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BlueZebra's Baking Banter

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bluezebra

BlueZebra's Baking Banter

So I decided to start a baking blog for this BlueZebra to keep track of my baking progress. Hopefully, some of the pros will stop in and offer their helpful suggestions and I will then have it compiled onto my site.

I am also going to ask Bill if he minds if I copy/paste his starter information to my blog so that I will also have it at the ready.

Tomorrow I am going to ignite the sparks that will hopefully lead to my first sourdough starter. I plan on using Mike Avery's starter recipe and instructions (he's at http://www.sourdoughhome.com/index.html  ) and will also keep my eye peeled on the test being conducted between Tatooedtonka and JMonkey, which started today. I will also check on Bill to see how his new starter is going too.

One thought. Last night I made pizza dough using the PR Neo-neopolitan pizza dough recipe found on Floyd's Pizza Primer thread here at tfl.com. This is the second time I made this dough. I am a bit confused about the instructions for dough development since I don't own the American Pie book by PR that has the recipe in it. Floyd's recipe says to rapidly stir the wet dough mass then set it aside to rest for 3-5 minutes, then to repeat this process. Then to split it up into bags and refrigerate if not using immediately.

I followed these instructions last time and although the end pizzas were really good, I ended up having to knead the dough at the last minute which threw my dinner timing off. The dough wasn't developed at all and had no extensibility or elasticity. It had no "oomph" and was very flaccid and brittle. So this time, I decided to experiment on my own. I kneaded it in the bowl (which I will discuss in a minute) after I did the brisk stirring procedures. Then I put it through 3 french folds on the counter at 30 minute intervals. Then I put it through a bulk fermentation. And then split it up into 4 pieces of dough. Put two of them in oiled bags and into the freezer and kept two pieces of dough out.

Wow the difference was incredible! The first ball of dough fought me as I was making it. It was soft and had a beautiful texture but it obviously needed a rest to get over the final fold and the splitting. This was evidenced by the fact that doughball #2 did get a 60 minute rest as I worked with dough #1 and made and cooked the first pizza to give to Brian. Brian's crust did not have near the oven spring despite the fact that I wrestled it into shape and proofed it for 30 minutes on the parchment. He did say that the bottom was very nicely crisp. But that the inside was a little gummy. I baked it longer too. It baked for about 8 minutes at 550 and was brown on top. The dough was only about 1/8" maximum in the center going into the oven.

My dough had a 60 minute rest and was beautiful to work with for final pizza formation. I did not let it proof on the pan. I formed the pizza. Topped it. Baked it at 550 for about 8 minutes and it was great! Crispy bottom but it did have some gumminess in the center. I am thinking this is a drawback in this recipe. If I blind bake the crust without toppings for a couple of minutes, I'm afraid it will be too tough and overcooked. But, I will try this next week with one of the doughs as a test. I will cook the second one next week at a lower temp (like 425) for a longer amount of time and see what happens.

Now for the breakthrough: The dough was very wet. Not as wet as the pagnotta dough but still wet none-the-less. I worked it with vigor for about 2 minutes then set it aside for 5 minutes. Came back and worked it again for 2 minutes (at this point I was already seeing good gluten development). Then I set it aside for 20 minutes. When I came back, I decided to fold in the bowl. Knowing that it's actually the stretching portion that helps to develop the gluten, I used my big rubber one-piece spatula and in a folding motion, would sweep around to the bottom of the dough and pull the dough up as far as I could before bringing the pulled section down and over onto the middle of the dough mass. Each time I did this, I gave the bowl a 1/4 turn. I worked the dough like this for about 3 minutes. I lost track of how many stretch and rotations I did. But it was uber easy and very therapeutic.

The difference in dough texture from beginning of this step to the end of it was incredible! Night and day. The elasticity of the dough was really beautiful and towards the end I could pull the dough up so much higher with the spatula than I could in the beginning (before the dough showed signs of tearing). When I touched the mass in the bowl it immediately sprang back at me. So I covered the bowl and set it to rest for 30 minutes. Then came back and began the folding steps. I started the dough late and didn't have time to do a preferment. I started at around 2:30pm. It gave me plenty of time. It was a beautiful and bubbly dough. I think I will try the ciabatta dough by working it this way. The dough definitely seemed to like it!

