Tuesday, 6 October 2015

Pet Sitting Sour Dough

I've previously posted that I want to try and make my own bread. I've also been making an effort to reduce the amount of plastic we use when buying bread. Although making our own bread seemed like an obvious option for reducing plastic I just haven't felt ready to take the plunge.

The sour dough my friend made for us - delicious!
Until recently, when a friend asked me to take care of his pet for a month - in the form of a sour dough starter. The starter has been going for over six months. It was made using grapes from the vine in their backyard and flour. Since then it has made hundreds of loafs of sour dough bread.

We have received a few delivered fresh out of the oven to our house. I have been impressed by the high standard of what they have baked.

Their sour dough has been a great consistency, shape, appearance and flavour. It is as good as any you will buy in an artisan bakery.

So you can imagine why it has seemed intimidating to take on. I have never made bread in my life.

The starter mixture
As part of the handover he did a demonstration of the key stages of preparation during an hour long play date with his son and Turtle (we are in the same mum's group). This may not sound like a big deal but each step is followed by a proofing time of 3 to 4 hours so it would have taken a bit of organisation to set up.

After my hour crash course, and some detailed instructions emailed to me the following day, I am feeling surprisingly confident about taking on this new challenge.

I hope it won't end in tears.

Taking care of the sour dough starter itself isn't causing me too much concern, but I'm not sure if that will change. A colleague mentioned that people can be quite secretive and precious about their starters, particularly professional bakers. Luckily my friends are pretty laid back so I think they'll be happy if it stays healthy and alive.

I'm keeping it in the fridge to slow down the fermentation process. It needs to be fed organic (unbleached) flour daily and a bit of tepid (room temperature) water to mix it in.

So far it hasn't grown much at it all so I have left it out of the fridge today and put it out to sit in the sun for an hour. I guess it will take a bit of trial and error to learn what to do. If it is left to sit in the heat too long it will become quite acidic.

It has definitely been interesting learning about the process. It is quite simple and methodical, which suits my scientific brain.

Have you ever made your own bread?

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