Like many recipes the final results will come down to the quality of the ingredients you choose to use, and these are what I recommend:
This is to feed your starter; rye flour has natural enzymes that encourages fermentation. You can in fact use any wholegrain flour, but from my experience I get the most consistent results using rye. Whatever flour you decide to use, make sure it is not bleached as the chemicals used in the bleaching process can affect the fermentation process.
I get my rye flour from All About Bread in Greenwood, Perth (see here). It is called “German Rye for Sourdough”, and that is what Chris and Liz (the owners) recommended I use and it is brilliant. It is not an organic flour, but I have also used organic rye flour with great success, so sometimes it is a matter of what you can get your hands on.
I have also used a “light” rye flour in the past, but over time I found my starter was not as happy as it should be (they are like us, they need to eat good food!), and that is when I made the switch. You don’t want a dark rye either, just a regular rye flour is great, and if you wish to use organic rye flour that is great too.
Either way I don’t want you paying an arm and a leg for rye flour, but it is important to get something you feel is good quality because this is for your starter which is going to make you fabulous bread.
PREMIUM UNBLEACHED BAKERS FLOUR / AND WHITE OR WHOLEMEAL SPELT FLOURS
These flours are what I use as my base for making bread, and also preparing a “white” starter when needed (more on that later).
For my bakers flour I really like Laucke Premium Unbleached Bakers flour which is sold as Wallaby’s Bakers Flour (see here) … there was a time a little while ago where Woolworths stopped stocking this particular flour which was really sad (it’s my local grocery store), but it is great to see it back on their shelves again over the past few months … it is also available in many other grocery stores too. This flour comes from South Australia and is a lovely product.
I also love using spelt flour … both white and wholemeal, and I get my spelt flours from 2Brothers.com (see here). 2Brothers is an on-line retailer based here in Perth. I have used their products for almost 10 years and have always loved their quality.
FINE SEA SALT
Salt is so important to use in your bread bakes. A good quality fine sea salt enhances the flavour of bread, helps control the fermentation process allowing for a longer fermentation period, increases the strength of the gluten giving the bread structure, and adds minerals to your baked loaves.
I like using Herbamare Organic Fine Sea salt which I get from Woolworths (see here) but any good quality fine sea salt is great.
It is important to use a “fine” salt to allow for even distribution in the dough.
Tap water with chemicals can affect natural yeast culture. If you don’t have a filter then I recommend you buy bottled water. There are some sites that suggest there is no problem with using unfiltered tap water, but I have always be advised otherwise, and it makes sense to me that tap water, with chemicals, could adversely affect natural yeast.
I make yoghurt and labne every fortnight, so always have whey leftover. It is a brilliant fluid to use in your bread making to replace the water that you would normally use. It helps to “soften” the loaf, and is a great source of protein, vitamins and minerals and is far too valuable to throw away. It keeps really well in the fridge for a few weeks, and as I make bread every weekend, I use it up weekly.
To use it for your loaves, put the whey into a measuring jug, then add to it the amount of water you need for the loaves you are planning to make that day (e.g. if you are making two loaves and need 500g water, but have 250g whey, just top the whey up with another 250g water to make your 500g fluid needed). Ensure you take the whey out of the fridge at the same time you take your starter out (to feed it) so that it is at room temperature when you use it. Just leave it on your bench whilst the starter is rising, then use them at the same time.
As your sourdough baking skills develop you will start to use other flours and ingredients to create different types and styles of sourdough breads.