Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Sourdough in the Tropics

My friend Holly makes most of the bread for her household so I made bread nearly every day while we were in Guatemala.

 

I had taken some sourdough starter along in my suitcase. It wasn't that I couldn't bear to leave my starter, I just thought Holly would enjoy playing with it. But whether she did or not, I sure did.



I've never saw sourdough grow so well. I can get a good crop of bubbles in Pennsylvania but in Guatemala the same starter was so bubbly is foamed! I don't know if it was the difference of flour, or weather, but the starter liked its new growing conditions. I know I'm crazy but it made me bubbly happy to see such happy sourdough bubbles!

 

I learned a few things by baking bread in Guatemala. First, I relearned the joy of hand mixing/kneading bread. Every morning I pulled out the big red bowl and a couple measuring cups and mixed up a new batch of bread. So simple. So few dirty dishes. I usually made a double batch of the soft sourdough bread making either loaves or rolls with the dough. I thought it would be too much dough to knead by hand but it wasn't bad. If I would have had another week of bread baking, my arms would have probably become used to it and it would have been even easier.

 

Second I was surprised at how mild the sourdough tasted. I always thought that hot temperatures would make a more "sour" flavored sourdough. But Holly's kitchen was certainly warm, over 100 degrees most days. The sourdough pot sat next to the bean slow cooker and was certainly cozy warm. But the sourdough bread was very mild flavored and not sour tasting at all. I'm not sure if it had to do with the flour (I was using white flour instead of the usual whole wheat I bake with.) Or if since the dough raised faster in the warm temperatures it didn't have as long to acquire a strong flavor. Or something I haven't considered.

Whether the mild flavor is a good thing or not is dependent on your goals. My husband actually likes a bread with a lot of flavor! But regardless, the bread was very tasty, actually sweet - and addictive.



So if you live in the tropic - give sourdough a try! From my experience, sourdough flourishes in the warm, humid environment!



10 comments :

  1. Well, we're not in the tropics but we are definately warm and humis here in Southeast Texas. Today as I stepped outside I was reminded how close to summer heat we are. It was warm and muggy! I tried sourdough once a few years ago and I have been afraid to try it again since. It was so stinky I couldn't stand to go into the kitchen. I never even baked the bread! I had my husband chunk it in the woods bowl and all! After looking at all of your yummy sourdough recipes I'm tempted to try it agin but I'm afraid. Maybe the recipe I tried wasn't a good one. Or maybe I just didn't do it right. Your's looks wonderful!

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  2. Oh my! That bread looks wonderfully good. Thank you for posting about your trip. It's very interesting and I'm sure the hard work both of you did was very appreciated.
    Blessings,
    Betsy

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  3. That is interesting. Our weather has been warm the last couple of days and my starter is definitely lively-er.

    I find that more whole wheat makes my bread more sour, too.

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  4. That's how I feel about my kefir grains! In the winter they take 3-4 days to thicken and in the summer I have fresh kefir within 1-2 days! Loved your guatamala post. Living vicariously through your travels!

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  5. I came across your site while researching my new sourdough interest. I just made a Detmolder rye loaf for the first time, and in my reading I found that the last of the three proofing periods, done in an extra-warm environment, is supposed to sweeten the dough by encouraging lactic acid development over the acetic acid. I wonder if that is part of the sweetness that you experienced in the tropical environment.

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  6. I have never heard of starters. so this has got me intrigued! I have just recently got a yard sale bread machine and my family is in love with it. so after reading your post I have been reading n reading on this. I have started my own starter today but have a friend that is going to bring me one that was started in 1990 I just can't imagine this, then I started wondering how old yours maybe? I never told you I loved the book I ordered from you, kinda hoping you would write more :)

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    1. I don't know how old my starter is because I got it from someone who made sourdough bread for years.

      Glad you enjoyed the book! Don't tempt me!
      Gina

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  7. What you write is interesting and makes a lot of sense to me! We live in the tropics, in Papua New Guinea and I find it so easy to get my starter very active and bubbly.
    Also, I think the fact that "tropical" sourdough doesn't taste as sour has to do with the quicker rise/higher temperature.
    Anyway, I found your blog because I was searching for information regarding sourdough and enjoy browsing through your blog.
    Dina

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  8. Do you have any idea if sour dough bread would be tolerated better by those with a gluten intolerance? I miss my home made bread---and baking it!

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    Replies
    1. I don't know. Guess you could research it. Or find some real sourdough bread at a local bakery (watch because some bread labeled sourdough is not true sourdough) and see how you react to it.
      Gina

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I'm still learning how to be a joyful homemaker and I'd love to hear from you!

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