Another important note: I was really skeptical that 1 tsp. of idy yeast would be enough for this recipe with 5 cups of flour, but judging from the action of the yeast in my dough, 1 tsp was plenty! The flavor of the pizza was very nice. It did not brown very strongly so I think I will try adding some malt the next time I make it (which will be Friday after next...Friday being pizza night at the zebra pen).

I also made pasta dough last night. I felt like a real chef! I made it at the same time I began my pizza dough then set it to rest in the fridge until time to form it into sheet for fresh ravioli. I didn't use a recipe! Hard to believe! I just put about 1-3/4 cups AP flour in a bowl and put 2 good pinches of kosher salt in the flour. Made a well in the center of the mixed up flour/salt and cracked 2 large eggs into it. I used a fork and started beating the eggs up in the well and started pulling bits of flour into the center, still beating. When it was thick enough I turned it out onto the counter and did the Mike Avery fold and knead. Turn 90 degrees fold over once and do a strong frissage, then repeat turning the dough 90 degrees. I only worked the dough maybe 2 minutes. Then covered with a bowl and let it rest at room temp for 30 minutes. I came back and worked the dough another 2 minutes and by that time, the gluten had developed although it was still tender to the touch. I refrigerated about 3 hours. Then took it out split it into two batches and started putting it through the pasta roller. Make sheets out of it and set them aside to dry a bit. Then filled and sealed and let them dry a little longer. They were delicious and the pasta was a great flavor and so easy! It made 18 very large raviolis. So we definitely have leftovers!

My filling was fantastic. I had an empty larder so had to used creativity to come up with the filling. I made roasted garlic, gruyere, parmesan, craisin and pumpkin filling in a sherry cream sauce with bacon crumbles and fresh parmesan to finish it. Wow! it went so well with my green olive, onion and mushroom pizza!!! Add a cabernet sauvignon to that and I would serve that meal to company any night!

OK so what am I learning so far (in the last 6 weeks or so that I've been trying to become a home baker)? I've learned that the best thing a newbie baker can do is approach the bread with confidence. It isn't like a pastry. It isn't so fragile. And the recipes are fairly forgiving. I've also learned that the best way to learn about the feel of a dough is to make it a few times. Confidence is built through repitition. I don't pretend to know when every dough had been worked enough. In fact, I'm fairly sure I'm still underworking the dough, but the recent results this past week indicate that thanks to Mike Avery and many of the people here at tfl.com, I've experienced a huge breakthrough in baking.

Tomorrow I start the sourdough samba. I will spend today trying to think of a brilliant name and will send my hunter and gatherer out to procure suitable jars for the incubation! It's only proper that he have some role in this creation process! ;)  I might even give him a vote on names!

Comments

bwraith's picture
bwraith

BZ,

Since the amount of whole wheat added is only 100 grams, I would expect that to only make a difference of about 10 grams in extra water needed, which is only 1/3 ounce of extra water to adjust the hydration. The main thing is that you made the adjustment to get the consistency to be slack, as it should be for this kind of dough. I'm glad it worked out and that you like it so much.

Bill

bluezebra's picture
bluezebra

I've baked the two "plain" loaves and am on the first loaf of the olive breads. The oven spring is pretty huge. Dough very slack and spread alot. I will upload before and after photos for you to see later on tonight or tomorrow. I have to get ready to go to leave for my sister's.

 

bluezebra's picture
bluezebra

COMMENTARY:

Doing the "Happy Bakers Dance"! I made it through science lab without a single mishap! All measurements went as smoothly as planned! I think all the mental practicing I did yesterday helped! Day 5 feeding is accomplished! And dare I say it? I think Sir Stinky is a little less odiferous this morning. I did take a walk on the wild side yesterday and stirred his innards up with another hermetically sealed spork in order to aerate him. I think it helped and at the very least it did not hurt.

This morning he had a few bubbles in the sides of the glass. So I think he is alive but slumbering. I'll accept that!

I again helped control it's environment with the two glasses of ice water flanking either side.

METHOD: (this is an effort to fix a screw up. not the original recipe.)

2 oz of Sir Stinksalot

2oz of WW Flour

2 oz of Filtered Refridgerator Water

Elevation  Right above Hell (at or below sea level)

Ambiant Temp  73.1F

Starter Temp - still too stinky to measure the temp!

Barometric Pressure 32.5mb and rising

Humidity 225% (Houston)

Using my trusty hermetically sealed spork from Taco Hell, my trusty bowls and scale, and my bandanna tied around my mouth to protect myself from the onerous stench, I completed the measure of new feed and old sourdough.

