Gratitude: Sourdough

Monday, April 18, 2016 – Filed under: Uncategorized ::

 

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A friend first gave me a jam jar filled with her sourdough culture about 5 years ago. It has been bubbling for us ever since, and sourdough is part of our daily routine now. As Sam Sifton wrote in the New York Times last month, “A sourdough starter comes into your life the way a turtle might: as a pet you maybe didn’t know you wanted until someone hands it to you or you find yourself holding the terrarium after an impulse purchase you couldn’t explain if you tried. You get it or you make it or you buy it, and now you have a sourdough starter. It needs to be fed. It asks to be used. There are holes in our lives. They are filled for us by circumstance, or we fill them ourselves.”

Now we sourdough everything – pretzels, chocolate cake, coffee cake, dinner rolls, pasta and even pie crust.  I can’t imagine doing anything else. We are finding it much easier on our digestion, especially when we use lower gluten flour like einkorn, kamut and spelt (Jovial einkorn is our absolute favorite).  I’m finding that lots of recipes can be adpated to preparation the evening before bake day and left to sour overnight.  For us, it means we can still include gluten in our diet, and I’m so used to the schedule and planning of our homegrown bakery that it no longer feels onerous at all.  It’s a joy to be able to make fresh, organic and healthy bread products for our family to enjoy.

So today I’m grateful to my friend, to the wonderful science of wild yeast, and to the organic grains that are helping us eat better.  And to all my great, great, great grandmothers who made sourdough as part of their daily routine.  Sometimes fantastic things skip generations. I’m pretty happy to have rediscovered a great family tradition.

Sourdough

Monday, March 16, 2015 – Filed under: Uncategorized ::

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Oh, our jar of sourdough starter. Over these last three years, it’s become an integral part of our family. We feed it, and watch it, and care for it and in turn it helps us craft breads with bags of flour and our own two (or four, or six, or sometimes eight) hands. Sometimes it’s pizza dough, or soft biscuits or maple pancakes or challah bread. Tonight it was hamburger buns for tomorrow’s BBQ supper. Lady Spring is taking her sweet time, so we’ve decided to barbecue most nights in an effort to heat things up around here :) I’ve been doing lots of reading about the history of sourdough and it’s so very interesting. Alaskan gold miners carried their starter and bags of flour around amid their few precious possessions. We live in a place and time where conventional packaged yeast has become ubiquitous but until recently it was wild yeast, and sourdough, and a little elbow grease.  And lots of handmade flavour.

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bread for my boy

Monday, December 10, 2012 – Filed under: Uncategorized ::

This week my son will be 19 months old, and a few weeks ago I realized he had not yet had any bread. Mostly because a long list of serious allergies and my choice to keep him (and consequently me) gluten-free for as long as we can, since it can be inflammatory and slow his gut and immune system healing. Even gluten-free, egg-free store-bought bread can be contaminated with sesame, one of his more serious allergies. So the very novice bread-maker (that would be me) took some sweet time in mustering the courage to delve into gluten free bread-making.

I was so fortunate to have some advice and support from a friend who supplied her beautiful sourdough starter (Colleen wrote about a wonderful upcycled wool mittens tutorial here). Once I had my own sourdough starter bubbling away, I worked through a combination of organic, g/f flours and began to piece together something that would work for us. Here is our basic recipe for a small loaf:

1.5 cups, approximately of tapioca flour, sorghum flour, white rice flour, millet flour and sometimes lentil flour

about 1.5-1.75 cups of sourdough starter

water

1 tsp salt

1 tsp xantham gum

1 tsp baking powder

1 tbsp sugar

sometimes I add some honey and rosemary spice from our garden

I have done this both by hand and in the mixer. The mix-master method seems to work a little better. First I mix the dry, then I add the starter and mix. Then I add water a little bit at a time until the batter is sort of like stiff/thick cake batter, and then I beat it a little more until it’s smooth.

I line a bowl with parchment paper (a small bowl since this makes a small loaf, so if you double the recipe you should use a larger bowl), and put the dough inside. I cover my bowl with a tea towel and elastic band but you could use plastic wrap. I let it sit in a warm place, usually overnight, to let it rise.

When I’m ready to bake it I put my Le Creuset heavy lidded pot in a cold oven turned on to 425, and heat it fir about half an hour. Then I carefully remove the hot pan, and transfer the parchment paper (with the bread dough inside, delicately) inside the pot, cover it, and put it back in the oven at 425 for about 35 minutes, and another 10 minutes with the lid off. I have found that sprinkling water on the dough before I cook it helps the crust on top. After letting it cool, it’s time to eat!

I usually leave the bread to rise overnight, and cook it in the morning so we have a whole day of fresh bread ahead of us. I still have yet to make a loaf that tastes good the 2nd day. I have slow-roasted the leftover bread to make fabulous gluten-free breadcrumbs I’m using several times a week in family dishes like meatloaf, meatballs and as coatings (the non gluten-free folks in the family seem to love them too!)

I’m ever so delighted that making allergen-free, gluten-free bread is becoming part of our weekly routine. It feels right, and normal and not nearly so hard as I thought it might be. When I see his health improving and his system strengthening every week, it brings a smile to the deepest parts of my heart.