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Sourdough Bread

Made by Amy, age 13. Amy loves making sourdough bread. She says "It has all the good qualities of good bread - it's tasty, it's moist, it's nice and crusty on the outside and beautifully soft on the inside." There's plenty of science in sourdough starter, not to mention the literacy, numeracy and food tech skills involved.

Original Recipe Credit: This is a family recipe, made and adapted so many times over the years, no one knows where it started! How to make a sourdough starter:

It’s very easy – you mix equal parts flour and water, add more each day (this is called ‘feeding’ the starter) and wait until you see the bubbles and smell fermenting! The bubbles mean that wild yeast from the air is now living in your starter – how exciting! In warm weather the starter will need to be fed morning and night if kept on the bench, or once a week if kept in the fridge. You can put the starter in the fridge once it is all lovely and bubbly and starting to double in size after it has been fed.

Keep your starter in a clean glass jar. When you stir the starter, make sure you are using a non-metal spoon (plastic, silicon, wood are fine). Cover the jar with a cloth if on the bench (to keep the bugs out), or cover with plastic wrap or a lid if in the fridge.

In more detail: pick the flour you want to use (an organic, stone ground flour will work best as it still has lots of good nutrients that have not been refined away). Bottle or filtered water also works better than tap water (which tends to have too much chlorine, which kills the good bacteria). You are aiming to create a sloppy paste with the flour and water. Different flours will use different amounts of water. One of our starters uses khorasan (kamut) flour, and for this mix using equal volumes of flour and water gives the right consistency. When this starter is ready it smells pleasantly fermented (a bit like sour biscuits) and has lots of bubbles). We have another starter which is gluten free, and uses a mix of sorghum and teff flours. The gluten free flours tend to be a bit more dry, so in this case each time I feel the starter I use 50g of flour and 60g of water. The mix of sorghum and teff flour gives it a slight apple pie type of smell. When making a starter from scratch, start with about ½ cup of the flour, with the appropriate amount of water to make a slightly sloppy paste, then feed it about the same amount morning and night. Try to keep the total weight of the starter between 100-200g. This means you will need to regularly ‘discard’ some of the starter when it gets too much. Use the discarded starter to mix pancakes – yum! Keep the starter in a glass jar with enough space for it to double in size. Place a rubber band around the jar to mark where the mix comes to so that you can clearly see when it starts to double in size. Once it starts to bubble up and double in size it is considered ‘active’ and ready to use. Cheat tips: sometimes people add a bit of kombucha or even a slice of fruit (remove it the next day) to help kick off the fermenting process. If your starter starts to grow mould or smells really bad (instead of pleasantly yeasty) then throw it out and start again. If you keep it in the fridge and it starts to develop and dark watery layer on top –this is fine, just stir it in.

Recipe 1: wholemeal spelt/kamut sourdough bread Spelt flour is an ancient version of wheat flour, and Khorasan (kamut) is also an ancient grain. These grains contain lots of nutrition and are great for making sourdough loaves. The first step for making bread is to make a leaven. This is an in-between stage for the starter, to make sure it is nice and active and ready for making the bread rise. In the evening, take the starter and remove 80g of it and place it in a clean jar – this is now your leaven. (Feed the starter and set it aside) Feed the leaven approximately 80g of flour and water – add more flour or water to give and nice slightly sloppy paste. Cover and leave overnight to activate. In the morning, mix the following recipe: 230g leaven 198g water 30g oil 6g salt 352g kamut/spelt flour Knead together for about 10min, then leave to rise in a well-lined bread tin for several hours. The loaf should double in size, then it is ready to bake in a 180degC oven for 45min. Recipe 2: gluten free sourdough bread

Gluten free bread is a little different to made than bread with gluten in it. The flour mix requires a blend of heavy and soft flours, and starches so that it will stick together. It also needs an addition of a binding agent to help it to not crumble. Some people use a gum, or flaxseed. I use ground psyllium husks, which you can buy at the local health food store. Once you get used to the different types of flour it’s fun to try out different mixes to see what you like best. First step: the leaven. In the evening, take 100g of the starter, add 100g of the sorghum and teff flour mix (I use 80g sorghum, 20g teff), and add 110g water. In the morning, use the following recipe: 300g leaven 100g brown rice flour (or buckwheat, or sorghum) 100g oat flour (you can grind up rolled oats for this) 100g starch flour (potato starch, corn starch, tapioca starch, arrowroot are all good options) 15g salt Mix together 400g water with 20g psyllium husks. Mix together until starting to gel, then mix into flours & leaven quite quickly until a dough forms. Gluten free dough doesn’t need to be kneaded, so you can then place it in a lined tin to rise until it has doubled in size. Due to the moisture in this loaf, it needs to be cooked for longer and hotter than a wheat loaf does. Bake it at 230degC for the first 30min, then 220degC for the next 30min. Note: buckwheat has quite a distinct smell and taste. I recommend that you start with amounts as small as 50g to start with to see if you can tolerate the taste! I find in a loaf this size that you can smell the buckwheat, but by the time it is baked you can’t really taste it anymore – it just gives the flavour more depth. Once you are confident making this bread you can start to experiment with different flours. You might like to try teff for a more nutty flavour, white rice flour for a sweeter flavour. You could use the sweeter flours (like white rice and sorghum) to make cinnamon scrolls – just add about 60g maple syrup and an egg to the dough. Roll out the dough onto oiled plastic wrap. Top with a mix of coconut oil (1/4 cup), maple syrup (1/4 cup) and cinnamon (3-4 tablespoons), then roll up and slice into scrolls. Allow to rise on a lined tray, then bake at 200degC for 30min. Yum!

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