optimistic on day one -
holding my soon-to-be seed culture
The Great Sourdough Experiment (aka TGSE) was inspired by a comment by Jess, one of my readers, who asked if I had any experience making sourdough. I don't, but I should. This is no small task. It will take a minimum of seven days to make all the elements: seed culture, then barm, then sourdough starter, then bread. The main task is to capture wild yeast from the air and foster special bacterial activitiy in your dough starter over several days, then use this tasty goo to make your bread taste really good.
my not-so-short-hand schedule on the left, recipe on the right
I'm going to blog daily during this experiment. I'm already discouraged because my results do not match the Day One recipe instructions in The Bread Baker's Apprentice. I'm supposed to mix 1 cup flour with 3/4 water into a stiff ball of dough. I don't know how this is possible. Mine is merely a thick paste. It seems that some of the BBA recipes have typos or are poorly tested. The background info is always good, but occasionally I run across something in the actual recipe that seem quite incorrect. I checked Mr. Reinhart's other book Crust and Crumb to see if the flour/water ratio is similar and it was, but it described the dough as a smooth sponge??? I checked other sourdough starter recipes on the web and many used a similar ratio. With so much water, how could it possibly be stiff. I'm going to continue despite this and hope for the best. I did find this correction for the BBA sourdough starter that might be helpful. I've also sent an email to the recipe testers to see if I'm crazy. I wonder if they'll respond.
fresh ground rye flour - I feel so special
Another other fun thing happened on day one. I'm supposed to start with rye flour, but the health food store I went to (Vital Punkt) only had whole rye grain. But no problem; they simply ground up the grain for me. So cool and so fresh! I might start doing this with other grains. I've also heard that some people use coffee grinders to grind small quantities of grain. Hmm.