There was no boil up or otherdrama in the zebra pen yesterday so I think he is defeated but still putting up the cursory objections with his no bathing platform.

 

bluezebra's picture
bluezebra

COMMENTARY:

Well, Happy Memorial Day to all! What can I say? I'm an experiential learner. I can read. I can write. I can see spot run. I can see Johnny chase spot. But when it comes right down to it, I learn by shear, boring repetition. Maybe that's not a bad thing? And maybe that's more common than naught. But the truth is, if I want to internalize something I must do it over and over and over again in order to move it from the short term memory files to the deeper intuitive level.

I say I'm an intuitive cook. I use my senses sure! Especially my sense of smell and sight. I see when colors change. I smell when something changes to a deeper note or tone. But I can usually look at a recipe and intuitively know how to get there from the list of ingredients. I "know" how it's going to taste in the end. I "know" how much of each ingredient I want to put in the recipe based on my "tastes", in order to reach "my" proper balance. It's a pinch of this, a handful of that. Like my grandmother.

But I only got to that level through years and years and years of kitchen drudgery. Doing the sheer repetition grunt work my teachers didn't want to do. I have peeled a mountain of spuds, cleaned acres of lettuce, cut thousands of tomatoes, and seeded, peeled, chopped and diced my way across the continental U.S., if you lined my vegetables up end to end. I have watched the pros in my life, my grandmother, dad, mom, sissies and brothers, now nephews and nieces cook. I've watched elite chefs cook. I've taken their classes for free while working in a cooking school, washing dishes and doing all the mise en place and prep cooking for the classes. And nothing has prepared me for now. For dealing with bread and yeast.

So now I'm back to the experiential learning of repetition. Of repeat then repeat some more...And for the second day in a row I'm proud to say that I can now take 2oz of starter and combine it with 2oz of water and 2oz of flour! Woooohooooo I'm crawlin' now but soon I'll be walkin' out that door!

The Beast is still smelly. A little less smelly than yesterday and sure there were more bubbles in the mix but it wasn't enough to make them rise. That's for sure! I've been stirring the little guy in the evening to really increase the aeration. I've been controlling his incubation temperature with the ice water. It stays about 71.3 degrees or so in his little corner of the world. I am determined! And I will intuit this process too! As God is my witness! ;)

Today I did something a tiny bit different. I can no longer say I'm using Mike Avery's recipe or process. (sorry Mike). But I really want to rid the world of the stench. I don't have any plain vinegar nor do I have o.j. in the house but I do have organically grown limes and lemons from our trees out on the patio. Brain picked 15 off our lime tree yesterday! So I added 1 tsp of freshly squeezed juice to the 2oz of water. I also switched from filtered fridge water to bottled water to see if maybe the chlorine was messing with his little self. So we'll see.

METHOD: (this is an effort to fix a screw up. not the original recipe.)

2 oz of Sir Stinksalot

2oz of WW Flour

2 oz of Bottled Water

1 tsp of Lime Juice, freshly squeezed

Elevation  Right above Hell (at or below sea level)

Ambiant Temp  73.4F (before refilling the ice water glasses for the morning)

                       71.4F (after 30 minutes with the ice water environment)

Starter Temp - still too stinky to measure the temp!

Barometric Pressure 31.5mb and falling

Humidity 225% (Houston)

Using my trusty hermetically sealed spork from Taco Hell, my trusty bowls and scale, and my bandanna tied around my mouth to protect myself from the onerous stench, I completed the measure of new feed and old sourdough.

There was no boil up or otherdrama in the zebra pen yesterday so I think he is defeated but still putting up the cursory objections with his no bathing platform. I have decided to kill or be killed today. I've added the lime juice to see if acidifying his environment a touch will help kill the remnants of leukonostoc bacteria.

 

 

bwraith's picture
bwraith

Hi BZ,

I've almost always had a fairly flagrant stinky phase when I've started starters at 80F with whole wheat. However, I would have expected it to be gone by now. The acids in the somewhat bubbling culture should make it pretty difficult for stinky things to live in it. By adding the lime juice, you should be well cured of any trouble with stinky stuff, I would have thought. Are you sure the stinky smell is still the same - would make you gag if you take a deep whiff? If not, you may be OK by now.

