One of the special treats that we occasionally make at Beans & Butter is our sourdough bread. This Saturday we will be offering loaves of sourdough bread for sale. If you’ve ever had one of our loaves, you know how delicious it is. Cutting off a slab of Michael Simmons’s fresh sourdough bread and eating it with a smear of butter or jam is a rare treat. I’ve spoken with customers who have taken it home and eaten it with olive oil, salt, pepper, and garlic powder. Sourdough makes a terrific sandwich. Even without anything on it, our sourdough tastes fantastic. If your sourdough loaf starts to get stale, try it toasted, or even better, make up a batch of French toast with it.
What Makes Sourdough Bread Different?
Our sourdough are 1.5-pound loaves. Sourdough bread takes time and some coddling to prepare. What makes sourdough special? Without any added yeast, sourdough rises. The sourdough starter breeds yeast that occurs naturally in the environment. This naturally occurring yeast provides sourdough with its distinctive tangy flavor.
What Is Sourdough Bread Starter?
Sourdough starter is simply water and all-purpose flour. Initially, we combine a ratio of 1:1 water and flour and set this mixture out overnight at room temperature. For this example, we are using 100 grams of water and 100 grams of flour. The next day, we scrape off half of the starter and throw it away, and then replace this with 50 grams of fresh water and 50 grams of flour. For a total five days, we continue scraping off half of the starter mixture and replacing with 50 grams of fresh water and 50 grams of flour. With each addition of ingredients, we stir this starter.
After this initial five days, the starter no longer has any amount taken away from it. Instead, we double the amount of flour and water added to the starter. So, in this example, we add 100 grams of flour and 100 grams of fresh water to the starter. We add or “feed” the starter 100 grams of flour and 100 grams of water for five days. At this point, we have a good amount of starter.
Now our starter is mature. To maintain the starter for future loaves, we again scrape off a fraction and replace with the same ratio of fresh water and flour. During this maintenance phase, we alternately chill the starter and bring it out into room temperature.
What is the Levain?
To make the levain, we use a portion of our mature starter. We add water, rye flour and bread flour to the starter to create the levain. The levain rests overnight at room temperature to ferment. By keeping the levain at room temperature, the yeast continues to grow.
What is a Banneton?
Finally, we combine the levain to the dough batch ingredients. Our final dough rises two times before we bake it. We place the dough in a special oval shaped loafed pan called a banneton. The natural paper fiber German made banneton allows the dough to rise in the loaf shape with a distinctive striped artisan appearance. Before we bake the dough, we score it along the top with a knife. Finally, we bake the loaves in a steamed oven.
Time to Eat Some Sourdough Bread
As you can see, sourdough takes a lot of steps. Planning, care, and time goes into the entire sourdough process. You can taste it! If you have never tried our sourdough bread, buy a loaf and give it a try.