I try to offset some of the damage by baking almost whole-wheat bread or wheat and spelt, which he devours. Then, in January I decided I'd start a sourdough starter to make sourdough bread. Sourdough bread is available here and goes by the name pain au levain. Unfortunately, it's quite costly and I really wanted to suss out the technique.
Why bother? Well, there are numerous health benefits to eating sourdough bread over normal bread. It increases beneficial lactic acid which helps break down phytates which inhibit absorption of the vitamins and minerals in the flour. It is easier to digest because the fermentation of the dough predigests the starches in the flour. It breaks down the protein gluten into amino acids, making it more digestible. It stays fresh longer because it produces its own acetic acid - no need for chemical preservatives, and has a low GI index so doesn't cause undesirable spikes in insulin.
All good reasons to make my own bread. The only problem is that it takes time, and trying to fit bread-making into working full time has been causing me a bit of a headache.
I made my first attempt last weekend. I took the sourdough starter out of the fridge let it come to room temperature, then added it to flour, water and salt. I kneaded for about 5 minutes, let it rise for 24 hours in the bowl, then emptied it onto the baking sheet and baked it for 45 minutes. This is what I got:
|First ever sourdough loaf... destined for the blender...|
It should have looked something like this:
|I have a long way to go to make this...|
I watched a video on their site and discovered that:
1. I needed to feed the starter three times over a period of 18 hours if it had come out of the fridge.
2. I had to knead the dough for 20 minutes.
3. I needed a thermometer to know when the bread was baked - 98°C or 210°F (cue trip to Carrouf).
Armed with this information, I fed my starter three times, made the dough and kneaded it for 20 minutes. Then I cut the dough in two and place each loaf on a baking tray to rise free-style. Mine rose horizontally.
I left it overnight which was too long because the next morning, it had spread so far, it had cracked and split. No need to make extra cuts, then... Into the oven they went, and barely rose any more so came out after half an hour (and 98°C) almost the same height as when they went in.
They looked better though:
|Second attempt - still on the flat side|
They tasted very good too. I made a horizontal open sandwich with olive oil, garlic rubbed on the cut side and tomatoes. My son also made a horizontal sarnie, with ham and salad and said it was okay but he preferred the normal bread. My quest is not over yet. He had really liked the pain au levain I got from the baker's down the road, so I'm determined to keep trying... I bought a silicon bread tin yesterday to make a more loaf-shaped loaf. No room to spread in one those, that'll show it...
You can do a number of things with flat sourdough bread - sarnies, panini, and this, which I'm making tonight - stuffed sourdough bread. You make cuts across the bread making sure not to cut all the way through, then stuff the cuts with cheese - I bought a large goats' cheese pelardon from the market yesterday. Combine butter (or olive oil), green onion (or normal), garlic and poppy seeds together and pour over the bread. Sprinkle with grated cheese (like gruyère) and bake wrapped in foil for 15 mins. Uncover and bake for another 10 mins.
We'll need those sourdough digestive capabilities after that!