Assuming it's progressing more or less normally, you might want to consider switching over to white flour for the feedings sometime soon, unless your plan is to keep this as a whole wheat starter. Also, for ongoing feedings you may want to let the starter warm up to whatever warmer temperature you have closer to 80F in the kitchen. Keeping it cool may be helpful in the first day or two when that stinky phase happens. Other than that, it'll start up much faster at 80F than 70F. Also, a splash of lime juice for one feeding may help if there is a lingering stink in the starter, but adding it on subsequent feedings may just slow things down.

Good luck with it.

Bill

bluezebra's picture
bluezebra

I think the smell now is just a slight background acridness. (I just finished taking a wiff of it! LOL and no gagging occured. It smells a little more "nutty" than vomitty). I only added the lime for today kinda like Floyd or I can't remember now who suggested a shot of vinegar but all I had was rice vinegar, malt vin, tarragon, and balsamic lol. So I went for the lime as lesser of the acidic evils.

I will also go remove the ice water now. It's actually been closer to 70's in it's environment today. I also wondered about whether to switch over to white flour. I mostly make white loaves for now, but didn't really know if feeding with wheat would just keep adding more of the good yeasties to combat Mr. L.. So tomorrow I will start feeding with AP flour and we'll see what happens.

There are some bubbles (very small and very few in it now). I'm determined lol, this first one is going to work!!! Right? :D

Thanks for the help, Bill! BTW, did you see the oven spring on the yeasted pagnottas? The crumb is soooo outrageously creamy too! I feel decadent when I eat it!

bwraith's picture
bwraith

Hi BlueZebra,

I'm very happy to know the pagnotta conversion is a good recipe. It's always good to know what works.

It will be interesting to see what happens with the lime juice. You're pushing the pH lower with the lime juice, which may slow down the development of the pH sensitive lactobacillus you're trying to encourage once it starts to bubble. However, that will only be the case for this one feeding. If you feed it flour and water from here on out, it'll go back to normal acid levels for a starter very quickly. If the starter is bubbling, you might also consider feeding 1:2:2 every 12-24 hours. I've had better luck getting things going by using 80F and 1:2:2 every 12-24hrs , and feeding it when it seems runny or has stronger tangy smells in it, once it's bubbling. If it is rising markedly within 12 hours, you can try going to 1:4:4 every 12-24 hours. Once the activity is enough to raise the starter, it helps to have it live for a longer period at higher pH, which the higher feeding ratio does, so the lactobacillus have a chance to establish themselves. It helps to thicken the culture a little (85-90% hydration) once it starts to bubble.

I usually switch over to white AP flour once it is bubbling a little, but I don't know when the best time to switch really is.

Bill

bluezebra's picture
bluezebra

I see some bubbles (very small pin heads) today on the sides of the glass and when I look down into the starter. But it isn't bubbly like Susan's looks in the TT / JMonkey How's It Goin Thread.

If it helps, I can take a pic and upload it. I was wondering if increasing the feeding proportions would be good. But didn't want to overwhelm the yeasties that were in it. Also I'm conflicted about when do you do 12 hour feeds and when do you do 24 hour feeds?

I know you get asked these questions all the time and I can do a site search but it's a bit comforting knowing you're discussing my individual situation! LOL, how's that for selfishness, eh? Anyways, let me know when you're tired of discussing and when I need to let research be my guide!

Also with regards to the pagnotta. Man I love this recipe. It's so simple really. You know? And the density of the bread is delicious. I would love to have you experienced people try it with the yeast to see if it tastes as good from your perspective as it does to mine! You know "in a vacuum" without anything brilliant to reference as a baseline, even mediocre tastes like nectar of the gods! :D

bwraith's picture
bwraith

Hi BZ,

Yes, very good question. This is where it gets murky. I haven't started enough starters to be very confident about all this. I'm just relating my own particular experiences which amounts to about 25 starters in the last couple of years, a lot of them recently, due to some experimenting I've been doing. So, realize this advice is from limited experience. I think this is true of many if not most. We get one going, whatever way we do, and then we don't worry about it after that too much.

With those caveats, what I meant was "some" bubbles - not enough to cause the starter to rise, but enough to see them (usually a profusion of tiny ones) a few hours after feeding. If you have that activity, you should also notice that the smell changes so that 5-10 hours after feeding, it probably has a tangy sour smell or some kind of aromatic smell to it. Also, when the acids have built way up in the starter due to the fermentation activity, it makes the flour turn "runny". It loses that thick paste consistency and seems like soup. All of that means the yeast and lactobacillus are probably working away in there, but the numbers are a little low, and the balance between them all may not be right. To get it really going, you need to feed it often enough to replace the food supply, and more importantly, to bring the pH back up for a while. The lactobacillus can't multiply in numbers when the pH is too low. On the other hand, you need to let it ferment in between feeding long enough for the yeast and lactobacillus to multiply as much as possible. So, you can feed it too much or you can feed it too little. Either one can cause problems. Yeah, and you can't tell when it's too much or not enough. Below is what has worked for me, but it's awfully hard to describe "activity level", "bubbles but not rising", "rising a little".

