This ferment is a mix of flour and water left to ferment for weeks, so that it gets enriched with healthy local bacteria. The ferment that’s used to cook bread is actually a kind of DIY life form and the older it gets, the stronger it becomes. That’s why bread is such a crucial part of any meal in Russia: it is a kind of home-made locally grown life, which is made ready to be transformed into the energy of the body.
To cook your own bread you need to create your own ferment first. Take 100 grams of flour and 100 grams of water. Mix it well until it reaches homogeneous consistency. Cover with cloth or a lid with holes (to let it breathe) and leave in a warm dark place for a day or two. You can occasionally stir it, so that the new life form stays alive and feels your attention and love.
Once the bubbles appear at the surface, get rid of excessive liquid and add 50 grams of water and flour again. Leave for a day, stir occasionally, wait till the bubbles appear again. Repeat this procedure for a few days until the ferment is ready (it should grow twice in size).
Now when you’re ready to bake, take a half of the ferment (use about 100-150 grams per 500 grams of flour), 2 glasses of water, 2 teaspoons of salt, 1 tablespoon of honey, and 2 tablespoons of sunflower oil (if you like), mix everything together into a nice dough and leave it alone covered with a cloth for 2-3 hours.
Put the rest of the ferment covered with a cloth or a lid into the fridge to let it sleep (when you want to use it again, put it out 5-6 hours before cooking into a warm place again, to wake it up). Remember that you need to feed the ferment regularly otherwise it will turn sour.
Back to the bread. By now the dough should have risen and if did not happen you can cheat and add a bit of yeast (2-3 grams). Make a nice shape from the dough, take a baking form, oil its surface with sunflower oil, put the bread inside and bake at 200 degrees for 20 minutes and then at 180 degrees for another 40 minutes.
Once the bread is ready and brown, take it out and leave it to cool down. Then it’s ready to serve.
And remember to feed your ferment!
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