I have a sourdough starter! That is something I have been thinking about cultivating for a while, but just couldn’t find the right time to give it a try. And this I have a long vacation this year-end, I thought, well, no better time than now! So I finally bite the bullet, bought a whole lot of bread flour, and put all that reading I have done to good use. The starter I did was a culmination of reading materials from The Kitchn, Peter Reinhart and Matt Tinder. Finally though, I realise, cultivating a mother starter is less formula and recipe, and more look and feel and smell. I started mine with 300ml of freshly squeezed apple juice and 300g of bread flour. It started bubbling a little after 24 hours. I did the first feeding after about 48 hours, and I retained 200g of the starter and adding to it 100g of bread flour with 100ml tap water. After which, I fed the starter every 24 hours using the same formula. After a few feeding you learn to recognise when you should feed it. I made my first batch of bread after the 4th feeding. Since I wasn’t sure whether the starter was reading, I added a teensy bit of instant yeast, just for assurance, which I later believed wouldn’t have made much of difference.
IThe first time I heard of schiacciata and had a taste of it was during a visit to a neighbourhood osteria, iO. A friend of mine had been raving about their “bread” for the longest time. When I finally had the first taste of it, I was stunned. It was amazing. And it was not even hot when I tasted it. And it was still incredibly tasty.
So, for my first experiment with a sourdough, I decided to try a mildly flavoured schiacciata. There were quite a few recipes online but I finally adapted mine with some changes from this one.
Makes a flat bread approximately 10″ x 14″
300g starter dough (100% hydration)
350g bread flour
1g instant yeast
160ml tepid water
2 tbsp vegetable oil plus extra
Roasted garlic and chopped spring onions for flavouring
1) Add all the ingredients into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook and mix on medium speed for about 10 minutes. Dough should be slightly wet but not sticky.
2) Lightly oil a large bowl, and scrap the dough into bowl. Cover loosely and allow to prove at room temperature overnight, or at least 18 hours, until dough has doubled its size.
3) 15 minutes before baking, preheat a convection oven to 200C.
4) Lightly oil a baking tray then scrap the dough onto the tray, trying your best not to loose the air trapped in the dough. Lightly pressed the dough to flatten it.
5) Spread the roasted garlic onto the dough, the sprinkle with spring onions, followed by some more vegetable oil and salt.
6) Bake in the middle of the preheated oven for about 18 to 20 minutes until dough has browned.
As mentioned, I added a bit of instant yeast as I wasn’t sure if the starter is strong enough, but now I believe it is. If you don’t have a starter, I reckon you can use 7g of instant yeast, with 500g of bread flour and 310ml of water. The dough will most probably take a much shorter time to prove, maybe one or two hours at room temperature.
I never really knew why a sourdough is called a sourdough, as most times I had my sourdough loaf loaded with condiments. But this time, I could really taste that slight tangy-ness of the dough, amidst the garlic. And it was delicious! The resulting dough was a little dense and chewy though so I was wondering maybe it could have benefited from a short second prove, which was omitted. But that airy crumb with the uneven air holes is, ah, definitely the beginning of a new chapter of my bread baking adventures!