When there is little or no obvious fermentation activity (few if any bubbles, not sour or tangy or aromatic smells), feeding 1:1:1 every 12-24 hours is probably about right. Then, when it begins to smell more aromatic or sour and have bubbles in it 12 hours after feeding, you may want to try 1:2:2 every 12-24 hours. And so on. If it is starting to actually rise noticeably, you can probably feed it 1:2:2 every 12 hours. When it's doubling in less than 12 hours with 1:2:2 feedings, you can try 1:4:4 every 12 hours or so.

I've found that it works well to feed something like 1:10:10 at room temperature every 12 hours with a completely active and healthy starter. I've also been trying Glezer's firm starter, and it seems to work to feed the firm starter 1:3:5 every 12 hours. That's keeping it very active. You can feed it much less often, or better yet, refrigerate it, once you have a good active starter.

I hope this helps. Unfortunately, between only doing 25 starters myself and not having found any really illuminating written material that gets into very much detail about what's really going on from day 3 to day 10 of starting a starter, this is about all I can come up with.

Bill

bluezebra's picture
bluezebra

Even I can do that math! LOL!

Thanks so much for your information. I think it would be cool to keep track of the 3-10 day activity then maybe even publish something like that, Bill. Even if it's web material, you know?!

Here's a photo of the bubble activity. I think it's definitely alive. The temp here is only about 71 degrees indoors due to rain.

 Bubble formation in KA WW Starter Day 6General Chaos aka The Beast aka Sir Stinksalot Day 6: Bubble formation in KA WW Starter Day 6

Bill, these shots were taken at 3:15, and the feeding time is generally 10:30 a.m., so roughly 5 hours post feed. Consistency is still a bit thick although for two mornings in a row, the consistency is pourable like a melted malted milkshake.

It occurs to me that I wouldn't know a "good" sour smell to the starter from a "bad" sour smell! It is sour. It is a tiny bit nutty. It is still a little reminiscent of the smell of New Orleans Bourbon Street on a Sunday morning in October! ;) There is an aromatic component of it, certainly!

Would you go to 1:2:2 at this point? Would you use 1oz of starter or 2oz of starter?

Thanks!

bwraith's picture
bwraith

Hi BZ,

It looks like it has bubbles in it. If the consistency is getting fairly runny compared to what it was when you fed it, then that would be another indication of fermentation activity. I would probably feed it 1:2:2 and maybe use all white flour or half white, half whole wheat flour to start moving it to all white flour. It will be thinner using white flour because white flour absorbs quite a bit less water than whole wheat does. I would probably feed it about 10% extra flour, i.e. a 90% hydration, like 1:2:2.2, so you still have a fairly thick paste that is a little bit hard to stir. After 12 hours, if it again has bubbles, strong sour smells, and is getting runny, you could feed it 1:2:2 again. Or, if it doesn't seem very fermented after 12 hours, then let it continue for another 6-12 hours and see how it is then.

Once it starts to rise, you could feed it 1:2:2, and wait for it to finish rising and get smelly and runny. Then, feed it again 1:2:2, until it rises by double in less than 12 hours.

As far as amounts, I use quite small amounts. I have a scale that has a precision of about 1 gram. I use about 4-30 grams of starter in a total of 80-90 grams of starter. For example, if I'm feeding 1:1:1, I might do 30g:30g:30g of starter:water:flour. If I'm doing 1:2:2, it might be 16g:32g:32g, and actually once I'm doing white flour, I'm using 90% hydration so it might be 16g:30g:34g. To do a 12 hour cycle with my current active starter, I would feed it 4g:36g:40g.

I would work with smaller amounts, if you can. However, realize that small amounts of extra flour and water can make a big difference in consistency.

Bill

bluezebra's picture
bluezebra

Ok Bill!

So my scale isn't so accurate as yours. Since that's the case, I will use 1oz as my minimum specimen.

