Mother Dough Bread

The Bread of Nature

What a challenge! Some time ago i visited a bakery in Leuven (Belgium) where they made fresh loafs made out of Sourdough. The taste and smell was simply divine and i could not get enough of it really.
However the bread is not cheap with 5 euro for a half bread of approximately 720 gr.
Now i know why it is not cheap.......Spending so much money on bread, i thought i can make that myself too and as many as i want :)

Making artisanal bread is not like the bread they are making in the food industry with dried yeast or if you are lucky with fresh yeast to be solved in water. It’s so different in taste, ingredients, time and of course the satisfaction of eating your own made bread.
I suggest that you eat it with only salted butter and the flavours will explode in your mmmmmmouth.

It all starts with the Mother dough (A ‘Starter' as they call it). Made of natural yeasts. I really wanted to eat this bread more regulary as it’s easily sold out and especially on sundays. I started to figger out on how to make it and how the hell i am going to find a good recipe.
So i started to watch some movies on youtube and soon found out that it is a lot of work, but i didn’t care, i simply wanted to accept the challenge i made for myself and thought, let’s do this.

I went to the library and found a really good book named, “The Superette” from Sarah lemke who was first a baker in Michigan. She came to Belgium some years ago and started a bakery in Ghent and is now active in Bokrijk with making artisanal bread. Sarah and Kobe published this book in 2015 and quickly got sold out everywhere. You can still find it in the library and it contains the recipe of the bread i have tasted before. Yes, let’s get started.

First of all you need a mother dough and the recipe is completely explained in the book and is also inspired on the famous San Francisco bread baker Chad Robertson. Soon i started following the instructions as in the book. The first 4 days my yeast went wild and then went down and nothing happened anymore after the first “feeding”. It’s the part where you remove some of the yeast dough and feed it with more flour and water. I soon realised that i probably gave the yeast not enough air, as it was closed with a tightened lid. I gave it more air and kept feeding it + placing it in a warmer invironment. From the smell of Paint it became smelling sweet like sweet apples and BEER ! hahaha. How great!

It kept rising and every day i did the water test. Take some of the mother dough and let it drop in some water, if it floats, it’s ready....untill day 11 it did not float and suddenly it did. That amazed me that it worked. I just kept carry on what i was doing, even if i did not know it would succeed. I just followed the steps in the book.

Soon i made a pre-dough with a waiting time of 4 hours. I had to go to Sewing classes that day and it was not ready before i headed to school. i came home around 23u. So i made the bread dough eventually with a part of the pre-dough and it was soon 12 o’clock midnight where i wanted to go to bed and placed it on the counter in a room to let it rest overnight. The next day the pre-dough rised triple his size, wow. The problem with that is that it became more like a mother dough again with foam and bubbles, not ideal to use, but I decided to go for it and now made the actual bread dough with 185 gr of Pre-dough and had to stretch and fold it every half hour for 2 hours long and then every hour for 4 hours long. 
The trick is to fold it to the inside from 4 corners to stretch it and give it some air.
I could not see any improvement as it stayed very wet and sticky.....i started to feel hopeless. The dough ran out on the table and i tried to keep it together, but that did not work well.
So before screaming it all out and having a crisis, i decided to give it one last chance and add more flour to it.
It soon became more doable to knead it and used my knuckles to get some air in it.
Finally i could shape it and i used the technique with the rolling of the dough to you with a scraper. Then let it rest and start folding it like an envelop to give it the final shape before i transfer it to the banneton. 

15 minutes before i added some flour in the Banneton (Wicker basket) to shape the dough and let it rise. It gives a nice relief to it and shape. 

TIP : Before i added the flour to the new banneton, i used a water spray bottle to make it a bit wet, so the flour sticks better to the basket as you go around with the flour in it. it worked perfectly. All this i watched on youtube.

The dough was created to make 2 loafs, so i had 2 Bannetons (wicker baskets). I kept the bannetons filled with the bread dough in the fridge overnight with a towel over it to rise and this morning i removed one from the basket and turned it over on some baking paper. Then transferred it to my Le Creuset pot and put it in an oven at 250°c for 20 minutes. Then turned the heat down to 225°c for 10 minutes and then removed the lit and baked for another 25 minutes. Thinking of the work i had in the last days, it was a relief to only have to wait for the oven and watch the magic happen :-)

Yesterday i had dough everywhere on me without realising and i was thinking that i did not really know why i was doing this all. Was i going mad?
But today i feel much better, the smell of the bread this morning was out of this world. Also because it smelled lightly sour and sweet. I knew it would be perfect. At the same time i had a little birds nest on my terras in a painted birdhouse and today was the day for the little ones to fly out and so they did. I witnessed it and was so nice to see. What better way to start the day like this?

When my oven told me the bread is ready, i soon removed it from the oven and took the bread out of my Le creuset pot to check if it sounded hollow when you tick on the bottom and it did! Wow, i can not believe i really did this. it proves that it is not impossible for someone who never made a bread before (except with the bread machine who does most of the work) to finish one without any help from someone or a workshop.

Now, this noon i sliced the bread, after the crack you here first when you put the knife in it, there comes the softness of the bread inside and a smell of sweet apples and Beer? How amazing and knowing the work is all worth it at that time. I still have a second one in the fridge ready to bake, i will make that one this weekend. As i think you can keep it in the fridge for a couple of days......
The bread has not that many holes in it, but that can have many reasons why not. As the mother dough can be too young or my pre-dough became too much of a ‘Starter' again with too much foam and bubbles in it or the fact that i had to add more flour during the shaping of the dough. Who knows and who cares.....My husband told me it’s perfect. That gave me a big smile today :-)

I realised that it is not necessary to following the book step by step. Circumstances can make you do it otherwise. The thing is that you look at it, feel at it, smell at it and decide how you can improve it. My Mother dough (Starter) is still very active. I feed it everyday after i reduced the amount of feedings with half of the recipe. It’s much easier to feed and you don’t have to throw away that much. I also keep some in the fridge in case something happens to my active mother dough. The tip i have is : always make sure you have some spare starter on hand. You only have to feed the one in the fridge 1 time a week. But now i have a starter that is always on hand and don’t have to wait hours or a day to get it ready like from the fridge.

If you want to learn more about this, make sure you watch some youtube movies, i think you can learn so much from it, and sometimes also on how not to do it :D

Did you know that my Mother Dough is made on Mother’s Day itself? May 13, 2018. Yes, how special is that. I hope i can keep it for many years, i know i can if i can take good care of it. You can also buy some pre made sourdough packages online, that might work too if you don’t want to make your own mother dough or simply don’t have the time or patience for it.

I’m the proud owner of my own Mother Dough (starter) with a slightly sweet Apple Beer smell hehehe. Have you ever made your own sourdough? Any experiences you want to share with me? Simply reply on this post and maybe we can learn something from each other.

The Recipe i used you can find in “The Superette Book”, which you might be lucky enough to find it somewhere online secondhand or in the library.
There is also a link to a newspaper who shared Sarah’s Sourdough bread recipe which you can find here  :
But the Mother dough itself is not listed on it, it’s only available in her book, which i find sad, as it’s so hard for people to find it, also because her book will not be re-printed  i have been told and is nowhere else to find.

Here you can see how i managed it :-)

‘Starter’, Active Mother Dough.

Pre-dough overnight

Bread dough

Overnight fridge banneton rising

Banneton relief

Carved the bread before baking

The label on the front did not survive the heat of the oven.

After 30 minutes, the oven was hot and damped my phone.

Crispy Crust

Here you see the Superette book in the back with step by step instructions.