From hip bakeries to trendy pizzerias, sourdough bread is everywhere. But it seems we haven’t reached peak sourdough yet.
This ancient way of making loaves has seen a revival over the past decade, most notably among Silicon Valley tech bros who approach it the way they write code. When pandemic baking was at its height last year, sourdough was one of the most popular recipes people had a go at.
Food companies in Singapore have also caught on. Bakeries like Starter Lab and Woodlands Sourdough base their entire business around it. Chooby Pizza churns out Neapolitan style sourdough pies. Wine bar and bistro Drunken Farmer uses it to make chicken karaage and waffles.
Many converts rave about sourdough’s airy, chewy texture and subtle tartness, but it isn’t due to the type of bread. “It’s a process,” says Tiong Bahru Bakery’s head chef Paul Albert. And the process requires oceans of patience.
Traditional sourdough consists of only four things: flour, water, salt, and a starter. It’s the final ingredient that’s the most important. Made out of water and flour, the starter develops wild yeasts and lactobacillus over time. These microorganisms acts like the spark plug of a car, prompting the bread to rise and ferment.
But starters can be temperamental. It’s highly sensitive to temperature. It needs to be fed regularly. Managed all that and now you’re ready to bake? Well, be prepared to wait at least half a day before your loaf is done.
If that sounds intimidating, Tiong Bahru Bakery is betting it won’t be. The popular chain has launched workshops at its Fort Canning location that teaches the basics of how to make your own bread. If you’re looking to take your sourdough to the next level, they also have classes for intermediate bakers that delve more deeply into the technique.
Below are to some basic steps from them on how to make a sourdough bread. Find out more here.
What you need
400g Artisanal bread flour
80g Active sourdough starter
9g Pink Himalayan salt
1 Bread mould or banneton
1 Dutch oven
1 Dough scraper
1 Razor blade or bread lame
Step 1: Mixing
In a bowl, gently mix the starter, water, salt, and flour together with your hand until you form a nice, smooth dough. Shape it into a ball and put a towel on top of the bowl. Let it rest for 30 to 45 minutes.
Step 2: First fold
Remove the dough from the bowl and place it on a lightly floured surface. Fold one end of the dough upwards until halfway, then fold the other end halfway down. It should look like a double fold card.
Turn an unfolded end towards you, then fold it upwards to about three-quarters. Finally, fold the top all the way down until you have a smooth surface on top. Place it back in the bowl, cover with a towel, and let it rest for 30 to 45 minutes.
Step 3: Second fold
Fold the dough like before. Place it back in the bowl, cover with a towel, and let it rest for 30 to 45 minutes.
Step 4: Shaping
Remove the dough from the bowl and gently press it into a round shape. Sprinkle rice flour in your bread mould and place the dough in it. Let it rise for 30 minutes.
Step 5: Fermentation
After 30 minutes, cover the bread mould with a towel and refrigerate for at least 15 hours.
Step 6: Baking
Preheat the oven at 240 degrees Celsius for 30 minutes with the Dutch oven in it. Once hot, remove the Dutch oven and sift polenta onto the base. Remove the dough from the bread mould and place it in the Dutch oven. Replace the lid and put it in the oven.
Bake for 25 to 30 minutes at 240 degrees Celsius. Remove the lid and bake for another 20 to 30 minutes at 200 degrees Celsius until golden brown.
Step 7: Feasting
Remove the bread from the Dutch oven. Knock the bottom of the loaf. If it sounds hollow, the bread is done. Let it rest for around 45 to 60 minutes. Now dig in.
TBB Sourdough Workshop are held at Tiong Bahru Bakery The Foot Hills, 70 River Valley Road, #01-05, Singapore 179037. Beginner classes are on Wednesdays to Fridays between 2pm to 6pm. Intermediate lessons happen on Saturdays from 2pm to 7pm.