Delving into: sourdough

25-02-2021
Delving into: sourdough

With sourdough bread, we use so-called "sourdough" instead of yeast to make the bread rise. This takes time, love and attention. Have you always been too busy to dive in? If so, then now’s your chance!

Rewarding

I don't know about you, but most chefs don't care much about baking their own bread. You've probably had it at school in the past, where most of the romance of baking was immediately over with the mention of the dry matter calculation (or baker’s percentage).

Once in the kitchen, 99% of the chefs order their bread from a wholesaler or baker. However it’s a lot more fun to make your own. Tending to your own herb garden is also very rewarding, even though it might be much easier to just order in the herbs you need. In addition, it is simply fascinating to know the essence of the ever-popular sourdough bread. You can be sure that your efforts will at least get much more appreciation. Let's start at the very beginning; the sourdough.

Spontaneous fermentation

So, you need sourdough to make sourdough bread rise. This is a product that is created by allowing flour to stand in water at room temperature for several days, causing it to ferment spontaneously and without any further additives. 

Yes, you read that right, ferment. Something that we’re normally familiar with from sauerkraut, kimchi, kombucha, vinegar and you name it. Similarity? The production of lactic acids during fermentation creates, amongst other things, a sour taste. The fermentation is caused by the bacteria and yeasts naturally present in the flour. The fermentation, as with many other fermented products, also creates a lot of aroma in the end product.

It's alive!

Making the sourdough is a process in itself and, that by doing so, gives a lot of satisfaction, because you can literally really see something come to life. To make a sourdough culture, mix one part wholemeal flour with an equal part water in a pot or container. Cover it with a cloth or loose lid, because carbon dioxide gas is created and that must be allowed to escape. 

Then put it away in a warm place overnight that is between 20 and 25 degrees. Add the same amounts of flour and water again the next day and combine them well. This ensures that fewer vinegar bacteria develop and you can keep the acidity under control.

After a few days, the mass starts to bubble vigorously and increases in volume. The sourdough should have a slightly buttermilk-like smell. Continue this process for 4-5 days, until you reach the desired taste. Et voilà, you’ve made your own sourdough! Now, you have the main basis for your own sourdough bread. Go to the recipe for further processing.

Tips and tricks from the specialist

We spoke to the famous Dutch baker, Carl Siegert, and he said the following about sourdough: “Our sourdough is a mixture of rye flour, wheat flour and water, which we let ferment for 24 hours at room temperature. We use rye flour because it acidifies more easily”.

Because it is a natural process, the sourdough will never develop in the same way. A tip from Carl for consistent quality: “We use a starter for our sourdough bread. This means that after each production, we are left with a piece of dough that we freshen up at regular intervals by adding water and flour again. With this starter, we will then continue to work on the next production”.

Stone bake oven

Bakers prefer to bake on a stone bake oven, but we can imagine that you might not have access to one in your kitchen. However, you might have just the perfect solution at home, and you can make the most of it. You can also bake perfect bread on the pizza stone of a kamado (like a Big Green Egg) where you get the same effect as with a real stone bake oven, but also with the delicious flavour of a charcoal fire.

And now what?

1. Just do it!
We'll give you lots of know-how and tips in this blog, but it's especially important to just get going. As you do, you see what exactly is happening and then the questions to delve in even more come naturally.

2. Books
We mention it quite often, but the McGee can really give you a lot of insight into the process of baking bread and specifically, sourdough bread. Of course there are also many books about sourdough bread written by numerous bakers and chefs.

3. Fellow chefs
There are probably a few fellow chefs in your network who can give you valuable tips from their experience. Master Chef, Michel van der Kroft, shared his passion in the magazine Lekker. Very inspiring!

Would you like to know even more about all the components in which sourdough bread is processed, and what you can do with the leftovers? You can view a variety of ideas by clicking on the button below.

View all components with sourdough bread