I finally took the plunge at making, to me, one of the most daunting ferments… SOUR DOUGH BREAD. Out of all the ‘pets’ I have at home which need feeding, shaking, tending… I haven’t even stepped close to the idea of bread – the high-maintenance ferment which needs a type of regimented care.
For me, I see sourdough as a ferment one uses as a test-run before adopting a dog, or having a child.
My other steady kitchen pets include milk kefir, tibicos (water kefir), kombucha, multiple yogurt varieties… those that are living, need attention and feeding on their individual basis, while at the same time are relatively fool-proof. Milk-kefir I can leave her in the fridge for months without a proper change of milk. She contently waits in the fridge and hibernates until I’m ready for her again. Kombucha Just a mellow brewing in the corner. Slowly expanding and multiplying formations of her friends and children.
And sourdough? Why have I felt it so intimidated?!
Perhaps the time that goes into it. The fear of killing it from improper feeding. The strict and multifaceted regime of feeding and folding…then baking.
As Edible alchemy set out on the Microbial Circus Tour – we met up with other ferment enthusiasts who were doing some fun things with sour dough… that spurred the keenness to start it up again. But how to travel with this bubbling-glop?
When we arrived at Vallanes, the organic farm in north-east Iceland, we were introduced to ‘Katy’. A Spanish sourdough that is a confirmed 150 years old and said perhaps even double that! We were shown how to free style with this living-glop and add different kinds of flour; whole wheat, barely, almond even… and never measure, just feel. During tour stay there, each morning experiments with the dough were made and some with better results than others. I felt my time with Katy wasn't over even thought it was at the farm, so I put some of her in a mini jar and brought her back to Berlin where I’m continuing to feel my way around this active batter. What is the proper texture. And how to get those bubbles JUST RIGHT!
Here I will share one of the sourdough pita recipes from our lovely founders of Zentrum Für Fermentation. Leipzig was one of our stops on the Microbial Circus Tour were we had a dinner complete with fermented goodies, and the sourdough pitas were our perfect food-scoops.
60g active sourdough starter
25g/2 Tbsp. olive oil
180g whole wheat flour
180g white flour
1 ½ Tsp. Salt
Start by mixing water, starter and olive oil in a big mixing bowl. Add the flours and stir until the flour is incorporated. Let sit for a 30min autolyse (that helps form a nice elastic dough). After that add the salt and mix well.
Do three slap and folds. Fold the dough onto itself into the middle of the bowl, then rotate the bowl about a quarter circle and fold again doing so for about two turns.
Let the dough rest for 30min - another slap and fold - rest 30min - and the third slap and fold.
Now let the dough ferment at room temperature for 6-8h or over night.
Turn the dough out onto a floured surface, gently shape it into a rectangle or roll and divide into 8 pieces, using a little flour if necessary. Gently roll the pieces into 8 little balls and let them rest under a moist tea towel.
Preheat the oven as hot as it gets, preferably 250°C, with a cookie sheet upside down or a pizza stone on the middle rack for 30min.
Flatten the little dough balls into pita breads, about 1cm thick (don't roll them out too thin or they won't inflate).
Slide them onto the preheated cookie sheet/ pizza stone, usually you can fit 4 at a time and bake for 5-7 min or until slightly browned.
Enjoy them right away or store them under a moist tea towel, so they don't become too hard.