I always admired people who were able to make their own bread with sourdough (which sounds much more intimidating in Italian being called "mother dough").
It was something I never tried to do, at least until a few years ago, because I felt it would require some talent i didn't feel having. The name was already intimidating enough and having sourdough in a home was a status I admired with a sense of owe. Making bread was not part of my family tradition, lets leave it at that.
Then, few years ago, a woman from Israel came to stay with us. She brought her own natural sourdough and she was making bread almost every day. It was thank to her that I learned how to make bread with the amount she gave me as a gift I would always feel grateful for. She thought me many of her secrets about bread making and then, over the years I found my own ways while continuing experimenting and nurturing my own sourdough, originally from Israel.
These are some of the tips I learned since then:
Sourdough it is nothing more than a mixture of flour and water, left to ferment in an open jar (covered only with a wet towel) for several days in one corner of the kitchen.
Once this natural yeast is produced in such a simple way, we need to preserve it in the fridge in a closed jar.
When I want to make bread I take some of this dough and I nurture the remaining with flour and water.
I use an hermetically closed jar that holds about one later in volume. The amount I take in order to make a chilo and a half of bread is about two big spoonfuls. Then I add to the jar about two spoonfuls of flour and the right amount of water to obtain a soft consistence.
To the two spoonfuls of dough in the bowl, I add about 400 gr of flour and enough water to obtain a very soft mixture. I put the bowl aside, covered in a humid towel, and I leave it overnight to start fermenting. The morning after I’ll have the base I need to make my bread or my pizza dough.
I know I can use the base because it becomes very bubbly, due to the fermentation process. At this point I can add enough flour for a one a a half kilo of bread (about 600 gr between white flour, whole wheat and yellow flour), then salt and enough water to obtain a nice round ball of dough, not sticky but soft.
I leave this ball to raise for a few hours and then I use it to create the shape of bread I like.
Choosing the kind of flour is important in order to obtain different kind of bread.
If I want to make pizza, I usually add some olive oil to the final mixture.