A couple of weeks ago I wrote about making sourdough bread, and promised to update on the results of my attempt. I’m pleased to say that I’ve made several successful loaves of bread since then.
Here is my first one. Its major flaw is the very tentative cut across the top. I was afraid to press too hard and deflate the dough, but I should have made a much deeper cut. The slit, made just before baking, apparently helps the dough rise upwards instead of spreading outwards. And indeed, my second loaf had a better slit and rose much more impressively. But despite its funny appearance, this first loaf was delicious, and as promised by all the proponents of sourdough, it lasted a good three days on the counter while remaining soft.
This first loaf was all white flour. The next one I used all whole wheat, and it looked beautiful and worked fine, though it was more dense. I do also think that whole wheat flours seem to need more water, so my dough was a bit stiff; next time I would just add more water. The loaves after that one I made with a mix of white and whole wheat flours, which gave a slightly better rise than 100% whole grain. Currently I’m experimenting with a loaf that has a bit of honey and oatmeal added. Although the final results have differed based on the type of flour used, so far none of my loaves using this starter and recipe have been a failure.
This week, interestingly, I also decided to give sourdough tortillas a try. I’ve made tortillas a couple of times before, but in my opinion they were never great. The batch I got ‘right’ tasted and looked fine, but didn’t last well at all; I had a hard time keeping them soft enough to roll up even the day I made them. Of course, that’s why any store bought tortillas are full of dough conditioners that keep them pliable, but these are the ingredients that make me frown and then resolve to make my own tortillas. But the recipe I used promised that the same longevity which sourdough provided to bread would be provided to these tortillas.
Making sourdough tortillas is similar to making sourdough bread, but there’s a lot of fat in the recipe; otherwise the main annoyance is having to cook them one at a time. How did they taste? That was my main concern, because I worried they would taste sour and interfere with the flavour of the fillings they would contain. When I tasted one on its own, it did taste a bit sourdough-y, but not horrifically so. I decided Mike would be my real tester. I told him I’d made the tortillas and asked his opinion of them, but didn’t say they were sourdough. He said they were good, and couldn’t tell they were sour at all, and was unbothered when I told him. For myself, I actually felt that their yeasty savoury flavour contributed something to the burritos, rather than detracting.
Finally, I was pleased to find that these tortillas remained soft a long time. I left them sitting out between the afternoon and dinner, and without being reheated they were still soft enough to roll. Then I covered the leftover ones and we ate them the next day, warmed a little in the oven, and once again they were perfectly soft – no breaking edges. I was so-so about making my own tortillas before, because although I don’t like the artificial ingredients in store-bought ones, I didn’t feel like going to extra trouble to make something that turned out like dry flatbread. However, I think I am a convert to sourdough tortillas!
In any case, my rye flour starter has passed its probationary period and been upgraded from a temporary covered bowl to a Kilner jar in the fridge.
Apparently there’s a bit of a movement going on advocating ‘real bread’, i.e. traditionally made breads without additives, including (especially) sourdough. I found this out while browsing the bookstore today and finding this. I suppose the Real Bread Campaign is one facet of the slow foods movement. (I’m not affiliated with this organisation, just linking up in case it’s interesting to you.)