Since the lockdown of #COVID-19, seems like the whole world has started to bake... With a bunch of ingredients going out of stock, we're also starting to bake the traditional, authentic way... SOURDOUGH!
Baking with traditional ingredients may be time-consuming, but the beauty of traditional methods show how simple your home baked breads can be: flour, water and salt is all you need to make a gorgeous loaf of sourdough bread. The basics are taught to you in our level 1 sourdough baking class, to give you the right foundation to then build your own skills and get creative.
Today, we will look at some frequently asked questions to help you on your independent baking journey:
Q1. What flour should I use to bake sourdough?
That really depends on what you are going to bake.
For breads, we recommend bread flour, which may also have a different name such as "strong flour" or "strong bread flour" or "hard flour".
Many customers choose "All-purpose" flour: the biggest difference between bread flour and all purpose flour when it comes to bread making is in their protein content. Bread flour contains between 12 to 14% protein (gluten) compared to an average of 8 to 11% in all purpose flours. With the lower protein content, all purpose flour will not create enough gluten to make that light and elastic texture that you need for bread dough.
And to be very specific, (and here is where it starts to get nerdy! ) every brand of flour is actually very different when it comes to baking results. When you bake often enough you'll start to notice when you change the flour, the texture of the dough will change and of course the flavor of the bread will change too! So it is very important to know your four and the dough that you are going for because just following the recipe is not enough when it comes to sourdough baking. You'll have to know how to adjust the amount of water and flour you use according to the flour you have.
Now, depending on where your flour is produced, they might have different names for the same type of flours. Have a look at this website that explains in details.
Q2. What can you make with bread flour?
Aside from making sourdough bread, you can also make, pretzels, cinnamon rolls, bagels, pizza and focaccia! Any kind of "chewy' bread will be good to make with bread flour.
Q3. How do I maintain my sourdough starter?
Feed your starter flour and water 1:1 (by weight) ratio. Feed it 2 to 3 hours prior to your dough making. And, ideally feed your starter every day.
However, if you are a weekend baker that bakes only once a week, please store your starter in the fridge and feed it once a week (minimum), before you bake.
Here are the steps for feeding the sourdough starter that is stored in the refrigerator.
- Remove starter if it is more than 1/2 of your container.
- (For making a 1lb loaf) add 50 grams water, 50 grams flour to the starter and mix well in the container.
- Cover the lid and let the starter ferment for 2-3 hours in room temperature. If this doesn't become bubbly, allow it to ferment longer.
- You can use the starter once it is active.
- After using the starter, cover the lid and return it to the refrigerator.
- Repeat this every week, even if you don't bake.
You can see how the sourdough starter becomes active over a few hours.
2 hours later...
3 hours later..
This is what we call "ready to use" :)
Here are a range of flours you can use for sourdough baking.
You can also use gluten-free flours and we have gluten free sourdough baking classes as well.
If you still have many questions, come try our workshops! You'll learn much more from your own experience than reading a recipe 100 times :)
We have been teaching how to bake sourdough in Hong Kong since 2015 and we have seen many people bake beautiful breads after joining our classes :)