Grains have been planted, harvested, and used for food since the beginning of agriculture. This shift from hunter-gatherer to the farmer is documented to be between 9000 and 7300 BC in an area called the Fertile Crescent (Bellwood, P. 2005, First Farmers, The Origins of Agricultural Society). The Fertile Crescent is a crescent-shaped region in the Middle East, spanning modern-day Iraq, Israel, Palestine, Syria, Lebanon, Egypt, and Jordan, as well as the southeastern fringe of Turkey and the western fringes of Iran (Wikipedia). With the advent of farming, populations boomed, fertility rates increased, and lifespans extended. So I say, let us eat bread, sourdough, of course.
It is a weekly ritual for me to get out my sourdough mother and start my next batch of bread. For me, this is a Monday thing to begin my week. As I am away teaching quite a bit, I keep my mother in the fridge and feed her once a week. If you kept your mother at room temperature, you would have to feed her every day, and this would be fine if you were taking some mother out every day to make bread for a large family. For me, once a week is all I need.
My mother is one kilogram, and I keep her in a large jar. I get her out, and using scales and a stainless steel bowl, I weigh out 500 grams. If you do not have a mother see my blog, Soughdough Bread, is it Better for Us and Why. You can get sourdough culture here.
Before I start making my bread, I mix up 250 grams of Organic whole wheat flour and 250 ml water and feed my mother, making her one kilogram again.
Once my mother is fed, I return to my bread-making. To my 500 grams of mother (starter), I add four cups of flour, two cups of water, and a dash (1/4 teaspoon) of iodine-free salt. I also add some seeds. I use whatever I have on hand (sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, flax, and pepitas). Mix these together and then add additional flour if needed.
Turn this onto a floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic. Under-kneaded bread can collapse, so don’t skimp on this step.
Once your dough is the right texture, place it in a clean, oiled blow to rise. This is not a quick bead where you add commercial yeast. You are using sourdough mother, so expect this to take some time. Slow proving of the bread allows for the development of flavours and gives the bacteria time to break down the damaging peptide(s) in gluten that humans do not digest well. Check out my blog Soughdough Bread is it Better for Us, and Why, for more information on this.
Once your bread has risen for the first time, punch it down, turn it out again, and form your loaf or loaves. I get two small or one large loaf from this recipe. Place the loave(s) in the bread pan(s) to rise again.
Once the bread has risen, place it in a 220-degree oven to bake. My large loaf takes about one hour. If I do two small loaves, they take about 45 minutes. I place a roasting pan in the bottom of the oven filled with hot water to increase the humidity in the oven while baking the bread. It does wonders for the crust.
I do this every week, on a Monday, and I have bread for the week. It costs very little, and I know my bread is nutritious and safe to eat with no nasty additives the food industry is so willing to poison us with.
Making my own bread is just another act of rebellion on my part. Join the revolution and become self-sufficient and financially independent, one skill at a time.
As always, live well.