A little while back, I began experimenting with making my own sourdough bread. My aim was to somehow reproduce the type of bread Superwife knew as child in Poland; a heavy yet moist caraway rye. It’s taken quite a while, let me tell you. I’m up to my third Walter** (That’s the name we’ve given the live yeast starter I keep bubbling away in the kitchen,) and the recipe mix, baking temperature and times have varied quite a lot.
Finally, I’ve come up with this.
It’s got a great crust, is just the right flavour, and being both moist and heavy, keeps very well. The best bit is Miss8 likes it and wants in her school lunch instead of the Abbott’s/Helga’s stuff we get from the supermarket.
If you want to give it a go yourself, and don’t blame me if it doesn’t work – a helluva lot depends on your yeast starter – if that’s not right, it can all go ass-up and backwards, here’s the recipe. It’s in metric. Sorry about that. I’m sure you’re all smart cookies and can work out the equivalent.
1 1/2 cups rye flour
1/2 cup wholemeal flour
3 cups plain flour
2 heaped teaspoons salt
3 heaped teaspoons caraway seeds
3 tablespoons molasses
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 – 1 1/4 cups warm water*
1 – 1 1/4 cups starter*
*These depend on how the dough feels. Mix up the full 1 1/2 cups of each, but only pour in 2 cup’s worth to begin. If it needs more moisture, add a bit at a time.
Mix, in a mixer with a dough hook, then knead on a floured bench for about ten minutes.
Place the dough in an oiled ceramic bowl & cover with cling film, also oiled. Let sit in a warm spot for 8 – 12 hours. It should double in size at least.
Next, turn it out onto a floured bench and knead again for a few minutes. Put it into the container of your choice. I use a semi-cylindrical ceramic crock pot, which I line with cornflour. Let rise again for another 8 – 12 hours. Bake at around 180 C with lid on for about 20 mins, then remove lid. Bake for another 15 mins or so. Tap the top with a bread knife every so often. When it sounds hollow, you’re done. Take it out, tip onto a wire rack and let cool.
** Just a note about the starter. You can go the full traditional way, of using a bit of flour and water in a container near a window, adding (or “feeding”) more every day until a culture begins, or you can cheat. I cheated for this batch, but I have succeeded with a natural one as well. To cheat, your local artisan bakery will probably sell little cakes of live yeast. I bought some for about $1.15. I only needed about half a teaspoon of the stuff. The rest is tucked away nice and safe in the fridge till I need it next time.
To make your starter the cheats way, in a tall plastic container, or jar with a plastic lid, mix a cup of flour with about 2 cups of water and mash in half a teaspoon of live yeast “cake” with a fork. Leave on the bench overnight with the lid semi-closed. In the morning, you’ll have a little bubbling container of goo that smells like old beer. Tada! You have a Walter.