‘U Criscenti (Sicilian Sourdough or Mother Dough)

Sourdough is a very old rural tradition which goes back in time. Starting from a mixture of flour and water, the long but natural process allows the proliferation of good particular bacteria and lactic ferments, which are necessary for the fermentation of essential yeasts.

When compared to traditionally commercially available yeasts, sourdough is considerably more digestible. This is because it completely decomposes the gluten contained in the flour during the rising period.
The slow fermentation of the sourdough favors the growth and development of beneficial bacteria, such as lactobacillus, which enhance the absorption of various nutrients, from minerals to vitamins. Sourdough’s components act also as natural preservatives.

Food baked with sourdough is more fragrant, tasty, digestible and it has also a longer shelf-life.

  • DifficultyDifficult
  • CostVery cheap
  • Servingmakes about 500g sourdough
  • CuisineItalian


To start the process

  • 100 gSicilian durum wheat (I used Russello variety)
  • 50 mllukewarm table water


To grow the sourdough

  1. – sift the flour onto a bowl, pour the lukewarm water onto the flour and mix well;

    – knead till you get a small, soft and smooth ball of dough;

    – transfer the thus obtained dough into a glass jar, cover it with clean kitchen towel or a net, and let it rest at room temperature inside a cupboard (between 18 and 25 degrees) for 48 hours;

    – by placing an apple next to the jar, you would help the fermentation of the dough;

    – after 48 hours, you must do the first refreshment: take the dough out form the jar and weight it (clean the jar with hot water without using any detergent or soap);

    – transfer it into a bowl and add same weight of flour and half its weight of lukewarm table water (e.g. if the dough weights 100g, add 100g flour and 50ml water);

    – knead till you get a smooth ball of dough;

    – transfer the new dough again into the glass jar, cover it again with a cloth or a net and let it rest at room temperature in a cupboard (between 18 and 25 degrees) for 48 hours;

    – wait again for 48 hours, the dough should have slightly swelled and the first cells/alveolus should have appeared;

    – make another refreshment by mixing together the dough with same weight of flour and half weight water;

    – knead and store back the dough;

    – now start making refreshments every 24 hours;

    – go ahead with refreshments till the dough will be able to double its volume in about 4 hours (these may take between 5 and 10 days);

    – at this point the sourdough should be ready and have pronounced air-cells/alveolus;

    -store the sourdough in a closed (but not airtight) jar;

    – if you do not use it often, sourdough must be refreshed by 3/4 days in order to keep it alive;

How to use the sourdough for baking

  1. – 250g of refreshed sourdough is enough for not more than 1kg flour;

    – refresh the dough the evening before you want to bake, or at least 8 hours in advance;

    – the sourdough should have doubled its size: now take 250g away from it for the baking, and store the remaining sourdough for the next time you will wish to bake;

    –  remember that if you do not use it often, sourdough must be refreshed by 3/4 days in order to keep it alive;

    – use the 250g sourdough you kept for you baking in your recipe. Keep in mind that sourdough has a slow-rising time. Therefore, you would need to double any rest-time, which recipes using normal/commercial chemical yeast indicate.

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