The natural sourdough is a ferment composed of flour and water It does not contain any added yeast. In the flour itself there are a multitude of yeasts and bacteria that cause the dough to ferment spontaneously. This form of fermentation, as old as the breads that are made with it, provides a special flavor and aroma to the dough and helps control its acidity.
Contrary to what we might think about natural sourdough, its preparation is simple, as is its conservation. Anyone, with a minimum of interest, can prepare it without effort or specific knowledge. The only thing that is needed is patience, since the process is slow, and a little weekly attention, since it is necessary to “feed” it so that it does not spoil and last a lifetime.
There are many ways to achieve natural sourdough, as many as people make it. All involve the mixture of flour and water, a balanced environment in which the yeasts and bacteria typical of the flour develop and coexist comfortably. The sourdough production process lasts five days. But do not panic, because the daily time that we have to dedicate to it is a few minutes.
Day 1: We mix whole wheat flour and water
About the flour. We can use flour from any cereal, whether it be wheat, rye, oats, etc. But it must be integral since yeasts live mainly in the husk of cereals and this is not contained in refined flours.
Over the water. Tap water contains chlorine, which, in principle, can be negative for the process. This does not mean that we cannot use it, quite the contrary. We just have to be careful to let it rest for at least one hour before using it. However, if we prefer, we can use mineral water. In any case, the water must be at room temperature.
About the container. It is important that it is very clean, that it is taller than it is wide and wide, since we need space for our sourdough to develop. It can be made of plastic or glass, either of the two materials is perfectly valid.
About the amounts of flour and water. Mix the same amount of water as flour, by volume. That is, we take half a glass of wholemeal flour and pour it into the container. Next, we take half a glass of water and sprinkle the flour with it. We stir until we obtain a homogeneous mixture.
About rest. We cover the container with a clean cloth, kitchen paper, etc. and let it rest at room temperature for 24 hours. The ideal is to find a warm place, at 20-22ºC, so that the yeasts and bacteria develop at the appropriate speed.
Day 2: We add strength flour, water and sugar
You may not notice any difference with the appearance of the dough the day before, this is perfectly normal so there is no need to worry. We add half a glass of strength flour, half a glass of water and a teaspoon of sugar. We stir until all the ingredients are integrated and let it rest, in the same conditions as the previous ones, for 24 more hours.
Day 3: Add strength flour and water
After two days of fermentation, the appearance of the dough is different. Bubbles are visible on the surface, it has increased in volume and has a slightly pungent, but not unpleasant odor. This is a good sign and tells us that the sourdough has started to activate. We add half a glass of bread flour and half a glass of water. We stir until all the ingredients are integrated and let it rest, in the same conditions as the previous ones, for 24 more hours.
Day 4: We remove the liquid from the surface and add bread flour
The appearance of the sourdough changes slightly, although it continues to show small bubbles on its surface. A little bit of brown liquid on the surface that we must remove carefully, using a spoon or similar, and discard. This brown liquid is water with some sugars from fermenting cereals. It should not worry us at all.
Sourdough is on. Now it only remains to thicken it a little, for this we add half a glass of strength flour. We stir until all the ingredients are integrated and, again, we let it rest, in the same conditions as the previous ones, for the last 24 hours.
Day 5: The dough is ready to be used
The appearance is creamy, with bubbles on the surface and a slight sour smell. From this moment on, we can start using our sourdough in the preparation of all kinds of breads, pizzas, pastries, etc.
How to preserve natural sourdough
If we are going to use the sourdough every day, it is not necessary to keep it in the fridge, just leaving it at room temperature is enough. But that is more than likely not the case, unless we have a lot of time a day to dedicate to the kitchen.
If we are only going to use it every few days, then we must keep it cold and covered. Later, the day we are going to use it, we must take it out of the refrigerator in advance and temper it, to wake up the yeasts and bacteria that will be numb due to the cold.
When we use part of the sourdough for any of our preparations, we must add strength flour and water in equal parts to restore its initial volume, stir and leave at room temperature for a few hours. When we see that the sourdough is reactivated, we can cover the container and put it back in the fridge.
If we don’t use the sourdough for a week, It is convenient to feed it so that it does not spoil us. To do this, we remove and discard a portion (as if we were going to use it for some preparation) and add strength flour and water in equal parts.
With this dynamic, we will be able to keep our sourdough alive for a long time, during which it will gain strength. The effort of elaboration and conservation of sourdough is minimal And, as I mentioned at the beginning of this post, you just need patience and be aware of feeding it (in case you don’t use it weekly) to keep it active.
Directly to the Palate | Pipe bread and sourdough recipe
Directly to the Palate | Rustic pizza recipe with rye