Hi from Cape Town
Hi from Cape Town, South Africa!
Although I've been baking for most of my life, it has been mostly cake, pastries and sweet yeasted breads.
However, like most of the planet I've fallen quite heavily for the sourdough bug (probably because I love my sourdough and couldn't easily go out and buy it during lockdown). Didn't think at the outset that I would bake so much bread.
So, it has been about 50 lockdown bakes in now (if I include a few non sourdough bakes) and there are two things that I do a bit differently, things that I've picked up because I would describe myself as an experimental baker.
1. I've been playing around with using psyllium as a binder for baking higher hydration gluten-containing sourdough. It is said that South African bread flours are more elastic in comparison with international flours. What I do know is that most of the brands are medium-strength flours with a protein content of around 11.4g/100g so I've been looking at VWG and/or binders like psyllium to help with higher hydration breads. While there is some content I could find about using psyllium in gluten free breads, or 100% wholewheat breads, there isn't much out there on its use with regular bread flour style sourdoughs. So, I've been actively experimenting. It is amazing what it does to the texture and stetchability of the dough, and it is quite different in effect to VWG.
2. Fridge ferments! Why isn't this more common? It is so low effort and produces a great even crumb for the super patient. Plus, the low temperature ferment means it is easier to not overferment and timing the end of fermentation doesn't need to be so precise. I've been trying out variations now of a friend's recipe that involves around 96 hours (or less even - 72 hours is also good) of fridge time. The dough is out for about 2 hours after mixing: one hour for an autolyse or rest (after all-in-one mix), and another hour to build strength. Then into a tub in the fridge. Shaped around 24 hours later (for the shaping it will be out of the fridge for half an hour to an hour), then bannetons go into the fridge for a further 48-72 hours. And that's it, in a nutshell, with a fridge temperature of around 5 deg C. Is it just that I have a freaky starter that can still grow in the fridge, or is this a secret method of baking no one talks about, or do people find it less appealing because there are faster options?
This is a great community, thank you all for sharing your knowledge and kindness!