Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Sourdough...its what you had before packaged yeast


That bowl of puffy and bubbly stuff is not drek rather it is the humble beginnings of sourdough starter. Each feeding it gets more food and becomes increasingly bubbly and ready for bread. Not that white stuff at the market, but gloriously chewy porous and crusty sourdough bread.

Its the way bread was made before the invention of packaged yeast. Its the way bread has been made the last several centuries.

I got my starter from a friend who remembered I did a lot of sourdough cookery back years ago. I lost my starter in the Northridge Earthquake and could never get one going again and gave up. The starter I had was 20 years old at the time it croaked...over fermented, rotted if you will as we had no electricity for days and with the relative heat (80's during the day) it just went to hell. Bummer.

This starter has all the right odors and I think it will be perfect. I'll do a bread in the next day or so then move forward with pancakes, sticky rolls even a chocolate cake all made with sourdough in the coming weeks and months. Carb heaven here we come.

If you are daring there are two ways to get it started. Both are very dependant on the weather and natural yeast in the air. Once the yeast lands in the mix you will know in a couple of days if you have real sourdough starter or rotting mix. One is has the softly sweet back ground notes of fresh bread with a tart note as well. If its bad you will know...it will smell like dirty socks, feet or fish. If you get any of those toss and start over.

Starter 1
  • 1 c flour
  • 1 c bottled water
  • 1 T sugar
  • additional flour, water and sugar if needed

Mix well. Place in uncovered bowl in cool place not in direct sunlight. Watch for a couple of days. As soon as you start seeing bubbles forming cover and move to fridge to allow it to grow. Feed every few days with 2 T flour, 2T water and 1/2 teaspoon of sugar. On 4th day if it is all thick, full of large bubbles and smells right you have an active starter ready to begin its life as natural leavening for breads and all sorts of baking.

Starter 2
  • 1 c flour
  • 1 c nonfat milk
  • additional flour, water and sugar if needed

Mix well. Place in uncovered bowl in cool place not in direct sunlight. Watch for a couple of days. As soon as you start seeing bubbles forming cover and move to fridge to allow it to grow. Feed every few days with 2 T flour, 2T water and 1/2 teaspoon of sugar. On 4th day if it is all thick, full of large bubbles and smells sweet with a slight yogurt air about it, you have an active starter ready to begin its life as natural leavening for breads and all sorts of baking.

Then again if all else fails, beg someone for a cup of their starter and they can get you going that way. Much easier than trying to catch the right yeast in the air and making your own from scratch.

2 comments:

Miss Havisham's Tea Party said...

Frazgo Yeasting

This is a great post. Do you think there is such a thing as 500 year old starter? Boudine's in San Francisco is over 100.

frazgo said...

What a surprise to see you here too!

I do believe Poulin's in Paris dates back to the French Revolution, but that could be urban legend. Its just what I was told.

Given how constantly feed and keep a bit going it is possible to have 500 or older, just don't know of any off the top of my head.