Sourdough Starter and Homemade Sourdough Bread

Sourdough Starter and Homemade Sourdough Bread

Just like any other Portuguese person, I absolutely love bread and especially stone baked with a dark almost burnt thick crust. For so many years I did not realize how privileged I was, having a wood-fired oven at home and being able to bake homemade bread at any time. Most of the bakeries in the small village where I grew up would sell excellent quality bread but there’s just something about the homemade and in particular, wood-oven baked bread that makes it unique. The whole process involved in making it, the sound it makes when breaking the crust then the aroma of the warm bread drizzled with great quality olive oil, it was just so simple and yet so amazingly good! I now live in a flat in London, and the thing I miss the most about my country is exactly that, the bread.

I make other types of bread very often, focaccia, sundried tomatoes soft buns, Irish soda bread etc. and they are delicious but these are soft bread that are best eaten at the moment. Sourdough bread will last for a few days always with the same great taste.

I  did study the theory on how to make sourdough starter and bread while training to be a chef, but hearing the theory even if it’s coming from a Michelin starred chef is much different than actually seeing how it should look like and feel like.

When I came across a youtube video from a truly passionate and expert baker I immediately felt that I really need to make this bread. After making it I felt bad for not having tried it in the past, it came out perfect, absolutely delicious taste and incredible texture.

The sourdough starter does take time but once you have it ready you can keep it in the fridge covered to avoid having to “feed it” every day. Mine has now 1 month, I keep in the fridge, and add fresh water + flour the day before I want to bake and just leave it outside at room temperature overnight ready to use the next day!

Here is the youtube video with Patrick Ryan owner of Firehouse Bakery Masterclass on Sourdough!

By the way, if you are on a diet make sure to not play his video of the hot cross buns recipe because they look very much tempting…

I hope after watching his video you are now confident in making your own sourdough bread.

Here are the pictures of how my homemade sourdough bread turned out…

My first ever homemade sourdough bread loaf!
My first ever homemade sourdough bread loaf!

 

Homemade sourdough bread
A slightly shy cut should have scored the dough deeper! Homemade sourdough bread

Other uses for a sourdough starter other than sourdough bread

The other day after making a loaf of fresh sourdough bread I thought of making sourdough pizza also, the recipes online suggested a resting time of 20 hours but I decided to experiment my own recipe and it turned out great! The crust texture was much better than in the traditional pizza dough method using dried active yeast, very crispy similar to a wood oven baked pizza. I’ve used a mixture of strong white flour and whole wheat to make it healthier.

My very own sourdough pizza recipe

Ingredients:

  • 150 grams whole wheat flour
  • 100 grams strong white flour
  • 120 grams sourdough starter
  • 120 mL water
  • salt to taste (I must have used between 5 to 10 grams maximum)

Procedure:

  • Mix the 2 types of flour and salt, then add the water, stir with a spatula until roughly combined then add the sourdough starter and keep mixing always with the spatula until slightly smooth, very lightly grease with olive oil, cover with a clean kitchen towel and leave it aside to prove, 5 to 6 hours.
  • Transfer the rested and much smoother now dough from the bowl into a lightly floured surface divide into 2, knock out the air bubbles and give a round shape, leave to rest covered for another hour, and in the meantime, you can prepare the pizza sauce and toppings.
  • Pre-heat the oven to at least 230ºC, roll out the pizza dough on a floured surface, transfer to a baking sheet, add the toppings, bake and enjoy!
Sourdough pizza dough recipe
Sourdough pizza dough recipe – before cooking

 

Sourdough pizza dough recipe
Sourdough pizza dough – before cooking

 

Sourdough pizza dough recipe - finished pizza
Sourdough pizza dough recipe – finished pizza

 

Sourdough pizza dough recipe - finished pizza
Sourdough pizza dough recipe – finished pizza

Childhood memories of the best bread in the world – grandmom’s bread!

I grew up helping my grandmom making homemade wood oven baked bread on the weekends, I was very young and my help was basically holding the “masseira” a traditional Portuguese wooden box/table that was used to work the bread dough. Little did I knew about the strength required to knead more than 5 kg flour at the time, and yet looking back grandmom would do it so easily.

It was a house full of kids, cousins growing up together and others just spending holiday time, but for each one of us, there would be a personalized bread loaf made by grandmom. The older you get the bigger your bread loaf until you are old enough and lose the privilege of a personalized bread and start to share the “adult” loaf. This was more than 25 years ago, and that small bread ball used to make us feel so happy and special, and maybe that’s why I love bread so much especially thick crusty bread that reminds me of those times. I still remember her calling each name as the loaves were coming out of the wood oven, and the best thing was tearing the bread (with the hands, there was a myth that if you slice the bread with a knife while there was still more bread in the oven, those would not turn as good), letting the steam escape then drizzle the middle with olive oil and top with sugar, it was heaven and I cannot express how much I miss it!

After becoming a chef and going back home for Easter one year, I wanted to recreate the whole process of making homemade bread. For the Easter, the bread is very different, called “Folar” it has eggs and loads of butter but I thought getting involved in the whole process would be great to learn it and to revive childhood memories. Here are some pictures of that Easter holiday!

 

Making "folar" in Portugal the traditional way, wood oven baked homemade bread
Making “folar” in Portugal the traditional way, wood oven baked homemade bread
Making "folar" in Portugal the traditional way, wood oven baked homemade bread
Making “folar” in Portugal the traditional way, wood oven baked homemade bread


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