Woensdag 28 September 2016

Sourdough - Using your Starter

If you followed my guide on Making your own Starter it is now necessary to give some guidelines on using the Starter. As usual with me, it will be a naked guide with tons of fables and urban legends stripped off ... only the bare basics.

Measured out for the dough
Man Kos (Dude Food) is on a mission to preserve our traditional way of preparing food and hand in hand with that, I want to see more men baking. Making bread is actually very manly and the perfect way to manage your stress levels in an age where men are far removed from the benefits that hard physical work and brutal fighting brought to our lives. No, now we live in an era where our brains are stretched and mashed and our fights are with economic realities and political madness. So, join me and step into your kitchen. A place where you can satisfy your urges to cut, slice, dice and manhandle things without going to jail.

But don't despair ... I am also well connected with the realities of the female battles and baking bread can bring peace and tranquility to a highly agitated mind.

Making Sourdough bread is such a long lazy process that you can totally relax and build up the anticipation of that marvelous aroma that will fill your kitchen, the crusty cracking as you cut the crust and then that wonderful soft and almost elastic crumb ... smother it in fresh butter and then the feeling of serenity as you bite into that slice ... all things that we desperately need more of.

I am going to assume we will bake a bread that calls for 500gr of flour. It is a manageable size and can feed 4 to 6 people easily.

Float test in cold water
The backbone of sourdough is the long fermentation periods involved ... this is what makes sourdough bread special and makes it miles more healthy than standard fast rise yeast bread. Over time the bacteria breaks the carbohydrates down to get to the sugars locked into it and you end up with a changed carbohydrate that is far less negative than what modern refined carbohydrates are. Side by side to the carbohydrate changes is the change and development of the gluten and the awesome development of flavor and texture. And that is why you must learn to bake sourdough bread. For hundreds of years bread, in a vast variety of shape and form were the staple food of man without almost all of the negative effects of modern bread ... without bread, mankind may have been very different today. There are many reports that indicates that most gluten sensitive people can tolerate sourdough bread without problems.

It is very important to realize that the type of flour used in your starter can have an influence on the performance in your bread and the type of flour used in your bread can also have a big influence on how you use your starter. For this guide I am going to assume we all worked with plain unbleached bread flour.

You also need to make peace with the fact that ...
Sourdough bread making is not an exact science.
There are lots of variables that will affect your dough and you need to be aware of it.

Here are some of the more prominent factors that will affect your dough:
1. The type of flour used in your starter.
2. The type of flour used for your bread.
3. The pH of your water.
4. Your water temperature.
5. Your Kitchen temperature.
6. The humidity in your kitchen.
7. Overall hydration of your dough.

Let's touch on hydration ... this is the percentage of water in your dough when measured against the flour.
1kg Flour and one liter of water (1kg) is a 100% hydration. You will have a very sloppy dough and will need some serious experience with handling dough to get a bread out of this one.
75% Hydration is generally accepted as the upper margin for styles like ciabatta.
63% Hydration is generally accepted for more manageable dough that can be shaped quite easily and can final proof after shaped and give you a decent bread.

Around 80% hydration dough
The higher the hydration, the more prominent the holes will be in your bread but at the same time, the trickier it gets to shape and bake. Such a soft wet dough can become a real nightmare if you are not experienced enough to manage it. I will suggest you start off at around 65% and learn the feel for the dough and then go wetter as you get better with the dough.

Now let's talk about the starter it self. It is early morning and you are all fired up to bake a masterpiece. Here is where the importance of your  feeding program will become really important. I am going to assume you followed my guide and your starter is a 100% hydrated starter. In other words you have equal parts of flour and water in weight in that jar. For my example I will use 200gr starter in my bread. You must understand that the weight of your starter is not really cast in stone, the more you use, the quicker you will see your bread rise but it can and will also affect the taste. 200gr on a 500gr flour bread is more or less generally accepted as a good balance ... actually most recipes will suggest 180gram starter.

