|So fresh, so good. One wheat (sliced), one rye.|
Today I baked two loaves, each of about 1 kg, one rye and one wheat, and both from the same rye starter. For the two of us, that will do for just about a week. One of the great things about sourdough bread is its superior keeping qualities. We eat up the wheat loaf first, generally starting when it's still warm, and then move on to the rye, which has a higher moisture content so keeps longer and anyway should be left a day at least after baking to be at its best.
|Fundamental rye starter - very runny.|
There's a bit of trial and error involved, naturally, but the process is incredibly forgiving, so errors are rarely fatal. This is how I've found it works best for me:
|Rye production dough in the morning.|
|Wheat production dough.|
I shan't be giving recipes here. I found them in Andrew Whitley's excellent books, so it doesn't seem entirely fair to cut him out and give them away for free! There is a specimen recipe available on the Bread Matters site.
|Air-kneading. Essential technique!|
Sourdoughs in general are softer and stickier than what a yeasted bread baker will be used to, which leads me to my next tips. Have a container of water handy when you're working with the dough. A wheat loaf requires kneading, as normal, but the way to stop it all from welding itself to your hands is to keep them moist. Likewise your tools (spatula, dough scrapers) and any surface you intend to set the dough down on before it goes into the tin.
|Bread in a bag. Keep it moist.|
Finally, the long proving times needed for sourdough loaves mean it's imperative to keep the dough surface from drying out. Popping the whole shebang into a plastic bag, which you can then inflate and close the mouth with a twist tie, makes this easy.
Get into sourdough. You won't regret it. It might just change your life.