On this page, I will be bringing you some of my own Mixes.
My Yeast Mix:-
You will read many different ways on how to use yeasts in breads and other yeast-based recipes. There is nothing much wrong with any method I have read about, and contrary to what a lot of well-regarded bakers of our day say, this is the way I do it and I believe it makes for a better fermentation.
For up to 1 kg / 2.2 lbs of flour:- Put 1 tsp (5 g) of Dove yeast in a glass. To that, add a sprinkle of sugar and about 5 tbsp of blood temperature water. Stir with a metal skewer and leave in a warm place for 10 – 20 minutes.
I use a metal skewer to stir the yeast because, if you use a spoon, more of the yeast granules stick to the spoon than you leave in the water. After 10 minutes you should see the yeast really starting to grow and make its way up the side of the glass. I use a glass and not a cup so you can see it rising.
My Sourdough Starter recipe
Again, there are many different ways to make a Sourdough Starter. I have 2 methods. This is what I do.
When it comes to the water part of any sourdough starter you must use good quality water NOT tap water because most tap water contains chlorine which inhibits yeast growth. Even if you end up with a sourdough starter, it will be of an inferior quality. Use only bottled waters or spring waters.
White flour sourdough starter:-
1. Place 100 g (4 oz) of Strong White Bread Flour in a glass or Pyrex bowl, along with 100 g (100 ml) of cold water. Take 1 ORGANIC apple (the apple must be organic), core it but do not peel it, and grate it. Mix the apple into the flour and water mix and stir well. Cover with some clear wrap or better still a shower cap, and leave for 4 days. In this time, do nothing to the mix.
2. After 4 days, add 50 g of Strong White Bread Flour and 50 g (50 ml) of water to your Starter and stir thoroughly. Cover and leave for 2 days.
3, After 2 days, repeat Step 2 and leave for a further 24 hours.
At the end of that period, you should end up with a good amount of White flour Sourdough Starter which should be bubbling and working well.
Feeding and keeping your Sourdough Starter:- If you are going to use this Sourdough Starter more than once a week, feed it with 100 g (4 oz) of flour and 100 ml of water and stir thoroughly 2 or 3 times per week. If you are only making bread once a week, then feed your starter 24 hours before you are going to use it. If you are only going to use this Sourdough Starter occasionally, I suggest you put a reasonable amount in a sealable container, put it in your fridge and feed it 48 hours before you are going to use it and again 24 hours before you are going to use it, leaving it out of the fridge during this period.
There is also a school of thought that recommends you discard 50% of your Sourdough Starter each time you feed it, but I have never found out why. It seems silly to me to throw away a good starter.
Rye Flour Sourdough Starter:-
1. Start off with equal amounts of ORGANIC Rye Flour and water. 100 g (4 oz) of each – nothing else. Mix thoroughly with a balloon whisk and cover with a shower cap, and leave for 4 days.
2. After 4 days, add 50 g of flour and 50 ml of water to your starter, stir and leave for 24 hours.
3. Repeat Step 2 every day for 4 days.
You will find that this sourdough starter smells completely different from a white flour starter. I find that, because you are only using organic rye flour and water, this mix tends to smell slightly vinegary but yeasty. This is what you are looking for. You may also find that your starter develops a slight ‘bloom’ on the top. This is perfectly normal. See image below.
See ‘Feeding and Keeping your Sourdough Starter’ above. The same applies for this recipe. Although I do know of one very good bread maker who feeds his rye flour starter twice a day for 2 days leading up to the day he is going to use it.
I will be giving you some recipes to make your own sourdough breads in due course.
My Sponge Method
Without a doubt making a ‘Sponge’ Starter is the best way I have found to make really good quality breads every time! I do a whole batch of baking at a time. It saves electricity (and money) and means I have a week’s worth of bread at the end of just one bake. I normally cut my loaves in half, label them and freeze them. Bread freezes really well, but (and this is a mistake I made in the beginning) you must wrap them in a double layer of clingfilm or clear wrap to keep out as much air as possible before freezing. When wrapping your breads, be careful not to squash them. If you do they will never recover. lol.
This is how I make my ‘Sponge’:- As previously stated, I do one big bake when needed. So I use:-
500 g Strong White Flour (if you prefer 50/50 brown/white, that’s OK, if you like a 30% brown mix adjust the weights).
500 ml bottled water
1 tsp (5 g) Dove yeast, using my Yeast Mix method (see above) – at the moment I always use Dove yeast, it is by far the best dried yeast I have found to date.
Put everything together in a large bowl and mix thoroughly with a balloon whisk and cover with a shower cap. Leave in a COOL place overnight or for at least 8 hours.
NB – you need to choose a bowl a lot larger than you think you initially need, because this sponge will grow and grow and can grow its way out of the wrong size receptacle. Also, you need to put your sponge mix in a place that is not too warm. The whole idea is that this sponge has time to grow slowly and for the taste and textures to develop slowly. If you put it in a warm place, all of this happens too quickly and you end up with an inferior product.
If you were to watch your Sponge Mix constantly, you would see that the mix would rise and rise and rise – until it got to a stage when it would start to sink. This is what is supposed to happen and you must not use the Sponge until it has collapsed.
Below is a picture of one of my Sponge Mixes ‘the morning after’. You will see drag marks near the top of the bowl showing the height that the sponge reached during the night and you can clearly see how much it has sunk.
Again, there are many ways of using a Sponge Mix Starter. I know of a well-known English baker who uses two-thirds sponge mix starter then adds the last third of flour plus an extra half a teaspoon of yeast plus enough water to make the right textured dough, not too dry, not too wet.
I use equal parts by weight of Sponge Mix Starter to flour. See one of my recipes using a Sponge Mix.