For me there is no greater satisfaction than sharing food (well, and a good book as well) with someone. Sharing the food I’ve made by myself means sharing all intentions, wishes, time, patience and dedication I’ve put in it during the preparation. And even if other persons sometimes doesn’t or cannot see all those things behind the pumpkin soup or lentil salad, at least they could taste my taste. With every bite they could feel my mood at that particular day and they could participate in my imagination process that has supported the whole cooking act. I would say, they could eat me in a double sense: they eat the food I prepared and they eat a part of myself that delicately hides behind texture, temperature, color, taste, innovation or aroma of the dish I’ve composed. An example: If I ever share with you a lukewarm soup, you can be sure that I’m seriously worried about something, there is a heat in me, I unconsciously try to balance with the almost cold soup. Or another example: If I serve you warm rice with dates, almonds and saffron and the whole bouquet melts in your mouth, there is a huge possibility that on that day I feel cozy, safe, soft. You will also recognize my experimental optimism if I serve you a salad with unusual, „special“ dressing and in a plate with vietnamese soup you can discover a traveler’s fantasies.
Every time I cook, I completely put myself into the whole process. But, most intensively I feel it when making bread. The lengthy kneading of dough brings me into a meditative state of mind where my hands start to transform into the dough itself and the whole content of the bowl and myself become one. This is probably why I love to share selfmade bread. It is my art of giving myself.
Besides of that, during my studies I found a friend who taught me that bread actually symbolizes a faithful partner or friend: Many European languages have a similar word for bread- Italians call it pane, French call it pain, Spanish call it el pan, Portuguese call it pão. All those words are also root words for the word friend/companion: compagno (it.), compagnon (fr.), compañero (sp.), companheiro (port.). Sharing bread (food) is a community act that defines participants as companions, as those “who eat the same bread with me”. My friend is someone I share my bread with. The bread (food) that a community eats together also sets the limits between the community and that what is excluded from it. The way how food is shared, both qualitative and quantitative, structures the heart of the community and locates social roles inside of it. Therefore, bread is the most democratic food for a community. Different than meat, bread pieces are mostly equal in its form and substance, so sharing bread doesn’t have a hierarchic connotation as sharing meat does.
Another precious friend wrote me after I had cooked for him: „ … I still don’t know where my homeland is. But I know that home is there where someone bakes a bread for you. …“
This is where I get my inspiration from.
Sourdough is an ancient method of capturing wild yeast to leaven baked goods. A sourdough culture is originally created by mixing flour and water and letting it sit out for a period of time to capture wild yeast. Traditional sourdough contains a complex blend of bacteria and yeast that grow naturally he surface grains. There are many reasons why you should choose consume more sourdough than commercial baking yeast: sourdough breaks down gluten in the grains, making it easier to digest. The bread made with sourdough starter lasts longer and it is higher in nutrients.
Baking light, fluffy sourdough bread requires fresh, active sourdough starter. For that you’ll need only 2 ingredients: water and preferably spelt or rye flour. And here comes the method:
Day 1: 50 ml filtered water + 50 g rye or spelt flour (I used rye for the starter and spelt for making the whole bread)
Day 2: 50 ml filtered water + 50 g rye or spelt flour
Day 3: 50 ml filtered water + 50 g rye or spelt flour
Day 4: 50 ml filtered water + 50 g rye or spelt flour
1. In a bigger bowl combine flour and water and still until you get a battery consistence. Cover the bowl with a lid and set in a warm place.
2. After 24 hours, feed the starter with the same amount of flour and water. Stir to combine.
3. After another 24 hours, repeat the process of feeding with the same amount of flour and water.
4. After another 24 hours, repeat the process of feeding with the same amount of flour and water.
On the Day 5 your starter is risen and have doubled in size from day four. If not so, continue with the feeding process until the starter has risen. Make sure you co it in the warm place. Now you have the basis for your tasty sourdough bread. Here comes the recipe:
200 g sourdough starter
200 g spelt flour (or any other flour you like. Spelt and rye flour are however my favorite combination)
1 dl lukewarm water, or a bit more
1 tsp sea salt
1. Place a sourdough starter in a large mixing bowl- it should be slightly sticky. Start adding only small amounts of flour at a time, to facilitate kneading.
2. Knead the dough by hand for 15- 20 min. After kneading, shape your loaf, cover it with a moist kitchen towel, and let it proof for 12- 24 hours.
3. Slash loaves with a very sharp knife or razor blade. When dough is placed in a hot oven, the yeasts work extra hard right before they go dormant, due to the high temperature. This is why the bread could rise a bit more in the oven, getting a nice, light texture. Slashing the loaf gives dough a direction to rise so that the final shape of the loaf is controlled.
4. Place the bread onto the baking trail covered with baking paper. Place in the preheated oven and bake for ca. 40 min. on 200 C. Always test your loaf for doneness. Turn the hot loaf over and flick it with your finger. If it sounds hollow, it is done.
5. Let the bread cool at least 20 min. before slicing.
Storing the sourdough starter
If you bake frequently, be sure to feed the starter daily (every 8-12 hours) and cultivate it at the room temperature, preferably at 25 degrees room temperature. Remove half of the starter each time so that there is always room for the fresh flour and water.
If you want to storage the starter and use it only sometimes, you can keep it in a fridge, in a tightly-closed container, and feed it once per week. To use again remove the starter from the fridge 12 hours before baking. Feed the starter with flour and water: combine equal amounts by weight of starter, water, and flour. Cover and set aside for 12 hours. When the starter is bubbly again, it’s ready to use again!