Mother yeast and homemade mother dough: instructions for use – Italian Cuisine


We have heard about it for several years mother pasta, mother yeast and natural leavening. A healthy return to a food awareness that challenges us to bring back domestic practices of at least two, three generations ago.

It must first be said that the natural yeast, also called mother yeast or sourdough, is the result of a mixture of water and flour left to mature spontaneously in the environment for a certain period of time. The natural leavening is based on the fact that the micro-organisms present in the flour, water and air reproduce and ferment naturally. Behind this apparently very simple formula there is a real art, a knowledge and a small cultural heritage. So much so that for years now a Library of the Mother Yeast was born, in Belgium, in the wooded village of Saint Vith, where they keep a multitude of live bullets that need care and love and come from all over the world.

In a not too distant past, bread was prepared on average once a week, preserving the natural yeast at home, even if in some regions it could happen that an entire community did it and maybe only once a season, then cook it together in one shared oven, such as rye bread in South Tyrol, which each family kept high up in the barns, on typical wooden structures.

The tradition of many areas of the south, like the Puglia or the Basilicata, was to prepare bread and other baked goods in your home, and then be cooked in municipal or private ovens, paying an affordable price. A wooden stamp, with a symbol or an identifying letter, guaranteed the distinction of the bread of each family.

It is important to remember in DIY preparation refreshments, which consists in the addition of some basic ingredients in certain proportions and with a fixed time interval (usually 15 days).

171535Then there is the so-called starter, or an ingredient, not always present, that can accelerate the work of microorganisms and speed up the reproduction and fermentation of microorganisms. The solutions are many, but often the purists reject the idea of ​​the starter, precisely because the same trigger allows a safe fermentation.

171541Fruit, yogurt, honey or simply peels: every chef and every common mortal has his secret.

Returning to today, natural leavening and sourdough have a strong appeal, which unfortunately is equal to the conviction of retaining it particularly hard to handle. We often hear that it is very delicate and that it can die at any moment, in truth it is really hard to turn off and, if it is not used professionally, it is much simpler than what is believed.

It is certainly good to know that what is the sourdough? also scientifically, but remember that most people who do not know how a machine technically works, still know how to drive it very well. In other words, using the sourdough does not mean that you have to learn all the scientific part (click here).

They will need more desire to experiment, a little patience or a good organization of the times. You will be repaid by a more digestible and healthy product, thanks to the flours that you can choose personally, which will last even a week, and with an oven smell that will bring you back in time. One thing is certain: that there is nothing like the smell of baked bread to make everyone smile again.

How to make pasta
It can be more liquid (licoli) or be a more consistent dough. The most consistent dough that I recommend, is more durable and durable.

100 grams of 0 organic flour. It is good to check the deadline, although it may last a year on the counters, in this case, it is better to use it as fresh as possible, or freshly ground.
60 gr of water
1 teaspoon of honey, or one of pear juice. It is simply used to speed up the fermentation times. Someone even puts yogurt on it.

1) In a bowl mix with a spoon, until a smooth dough, then cover with a very damp kitchen towel, taking care to check that it does not dry in the following hours. Not being in a hurry is essential, let it pass 24/48 hours, during which you could already smell an acidic smell: it means that the lactic fermentation we are looking for has started.

2) Take back the dough and weigh it (about 150 grams). Place it in a larger bowl and add the same weight of flour and half of water. Cover it as you did in the previous step and let it rest for another twenty-four hours. This practice is called refreshment. (see video below)

3) If the dough has already captured the lactic bacteria from the environment you will finally see the slightly grown mass: leavening started, but if you want to consolidate it, repeat for a second time the refreshment as in the previous step, leaving it to rise up to almost double.

At this point, la sourdough is ready to make bread, and the best results will be at the maximum point of growth that will take place in a few hours. Subsequently the mother paste will decrease, slowly decreasing. Just keep it in the refrigerator to slow down this process, just after using half of the sourdough. You can reuse it once a day, and it will last for a week, after which you will have to proceed with another refreshment. It can also be frozon, taking care to defrost it in the refrigerator, bring it back to room temperature and do at least two refreshments before using it again.

How to find the sourdough
If you prefer to avoid producing it, you can ask for it in a bakery that also produces naturally leavened bread: you can refer to theFDP association which brings together industry professionals who have chosen to spread the use and consumption of naturally leavened bread, founded by Renato Bosco (click here).

On Facebook instead it is still in place map created by Riccardo Astolfi (click here) a historic community of "spacciatori" of sourdough to which you can refer.

Basic recipe for bread:
The advice is to start with the simplest recipe.
500 gr of organic flour 0
300 gr of water
100/150 gr of fresh and "mature" sourdough (never exceed 30% of the quantity of flour, to avoid a too sour taste)
1 teaspoon of fine salt

Optionally, but not essential, 1 teaspoon of honey or malt (is easily found in stores of organic products) that will speed up the process of rising, add fragrance and give a darker crust and more crisp.

In a large bowl, arrange the sourdough and water, honey or malt. Melt the sourdough well. Add the flour, salt and knead directly into the bowl for the first few minutes, and until a smooth and smooth dough is obtained. Then move on a work table and knead with a little more force, rolling out and rewinding the dough for a few minutes more. Well, considering that the more air engulfs the mass, the leavening will be better.

Put the dough back in the bowl and cover it with food wrap. Let the dough rise for three to six hours, or until it is doubled.

Take back the dough and put it in shape: at the beginning it is preferable to choose a round shape, then you can try the strands, the sandwiches, the braids and much more.

Dust the surface with a little 'flour and gently cut with a saw blade or very sharp, taking care not to "tear" the shape: it will allow the dough to grow more easily.
Cover with a sheet of baking paper a low and wide pan, lay down the form and cover with a dry and clean cloth. To avoid drying the dough during the second leavening, place the food foil over the cloth, without closing it, just placing it gently. An hour or two after the dough will be visibly leavened and you can bake it.

The oven must already be hot at a temperature of 250 ° and, to obtain a better result, moisture must be added to the inside. A simple little bowl with water will be enough to evaporate during cooking. Cook 10 minutes at 250 ° and another 30 minutes at 200 ° / 220 °.

If by chance the crust does not convince, and appears too soft, allow the form to cool and then return to the oven at 200 ° for another 10/15 minutes.

Now you just have to try and if you still have any doubt, you can deepen by reading the book "Pasta Madre" by Riccardo Astolfi.

of Paola Sucato
updated by Emanuela Di Pasqua
March 2019

In the video below you can see the sourdough

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