For today's Real Food Quote Monday (RFQM), I'm sharing from a little $3 booklet called “Simple Sourdough” by Mark Shepard. I got it because I needed to add about $2 to an Amazon.com order for free shipping. Ever need to do that? This little booklet might fit the bill for you sometime. 🙂
Now, it is a booklet – not a book. It is only 19 pages long. It is a fun read because you get a simplified, interesting overview of a simple sourdough bread using just hard red wheat, water and salt. It tells you how to make a simple starter. And while the book isn't heavy on details (I can't stress this enough), it does a good job of introducing the basic sourdough bread process. Some interesting tips, too…
How can you tell if your sponge is ready?
First, the sponge is the smaller amount of flour and water that you combine with your starter, preceding when you make the actual bread dough. This tip is so great – and so true (I've been testing it myself):
“You can tell your sponge is ready when it's slightly domed, smells sour, and is stringy when you stir it. If you leave the sponge too long, the “yeast” will eat the gluten strands, and the sponge will be runny. Your bread will wind up more sour, but it will also be heavier.”
I would also add that the “dome” will be bubbly. This process takes a half a day in my (cool) house. So if I'm going to make the dough in the afternoon, I get my starter out of the fridge and create the sponge in the morning – so it will be ready to make dough by the afternoon.
How can you tell if you've added enough flour to the dough?
Ever wonder if you've added enough flour or not? Personally, I try to add as little flour as I can – just enough so the dough isn't sticky for kneading. As Mr. Shepard will echo in the following quote, too much flour makes a heavy bread.
“To make the dough, stir the flour into the sponge, a cup or so at a time. Stop when you can stick your fingers a little ways into the dough and pull them back clean. This is just enough flour so the dough won't stick to the breadboard. The less flour you add, the lighter your bread.”
What do you think?
I'm not really advocating you rush out and buy this booklet. However, if you need to fill up an Amazon.com order, you might be very glad you picked this. While Mr. Shepard doesn't advocate for the 12 to 24 hour rise for optimal nutrition, he does mention it in the booklet. His method is flexible and simple enough to let the bread rise that long. I learned some useful tips from the booklet, and I enjoyed reading it.
Feel free to share your thoughts on these two tips – or share any other sourdough tips you've run across recently!
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