February 22, 2023
Some people enjoy learning on their own, some enjoy attending workshops with hands-on learning, observing, asking questions. I'll be offering more of these hands-on workshops in the future, but in the meantime, read to the end and if you'd like to get started on your sourdough, my easy method is there for you.
I love baking bread. It’s a simple domestic art where the cadence and tactile connection from the dough to the first hot slice of fresh baked bread right from the oven is life giving. I'm so passionate about women learning to make sourdough.
During fall 2022, about 30 women - mothers and daughters sat with me in a garden and in my kitchen to learn the simple art of making beautiful sourdough bread.
This rhythm takes me back to a time where life was slow. This slow down experience connects us to so many women who’ve gone before us – and routinely did the things we're doing now.
Baking bread opens the door for us to step into a needed slow living experience where our senses engage with every part from feeding the culture, watching her visibly bubble and rise, to measuring the four, working culture, water and salt into the bread bowl.
SOURDOUGH STARTER - CLAIRE
Claire, your starter from our farm, is active culture. I keep Claire on my kitchen prep table in a Weck jar with the lid set loosely on top. I do this because I make bread several times a week. Claire, your starter is an active culture, she needs to be fed. I choose to keep her going rather than place her in the refrigerator should I not want to make bread, pancakes.
A little backdrop…Sourdough starter is one of the oldest methods of fermentation. It’s healthy and a great way to enjoy bread. Some starters get passed down for generations. There are health benefits to make and eat sourdough bread.
For me, it’s an act of worship. It calms and centers me. It’s a time to commune with God and pray for others.
Claire is happiest when temperatures are not too hot and not too cold. Claire doesn’t like to starve – once she comes to life – you’ll feed her for sure ONCE a day. Sometimes I feed Claire 1x a day – late afternoon around 4 pm (right before dinner prep and farm chores). Bringing life to Claire is an easy 4-day process. The step by step instructions are in your package of Claire. She can be purchased in our online SHOP.
Part ONE – the evening I start PART ONE of my bread
(generally, 7- 8 pm) – I make sure Claire is bubbly which means she’s been fed early afternoon. That works for me.
You’ll need a big ceramic mixing bowl (ceramic is best), measuring cups, measuring spoons, something to mix your starter and happy water together…I use very clean hands as I like to feel Claire mixing in with the water and besides next, I’ll be adding the flour and salt to the watery Claire – and using my hands anyway. Use white all-purpose UNBLEACHED flour or King Arthur bread flour. Currently I use King Arthur. Celtic sea salt. I use Himalayan salt
Add 1 full cup Claire to your bowl. Add 1 full cup (and maybe a hint more if you like) of warm filtered/happy water to the bowl. Mix well. Add 4 cups fkourand a hint more – about 2 tablespoons to your bowl – stir it around a bit – now add 1 ½ teaspoons of your sea salt.
NOW knead the dough (in the bowl) for about 3 minutes. You want the flour incorporated. The dough won’t look pretty at first. It will feel dense and look stringy. That’s OK. Scrape it off the sides of your bowl and from your fingers. Just don’t over mix.
Next – cover your bowl with a plate and wait for about 30 minutes.
Lightly Flour your countertop – I have a marble slab on top of my wood kitchen prep table. Flour your hands too. Scoop out your dough…from all sides of the bowl and place on your floured countertop and begin to PULL – the top side into the middle and do this from each side of your dough. Repeat until your dough begins to look sort of smooth. Turn her over, seam side down and set her back into the bowl.
Now cover the bowl with the lid and end your evening by relaxing… a cup of passionflower tea, a facial mask, hot bath, devotional, journaling or just sitting quietly with those you love.
Most important is to enjoy the process. It takes time to get into your cadence…but trust me…you’ll love it. So will your family.
Part TWO – the morning comes with anticipation as I begin the second part into the beauty of sourdough. My rhythm begins as soon as I wake up - setting the oven to 450, if dark outside I light a candle, lift the plate of the bowl of dough to see how far she’s risen, I give thanks and sometimes listen to meditative music. Praying always.
My large red cast iron pot goes into the oven to heat up. Your preheated pot makes a difference.
Next, I flour my countertop, pull Claire dough out of the bowl, plop her on the counter and begin to knead –bringing to a round shape - about 4 minutes or so.
When done, I place her on a piece of parchment paper and cover her with one of our GCCG flour sack tea towel. She sits for about 30 minutes.
That 30 minutes gives me time to clean up and get ready for the rest of the day.
Next, I’ll uncover Claire and score her. Currently, I find a one-sided razor blade works best. This is where I just experiment with design. There is no wrong. It’s your art to enjoy and delight in.
Then I take my preheated cast iron pot from the oven, using the parchment paper – place the dough (with the parchment paper) into the pot. COVER and bake for 25-30 minutes. Each oven is different – so you’ll have to play with what works with your oven. After 25 minutes – I take the lid off and continue to “bake” Claire for about another 15 ish minutes – this is to bring her to the deep golden brown you want.
I am happy to chat/text if you have any questions. Email me–via contact page on website and add your phone number in the email along with some good times I can call you back.
** Note - my method is simple/easy for beginners and once you start and get comfortable - you will discover new ways to make sourdough - like stretching & folding & bulk ferment. For now, enjoy this beginners way.
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