All Things Bread No. 2

Hello Friends of Sourdough!
Firstly thank you GK for suggesting I add some structure to the newsletter! (GK WHO ARE YOU!!)
Sameer Mehta suggested I start this newsletter, thank you Ahtem Reemas! This newsletter has 3 sections :
All Things Bread is a discussion of things I’ve been reading and watching in the world of bread that I think you might enjoy.Zoom Debrief is where I discuss and expand on everything we covered in our Zoom discussion. If, during the zoom, I said I’ll link more information on a subject then this section is where you’ll find it. Starting Your Sourdough Starter is where you can find my “Quick Guide” to starting a starter culture and answers to your starter questions.All Things Bread 
Here is a recipe for Beetroot Bread! Inspired by Friend of the Bakery Aashna’s Beetroot Puris!
Zoom DebriefOn today’s Zoom we discussed equipment. Here is a list of what I’d consider must haves and good to haves :
Must haves :
Baking stone / slab o’ granite in the base of your oven. I’ll write a detailed explanation soon but for now just trust me on this one. If you can’t get one then just place a heavy cast iron skillet or heavy food safe clay item such as a Tagine base in the bottom-most rack of your oven. 
As we discussed you can get one for free from a stone / tile shop (for eg in Quoz or Sharjah) or this one is 388dhs 

Instant read thermometer. How do you know when your bread is cooked through? When the internal temperature is at or above 92degC 🙂 This one is 25 bucks. The one I really want is a lot more. Sigh..someday.

Weighing scale. Not as mission critical  with sourdough as it is with breads that have added yeast in them (you must get the yeast quantity gram accurate) but still a must-have as it takes away the guesswork and will be a great help especially when starting out. This one’s 90dhs

Good to have : An oven thermometer. Hips don’t lie, but your oven’s built in thermometer sometimes does. As any good Cypherpunk will tell you : Don’t trust, verify!

On the Zoom we also discussed the 3 ways you can regulate / control your starter’s fermentation activity: 
1. Temperature : The colder it is the slower it ferments
2. Wheat type : Whole grain flour has more wild yeast then refined/ processed/ white flour. More yeast = more fermentation activity and vice versa.
3. Starter amount to discard / keep after a feeding. The more you keep, the faster it will ferment and vice versa. If you find yourself with a very active culture then only use a tablespoon from the original starter and add that to the fresh 50/50 flour water mix.

Finally I received a question on starter amounts. We’ll go into this in detail later but for now, know that 200 grams of starter (that is vigorous enough ie, it has passed its tests) can lift a 1kg dough.
 Starting Your Sourdough Starter Here is my Quick Guide to starting your sourdough starter:– Just mix equal parts water and flour, this is your 50/50 flour water mixture. Cover and keep at room temperature. Thats it! Do I need to be exact? How much am I using here? 
This doesn’t have to be an exact science. So if you have a weighing scale, I’d suggest you start with 300gm flour and 300gm water. But far easier to just use one coffee mug of flour and an equal amount of water.What kinds of flour to use?
ANY wheat or rye flour – whole grain or refined, all purpose or bread flour…anything! Bread in mind that whole flours will contain more wild yeast than refined or plain or all purpose flours and so whole flours make more active starter cultures.  
What kind of container to use and how to cover it?
Glass / plastic / ceramic are best, steel is safe too but not copper / aluminium (sourdough starter is mildly acidic). Cover with a cloth or a non-airtight lid.
Where to place it?
ANYWHERE thats around room temperature – not too hot and not too cold! Dark or light makes no difference. Remember this is a live culture, so the warmer the place is the more activity you’ll get and vice versa.

End of Quick GuideAnswers to your Questions:

“My starter (whom I’ve named Bubloo) has a layer of liquid floating on top. Is Bubloo going to be ok?” Yup! That’s just a sign of very active fermentation. In that sense, it’s a good thing so don’t worry. Yes, I know it smells ‘not so nice’ and ideally we try to avoid getting to this stage, ie, we try and “feed” Bubloo before they get to the liquid layer stage. For now, all you have to do is “feed” Bubloo (I’ve explained Feeding below) “I’ve named mine Lord Bubblesworth The Third, and his lordship has yet to show any bubbles. Shall I ring St John Ambulance?
If it’s been less than 48 hours since you first created Lord Bubblesworth The Third, then wait. Remember that bubbles and the liquid layer we spoke about before are both signs of active fermentation. The bubbles will come first and then after some time (depending on how active your starter’s culture is) the liquid will form.
If it has been 48 hours, then it’s time to feed him…I call mine Fred Farter the Bread Starter. How do I feed Fred? 
I’m so glad you asked!! 
Feeding your starter: Once its been 48 hours, OR your starter has doubled in volume OR you start to see liquid forming on top (whichever comes first) it’s time to Feed Fred!

Step one : Remove about half of Fred and discard (or add to your compost) Step two : Replace what you removed with fresh mixture of 50/50 flour & water.Feeding is the process by which we introduce fresh food into our culture so as to encourage our yeast and ‘good’ bacteria (the friendlies) to keep growing and multiplying. It is also the process of eliminating or discouraging undesirable microbes. We discourage by feeding our friendly microbes well so that they are always the dominant strain in the culture.
We also discourage by not allowing that layer of liquid to form on top because that prevents oxygen from reaching our friendly microbes inside.

If you have a very active starter that is forming the liquid layer too fast then you must “Retard” your starter to regulate its progress. Slowing down an overactive starter can be done in a few ways such as :1. Placing it in the fridge to slow down yeast activity or 2. Replacing whole wheat flour (more wild yeast) with refined / All Purpose flour (less wild yeast) or 3. When doing the Feeding, instead of discarding half, discard all but a tablespoon or so of the old starter and add that to a fresh container with a fresh 50/50 flour water mix.Remember : If you see lots of bubbles, it’s a good sign of active fermentation.
“What should my starter, whose name is Clint Yeastwood, smell and taste like?”
it is Normal for Clint to smell quite a bit…”Off” those first few days when you are establishing his culture.

Once he has settled into a predictable pattern of rising and falling he should smell and taste as follows : 
When he has just been fed : Should be a hint of sour, nothing unpleasant, and the smell and taste of the flour you just used is dominant.
When he is at the peak of fermentation (the highest point reached in the container / jar) he should smell ‘yeasty’, fruity and somewhat ‘sour-milk like’. Should taste definitely sour / acidic.
When Clint Yeastwood has fallen after rising / just before feeding: As above except the aromas get more pungent and the sourness aspect increases markedly.

This section is a living document and needs your feedback! Please write to me here 
Thank you for reading! If you know anyone who might be interested in all things bread, please send them this email so they can get in touch! Our (free!) Sourdough classes on zoom run daily at 4pm Dubai time, thats 12 noon UTC, please let us know if you’d like to join!

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