Now you know that the 200gr starter is roughly 100gr water and 100gr flour. So if the recipe suggested 65% hydration, you must reduce your flour with 100gr and your water with 100gr. That means 400 gr flour and 225 grams of water should give you a dough that is very close to what the recipe was aiming for.

Now I know there will be many that will see my logic as bush baker logic but that is fine ... the concept is close enough to the detail science to give you a good bread. So your recipe called for 500gr of flour and 325gr of water. You deduct what is in your starter and there you go. Quite simple. This is also a good guideline if you have a bread recipe that was written for instant yeast and you want to turn it into a sourdough bread.

Back to the starter ... I now do a 120 gram flour feeding of my starter and obviously 120gr of water. This is 240gr paste ... I will need 200gr for my recipe and there is some leftover. I wait for the starter to double at least in volume before I scoop out the 200gr. This way you know that you have a good volume of very active bacteria in that leviant. That is right ... Starter, Leviant .... same thing. Generally it is accepted that once you have scooped off your starter that goes into the dough, you will hear it to be referred to as Leviant. Simple semantics.

Another talking point is ...  
"Use your starter when it is at it's maximum rise."

Although this is the ideal, it is not a matter of life and death. The role of the starter is to get the yeast bacteria into your dough. Adding starter to your dough is very much the same as giving your starter a massive feeding. If your starter has already maxed out and on it's way down when you get to it, it is still fine to use it. You will just need a bit of extra time to allow the bacteria volume to build up in your dough.

The float test is there to ensure that you have a lot of activity and that means you have lots of live bacteria.

There are people that publish that they only use very small amounts starter. All this really does is to slow the rise process down and they have to wait longer to get to final shaping. So you can use the volume of starter manage the bulk fermentation period. If you are in a hurry, use more starter and reduce your recipe flour and water accordingly. If you want to bulk ferment overnight for morning baking, reduce your starter.

Be accurate when you weigh out your starter for the dough.

This article is only aimed at the use of the starter and will not cover the actual dough processing ... that is an article on it's own.

In my next story we will make an actual sourdough bread.

Enjoy your baking and cooking till I write another story.

Here is my Facebook Page ... Man Kos ... like it if you want.

Maandag 26 September 2016

Sourdough - Make your own starter

For those of you that don't know me and my stories, I am a guy that have a mission to preserve our traditional Afrikaans food and I am a man on a mission to get more men to cook and bake. My regular readers have become used to my story telling style of doing guides on how to make certain food. Up to know the vast majority of my writing was done in Afrikaans but the issue of Sourdough is an International issue and therefore I have decided to write my sourdough stories in English.

Healthy sourdough starter
Around 14 days ago I decided to ditch my fear for sourdough and seriously commit to the process. My only experience with sourdough is feint memories of my grandma's kitchen where she had her starter in a glass jar and that jar was standing inside a small dish in the kitchen window. Here it got early morning sun. I can remember how she scooped cups full out of the jar when she was making bread and that is all I can remember. No memories or knowledge of making a starter or feeding the starter. I do however have memories of all the talk around the starter ... in Afrikaans they called it a "plantjie" which translates to a small plant.

So when I decided I had to really start from scratch. I have no nearby bakers that could hand me down a portion of an established starter so it was all from scratch for me. Now I am an IT Business Analyst by trade with a great passion for cooking, especial bread baking ... so true to my nature, I dug deep into the processes involved and tried to separate the facts from the urban legends ... of which, incidentally, there are thousands.

We will talk legends later ... for now we need to conceive our own starter. It is tradition to name these things and it is also tradition to give it a female name ... now that is here in South Africa ... in your part of the world it might not be like that. On day three I caved in and named mine ... but I gave it a male name ... Kerneels ... my reasoning was that men have much less complicated traits and personalities.

You will need ....
1. A scale, an electronic one.
2. A glass jar of at least 2 liter capacity.
3. A rubber band that can get around your jar.
4. Flour ... if you have good quality Whole wheat flour it will be better.
5. Water at room temperature or at body temperature.
6. Raw honey or raw molasses. Nothing that has been pasteurized.

