Monday, December 03, 2007

The Great Sourdough Experiment: Day 1

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.


Jess said...

Ooo I'm excited to see if it works out for you. I already made a starter that i think is alive because it is really bubbly, but I'm going to try to keep it alive till you make your bread. I made my starter my using whole wheat flour and adding more every 24 hours with warm water. after seven days of doing this i fed it bread flour and warm water and the next morning it was twice the size and all bubbly, plus it smelled like sourdough stuff. When i started out, mine was also like thick pancake batter, but after the seven days of little bubbles it turned into an alive growing monster (with the addition of the bread flour)!! I found out doing this way somewhere on the internet because the way they did it in the bread bible looked really confusing. Best of luck! Il be excited to see the results!

Aluwicious said...

Who are you? Some kind of WonderWoman?

Astrid said...

Cool! I've been wanting to try this too, but decided to save this as a project for the new year! I'll follow your experimentation with lots of interest.

Janet said...

Hi Tanya, I have attempted to make a sourdough yesterday, it's working, too well. after 2 hours, it already rised and bubbled too much that it overflowed. I should have used a bigger bottle. I saw your Bread Banettone Basket, can I ask when can I get it? I went to Globus Basel today and found one but I am hoping to find a nicer one. Can you take off that cloth to wash it? Also how and where I can buy the Pizza stone? I tried but they will not ship to CH.

Have you read the book DOUGH by Richard Bertinet? His technique of making bread makes it more simple and saved a lot of energy kneading. The dvd that comes with the book is fantastic and makes it much easier to understand.

Kind regards

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