My 10pm feeding will look like this: 1:2:2.2 (using AP flour)

1oz Starter: 2 oz water: 2.2oz AP Flour

.06lb Starter: .12lb Water: .132lb AP Flour

 

bwraith's picture
bwraith

Hi BZ,

I'm just wondering if it is rising at all by now. It would be interesting to know how much it rises as a percent of the original volume right after feeding. It helps to mark the starting volume in some way and then monitor the time by which it rises by 25%, 50%, or 100% depending on how much it's rising, or maybe what percent it is rising at 6 hours or 12 hours after the feeding - whatever is most convenient. If it isn't rising, then you can try to (subjectively, admittedly) keep track of how many bubbles, how strong the smell, and how much is the change in consistency.

If it is rising even a small amount in 12 hours, it may well work to feed 1:2:2 (or 1:2:2.2 with white flour) every 12 hours, especially if it seems to be done rising and getting sour smelling and runny by the 12 hour point.

The smell can vary quite a lot, but in general it's usually not a "stinky" smell, like the baby vomit or spoiled smells you got in the beginning that make you want to gag if you take too deep of a whiff. Sometimes it's sour or sharp or tangy. Sometimes it's flowery or sweet or alcoholic. You can get a lot of different smells in the intermediate stage before it becomes healthy, so don't worry too much about that. The evidence of activity is that the smell intensifies as the hours go by and should be very noticeable at the end of 12 hours, if not well before. If you smell an acetone smell, that is a sign it needs to be fed.

Bill

bluezebra's picture
bluezebra

The little rascal is indeed rising! Are you sure it's the good stuff? The smell is stronger as I can tell and the consistency is more runny. Very foamy and bubbly. I will take a piccy at exactly 12 hours which will only be in about 10 more minutes! It's almost doubled by this time!

 I plan on transferring to a real jar now and will mark the original volume. I will feed the 1:2:2.2 of white flour AP

Here are photos and the 2nd feeding for today has been accomplished!

 12 Hour rise is roughly doubleDay 6 SDT1 - 10:30pm: 12 Hour rise is roughly double

 Sky Cam1 View of 12 hour rise after feedingDAy 6 SDT1 - 10:30pm photo 2: Sky Cam1 View of 12 hour rise after feeding

bwraith's picture
bwraith

Hi BZ,

Good chance it's the "good stuff". The next part of the process is to strengthen and stabilize the starter. What should happen is that as you feed it 1:2:2.2 with white flour, it will rise by double sooner. When it is taking around 8 hours to double (or less), you could try going to a 1:4:4.4 feeding ratio every 12 hours. Of course it will take a few hours longer for the starter to double with that feeding ratio, but the starter should strengthen some more after a few feedings at that ratio, and sooner or later it will double in less than 8 hours after the 1:4:4.4 feeding. When it is doubling in less than 8 hours for a 1:4:4.4 feeding, you could then try a 1:10:11 feeding. About the fastest mine will double after a feeding of 1:10:11 is in about  8 hours or so. Then it can ripen until the 12 hour point. I can leave my starter on the counter feeding it 1:10:11 every 12 hours. That same starter if it is ripe doubles after a 1:2:2 feeding in about 4.5 hours at 72F.

I usually let the starter double, stir it down (if I'm there, but it's not critical to stir it down), and let it rise a while longer. It seems to me everything works well if you let it ferment for another few hours after it has doubled. The ratios mentioned above are meant to allow for the whole cycle to happen every 12 hours. That's why you would increase the feeding ratio when you are doubling in less than 8 hours.

Oh, and the runny consistency you have seen should diminish. You'll still get the intensifying aroma, but the consistency should remain much more pastelike but with lots of air in it, after doubling and for a few hours after that, once the starter is more active and healthy.

Once the starter has gone through a number of cycles and is clearly healthy and active and at "full strength", you can go into maintenance mode. One version of that is the blog entry on 100% starter maintenance. However, I'm also maintaining a Glezer firm starter and also using a 1:10:11 feeding ratio every 12 hours for my 100% starter, which is different from what I've done for the last couple of years and described in the blog entry on 100% hydration starter maintenance. 

According to some scientific papers and a couple of articles I've read, if you routinely use higher feeding ratios like 1:10:11 (or a firm starter like Glezer's fed at about 1:3:5), you should get a starter with relatively larger amounts of lactobacillus than one where you feed it 1:2:2 or 1:1:1 routinely, since the pH is always much lower when you repeatedly feed using a 1:2:2 ratio, compared to using a 1:10:11 ratio.

