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Sourdough Suppers: A Year in the Life of a Wild Yeast Culture

Sourdough Suppers: A Year in the Life of a Wild Yeast Culture

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Sourdough Suppers: A Year in the Life of a Wild Yeast Culture

Lunghezza:
296 pagine
4 ore
Pubblicato:
Nov 28, 2018
ISBN:
9781789019278
Formato:
Libro

Descrizione

An exquisite collection of moreish meals created around handmade breads and simple seasonal ingredients. Chef and sourdough teacher Hilary Cacchio shares 17 years of experience in her new bread cookbook, Sourdough Suppers. It is split into 12 monthly chapters, guiding readers through the seasons. The first few recipes in each chapter are the breads for the month, followed by recipes that either use bread or go well with the bread(s) featured. They are always colourful, easy, big-flavoured, informal and occasionally indulgent dishes that Hilary cooks herself. Each chapter opens with a full-colour illustration and Hilary peppers the book with anecdotes throughout, elevating Sourdough Suppers into more than just a cook book. From stories from her life as a chef; market life in the Pyrenees; a discussion about seasonal vegetables; and tips on how to transform fresh ingredients into vibrant dishes, the reader will be both informed and entertained. The book covers a wide range of sourdough topics, including what wild yeast/sourdough culture is; how slow fermenting dough and making our bread naturally can benefit our taste buds and our health; its history; exposing myths; how to source a culture; storing and preparing a culture for baking; and trouble-shooting. Hilary also includes sections that explain the five elements of bread making (culture/flour/salt/water/time); the stages of bread making; the equipment required and how to convert all of the recipes from culture to commercial yeast. The philosophy of the bread-making part of the book is that after a very short while the new baker will be able to produce their natural breads with only fifteen minutes hands-on time. Sourdough Suppers is scattered with illustrations by the New Talent Bafta-winning illustrator and animator, Kate Charter. It’s original and fresh and will appeal to bakers, inexperienced and expert, and anyone who loves bread.
Pubblicato:
Nov 28, 2018
ISBN:
9781789019278
Formato:
Libro

Informazioni sull'autore

Hilary Cacchio studied cookery in Edinburgh, and moved to New York in the mid 90s to learn about sourdough. Hilary is a founder member of Slowfood UK, and teaches sourdough baking at Leiths School of Food and Wine, Bread Ahead Bakery School at Borough Market, and Baythorne Hall Cookery School in Halstead.


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Sourdough Suppers - Hilary Cacchio

breads.

A Potted History

Risen bread seems to have started with the early (BC) Egyptians. Possibly one day someone left the bowl of gruel, a mixture of ancient grain roughly ground in water, out in the open air too long. Hey presto, fermentation and the transformation from what would probably have been a flat, dense bread to a risen loaf.

Wild yeasts are not exclusive to the Nile Delta (although I believe it is particularly lush with them). They are in the air we breathe, in our kitchen, in the flours we use to bake with (especially in organic and biodynamic) and on our vegetables and fruit. If you have ever left a bunch of black grapes in the fruit bowl a few days too long you will see a white bloom appearing on the skins – this is a wild yeast. Fast-forward several millennia and although some countries held onto the knowledge, practise and skills and continued to make bread using this natural/wild form of yeast e.g. parts of the USA and Eastern Europe, we in the UK didn’t. We embraced fast, non-acid producing, manufactured yeast and the industrialisation of bread. Elizabeth David did see the writing on the wall. However, things have, and are changing in Britain as we rediscover the value and pleasure of a naturally fermented loaf.

Generally, the English-speaking world has decided to call this type of yeast a sourdough culture, but this can be misleading. The word ‘sourdough’ can put people off using it, thinking it only produces bread which has a mouth-puckering acidic tang like, for example the San Francisco sourdough loaf. San Francisco sourdough, however, to take an example, is a hearth bread that can only truly be made in the Bay Area because of the wild yeasts and lactobacilli unique to that region. It is probably a legacy of the days before refrigeration, when a culture would sit under the pillow of a gold-digger and could only produce very sour dough. Outside this area, it can be copied by following certain procedures, which include resting the dough for prolonged periods under cool temperatures to encourage the production of acid during the long, slow fermentation before baking. But this is not the only style of bread you can make with a sour dough/wild yeast culture. It is capable of producing fine, delicate-tasting brioche, everyday loaves and flatbreads. There is no bread, I know of, that can’t be made using it.

In cooking, acid (for example, in the form of lemon juice or good-quality vinegars) is one of the tools you have in your seasoning repertoire that, if used carefully, will fill in the flavour gap in a dish that salt can’t. In great tasting bread that acidity is produced by the lactobacilli fermenting in your dough, something a commercial yeast cannot do.

