Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Bread Lessons - Sourdough Starter: Step-by-Step (Day 1)

It's a funny thing... After I bagan compiling these bread tutorial links for my blog, I felt that my own starter had started to look pretty aweful! It didn't perform at all when I used it two days ago!!!! I have tried to revive it the last couple of days (and it actually has come back stronger than ever!) but just to be on the safe side, I started a brand spanking new starter yesterday. I have learnt a lot in the past couple years of sourdough baking and hopefully I will have a bubbling and bursting with life starter in a few days!!!! :D

I have learnt from various sources that fenugreek seeds and cumin aid in help capture wild the wild yeast! This is what I want to experiment with this time. I am sure it will turn out fine without these seeds too as mine have in the past...

Day 1

2Tbsp fresh wholemeal flour (I am using spelt)

2Tbsp fresh orange juice

1/2 tsp each of fenugreek seeds and cumin seeds. (optional. This is totally experimental!)

Always buy your seeds and spices from the bulk section in the health food depatment if possible, specially for this purpose. The ones pre-packed in jars have been radiated and thus do not contain the much desired wild yeast on their surface.

Stir this mixture up thouroughly and cover it with some lid or serran wrap but never an airtight lid!. Let it sit on the kitchen counter at room temperature

It's very-very important to stir the starter briskly for a minute or two to stir in a lot of oxygen in the dough. Do this at least 3 times a day or as much as you can remember.

You could just buy freshly milled flour at the health food store and it would work just as well. The wild yeast is on the grains and you just need to provide the right conditons to wake it up.

Fenugreek seeds left

Cumin seeds right

The wild yeast we are trying to cature and utilize will become active when the environment is right. Mixing flour and water will give yo a neutral pH while the yeasts like it a bit on the acid side. That is why we are adding the acidic fruit juice. There are also some other microbes in the flour that like neutral pH. So by adding the orange juice we are making sure that only the desides yeasts and the lactobacillus will thrive. A war between the good and the evil is about to tae place in tha small container and only the strongest will surive. So we want to make sure that the environment is just right for wild yeast to win! The length of time it takes for this to happen varies.

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