Bill

bluezebra's picture
bluezebra

Ok I didn't answer you last night because oh my... you "sploded my head" with all your sourdough numbers! You must waltz into this gently with me. Remember I'm Remedial Rita when it comes to the numbers! I "think" I understand what you're telling me...but I will re-read it and digest it again over coffee!

General Chaos has only risen about 3/4" over his starting point, marked by the top edge of a piece of cello tape. Maybe he's in shock cuz I only left him one kidney last night when I split him into 1oz?

Or maybe he's sayin, "I'm a wheaty! Dammit I need my wheaties! I don't want this week a88 white crap. Have you lost your bloomin' mind?"

At any rate, I don't think we will see his face on the box of Wheaties any time soon so the world is safe! :D I will feed him a 1:2:2 ratio feed of AP flour this morning. I'm teetering between adding about a 1/2 tsp of lime juice for grins and giggles or just letting it go as is? Maybe I will do that tomorrow if he doesn't show alot of activity today. It's so fun playing "mad scientist"!

Anyways, I will be back in about 15 minutes to give my commentary on Day 7! ;)

bwraith's picture
bwraith

Hi BZ,

Don't worry, it should speed up soon. Yes, it will slow down a bit with the white flour at first, but with patience it will start to do it's thing again.

If you could estimate the percentage rise, where 100% rise would be a doubling from the original volume, that would help. That fact that it is rising by 3/4 inch sounds like a very good start, but it really helps to know what percent rise it is.

If it were up to me, I'd leave out the lime juice going forward. If it's rising and getting sour, the acid levels should be high enough without the lime juice using a 1:2:2 feeding. Although the lime juice acidifies the culture, which may help with getting rid of any lingering stinky organisms, it also will discourage the lactobacillus in the culture.

Bill

bluezebra's picture
bluezebra

I would guess then that the % rise was 30% in round figures. I still am not thinking it's smellling like a sourdough oughtta smell (in my head) cuz I've never smelled a starter before. It's a bit like asking me to draw an elephant and I've never seen one before, right? :D

I also began to think it was the difference in the glasses as well. One is tall and narrower so there's less air/o2. So I put it back in the same type of glass for today. I won't start using the Ball jars until I'm sure the bad guys are completely gone and I start to build the starter volume for baking!

I also think that the difference in temperature overnight versus during the day might be a factor? It's about a 2-3degree difference in the room from night to day. Right now it's 74 in the zebra pen and early this morning it was 71.7. I look at it this way, at least right now we will get some reports on days 6-10 for you, Bill! :D

bluezebra's picture
bluezebra

COMMENTARY: It's been a busy day at the zoo and the zebra pen has been active today with lots of work and little play save for playing hooky here on the fl website. So I'm still not convinced that I'm not raising a budding crop of Leuconostoc bacteria. I'm still not having that loving feeling about the smell. It certainly smells nothing like my preferments after 12 or more hours. I really would have to stretch my imagination to say it smells "yeasty" and like bread. It's still pretty sour and not too pleasing to the nostrils and as my nose is getting stuffy I have to ask, has anyone died from sniffing leuconostoc bacteria? If they can and I do? Please no flowers but speak of me well and drink lots of wine and beer and eat great bread for me!

METHOD: (this is an effort to fix a screw up. not the original recipe.)

1:2:2 FEEDING DONE AT 12 HOUR INCREMENTS WITH AP FLOUR AT 10:30 AM/PM.

1 oz of Sir Stinksalot

2oz of AP Flour

2 oz of Bottled Water

Elevation  Right above Hell (at or below sea level)

Ambiant Temp  74.7(before refilling the ice water glasses for the morning)

Starter Temp - still too stinky to measure the temp!

Barometric Pressure 30 mb and rising

Humidity 225% (Houston)

The little guy is still kinda stinky. He only grew about 30% since this mornings feeding. Nothin more to add...hope I'm not raising leuconostoc.

kjknits's picture
kjknits

I don't know anything about leuconostoc, but it sounds nasty.  I never even heard of it until I found this site...is it really that prevalent?  Still, I wonder what could be causing the strong smell?  Maybe you will be like me and start seeing significant rises on about day 9, and maybe it will sweeten up.  You don't have that much longer to wait...