The initial past
Day 1:
Weigh 80gr of Wholewheat Flour and add exactly 80gr of water. This is extremely important and you need to maintain this exact 50:50 ratio throughout with your feeding program as well.
Mix the water and flour well, the better you mix the better for your starter. It might look a bit stiff to you but do not be tempted to add water.
Drop the paste in the jar, place a saucer or plate on top and walk away.
Nature will now take over. After a few hours, depending on the temperature around the jar, you will notice that the lump is beginning to fall flat and spread out in the jar. Smile and wave at it ... things are happening.

Beginning to look like a starter
Day 2:
Feeding your starter. Measure out the same amount of flour, you must now switch to your normal bread flour. I use stone ground unbleached. If you cannot get stone ground, at least use unbleached if at all possible.
Again, whip that paste well and drop it into the jar. Now mix the jar content as well as you can. By doing it, you ensure the fresh food is distributed well and you improve the general health of that starter.
Blow it a kiss and walk away. You can do nothing more.

Day 3:
By now you might get a feint sour smell if you lift the saucer from the jar, you may even begin to see a few bubbles forming on the surface.
Today you increase the food to 100gr flour and 100gr water.
Same story, mix the paste well and then mix it well into the jar. By now your starter in the jar should be fairly loose, almost resembling the consistency of condensed milk or a smooth custard.
You may as well get into the spirit of things and name the starter.
Slip the rubber band over the jar and set it at the surface of the starter ... wish him or her well and walk away. 

Healthy but no serious bubbles
Day 4:
Now you might have picked up a whiff from the starter as you entered the kitchen. Today is a big day ... up to now that starter may look a bit insipid and not very inspiring. That is ok and it is normal.
Weigh out 120gr of flour and 120 gram of water and drop a tablespoon of molasses into the mix. If you have rye flour you can replace some of the flour with the rye ... around 25gr per feeding.
Mix the paste well and then mix it into your starter. The molasses will change the color slightly. By now your starter should be very smooth, silky and shiny.
Adjust the rubber band and now you should get a good rise in the jar ... it could easily go double in volume or more. It is also a good thing to make the jar stand in dish, I used a 20cm cake pan. If that starter has taken well, it could easily boil over and you don't want that bubbly starter all over your worktop or bench.
You may kiss the jar now as you depart and whisper something nice to him or her.

Well matured starter
Day 5:
If you have good weather, today could be the day that your kitchen is filled with aroma of your starter and it could look very bubbly after that steroid injection.
Make up a 140gr feeding and mix it in well with your starter. Set the rubber band and waive to him or her. Today that starter needs to double up, at least, and if the weather is good and you followed the process, it should. You should note action within an hour.

And that is all there is to it. In about 90 minutes you should have a jar that is full of bubbles and the smell of the starter should be clear.

Now I am going to talk about managing your starter for baking in general. First of all, I don't want a jar with starter floating around in my fridge. Chances are you may forget about it and end up with a very sad looking starter in jar, with a nasty liquid floating on top. I personally have a big issue with cleanliness in my fridge and kitchen and will not harbor such a potential bomb in my fridge.

My working jar
In your jar you will have around 2 liters of starter, depending on the time after the last feeding. That is a lot of starter for a home baker. You have used around 520gr of flour and the same amount of water up to here.

For me, a container that can take around 1 liter is big enough for my production starter. So I suggest you take out 100gr of your starter and drop it in your "working" jar. Set that now aside.

You can find lots of recipes for the surplus starter ... or send it down the drain.

The reason why I do not throw half of the starter away every day is simply because there is build up of bacteria happening in the jar and that is what you want. By ditching starter everyday before feeding you dilute your buildup.

If your recipe calls for 180gr of starter, then make up a feeding of 100gr of flour and 100gr of water and stir it into your working jar. Depending on the environment, that would double up in 60 to 90 minutes and ready to be scooped out for baking. Just a note, if your starter has already been fed and you got sidetracked and did not weigh out at peak, don't worry ... that is the reason we WEIGH these things ... a bubbly 100gr and slightly subsided 100gr is the same thing.

