If you have been following my blog you will know that I have been making a range of homemade cheeses, ales and ciders using kits from Mad Millie. They have just started to stock a Sourdough Kit so I had to give it a go. First thing to note is that ’15 minutes’ isn’t a good representation and the process takes a lot longer than that.
I liked the idea of the kit because you could just use the instant sourdough starter culture when you wanted rather than having to keep a sourdough starter going but not wanting to make that much bread. Sourdough is also supposed to be a healthier bread than others:
Sourdough is more digestible than standard loaves and more nutritious too. Lactic acids make the vitamins and minerals in the flour more available to the body by helping neutralise the phytates in flour that would interfere with their absorption. The acids slow down the rate at which glucose is released into the blood-stream and lower the bread’s glycaemic index (GI), so it doesn’t cause undesirable spikes in insulin. They also render the gluten in flour more digestible and less likely to cause food intolerance.
The instruction book comes with recipes for original, wholemeal, fruit loaf and gluten free sourdoughs. The recipe looks somewhat daunting when you first see it but actually is quite simple once you get your head around it – basically:
- mix together 1 sachet of the Instant Sourdough starter culture, flour, salt and water
- leave it to rise for 20-48 hours in a warm place
- take it out of the bowl and form it into a ball, then leave to rise a further 2 hours
- Bake it in preheated cooking pot with lid at 230C for 25 minutes, remove lid and cook for a further 18 minutes until golden brown.
I learnt quite a few things NOT to do with my first attempt.
- although you can apparently make a double batch with a single sachet and keep half the dough in the fridge for up to a week for your next loaf – don’t do this on your first try.
- when it says ‘a soft sticky dough’ you should be able to form it into ball. The recipe says that it doesn’t need to be formed into a ball, but if you can’t then it is too wet and will give a very heavy bread.
- even though it says to let it rise somewhere above 20C, don’t be tempted to use the heating pad that you have used for cider and even cheese-making to keep things nicely at around 22C. I thought this was going to be a great idea but I think the ceramic bowl held too much heat and the dough rose hugely in the first 12 hours and then didn’t do much after that, and very little at all for the second rising.
- If you use a heating pad the damp muslin cloth dries out too quickly and the dough gets a crust on it when it is not supposed to.
- If you have a dough that is too wet and you can’t form it into a ball then you will need to keep it in the baking paper in order to put it into the cooking pot and you will end up with a very funny shape/pattern in your loaf.
- If you have ignored point 1 (and therefore have a second batch affected by points 2 and 3) and decide to use a smaller cooking pot for the second half to see if you can get a loaf that isn’t quite as flat, you will just get a taller but smaller loaf that looks better but is just as stodgy.
On my second attempt at making the dough I got a much better result:
- I made a single batch.
- The dough could be formed into a ball.
- I covered the bowl with plastic wrap while the dough was rising.
- I put it in the wardrobe near the wardrobe heater (I don’t have a hot water cupboard).
- I used the baking paper to transfer the final ball to the cooking pot but removed it.
The final loaf looked like it ought to with a nice crisp golden brown crust with the characteristic ‘splits’ and inside was full of ‘holes’ like you’d expect. But it was still a much heavier bread than sourdough I have brought from a bakery.