Alright. The time has come for me to attempt using a sourdough starter again! I killed the first starter given to me a bit over a year ago somehow. I think I did something wrong in the feeding of the thing so I’m ready to give it a second go. My dad gave me another batch of starter today so I “fed it” for the first time this evening.
Wikipedia has to say this of sourdough: “Sourdough is a bread product made by a long fermentation of dough using naturally occurring lactobacilli and yeasts. In comparison with breads made quickly with cultivated yeast, it usually has a mildly sour taste because of the lactic acid produced by the lactobacilli. <…> The preparation of sourdough begins with a pre-ferment, (the “starter” or “levain”, also known as the “chief”, “chef” or “head”), made of flour and water. The purpose of the starter is to produce a vigorous leaven and to develop the flavor of the bread.”
So i figured my understanding of this process is not refined enough yet to put that in my own words so just bear with me. You can make your own starter (and I am sure someday I will attempt this) but I have read that it is best to ‘start’ with a starter you “trust”: like that from a friend who bakes bread or one purchased. Mine was given to my by my father who is a very good bread baker so I have a reliable source (and a good teacher).
He formulated a basic sourdough boule recipe for me to begin with so that’s what I’m going to try to make. The problem is that I need to plan it for a day or two when I have some time to dedicate to it. This won’t occur until at least this weekend so for now I need to feed (or “refresh”) my starter and plan on when I need to start growing it.
When feeding your starter, the ratio of water to liquid to starter is what’s important- you want to end up with 1:1:1. Place your starter in a clean container which you can store in your refrigerator: large enough to hold however much starter you plan on using or growing in the immediate future. For my purposes right now, I am using an empty and clean 32 oz. greek yogurt container. It is easy to add water and flour to this and mix it vigorously without it sloshing all over the place. When I am ready to grow my starter I may transfer it to a larger container (or at least transfer part of it and then leave a small amount of starter in the yogurt container to perpetuate my bread making).
You will need a small kitchen scale, FYI. “Tare” the weight of your container while empty and write the weight in grams on it with a marker so that you can easily figure out how much starter you actually have in it in the future. I started with 100 grams of starter tonight. When it was time to feed it, I added 100 grams of unbleached, all-purpose flour and 100 grams of cool tap (or bottled) water. Then, with a clean wooden or heavy plastic spoon, stir the crud out of it! It is a good thing to work some air in it (or so I have been told). Cover the starter and let it sit at room temperature for 12 hours. After 12 hours, remove some of the starter until you have 100 grams remaining again (you will be throwing out about 200 grams). Then you will feed it the same way again. Allow to sit another 12 hours and then you can stick it back in the fridge.
I feel bad throwing it out but my dad said “you will get over it”, lol. You could pass the excess starter along to a friend who wants to give bread making a whirl! I also found some yummy looking recipes that use fed or unfed starter that would be an excellent way to utilize this starter: sourdough carrot cake, buttery sourdough biscuits and sourdough waffles and pancakes. I will most certainly be trying these! You will stop throwing out the additional starter when you are actually ready to prepare for bread making.
When you are not actively anticipating bread making, you will need to feed your starter like this about every 2 or 3 weeks. In between your feeding cycles, keep it in the refrigerator. Allow it to come to room temperature before the beginning of each feeding cycle.
So maybe some of you will continue on in this bread making journey with me?
I’m sure it will go much better this time……….. 🙂