution

Sourdough baking hack
Have you tried to make sourdough? Did you once have a sourdough starter, named and nurtured at the back of your fridge? What happened to him (or her)?

If the answer is, "Marvin the sourdough is alive and well, thanks. He makes delicious sourdough every time and I love him!" this post is not really for you.

If, on the other hand, your forays into sourdough have been less than Marvin-marvellous (sorry), I have a suggestion for you. It's a Cunning Plan, of sorts, that may or may not be cheating.

My own sourdough exploits have been disappointing. I understand how to make sourdough starter and I have, once or twice, raised a delicious sourdough loaf.

'Once or twice' isn't really enough though, is it? Not when your day is fully busy and you have set aside this long to make bread for the family. The results have got to be decent every single time or it's just not worth the effort.

My sourdough loaves seemed either to not rise, to taste unpleasantly sour or both. I soon reverted back to my tried and tested everyday favourite bread recipe.

To boot, I now discover, even so-called sourdough loaves from professional bakers are often not entirely what they seem. I had assumed that real bakers make sourdough using a vigorous sourdough starter that they had cultured using their amazing secret professional baker qualifications* plus extra flour and water. *Some do, I believe. Some absolutely cheat. They put some sourdough in there but they really make the bread rise using regular bakers' yeast. Yeah. It seems that you can call bread 'sourdough' if it contains some sourdough. And perhaps that's ok. Perhaps the sourdough starter gives the bread flavour, even if it can't be relied upon to make the dough rise.

Well, we can also play at that game. Here's the plan:
  • Every time you bake, take a handful of dough out of the batch and keep it in a jar in the fridge (where Marvin used to live, bless his soul)
  • When next you bake, take the dough from the previous batch and incorporate it into the new batch.

Simple.

This way, I figure, you're developing the mature/sourdough flavour of the dough without going the whole hog and hassle of maintaining a sourdough starter. If you bake regularly (even fortnightly would be fine) you are refreshing the contents of the jar frequently enough for it not to go icky and, I hope, creating a better flavour of bread with no added effort.

That's my jar of pseudo-sourdough magic, pictured at the top of this article: just a handful of dough, maturing quietly. In case you were wondering, the fruit in the background are only there to look pretty, which they do, don't they?



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10 comments:

  1. I make no knead bread generally half spelt and half normal flour. Would this work with that mix? Also when would you put the dough in the fridge? Before or after the rise?

    Thanks

    David

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    1. I think it would work with that mix. The idea is just to let a portion of the dough mature for a time in between batches. You can take the portion for the jar/into the fridge either before or after the rise but if it's before the rise, don't forget that it's going to grow, potentially out of the jar!

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  2. I just did and it has disappeared??

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  3. Ahhh I was not logged in .... Well, I just said that I do remember you and welcome back!! And .... I totally agree with your comments re sourdough ... I have 3 pots of the darn starter , yes, 3 ..... Mouldering away in my fridge and every now and again I refresh them promising them that I will make sourdough!, but truth be know, I do not actually like it very much ... And hubbie positively dislike sourdough .... I just want to make tasty, slow bread!, I think I found just the girl to help me!! Thank yiu. Maggie

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    1. Thanks Maggie! I do hope this idea helps. It's not really truly sourdough but it's a good compromise.

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    2. OK I will give it a try and let you know how it goes

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    3. I think it might be a process that has to take time. But it is no trouble, so why not? I'll be interested to hear updates if you try it.

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    4. I now have a jar of dough that has been kept in the fridge and am considering trying this soon. The question I forgot to ask is do I still use yeast or do I rely on the reserved dough to act as the raising agent?

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    5. Yes, definitely still use the yeast. Basically just do your normal recipe but mix in the handful of 'mature' dough from the previous batch. And then remove a handful to save for next time.

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    6. I have made two loaves and they were very nice. I would say that the loaves had a stronger bread like taste if that makes sense. On further research it seems similar to the method of my namesake Jeff Hertzberg who advocates mixing up a batch of dough and leaving it in the fridge. He then takes a lump out and bakes it as he needs a loaf.

      I have tried keeping dough in the fridge but I find that it does not rise well when backed no matter how long I proof it for.

      Thanks for the advice.

      David

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