Sourdough

My family loves bread. I'm pretty sure that most of my children have inherited, through their father's genes, a love of all things white, fluffy, savoury and fresh! Not to say that I'm not a fan of warm, fresh bread - it just doesn't like me.

Being a crazily busy Mama, I have trained my children to get their own breakfast in the mornings. It saves me heaps of time flapping around the kitchen and teaches my children independence, how to moderate their servings with their appetite, economy and how to help the younger children.

There's one thing that I do not like about this system.

They can eat whatever they like from the following:

-porridge
-weet bix
-museli (if I have some in the pantry)
-toast
-fruit

One of my children would eat nothing except fruit if we let him! He's the one who says, "Nah, I'm not hungry for a biscuit. Can I have an apple?" - bless his little socks. But quite a few of my children enjoy crunchy warm toast of a morning. And why wouldn't they? It's quick to cook, easy to prepare and filling.

Bread purchased from the shop is bad for you. There are preservatives in it, for a start. Add to that wheat that is potentially GM and you have a nutritional disaster - all before you even look at it from a GI perspective!

Enter my friend, a sourdough convert. She is amazing. She has a big family like me and is full of real-girl-real-world wisdom which I suck from her every time we catch up for a cuppa. She put me onto sourdough a few years ago. I haven't kept up my system of making sourdough because things kind of fell apart for me a few years ago.

Now, I'm determined to give my family an alternative to yukky shop bread in the mornings. I should note that I still pack the occasional sandwich made from yukky shop bread because I'm human, not good at making sourdough yet and we don't have enough money to buy sourdough loaves each fortnight!

I have a new pet in my kitchen now - my jar of sourdough starter. For mother's day one year, my family gave me a book on sourdough by Yoke Mardewi which is wonderful. Ms Mardewi writes for the absolute sourdough beginner.

My first batch was yick. Wet and thick and uncooked. Yuecch.

However, along the way, the starter itself has grown better with the improvement of the wild yeasts that ferment in the starter. I've gotten better at following the recipe (ahem!) and measuring ingredients correctly and we're now scoffing delicious crusty loaves of sourdough toast each morning for breakfast.

My Mama heart is content.

It's not super easy to make sourdough. But the benefits of it are so worth the little bit of trouble it takes to make two small-medium loaves.

If you're interested in having a go at sourdough, a) don't ask me, I'm not a pro by any stretch of the imagination b) search it on the 'net - there's tonnes of advice, recipes, tips and stories out there. Or you can purchase Ms Mardewi's book.

Here's a rough run-down on what it takes to make a basic white sourdough loaf:

Mix starter, water, salt and flour together. Rest it for 15-20 minutes.
Knead it by thumping it on the kitchen bench for 5 minutes. This is my favourite part. No wonder women who bake their own bread are so content - I thumped out my frustrations away merrily and was sad when the 5 minutes was up!
Rest it for 20-30 minutes.
Test it to see that it's ready.
If so, put it in the bowl, covered, to rise for 1-2 hours, depending on the weather.
Turn and fold the dough for a few minutes until the dough breaks when you fold it.
Rest for 15 minutes.
Shape the dough into a loaf tin, or into two loaves if you're doing double.
Rise for 4-6 hours, covered.
Preheat oven and put sourdough in when ready, for 35-45 minutes.

All of that should take about one day.

WHAT????

Yup, it takes a day......BUT -

Here's the great thing about sourdough.......you can do a little bit of housework, then come back. Hang out some washing, then come back. Change the baby -wash hands- then come back.


It's perfect for the busy Mama!

OK, so you do have to be home most of the time, but I've found my loaves are fairly forgiving. They're especially forgiving with rising times since it's cold at the moment. In summer might be a different story!

I'm finding that I can motor along, making two loaves every two or three days. Enough to enjoy making it without it being a burden. And my family are enjoying natural, preservative-free bread for one meal of the day at least.

I'm not a fantastic cook - in fact, I'm not a particular fan of baking. I just do it as part of my job as a Mama.......but I do enjoy seeing my family enjoy what I bake!

How about you? Have you heard of sourdough before? Have you tried it? How did it go?

Until next time........ xx

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