Saturday, September 1, 2012

Swiss sourdough

The starter we maintained for six happy, bread-filled months in London was a beaut.  We kept it covered and left it on top of the fridge, removing a portion of it, then feeding it everyday.  A few hours after a feed, it would smell intensely of banana and air bubbles would break the surface like methane escaping a tar pit.  Glorious!
London Rosemary Sourdough
Not knowing if I could successfully schlep my starter internationally, I eventually composted the lot of it just days before our impending move.  Letting go of the starter was harder than giving away my house plants.  It was my lil' buddy, my sourdough bread-giving source.

Not to be daunted, I set up a new starter right after arriving in Zuerich in July.  After realising that the starter was the aphrodisiac of the fruit fly I mended my cavalier leaving-the-starter-on-the-counter ways, and opted to only take it out of the fridge and feed it when I wanted to bake a loaf of bread.

The new Swiss starter seemed a happy gurgling concoction, and it made a pretty fine loaf, but it is now beginning to smell of something akin to nail polish remover.  It's really just an acetone-like, unappetizing blob.  Strangely, it does still seem to yield pretty fab bread results.

Bread brain
Schweizer Sauerteigbrot
If you should never read another post here at F and F, then know that the hubs and I have probably been felled by an infected sourdough loaf.  So long!  Farewell!  Adieu!

Ich sehe was du nicht siehst!
Our loose sourdough bread recipe:

150gr starter (a little more than that won't hurt)
450-500gr flour (I like to mix it up and use various different kinds, but, of course, white bread flour works just fine.)
2tsp salt
approx. 200ml warm water

Measure starter, flour, salt in bowl.  Add water sparingly while stirring contents until it resembles a sticky ball and comes away from the sides of the bowl.   Remove dough from bowl and place on a floured surface.  (Have extra flour at the ready should you need more during the kneading process.)
Kneed dough for approx. 10 minutes until spongy.  (Test sponginess by pressing finger into dough and watch for it to spring back into shape.)  Place in covered, oiled bowl (so dough won't stick to surface) and let rise until dough has doubled.  Stretch dough as if you were forming a pizza crust, then re-form into a ball, place back into covered bowl and wait for second rise.  The dough should, again, approx. double in size.  Both rises could take many hours, and the warmer the kitchen the better for dough rising.  After the second rise place the dough on baking tray (we usually shape it into a ball again before doing this) and let rest for approx. 60 min. as it seems to prevent the base of the bread from splitting during the baking process.  Slice the top of the loaf with a knife and bake at 230C (210C fan-assisted)/450F for 20 minutes, then lower the heat to 200C (180C fan-assisted)/390F and bake for 20 minutes more. Add a small tray of boiling water to the oven as you put the bread in for a shiny, brown crust.


  1. Well I'm downright jealous. I'll need to turn to you when I want to start growing my own kitchen pet. Not sure how my hubs will take to something fermenting in the house, though. Gah!

    1. You can allay his fears by telling him that it doesn't take up too much space. :)

  2. Death by sourdough? I hope not, I can already smell the rosemary.

  3. I hope not as well! The hubs keeps complaining of experiencing 'acetone burps'. :S Let's hope survives.

  4. Update: we tossed out most of the stinky starter, changed containers, and have been feeding the darn thing like mad all the while dumping out a portion of it, so as to not over load the jar. We're keeping the starter out on the counter covered with a kitchen towel affixed to the top of the jar with a rubber band. Now, the starter just smells faintly of dough. So far, so good.


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