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Obsession with sourdough bread and mother yeast

by Gogo on July 3, 2013

in Antipasti,EatIstria Recipes

Here is a nice recipe for the sourdough bread I started to make some 6 months ago. Do you want to try it yourself? If you live in Pula and surroundings just email me and I’ll provide you a bit of the mother yeast I made from scratch some 6 months ago.

sourdough baked loaves

First, I apologize that I don’t write enough on Manjada. I am involved in many projects that run in paralel (Vinologue Istria wine guide, new Taste of Croatia web, EatIstria cooking classes and wine tours, writing restaurant reviews for a major Croatian newspaper…) and the day is often too short for blogging. But not for bread making. About 6 months ago my very own mother yeast was born. Today this youngster is full of strength and it’s amazing how it can raise any dough with ease (even with large amount of whole wheat and corn flour) and produce fantastic bread with deep, intense flavor.

I am writing this recipe primarily for my friends who already got a part of that mother yeast and are begging me for more details. This recipe is also for anyone in Pula and surroundings that would like to get the mother yeast from me and sail into the lifelong adventure called home-baked bread. So please, email me and ask for the yeast.

Now the recipe.

Three-flour sourdough bread

I prepare this bread at least once per week and surely the evening before I have the cooking classes. The tasteless bread from Pula’s bakeries and supermarkets is just not good enough to cope with traditional Istrian dishes we prepare.


200 g white wheat flour
200 g Spelt flour (hr. pirovo brašno)
200 g Kamut flour
200 g mother yeast
20 g sugar
20 g salt
3 tbs extravirgin olive oil
3 g instant yeast – optional

It is important to leave in the mixture at least 200 g of flours reach in gluten (white wheat or Kamut)

Mix all ingredients in a large bowl and add water bit by bit. Knead shortly, few minutes is enough. The dough should remain dry enough not to stick to your fingers and to the walls of the bowl. Create a ball shaped dough and with a knife create a cross on it. The cuts should be deep enough in order to facilitate leavening. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap (hr. prijanjajuća folija). Switch on only the oven light and leave the bowl in the oven for 4 hours or until it doubles in volume. The heat from the light bulb will create ideal temperature for leavening (around 27 C). I usually leave it overnight. This long fermentation gives flavor and rich aromas.

leavened sourdough

Deflate the dough and turn it out onto a lightly floured surface. If you see that the dough didn’t raise enough, or you want more volume, add instant yeast at this point.

I got this advice to put the common beer yeast after the first fermentation from famous Croatian chef Dino Galvagno when I visited his outstanding 5/4 restaurant in Zagreb. But his bread recipe is much more complicated! I still have to learn a lot to make my bread better.

Now knead the dough shortly. Divide the dough in two equal pieces. Flatten the portioned dough with the palm of your hand in roughly rectangular shapes of 10×30 cm. Now take one corner of the rectangle and roll it under 45 degrees until you form a loaf shaped in a sort of spiral wrap.

sourdough loaves

Place the shaped loaves on a well-floured and kitchen towel on a sheet pan. Tuck folds of floured cloth around the sides of the loaves to help support the dough as it rises and to separate the loaves. Place the dough in a warm area to rise for 30 to 45 minutes. Cover with another damp kitchen towel or with plastic wrap.

ingredients are enough for two loaves

Carefully lift the loaves with both hands and place them on parchment paper (hr. pekarski papir) on a sheet pan. Be gentle! With a sharp knife create diagonal cuts on the loaves. Bake for 20-25 min on 210 C. It is advisable to put a small container filled with water in the oven.

Handling the mother yeast

Let’s say you get 50 g of the mother yeast from me. Put it in a large (at least 0.75 L) glass jar and add 200 g of white wheat flour. Then add water bit by bit and mix everything with a spoon until you get a dough that is not runny but is neither too dry. Close the jar and leave it on room temperature for 24 hours. The yeast will reproduce and the next day the jar will be almost full with leavened dough. Each time you make bread you’ll need 200 g of the mother yeast (or when you share it with your friends and neighbors) but don’t forget to always leave at least 50 g in the jar so that your new pet can continue its life cycle.

As it gets older, the yeast will become better and better, the leavening time will be shorter and your home-baked bread will become tastier with each baking session.

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