Sourdough Flour Baking
Sourdough is rapidly gaining popularity both at home and in artisan bakeries, but it is also renowned for being one of the most complex and challenging breads to bake. However, the customers at Nelstrops are nothing if not determined and are always up for a challenge, so we decided to write a post with some tips and advice on how to maximize your sourdough success.
Don't Be Tempted To Alternate Between Recipes, Practice With One Sourdough Flour Recipe Until You Have Perfected It
When you first start baking sourdough recipes, do not expect immediate success; there is a high likelihood that there will be a few disasters along the way. However, the route to success is based on persistence and perfecting the methodology rather than experimenting with different recipes. The skill that you need to master is the process. The reason why sourdough baking is a different beast is that it involves fermentation.
Essentially, every batch of sourdough is a unique living biological organism, so no two batches will ever be identical. As a baker, you need to understand that there are a huge number of variables, such as starter strength and temperature, so try to establish a repeatable routine to minimize the complexity and maximize your chances of success. Practice and repetition are the secrets to your future success.
Anyone reading this blog or who has any experience in baking knows and understands the importance of quality ingredients; that's, after all, why you are on the Nelstrop website! Similar to what was mentioned above, reducing the number of variables is critical when starting out.
Perhaps focus your skills on becoming an expert with strong white flour first before moving on to using whole grain flour or low gluten flours such as rye or spelt.
Strengthen Your Starter
Any sourdough recipe always needs a strong starter. Unfortunately, it is quite a challenge to estimate just how strong your starter actually is, and if anything, particularly in a home baking setting, it is probably best to assume that your starter is weak.
The reality is that a very strong starter transforms the entire baking experience. It will make your dough rise faster, and much more predictably, the bread will be lighter and more airy. The overall quality of the bread will be far superior.
There are two key ingredients in a strong starter
A high yeast population and low lactic acid bacteria population. It is essential that you learn to strengthen your starter before using it.
To strengthen your starter for optimum performance take your starter out of the fridge. Discard 2/3rds of your starter and replace with 1/3 flour (this could be white or wholemeal but wholemeal is a bit better) and 1/3 water (normal tap water at tap water temperature). Leave this out of the fridge to double in size. This could take a day to start with, but once doubled, do it again. And once doubled, another time. You will notice that the time to double the starter starts to reduce. Keep going until the starter starts to double in size in around 3 to 5 hours. Now get baking with your pumped up starter!By following these tips and investing in high quality strong white flour from Nelstrops with a little practice you will soon be baking sourdough flour recipes like a pro.