Friday, February 26, 2010

Sourdough Starter

I've always wanted to make a sourdough starter. Ever since I learned that it was

possible to recreate that infamous sourdough taste at home (I'm from the Bay Area, so I grew up on San Francisco culture), I've been on a mission to perfect my yeast. I've actually tried a few times before...but trust me, they weren't pretty. The main problem was that I was using regular white and whole-wheat flour, which just doesn't give enough sour to the taste. I got pretty far at one point, but when I put it in the fridge, the wrapping on top got moved, and the exposed dough actually developed mold....bye bye to a month's worth of time, effort, and flour. That just ain't coo.

It wasn't until I went to Philly for a medical school interview and got stuck an extra day from a giant snowstorm that led to my wandering through the neighborhood of downtown Philly that I chanced upon...GOLD! Actually a bag of rye flour, but in the West Coast, that's as rare as gold (and expensive too!). So I carried that precious bag of valuables home with me (it cost me a security check at the airport because I supposed a bag of unknown powder looks a bit suspicious under the X-ray) and immediately set about making a brand new batch of sourdough starter. And here is the log of my journey...

Sourdough Starter

Day 1:

3/8 cup bread flour + 3/8 cup rye flour + 1/3 cup warm water.

The dough looks sticky and actually pretty disgusting.

Day 2: My, look how my baby's grown!

1/3 cup water + 1/3 cup bread flour + 5 tsp rye flour

Very spongy and airy; deflates when disturbed. Has a pretty sour smell.

Day 3:

Dough is still spongy and deflatable. Same as Day 2. More sour smell.

This time, I tried substituting whole wheat flour for the rye:

1/3 cup water + 1/3 cup starter + 1/3 cup bread flour + 1/3 WW flour

Day 4: Oh no! My sourdough didn't rise! I actually thought at this point that I had done something, and it had died on me. That would have been a huge waste of time and resources.

But I still persisted...with the addition of some rye...

1/3 cup water + 1/3 cup starter + 1/3 cup bread flour + 1/3 WW flour + 1 tsp rye flour

Day 5: starter still didn't rise. But I still saw bubbles from the top. :) There is hope!

1/3 cup water + 1/3 cup starter + 1/3 cup bread flour + 1/3 WW flour + 1 tsp rye flour

Day 6: Some signs of life! At this point, I decided to feed my yeast from a 1:1 ratio to a 1:2 ratio in preparation for bread-making.

1/3 cup starter + 2/3 cup water + 2/3 cup bread flour + 2/3 WW flour + 1 tsp rye flour

Day 7: Success! My yeast has risen again, to twice its starting height even before 12 hours after feeding. About a half-day after I fed it, I took some out to make my sourdough.We'll see how it goes!

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