Monday, April 20, 2009


I've talked to several different friends by now who have also not had luck creating their own starter. So I felt justified in purchasing a wet starter from King Arthur flour. I was actually able to make a loaf of sourdough bread from this starter that they claim has 250 year old roots. I don't know if I believe that exactly, but I do know that it makes bread, and frankly that's all I care about.

Monday, March 23, 2009


So here's the short cut to the end of the sourdough story. Above is the loaf as sourdough that was only slightly sour and needed to be spiked with active dry yeast. Gasp. I know, but I had to do it. Let me tell you why.

First of all, my starter just wasn't cutting it. The site I linked to below said that the starter should double in between feedings and mine was not doubling no matter how much I fed it over the last two or three weeks. But, I didn't want to abandon ship after all the time I'd spent researching this project. I decided that I would make a firm starter according to the directions in Bakers Apprentice, except that I would add one package of active dry yeast before the kneading. Other kinds of bread, even other sourdoughs spike a dough.

My first attempt at the loaf last week stripped the gears of my Kitchen Aid Mixer when I was using it to knead the dough. So this time around I hand kneaded for 15 minutes. Quite a workout. (Pictures by my nine year old daughter)

No pictured here is the initial proof lasting 4 hours. As a result of the spiking, I did see quite a rise in the dough this time. Following that there is a second proofing, this time in the bannetons. Again the loaf doubled in size.

After flipping the risen dough out of the bannetons onto a baking peel, you are supposed to score the loaves. I did not choose a sharp enough knife and ended up de-gassing the dough a little bit. You can see below the loaf is deflated.

I have since ordered a wet starter from King Arthur's Baking Co and am planning to try this again with a well known starter. I'll update after that development.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

in the meantime

I'm reading this guy's blog/website:

Sourdough Home

ten (and a failure)

I'm not waiving a white flag yet or anything like that. But I tried to bake my first loaf and ended up with a pretty dense loaf, that although it tasted fairly good, obviously didn't rise enough.

I can think of a few problems.

#1 My stand mixer broke halfway through the mixing. And I was in a rush and skipped the second half of the kneading.

#2 I did not quite leave enough time for a full second proof.

#3 I have not been feeding my starter.

After all of this, why did I even bake the bread. Honestly, the boule unbaked looked okay. It was fairly smooth. It just wasn't really rising, and seemed kind of heavy for it's size.

I am going to feed my starter now and let you know what happens...

Monday, March 16, 2009


Day nine started with me being excited that I might try a little bread baking today, only to review the recipe and see that I am still a couple days away.

Instead of bread, I made a firm starter, a step necessary in order to give the yeast more chance to multiply.

Today's work was rather simple: adding 2/3 cup of the mother to one cup bread flour and as little water as possible, up to 1/4 cup, in order to make a relatively dry ball of flour. This is to sit in a ziploc sprayed with oil for four hours, or longer until it doubles.

At that point this needs to rest in the refrigerator overnight.

Sleep firm starter. I hope my little one sleeps through the night like you will.

Saturday, March 14, 2009


You can see here we've grown slightly and smoothed out a little bit. And these bubbles signify that our little yeasties are multiplying. The gases are a combination of carbonic acid and ethanol. Does not smell too fresh. But I guess that's the point, isn't it?

This is where my mother will live for another three days before I refresh it. Well, not my real mother. My real mother lives in a ranch in NJ. My bread mother, also known as a barm, will chill out in the icebox for three days developing flavor before I refresh it.

Thursday, March 12, 2009


When I approached the growing seed culture today, things were a bit bubbly (and loose), but not quite doubled in volume. Maybe sourdough isn't the hobby for an impatient person. I'm proceeding anyhow.

This was officially the last day of the seed culture. Today the barm or mother begins when I add one cup of the seed culture to 3.5 cups high gluten bread flour and one cup water.

This mixture is much thicker. I'm instructed to put a lid on it and wait for 6 or so hours until the lid starts to swell. At that point I will refrigerate it for 24 hours and the mother will be useable. However, waiting another two weeks, refreshing 2-3 times will create the best depth of flavor.

Stay tuned.