The bubbly one will just outperform the other one in your dough for the first 30 minutes or so.

I leave the leftover in the working jar and give it a really small feeding every second day. 30gr of water and 30gr of flour.

It can become messy. Be prepared
I hope you found some value in this article. I know that many purists will have different opinions and many will weave all sorts of mystical magic around the creation of a starter. Many will talk about highly sensitive berries or fruits or vegetables to use for your starter but that is all exactly what it is ... opinions. My story is based on practical experience and stripped down to the basic facts. Does not matter what you use for the startup, the eventual starter that goes in your dough will have very little if any of that original taste. In the end the only thing that really survive and thrive in that starter is the natural yeast.

You will read stories of exotic origins of a starter or mind blowing age and hereditary lines. The real truth is that after 5 or so feedings that San Francisco starter is your starter. With the bacteria from the feeding you gave it. As for the so-called pre-Ice Age or Columbus strain ... well I take that with a bag of salt because as explained above, after 5 feedings that "bloodline" is basically gone. But hey, as with many crafts, the purists will do what is needed to envelope it in as much mystery and folklore as possible.

In my next story I will talk about the use of the starter in baking.

Enjoy your baking and cooking till I write another story.

Here is my Facebook Page ... Man Kos ... like it if you want.

Dinsdag 20 September 2016

Bread - Rhenosterkop Beer Loaf

All my bread recipes will always indicate elements in grams. You can convert at your own risk. If you are serious about bread making, I suggest you get a scale. Use BREAD FLOUR … the best quality you can get.

Here are the tools that I suggest you get before you start;
      1. Nice electronic scale
      2. Good mixing bowl with a lid
      3. Big salt shaker to hold flour for covering your worktop and decoration
      4. Two flat baking trays
      5. Sharp blade for slashing
      6. Scraper to work with dough, gathering and cutting
Rhenosterkop Beer Loaf
These are elementary things and have many other uses in baking. Once you have committed to baking your own bread you will rarely look back and store bought bread will become a rarity. Artisan breads are more healthy, a lot more, and a whole lot tastier. Soon you will wonder into the realm of sour dough bread and long fermentation bread. This recipe is a long fermentation bread.

Rhenosterkop Beer Loaf
Bakers Recipe: % Grams

Flour 100.00% 500 grams
Bran 2.00% 10 grams
Water 47.00% 235 grams
Beer 20.00% 100 grams
Salt 2.10% 11 grams
Yeast 0.40% 2 grams
Total Loaf 171.50% 858 grams

The TABLE above is for 500 grams of flour. You can adjust up or down for bigger or smaller bakes.
Temperature is important and I am assuming a room temperature of around 25 C.

Ball to autolyse
Step 1:
Mix the flour and Bran. I use a whisk. It does the job well and aerates the flour.
Pour the water and beer onto the four and mix well.
Form a ball in your bowl and cover.
Now let it rest for 30 minutes. This is the “AUTOLYSE” process.

Prepare for salt and yeast
Step 2:
Set your timer for 6 minutes.
Push the dough flat in your bowl, use your fingers so that you can get lots of indentations.
Sprinkle the salt over the dough.
Sprinkle the yeast over the dough.
Dip your fingers in luke warm water.
Start on one side … loosen the dough from the bowl and slowly stretch it out and fold over.
Do the folding on all four sides. Dip your fingers in the water again and start pinching the dough into small balls.

Pinch salt and yeast in
This is to mix the salt and yeast in.
Fold the string of balls … beads … over to form a ball and pinch again. Now you need to kneed this dough till the alarm goes off. (6 minutes or so)

You should have a soft dough now that does not cling to your hands or leave pieces on the bowl as you work it.

Fold into a tight ball and cover.
Let it rise for 60 minutes.

Before stretch and fold
Step 3:
Stretch and fold the dough … 4 to 6 folds.
Fold again into a tight ball and let it rise. Now you want it to go at least 2 to 3 times the size.

