P A R T O N E: The start(er)
(Written by Laurence, Head of all things dough at WK)
I think dough is one of the funnest bits of the job- making, handling it, cooking it, eating it. Because you’re connecting with a very integral tradition of food making, it feels like poetry rather than industry. In summer it behaves differently to in winter, so it’s never something you can do brainlessly: you get to engage with the life of the sourdough...
The starter takes on a sort of personality, too, and you can see it take on the rhythm of the week: a routinely irregular feed (according to our dough output, which currently spikes at the end of the week) becomes normal and since summer ended it seems to have settled into this. It's a bit like a Tamagotchi- gotta feed it and take care of it, especially over Christmas when we aren’t working and might be inclined to forget about feeding it and focus more on feeding ourselves.
We use ’00’ flour from Shipton Mill. This grade is the staple pizza flour and is also used in pasta making: you can taste the pasta-y flavour of the flour in the crust when it’s cooked. Sometimes we add Emmer flour or stronger Canadian flour to the mix- the latter strengthens it, the Emmer gives it a different flavour and texture and is an "ancient grain"!
Ingredients are water, flour and salt. The starter is fermented flour and water.
Water, starter, flour get mixed together and autolysed. This gets the ball rolling on fermentation. Once this is over, add salt and mix it up. Then bulk ferment it for 5 hours (at this time of year).
We made it all by hand until last July, when we bought a big mixer. The arrival of the mixer was life-changing.
Pete at Canvas Bread taught, and continues to teach, us a lot about working with sourdough. His blog www.kitchenvolume.com is a feast of culinary intuition and music taste. It’s not to do with dough, but have a look at his very interesting article on LA coffee ex-roasters Handsome: http://kitchenvolume.com/post/80956770311/roasting-at-handsome-coffee