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Technological alchemy of bread

17 April 2015 / 10:04:40  GRReporter
5971 reads

At home, she likes to make hops sourdough bread and dares to claim that the result is really perfect fluffy bread and no one can tell that it is made without yeast. This bread has a wonderful "airy" texture, it is baked very well, it is really gorgeous. She admits that there is still much to learn about the drying of sourdough balls and their technology to be able to prepare the recipe as she has written it down:

"Take well dried hop pods (about 40 g in weight), cook them for 2-3 minutes in a little more than a tea cup of water or 300 ml. Remove from the heat and add about 1 teaspoon of sugar. Strain and mix around one third of hops infusion, 100 ml, with 2 heaped tablespoons of flour. Mix well. Cover the container with a cotton cloth and leave in a warm place (about 20 degrees centigrade). The next day, add a spoonful of flour and 100 ml of water - do not use hops infusion because the sourdough will be bitter in taste and so will the bread. The next day, add 1.5 heaped tablespoons of flour, and about half a cup of water, about 120 ml, and stir the sourdough occasionally every day. If there are no bubbles the next day, add the same amount of flour and water. On the fourth day add 4 heaped tablespoons of flour and 100 ml of water, and stir again at least 3-4 times a day. If there are no bubbles in the thick dough, repeat the procedure the next day.

Do not put the sourdough in the draught, do not use bleached flour for the sourdough and make sure that the room temperature is constant. Dry it on a thin cloth, store in a jar, or add more flour to make it thick and keep it in the refrigerator. Wake up the sourdough with a little flour and water."

She has noticed that people react in different ways when advised how to make bread. For some, this is a long-kept family secret that they do not want to reveal. Others believe that if they reveal old recipes people will think they are superstitious and will laugh at them. But one thing is certain, namely that if their confidence is gained, they all give some information that should be known and preserved.


Traditional society believed that sourdough had magical powers, that it stimulated and protected human health, fertility and their property. A home without sourdough was doomed to poverty and impoverishment.

People once made new sourdough with healing herbs on Maundy Thursday. The people in northeastern Bulgaria made new sourdough on the night of St. Ignatius' Day and the next 12 nights to St. Basil's Day.

Sourdough was used in many magical practices.

Sourdough was also used for treatment. Once people would make a small flat sourdough loaf, spread honey on it and stuck it on the chest of a patient suffering from pneumonia. They put sourdough on skin burned with boiled water or on frostbites, as well as on wounds.

The reason for the prevalance of fluffy sourdough in our country is Orthodox Christianity. In Orthodoxy, bread must be leavened, not fresh as is the case with Catholics. As is known, theological disputes associated with leavened bread for communion lasted for centuries and this was one of the problems that contributed to the schism between the two main Christian denominations.

Sourdough gives bread a soul. Flour kneaded with sourdough symbolizes the human soul, the water symbolizes the christening and the salt the mind and teaching of the Word of God.

"Roots and hanks"

Presian’s point of reference of his love for bread is his family.

                                                     Baker brothers Teodor and Presian

"My family has written down recipes that are almost 300 years old. We have books describing recipes for sourdoughs, for ash sourdoughs - from what types of tree one can make ash and put it in bread. These were the Bulgarian traditions in many parts of the country, but they have been lost. The first written notes date back to 1780 as everything was by word of mouth before that."

One of his great-grandmothers described how she prepared ash that she used to make ash sourdough to knead bread. The method is similar to the ash sourdough of Greece that PhD. Iglika Mishkova previously described. The mineral content of the ash is used to speed the activation of the microorganisms involved in the preparation of sourdough. "I make sourdough for seven days, she was able to prepare it for about 29 hours," Presian exclaims. "I do not know why, but I still cannot make it. I cannot find the tree that she used because on the hill from which she obtained it the trees have been cut down. My grandfather and I are trying to understand what types of trees grew there to find out what kind of tree she burned to prepare the ash. She did not write down the type of tree but told where it grew. She could not even imagine that one day those trees would not be there." This is an ancient method and it was used in many places. Will it ever resume?

It would be a pleasure for us if any of our readers have information on the preparation of ash sourdough and share it with us!

The right bread in the right place

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