There are very simple methods of capturing a sourdough culture - in essence all that is necessary is first to harness wild yeast. The obvious place to find suitable strains of wild yeast is in a good stoneground, organic bread-making flour. Set up in an equal quantity of water, it will naturally become inoculated with local bacteria/lactobacilli and fingers crossed the yeast(s) and the bacteria together will make good bread. Having said that my 17-year-old culture originally came from a bunch of organic grapes in the Hudson Valley, NY; it is now somewhat international spending long periods in Britain and France.

What is a Sourdough Culture?

The label varies from country to country from a biga naturale in Italy to a levain natural in France. Here in the UK, we call it either a sourdough (we can thank the gold rush days for this, when it probably deserved the title ‘sour’) culture or a wild yeast culture but the successful ones all do the same thing: leaven bread naturally and ignite flavours without an overpowering sourness.

The culture will be a combination of possibly more than one strain of wild yeast (saccharomyces exiguus) coming from flour, vegetables, fruit or the environment where the culture was started, plus a collection of acid-tolerant lactobacilli (bacteria) more likely to come from you and your kitchen/bakery. Allegedly the only place the bacterium specific to the famous San Francisco sourdough can be found, is between the teeth of the residents of The Bay Area!

The wild yeast and bacteria thrive together in a solution of flour and water, in a symbiotic relationship. In other words, they live in harmony and through fermentation they will give you the means to make superb bread. Luckily for us, the needs of our wild yeast/sourdough culture are simple: it enjoys living and sleeping in a jar, or similar, in a solution of organic flour and water (for me this is 50% of each), only requiring us to feed/refresh its food regularly with additional flour and water when preparing it for baking.

In addition, gram for gram, the yeast population in a sourdough culture is significantly lower than in commercial yeast, leading to a naturally long, slow and complete fermentation of the dough.

The sum of the above is bread with naturally complex flavour (that you, as the baker, can learn to manipulate), a great crust, good keeping quality, unlocked nutrition (which is not available as a result of short fermentation), a lower glycaemic index, partly digested gluten (which makes the bread more digestible) and a lifetime of rewarding bread-making. Such great bread requires as little as twenty minutes of hands-on time spread over a day or two.

Exploding a Few Myths

You can go on holiday. Owning a sourdough culture does not preclude you from ever going away. My culture has remained dormant and unattended, under refrigeration, for five months (I don’t recommend doing this too often) and did return back to life eventually with a little tlc – see ‘Troubleshooting’.

It isn’t dead. You may be one of those people who has had a culture but threw it away because it was ‘dead’. I’m sorry to have to tell you this, but it probably wasn’t! Throwing away an active culture is perhaps not quite as bad as burying someone alive but, alas, it’s a little sad! However, if your culture does develop mould, (I have only heard of this happening once) then, yes, it probably has expired.

You won’t need to retire from full-time employment when you start using a sourdough culture. I assure you after a couple of months of practice (probably less), from removing your dormant culture from the fridge to removing your loaf from the oven can take as little as 10 and certainly no more than 20 minutes hands-on time.

It is incredibly flexible. There are enormous windows of opportunity throughout the whole process of dough production. It can and will always be to its benefit if you have to shove it in the fridge or just find somewhere cool (10°C), while you gad off for a quick trip to the market or for a slow glass of wine at the local wine bar.

You don’t need to be a scientist before you can start making good bread: it’s like driving a car. As long as you know a few basic bits of information (where to put the petrol - flour - and the water, and when) it isn’t essential to know how the engine works. After capturing my culture I baked with it for five years, knowing only how to store it, when to feed and bake with it, before I lifted the bonnet.

Don’t ever add sugar, yoghurt, commercial yeast or anything else other than organic flour and water (preferably filtered) to your ‘mother’ wild yeast culture. By all means add any of these ingredients to your dough, just never to the culture you store, feed and nurture.

There is not just one way to make sourdough bread. There are now hundreds of people baking with wild yeast in hundreds of different ways. This book offers one angle and it is worth learning from other experienced and successful sourdough bakers and cherry-picking from their techniques to create something that works for you. So many different approaches might seem confusing but it shows how flexible sourdough is, how baking with it can be adapted to suit your lifestyle and what you want from a loaf.

Sourcing a Sourdough Culture

If you don’t already have a wild yeast culture there are several options for getting one.

1.Find someone who has a working one and ask for a small portion of it.

2.Go to my website (www.hilarycacchio.com) and you can order a sibling of my culture which will be mailed to you.

3.Come to one of my hands-on workshops and you will be given one. Check my website (www.hilarycacchio.com) for dates and venues.

4.Have a go at harnessing one. This method isn’t fail-safe, since it’s not a given that you will end up with a stable combination of wild yeast and bacteria that will make great bread, but it is easy to try. It works on the basis that wild yeasts are everywhere, on fruit, vegetables in the air and in organic/biodynamic bread flours (using flour puts the odds in your favour).