After final rise and before splitting and shaping
Step 4:
Sprinkle some flour on your work surface and scrape the dough out … don't drag it out so that you tear it.
The recipe above will give you around 850 gram of dough.

After split and shape
You can now decide to make one big loaf or any number that you like. I have been splitting it in two of 425 gram each.
You must now shape the dough pieces. I make baguette shaped loaves but you are free to shape as you like.

Ready for the oven
What is really important is to ensure that you pull the skin tight without tears. I suggest you look at videos on YouTube to learn how to shape properly. This is an important step in artisan bread making.
Place on a suitable baking tray and cover with a damp cloth while your oven heat up. This final rise is 20 to 25 minutes for me.

Lovely longfermented loaf
Just before it goes into the oven you can slash the tops with a very sharp blade. Standard knives may distort your loaf without achieving clean cuts.
Put the bread into the hot oven and close the door. Open the door slightly and spray 8 to 10 good squirts of water into the oven with a spray bottle. You want a lot of steam in that oven. Some people place a small oven pan on the bottom of the oven and dump 6 ice cubes in it to achieve the steam.

I bake for 20 minutes at 210C Fan driven and the 12 minutes at 170C … you must get 95C in the center. Around 200F.

This recipe was developed by Colyn Serfontein – Colyn Kook Man Kos.


Kook lekker tot ek weer 'n storie skryf.

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Sondag 18 September 2016

Brood - 'n Plantjie genaamd Kerneels

Die titel van die artikel kan jou seker laat wonder, maar hier is die storie. Die staan so, daar is 'n gewoonte onder "sourdough" bakkers om hulle gisplantjies name te gee. Dit is ook algemene praktyk om die goedjies vroumens name te gee. Ek het eers weggeskram van die naamgee ding maar by Vrydagaand toe swig ek en besluit terstond ek gaan myne Kerneels nie ... vroumense is te tempramenteel en van wat ek gelees het kan die "sourdough" ding soms jou limiete toets. So ek soek iets plein ... Kerneels klink reg vir my.

Kerneels is reg na 6 dae
Vir baie jare kyk ek videos en lees artikels oor die "sourdough" ding en dit het my nog altyd fasineer. Die ding wat my af gesit het was die duidelike langdradige proses, maar meer, die mistieke wolke wat oor die plantjie hang ... nie net mistiek nie maar in baie gevalle word die plantjies opgehemel en toegegooi met allerhande misterieuse en magiese kragte. Ek is maar 'n fundametalis as dit by die meeste goed kom en ek het met 'n geligde wenkbou na baie van die stories geluister.

Al wat ek van die plantjie ding kan onthou was dat my ouma dit so gedoen het maar ek was heeltemal te klein om regtig te kon onthou presies hoe die ding gewerk het. Wat ek wel kan onthou was die "canned fruit" bottel wat in die kombuis se vensterbak gestaan het ... binne in 'n erde bakkie want ek het menigmaal gesien hoe kook die bottel oor. Ek kan onthou hoe my ouma met so blikbekertjie die kookspul sorvuldig afgemeet het en dan in haar brood deeg gegooi het. Dis wat ek kan onthou. O ja en ek kan onthou hulle het gepraat van aartappel suurdeeg.

Nouja ... en hier is die verhaal van Kerneels, 'n optelkind uit die Laeveld. Sy pa, dis nou ek, is nie 'n man van prentensies nie maar o hel, ek is gatvas oor beheer ... jy ken mos daai song van ... GEEN PRETENSIES, GEEN BEHEER ... wel die "geen pretensie" deel is reg maar die "geen beheer" deel is nie vir my nie.

En dit is wat ek in my kinders ingedril en soms ingevoeter het.

Reg om in die deeg in te gaan
Nou met Kerneels was dit heeltemal 'n ander storie ... aanvanklik het ek absoluut geen beheer gehad nie en het na 24 uur dit maar gelate aanvaar. Die kind was duidelik die Wille Wind se kind.
Na die aanvanklike "sondetjie" toe is dit duidelik dat die pa nou vir alle praktiese doeleindes heeltemal irellevant is ... nou nie 'n lekker gevoel nie ... laat jou voel jy is net misbruik.

