Sourdough is thought to be one of the oldest forms of bread and is believed to have been discovered accidentally several thousand years ago in Egypt.
All breads baked at Belinda’s have been traditionally made using a long fermentation process. Doughs are mixed slowly, taking anything from 15 to 30 minutes to mix a dough. The slow process allows for the proteins to develop gently in the flour. Many modern bakeries mix under vacuum in 3 minutes, or on spiral mixers that mix a dough in 5-7 minutes. Although these sorts of bakeries can have their bread on the shelves in under 2.5 hours, ours take on average 5 hours to even get into the oven! This makes for much better bread.
However, our sourdoughs take a further 18-24 hrs to get to the oven once the final dough is mixed.
Our original New Forest Starter Dough was developed by mixing 1lb flour with 20oz water in the New Forest near to Bakers Hanging. Flour naturally contains a variety of yeasts an bacterial spores. When the flour comes into contact with water, the naturally occurring enzyme amylase breaks down the starch into sugars, which the yeasts can then metabolise. With sufficient time, temperature and feeding, the mixture develops a stable culture, allowing the dough to rise.
The flavour develops because of the long fermenting process the natural yeast* spores present in the mother dough (leaven) are cultivated by feeding the leaven on a regular basis, every 12 hrs and allowing it to ferment.
The leaven is then mixed with more flour and water to make the sourdough loaves we put on our shelves. Before they reach the shelves, the bread is left to develop for several hours, then shaped by hand and placed in a temperature-controlled environment for its final prove. In general sourdough products can be baked directly onto the stone floor of the oven or on trays, with steam added to create the crisp all round crust. This method of bread production gives a full flavour loaf that has a chewy open texture with a crisp crust.
Due to popular demand, Belinda’s is developing further Sourdough products to sell alongside our Traditional Craft Baked breads and confectionery products.