The heart of sourdough lies in its natural leavening process. Unlike commercial yeast, a sourdough starter is a living culture, fermenting the dough and imparting complex flavors.
At Ballerina Farm, the emphasis is on using high-quality, organic ingredients. The flour, water, and salt all play crucial roles in determining the bread's flavor and texture.
The farm's unique starter is a closely guarded secret, cultivated to create the perfect balance of acidity and depth of flavor.
The process begins by mixing flour, water, and a portion of the sourdough starter. This mixture, or 'levain', is left to ferment, allowing the natural yeasts to work their magic.
After fermentation, the dough is kneaded to develop gluten, which gives the bread structure. Then, it’s shaped into loaves or rounds.
The final rise, or proofing, happens next. The dough is then scored and baked in a hot oven, often in a Dutch oven, to achieve a crispy crust.
Consistent temperature is vital during fermentation. A warm, draft-free spot helps in achieving the best results.
The water-to-flour ratio can be adjusted for different textures. Higher hydration leads to a more open crumb and a chewier texture.