Monday, 5 May 2008

Meet my mother

Due to another recent price hike on my local loaf of sourdough bread, I've been prompted to make my own. The exciting thing about this is that rather than using conventional yeast you need to use a 'mother' instead. I suppose it's fair to say that you wouldn't normally associate the word exciting with bread making... but then this is almost more of a home science experiment than anything else (somewhat like my doomed attempts to make ginger beer...)

So, taken from Beyond Nose to Tail by the chaps of St John, here is the recipe I have plumped for. Posting of sourdough recipe shall depend upon my success with the Mother. Wish me luck.

1 stick of rhubarb
210ml water
2 tbsp live yoghurt
50g rye flour
50g wholemeal flour
100g strong white flour

Day 1
Chop the rhubarb into slices 5mm thick and mix with the water and yoghurt. Add the flour and stir until you have a wet, lumpy mixture. Place in a clean container, dust with white flour and leave somewhere warm (around 26-28 C)

Day 2
Just give the mixture a stir and dust with white flour again.

Day 3
Stir it again; you should see signs of fermentation taking place. Add 4 tablespoons of white flour and 4 tablespoons of water, mix well and dust with white flour.

Day 4-5
On Day 4, discard about a third of the Mother and replace with a fresh quantity of all the ingredients except the rhubarb. Repeat on Day 5.

Day 6
The Mother should now be ready to use in your bread making - it should be bubbly and smell strong and sour.

After making a loaf, you will need to replenish the Mother with half and half flour and water, in equal quantities to the amount you took out - so if you make a White Loaf for example, using 100g of Mother, you would have to replace it with 50g flour and 50 ml water. The type of flour you use for replenishment depends on which loaf you plan to make next: for a white loaf use strong white flour; for brown, use 25g strong white flour and 25g wholemeal flour.

After replenishing, leave the Mother to ferment for a day before use. You can leave it in the fridge without feeding for months but it will take a few days to restart it by feeding it - again, discard about a third and feed it equal parts flour and water. Repeat this until there are signs of fermentation.

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