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Hands into the Dough!

Italy - 06 May 13

Nothing is more satisfying than preparing your own bread at home, using your flour of choice, kneading the dough, waiting while it rises and then finally savoring its aroma fresh out of the oven. However, for amateur and professional bakers alike, real bread requires the use of the ancient sourdough technique – the cultivation and use of a starter dough that provides a diversity of natural yeasts and bacteria. Each year the Pasta Madre (mother dough) food community (part of Slow Food’s Terra Madre network) organizes Pasta Madre Day - a day celebrated across Italy with events to promote traditional sourdough bread. Free pieces of mother dough are handed out with recipes and information is provided on where to source good flour. Riccardo Astolfi, the community’s founder, says: “the easiest way to start is to ask somebody for a piece of the mother dough they are already using.” If you are in Italy, the groups’ website www.pastamadre.net lists more than 1,000 bakers who are willing to give away a piece of their dough to any interested home bakers. If not, you can follow the follow instructions to prepare your own sourdough starter. Step 1 Ingredients 200 grams (7 ounces) of organic type "0" flour (or substitute with other quality organic flour) 100 ml (3.5 ounces) of warm water 1 teaspoon of organic honey (the honey serves to help activate the fermentation, since it is composed of simple sugars which are more easily "attacked" by microorganisms) Mix the honey and the water, then add to the flour and mix well until the dough comes together in a soft and smooth ball. Place the dough in a clean bowl, cover with a damp cloth and leave it to rest at room temperature (between 18 and 25 degrees Celsius or 65 and 77 degrees Fahrenheit) for 48 hours. During these 48 hours you will notice the dough becomes slightly inflated and the first fermentation bubbles appeared. Step 2 Ingredients 200 grams (7 ounces) of the dough from Step 1 200 grams (7 ounces) of organic type "0" flour (or substitute with other quality organic flour) 100 ml (3.5 ounces) of warm water Soften the dough in the warm water to allow you to mix in the flour more easily. Mix until the dough comes together in soft smooth ball. Place the dough in a clean bowl, cover and let it rest for another 48 hours. You have just performed what is called "refreshing", i.e. you have fed new simple and complex sugars to your yeast. Next Steps Continue this process of "refreshing" for at least one week and up to two weeks, until your dough no longer doubles its volume in about 4 hours. At this point, your dough is ready to be used to make bread. Use the quantity of starter dough as specified in your bread recipe. The remainder of the starter is kept and “refreshed” ready for your next batch of bread. The starter dough should be kept in the fridge in a glass container, and be kept for more than a week between “refreshing” Do you have any recipes for homemade products or practical tips for greener living that you would like to share? Please write us an email with the subject “good enough to eat” to communication@slowfood.com.


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