Chef-Quality sourdough for beginners
First it was toilet paper, and now it’s yeast that’s disappeared off our shelves as everyone turns to making bread and pizzas at home.
But it’s easy to bake bread without yeast. Enter sourdough, a tasty and yeast-free alternative to bread that we’re calling healthy thanks to the natural fermentation that occurs in the gluten. Once you have a basic sourdough starter, you can make an endless array of delicious dishes and comforting breads and treats.
These recipes, from Byron at Byron’s Executive Chef Minh Le, will get you started with sourdough – from the yeast-like starter that you’ll need as the main ingredient, to a basic dough recipe that can be used for more than just bread, to a “scrap” recipe for the sourdough discards.
To start your starter
- One cup whole wheat flour
- Half cup cool water
To feed your starter
- One cup all-purpose or bread flour
- Half cup cool water (if your house is warm) or lukewarm water (if your house is cool)
Day one: Use your hand to stir your ingredients thoroughly in a non-reactive container, cover with a cloth and leave overnight.
Day two: Discard half your starter into a separate container for sourdough starter scraps and refrigerate. Feed your active sourdough starter with one cup flour and half cup water. Leave for 24-hours.
Day three: You'll start to see activity. Now you want to feed your starter twice a day with at least a 10-12 hour gap in between feedings. Repeat the feeding process at step two, keeping your discarded scraps in a separate container in the fridge.
Day six - seven: Your starter should be bubbly, active and ready to bake with.
Makes enough for two medium loaves
An easy ratio to remember for bread is 1:2:3, which is simply starter (leaving) : water : flour.
- Levain (80g starter + 75g water + 75g flour left to ferment the night before you bake bread)
- 500ml warm water (40°C)
- 700g plain flour
- Good pinch of salt
- Start by sifting your flour into a large bowl.
- Add water to flour and use your hands to combine - you want the texture of tacky batter.
- Let the dough rest for one-hour to allow the gluten to develop.
- Pour the levain over the dough and use your hands to massage it into the dough in a circular rotation.
- Mix salt with a bit of water and add to the dough and levain mixture - it should be a wet mixture.
- Use your hand to whip the dough for about three-minutes until it starts to become stretchy.
- Leave the dough to rest for two-hours. During this time, stretch the dough at 30-minute intervals to activate the gluten and add oxygen.
- Once your dough has been stretched and rested, pour it onto a floured countertop. From here you can either form it into two medium loaves, six-eight bread rolls or even eight-10 small cinnamon buns. The options are endless!
- For the bread and buns, bake in the oven at 200°C for 50-60 minutes depending on how deeply brown you like it. Before placing in the oven, make a long cut down the centre of the loaf. Include a small oven-proof dish with a cup of water in the bottom of the oven to help create steam.
- Once baked, remove from oven and cool completely before slicing.
- For cinnamon buns, roll out flat, sprinkle with approx. half cup sugar and three tablespoons cinnamon before rolling into one long log and slicing horizontally to create the rolls. Bake at 185°C for 50-60 minutes or until golden brown.
Sourdough scrap scallion and cheddar pancakes (yum!)
- Two cups sourdough starter 'scraps'
- One cup all-purpose flour
- One cup water
- Half cup grated cheddar
- Half thinly sliced scallions (or diced onions)
- One tsp garlic powder
- One tsp smoked paprika
- Salt and pepper
- Combine all sourdough starter scraps - the discarded starter you've put to the side during your sourdough starter process - with flour and water. Mix until it forms a smooth batter.
- Fold in the cheddar, scallions, garlic powder, smoked paprika, salt and pepper.
- Heat and grease a large, flat-bottomed frying pan.
- Once the pan is warm, ladle a cup of the batter into it and then fry gently.
- Continue step four until all batter is finished and you have a nice pile of fluffy, savoury pancakes - perfect with a side of sour cream.