Often I am asked what is a sourdough bowl? How does it work?
Well those of you who make their own sourdough bread most likely keep the sourdough culture in a jar which is kept in the fridge. The next time you want to make some bread you take your culture and add this culture to your dough. Then when you make your loaves you take a small bit from your dough return this to your jar and back into the fridge. Once your culture is in the fridge you will have to take care that it does not get bad. You might have to feed the culture, or whatever else you do, to keep it alive. This might be a daily task and when you go on holidays you have got a problem. Your culture needs attention and you cannot give it. So you either choose to leave the culture with a friend or a sourdough culture hotel or you just start a new culture when you come back home.
NOW: the above bowl makes this constant care for your culture obsolete. You have made your culture and your first dough. At the moment you make your loaves you leave a bit of the sourdough in the bowl. You do not wash the bowl, you just leave a few bits of sourdough in the bowl and you cover the bowl with a linen cloth, e.g a tea towel. You leave the bowl in a place in the kitchen,it looks lovely there. And when you need to make some more bread you warm a little water ( lukewarm ), add to the now dry crumbs and leave it overnight. During the night the culture becomes alive and you can add more flour and water to make a dough. It usually takes one more night and your sourdough is ready to be formed into loaves. And the process begins again.
You can leave the dry bits of dough as long as you like.You can go on holidays or business trips knowing that you culture is safe. It will become alive as soon as lukewarm water is added.
The bowl is thrown on the potters wheel with red stoneware clay, covered on the outside with green or blue slip ( engobe ) , decorated with a slip trailer and glazed on the outside only. The bowl is unglazed inside. Because of this the bowl absorbs the sourdough bacteria needed for sourdough bread making.
The bowl comes in two sizes: 10 litre and 5 litre