Start with organic or biodynamic stoneground flour; then you have the best chance of finding suitable wild yeasts. Even if you plan to feed/refresh the culture in the future with organic white or wholemeal wheat flour, on the first day start the culture with organic stoneground flour and some or all organic rye flour.

The bacteria in the culture will likely come from you!

Use bottled or filtered water. Make sure everything is chemical-free and rinsed. In the future, the culture will be robust enough to fend off most things but, initially, give it the best chance.

Day 1 Put 30g each of organic stoneground rye and your chosen stoneground organic flour into a kilner/jam jar and then add 60g bottled/filtered water and put a lid on it. Leave it for 48 hours at a cool room temperature 16–18°C.

Day 3 Stir in 30g of your chosen organic flour (the one you plan to feed it with in the future) and 30g of bottled/filtered water, leave it with a damp piece of kitchen paper over the jar at room temperature (20–24°C) for 24 hours.

Day 4 Repeat instructions for Day 3.

Day 5 The culture will be showing signs of life. Pour it into a medium-sized bowl and feed as Day 3, laying a damp tea towel over it this time. About five hours after the feed it will be bubbling, becoming light and airy.

Twelve hours later (from now on the frequency of the feed will always be 12-hourly) double the size of the feed.

Day 6 So as not to create a lake, discard some of the mixture from time to time. Keep the weight at around 300g and feed it 12-hourly with around 40g of flour and the same weight of water. Your newly formed culture will reach its potential over a few weeks so keep it at room temperature, maintaining 12-hourly feeds for the first 2 weeks, then try some experimental bakes.

5.Follow Nancy Silverton’s instructions in her book Nancy Silverton’s Breads from the La Brea Bakery, they do get some criticism because of being a bit long-winded. I can’t fault them because 17 years ago they worked for me and they were fun, involving the mixture turning yellow midway.

For me, capturing your own is highly overrated. Instead, source a culture that is up and running and making good bread. My understanding is that eventually, after a few months in your own kitchen, it becomes populated by your home grown bacteria and probably your own local wild yeasts.

Storing and Preparing for Baking

The bread recipes in this book, and all maintenance guidance, presume the culture will consist of around about 50% water and 50% flour.

Baking with a culture in a domestic environment is less structured than in a professional bakery as you are unlikely to be using it every day, therefore, will be refrigerating it between baking, which means it is important you know how to return it to baking proficiency after refrigeration. The length of time you leave your culture in the fridge will probably vary considerably, although I am optimistic it will only be a few days! So, in this section, I offer some general advice plus guidance for three different scenarios; hopefully your baking regime will match one of them or fall somewhere in between. There is quite a bit of detail but, trust me, after just a few months of baking all the instructions in this section WILL become intuitive. Can you imagine the detail required if learning to walk was documented!

My advice is to store about 200-400g of healthy culture in a Kilner jar or similar in the fridge (where it becomes dormant) when not preparing it for baking. Don’t seal the jar, just rest the lid on the top. If you are baking with it on a weekly or 2-weekly basis I find that 200g is enough. If I know I won’t be using it for longer than 2 weeks I tend to store in the region of 300–400g. If you are refrigerating it for storage, make sure that it is healthy and still has enough food, as the fermentation will gradually slow to a halt over the initial few days. Some of the bacteria will continue to ferment preferring cooler temperatures and making the culture increasingly acidic over time. One of the signs of a dormant culture is a grey liquid forming on top (hooch).

How many feeds/refreshes it will take to prepare your culture for baking will depend on how long the culture has been dormant in the fridge. During refrigeration, the bacteria in it has been fermenting and producing large amounts of acids and the wild yeast will have become dormant. The longer it has been refrigerated the more acid there will be and if you attempt to use culture directly from the fridge to make dough, your bread is likely to be a heavy, very acidic block.

The culture needs to sit at a temperature between 16–25°C, it needs time and regular feeding/refreshing to change the predominant balance from acid to one where the wild yeasts have become active again. At this point it will start to ferment and produce carbon dioxide and the lactobacillus will slow down, reducing the acid production level without losing it completely. The longer the culture has been dormant the longer it will take to bring the culture to frisky, baking readiness. This is why it is important after long dormancy to discard any hooch and all but a small portion of the culture, to help reduce the acids.

Out of the fridge it needs to be fed/refreshed approximately every 12 hours but it won’t die if you forget to feed it once; it won’t love you for it but it won’t die! On hot days you may need to consider feeding it 8-hourly as it will consume the available food in the flour more quickly.

Learn to be patient and recognise when the culture is healthy and ‘frisky’ enough to bake. It will smell fresh, biscuity, yeasty almost like champagne. It will look mousse-like (with the bounce and

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