Wednesday, September 18, 2013
Lookee, I have a cute little bubbly sourdough starter! I have been meaning to make sourdough bread for, oh about two years now. I believe that slow and steady wins the race. Or, at least turns up at the finish line eventually, generally when everyone else has gone home.
The tipping point for actually starting my starter was discovering that though I don't have Coeliac's disease, I do have the gene for it, which would seem to indicate that there is something about gluten that my body isn't really happy about, although I currently have no gluten intolerance issues at all, and hopefully never will. I have been doing lots of reading about gluten, and what do you know? Baker's yeast is a modern invention, no more than two hundred years old. Traditional societies all soaked or fermented their grains, legumes, nuts and seeds before using them, which neutralised the phytic acid in them. Phytic acid can block the absorption of all kinds of good nutrients, such as zinc and iron, by bindigng to it molecularly and taking it out of the body (you know, all that good wholegrain fibre that is supposed to keep us regular?).
Traditional societies world wide have developed ways to use grains without being nutritionally compromised by them - think of the Scottish tradition of soaking oats overnight before making them into porridge. Before the invention of baker's yeast and raising agents like baking powder, the only way to make bread, biscuits or cakes, or anything that wasn't flat as the proverbial pancake, was to use sour dough. The way that we now use grains - puffed and heat treated (breakfast cereals), dry roasted (granola, muesli bars) or in quick rise breads and baked goods - is possibly causing us all to be nutritionally compromised. Ooops! Another own goal for the modern food industry.
Does this mean that I have thrown out all the bread and muesli in the house? No, but in my usual slow way I may be making some changes to the way we eat. Quietly, without telling anybody. Because they already think I'm a bit mad. They have noticed that there is a sourdough starter on the bench, but I have promised that no-one has to eat the bread unless they really want to. I'm hoping I can make a really nice loaf that the family may actually want to eat.
Here is the method I am using to make the starter. I like it because there are plenty of pictures! I am on Day 3 today. I started the starter with rye flour, because that seems to be a generally accepted wholesomely good flour to start with, then yesterday discarded half of it into the compost, and added organic plain white flour. Today it is bubbling like mad. There is also an unfortunate ant, who will no doubt add a certain je ne sais quoi to the mixture. Thankyou, ant.
Tonight, I will discard most of the starter and feed it again, maybe with half rye, half white this time, because I like to make things up as I go along. And I won't discard the extra starter, I will be making these yummy pancakes with it. I will call them Only-Slightly-Ant-Flavoured Pancakes, and then maybe the children will leave lots for me.
Actually, having just read the instructions again, I have just realised I was supposed to feed the starter this morning as well as tonight. Ah well, I'm sure it will be fine. I am really not a details person. The recipe also mentions the importance of steady warmth for starter success. Well, it is your typical freezing cold Tassie spring here. We have heating on a couple of hours in the morning, and at night, but right now I am dressed in my winter parka as I type. I popped the starter on the bench right over the dishwasher, which warms up nicely during the drying cycle, but that is the only extra heat it has received and it seems to be doing fine so far.
Anyways, be sure I will keep you updated on the sourdough adventure. It might turn into a saga actually. It may take some time...
And I have another string to the old bow on the fermenting front. Monday morning I met lovely fellow blogger Fran in our local whole foods shop. It was so exciting to meet her and her very sweet, funny daughters in person. She is madly busily making bread as well, whipping up a vegan kefir milk as the fermenting agent for bread. Fran gave me some kefir grains, which aren't grains, but some kind of mysterious lacto bacilli (maybe - I could be making that bit up!). When I have another spare bit of brainspace I will read all the information she sent me, and work out what to do next with them. My plan is to rehydrate them in milk, and use the milk for baking, as I have a recipe (somewhere) for baking cakes using flour soaked in kefir. Somewhere...
Cheers Fran, and please tell me, have any of you baked sourdough bread before, or made a starter? Send me all your tips, and tell me about your projects that you have been going to start for two years now (please tell me that I am not the only person who procrastinates indefinitely..).