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LET ME EXPLAIN TO YOU HOW TO USE SOURDOUGH

Sourdough is an excellent ingredient for the uniqueness of aromas and flavors it gives to bakery products.

However, the main “drawback” when we want to prepare a recipe using Sourdough is that we cannot use it as it is. On the contrary, we have to do some elementary steps to “prepare” and reinforce our starter correctly.

In this article, we will see together how to do it!

HOW TO USE SOURDOUGH

Before its use, the Sourdough starter needs to be fed at least 2/3 times to stabilize its microflora and balance its acidity. Actually, the difference between the second or the third refreshment is a better shelf-life of the baked product.

In terms of “strength,” nothing changes when we do a third refreshment. In general, for simple doughs (low in fat and sugar) such as bread and pizza, I suggest feeding the starter 2 times. In contrast, you can do 2 refreshments for sweet doughs like Croissants and Brioches and 3 refreshments for more complex leavened products (Panettone, Pandoro). This can be a general rule, but personally, I often make Panettone using a ripe starter on the second refreshment, and I don’t face any problems with that. 

When you want to use Sourdough, the first important thing is to make sure the starter is healthy (here you can know how to better face the most common issues with Sourdough), and its acidity is well balanced.

In my experience, fixing any issue related to acidity is mandatory before feeding the Sourdough. For this reason, it is crucial to be able to read the principal signals the Sourdough gives us. 

HOW TO USE SOURDOUGH STORED IN WATER

If you store your Sourdough in water, the first thing to do is to soak it at 38°C (100°F) in water added of 2gr of sugar or fructose/liter for 15-20 minutes.

After this time, you can feed your Sourdough using the following proportions:

  • 1kg of starter
  • 1.5kg of Bread Flour (W380 – 14-16% protein)
  • 690g of lukewarm water at 30°C (86°F)

Knead until you have a firm and compact dough, roll out to 1cm thickness and give 3 folds before forming a ball. Roll the yeast tightly, score the surface to facilitate its development, and place it in a large bowl. Cover with a cloth and ferment for 3½ hours at 30°C (86°F) until it has increased 2½ times its volume (initial volume + 1.5)

To correctly follow the starter’s development, I suggest placing some dough in a glass and marking the starting volume.

For the Second and Third Refreshments, you will knead:

  • 1kg of starter
  • 1.5kg of Bread Flour (W380 – 14-16% protein)
  • 690g of lukewarm water at 30°C (86°F)

and repeat the same process as above.

Now you can weigh out the quantity of starter needed and use it in your recipe.

HOW TO USE TIED UP SOURDOUGH STARTER

In case you store your Sourdough tied up, your starter will probably be more acidic and, in particular, richer in lactic acidity. In this case, the first step is to take the inner part and soak it in fresh water at 20°C (68°F) – 22°C (71°F) added with 2gr/liter of sugar (or fructose) for about 15/20 minutes.

To better measure the water to use for the next refreshment, I recommend weighing the starter before and after the bath, so you quickly calculate the quantity of water absorbed.

After the bath, we can feed the starter 2 or 3 times in a row, but changing the amount of flour compared to the previous method (in water)

  • 1kg of Yeast
  • 2kg of Bread Flour (containing 14% to 16% of proteins)
  • 900gr of water – the quantity eventually absorbed during the bath

Once the dough is ready, roll out it to a thickness of 1cm, shape it into a loaf, score a cross on the surface. Ferment 3½ hours at 30°C (86°F) until it has increased 2½ times its volume (initial volume + 1.5).

DO NOT FORGET TO STORE YOUR SOURDOUGH

It is essential to always keep a reasonable quantity of starter as a base for future use.

For this, it will be necessary to calculate the right quantity of starter to refresh to have both the quantity of starter needed for recipes AND a sufficient quantity to store.

I made it simple for you, and I developed an application that can help you up!

Once you know how much Sourdough to feed for your recipe and your stock, you can proceed in this way:

  • If you plan to do 2 refreshments: Once you completed the second refreshment, weigh the amount of starter needed for the recipe and let it ferment for 3 hours and a half, as described above at 30°C (86°F). The part that you want to store will be soaked in the water or tied up (according to the method you choose) and fed daily or weekly.
  • If you plan to do 3 refreshments: Follow the same procedure as above, but take the quantity of dough you want to store straight after the third refreshment.

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