Lauren and Mikaela--identical twins living on opposite coasts--blog about the story of life and their adventures in faith.

2.09.2010

Sour is Sweet


There comes a time in everyone's life when suddenly the status quo is no longer satisfactory. The tame has become mundane, ordinary is boring, and manufactured is artificial. Meet Gushy (Sarah informed me that all starters must be named), the answer to all these problems--a bubbling spring of wild yeast and lactobacilli. I carefully babied Gushy for seven days before his beautiful sour aroma, fierce flavor, and effective leavening power was concentrated enough for the supreme test: a sourdough boule.

What, you too have reached a midlife crisis concerning all things bread? Set down that wimpy white wonder mess and pick up an apron, because this, my friends, is an epiphany.

Day 1
In a nonreactive container, combine the following:
1/2 cup 80 degree water
Generous 3/4 cup whole rye flour
1/8 teaspoon molasses
Mix all the ingredients thoroughly, set plastic wrap directly over the mixture, wrap with a towel, and allow it to rest (ferment) for 24 hours at 80 degrees. I used a heating pad set on low to keep the starter at the perfect level.



Day 2
Discard half the starter, and to the remainder add:
1/2 cup 80 degree water
3/4 cup whole rye flour
Mix thoroughly, cover, and allow the mixture to ferment for 24 hours at 80 degrees. This is known as feeding the starter.

Day 3, Day 4, Day 5, and Day 6
Feed the starter twice a day, with at least 8 hours between feedings. Discard half the starter, and to the remainder add:
1/2 cup 80 degree water
1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
Mix thoroughly, cover, and allow the mixture to ferment for at least 8 hours at 80 degrees before the next feeding. If you miss a feeding, don't fret, just pick up the schedule and continue as if nothing happened.

Day 7, or as soon as your starter is established
Stir the mixture well. Pour off and discard all but 4 ounces ( about 1/2 cup) of your starter, place it in a 2- to 4-quart nonreactive, wide-mouthed container, and add:
1 cup 80 degree water
Scant 2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
Stir until the mixture is free of lumps. Scrape the walls of the container clean, cover, and allow the starter to ferment for 6 to 8 hours.

At this point the starter should be active, with bubbles breaking on the surface. Touch it, and you will find that gluten has developed; it should beel somewhat elastic. It is ready to be used, or placed on one of the two maintenance schedules that follow.


Care and Feeding of an Established Starter: Two Methods

On the Countertop
This is the ideal maintenance method. Feed the starter once a day as follows: Stir the starter well and pour off all but 4 ounces (about 1/2 cup). Add 8 ounces of water and 8 ounces of flour, mix until smooth, and cover.

If you plan to use the starter the next day, feed it twice, with a minimum of 6 hours between feedings. The last feeding should be 6 to 8 hours before you want to use is.

In the Refrigerator
Once a week, take the starter out of the fridge, stir well, and pour off all but 1/2 cup ( 4 ounces). Add 8 ounces of water and 8 ounces of flour, mix until smooth, and cover. Allow the starter to work at room temperature for at least 2 hours before putting it back in the refrigerator.





Three days before you're planning to bake, you'll need to raise the activity of your starter. take the starter out of the refrigerator in the morning, feed it as usual, and let it ferment for 24 hours at room temperature. The next day feed it twice, once int he morning, then again about 12 hours later. On the third morning, feed the starter early and allow it to ferment until it's ripe, about 6 hours. It should then be ready to use in your recipe. Pour off what you will need for the recipe and feed the remaining starter with 8 ounces of flour and 8 ounces of water. Mix until smooth, and allow the starter to work for at least 2 hours at room temperature before putting it back in the refrigerator.

My favorite cookbook of all time--The King Arthur Flour Baker's Companion--and Gushy, my favorite (and only) starter of all time did not let me down. Together, they yielded an airy, complex, flavorful, crusty sourdough that was unlike any bread I've ever baked (and I've baked a lot of bread)! Gushy is still happily bubbling away, and I look forward to adding him to whole wheat bread, waffles, and many more future delicacies.

Bon App├ętit!

4 comments:

  1. Looks yummy, dear. Good job! Glad to hear Gushy is doing well... :D

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  2. Can we skip over the whole thing and just come over to eat the bread you made? ;) It looks so delicious.

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  3. Oh dear...it's all gone by now. ;-) Come over next Tuesday, though, and hopefully you'll find my next experiment--whole wheat sourdough--ready to eat!

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  4. Wow! What a yummy post! The bread looks absolutely delicious - my mouth is watering. : ) I am not a big bread fan, but I think my opinion is changing. ;)

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