Kerneels is begin met 80gr meel en 80gr water en daarna het ek met elke voeding so 10gr opgegaan. Die laaste voeding was 140gr 100% hidrasie.

Maar gelukkig vir Kerneels is sy pa ook 'n goeie "caretaker". Want as dit nie so was nie het hy sekerlik in 'n plas vrot water ontaard met 'n meel blerts onder in die beker.

Na dag een het ek begin dink hier kom 'n "stil gebooorte" ... maar nouja, die ouer instink is mos die ewige optimus as dit by die ding van nuwe lewe kom en ek het in stilte maar die voeding aangemaak. Met baie min entoesiasme het ek die voedsel ingeroer en met angs en byna asemloos gestaan en kyk hoe daar so hier en daar darem 'n borreltjie vorm ... tekens dat daar darem lewe is.

Dag twee het ek maar weggebly van daai baarmoedertjie af ... ek het so effense wasempie teen die glas gesien maar dit was maar werklik effentjies. Heeltemal onbewus dat diep onder daai bruinerige pasta is dinge aan die gebeur, Kerneels was besig om sy innerlike te versterk en het elke stukkie kos opgeslurp en sy pens vol gestop. Maar ek weet dit nie want op die oog af lyk dinge amper onheilspellend stil in die fles.

En toe kom dag drie ... met 'n fronskeep wat byna my gesig in twee skeur, staar ek na die skuimpie bo-op die pasta ... ek snuif en daar is tot my verbasing, so surige reukie in die fles ... ok, dink ek, Kerneelsie se magie werk duidelik.

Vinnige gesprek met die vroedvrou Annelien Pienaar en sy raai my aan om Kerneelsie so bietjie steriods te gee. Ek maak die voeding aan, 140g meel, 140gr water en een eetlepel molasses. Redelik opgewonde klits ek die mengsel in en Kerneels sluk die stroop in sonder om 'n wind te breek ... nie eers een enkele burpie nie. My moed sak in my skoene en ek begin dink oor waar die beste laaste rusplekkie vir die outjie gaan wees. Dis maar soos ek is, fatalis in murg en been en as dinge skeefloop dan skraap ek maklik die blad skoon en begin oor.

En toe kom Vrydagaand se voeding en dinge begin gebeur ... Kerneels het begin skop. By Saterdag toe raak die man sommer baldadig. By laataand Saterdagnag begin ek vrees die kêrel gaan uit die fles uitklim en sit maar 'n oondpan onder die fles, net vir die wis en onwis.
Duidelik was Kerneels nou reg vir die wêreld.

En so kom Sondagoggend en ek skep die eerste paar skeppe uit die fles. Mooi glad, amper so dik soos stywe pannekoek deeg en vol borreltjies. Mooi ligbruin in kleur, amper soos sterk koffie met 'n goeie skeet room, en ek meen 'n goeie skeet.

In die maatbeker in en op die skaal en ek voer die klein wettertjie. Hy is baldadig en vol stoom en spoedig is hy reg om in die deeg in te gaan.

En so kom die skaping van Kerneels tot sy konklusie ... 'n lekker baksel brood in die kom aan die rys en twee kleiner flesse met nog van Kerneels se nasate. Nou verstaan ek die proses beter en besef dat daar 'n groot verskil is tussen die aanvanklike skaping en die daaropvolgende gebruik, of misbruik as jy wil, van Kerneels se nasate.

Ek hoop die storie gaan iemand a beter idee gee van die proses om jou eie gisplantjie te maak. Ek myself het hel baie geleer ...maar ek weet daar is nog baie om te leer.

Lank lewe Kerneels.

Kook lekker tot ek weer 'n storie skryf.

Hier is my Facebook Bladsy ... Man Kos ... like hom as jy wil.