Katie in SC 

bluezebra's picture
bluezebra

COMMENTARY: Well this is the first evening where I have real hope in the General Chaos. I think he is slowly growing and I think the chances of him taking over the world are very slim. At least not today. He's grown by 50% at 12 hours. I fed him again tonite with AP flour and stirred his little brains up! He informs me he has very little frontal lobe left so I better mind my p's and q's.

For some unknown reason I departed from my measurements. I thought....him maybe if I just give him a little bit more flour to water he'll like things a little better...and it was only after I did it that I realized I prolly made my hydration equation hideous. I mean their's gotta be a reason that all the sourdough numbers Bill talks about are in geometric proportions, right?

So not trusting in his good nature I put him in a 32oz pink cup, thinking that might either neutralize his testosterone or else spur it on! He did smell alot like vinegar tonight, but the baby puke smell is kinda absent. So maybe there's hope in the lil guy yet!

 

METHOD: (this is an effort to fix a screw up. not the original recipe.)

.07lb starter : .15 flour  :  .12 bottled water   FEEDING DONE AT 12 HOUR INCREMENTS WITH AP FLOUR AT 10:30 AM/PM.

1 oz of Sir Stinksalot (it's on the high side of 1 oz)

2oz of AP Flour (.15 oz is on the high side of 2oz. More like 2.4 oz) 

2 oz of Bottled Water

Elevation  Right above Hell (at or below sea level)

Ambiant Temp  74.7(before refilling the ice water glasses for the morning)

Starter Temp - still too stinky to measure the temp!

Barometric Pressure 30.5 mb and rising

Humidity 225% (Houston)

I really think he turned the corner today. He doesn't stink. He's more acidic/vinegary smelling today. He's also more viscous tonight at pre-feed. The 2.4oz of flour to 2oz of water and 1oz of starter made a much firmer paste-like starter so maybe that will make a difference. I'm planning on doing a 1:4:4 tomorrow. Don't know why I plan on it exactly. But I figure what the hey? Right?

 

 

kjknits's picture
kjknits

I think he's turning the corner, too!  I'm looking forward to your next update, because it was day 9 when my dear Stanley finally started to act like a starter.  I'll keep my fingers crossed!

Katie in SC 

bluezebra's picture
bluezebra

for you please.

Today is Day 9 and it's time for the second feeding and I really don't know what to feed General Chaos.

Or I should say how much. I did feed a 1:4:4 today at 10:30 am and he's still only rising by about 55-60%. It's only 74 in the house. I guess I could put it in the micro with a glass of warm water to bring it closer to 80...

Any ideas about ratios to feed it?

TIA! I need to be feeding it soon... no pressure or anything! ;)

bwraith's picture
bwraith

Hi BZ,

Warm is good. If you can get up to 80F by setting some warm water next to it in a well insulated container (like the microwave oven), that will help. JMonkey and Ehanner showed me about using a cooler with a bowl of warm water in it. You might try that, if you have a cooler and don't want to tie up the microwave. 

As far as the feeding ratio, I still haven't figured out what works best or how to tell. I would normally feed it again if it seems very runny and smelly and heavily fermented. If it doesn't seem very fermented, you could switch back to a lower feeding ratio like 1:2:2 for a few more feedings or just let the 1:4:4 one go until the next morning and see how it is then.

I hope it works. I'll be somewhat out of touch, with dicey internet access, for the next few days. Hopefully it'll just take off and start working for you. I'll check in if I can to find out how it's going. Good luck with it.

Bill

 

 

bluezebra's picture
bluezebra

Look forward to hearing about your adventures and sea bread!

I learned to sail on a little 4 man Boston Whaler (day sailor) - lake sailing. And hubby used to sail in the Atlantic. It's been a loooooong time since we last sailed though!

I must have been reading your mind. I went ahead and went back to 1:2:2. I'm too tired to try to figure things out about raising the temp tonight but I will work on it tomorrow. It smelled like vinegar tonight but it was more loose viscous dough than runny.

 Anyways! Have a great time!

tattooedtonka's picture
tattooedtonka

How is your consistency now?  Is it real runny, or gooey when it is time to feed?

I found with mine that after it built up with bubbles, it was real gooey, I would stir it back down and let it eat for another couple hours before I would feed it again.  By the time 12 hours was up the consistency was very runny.  I would then feed again, and start the process over.

Like Bill has said, I would go to the 1:2:2 ratio again for a while to get your boys up fully before hitting them with a higher feeding ratio. 

My guys are still running strong, but I am currently feeding them all 2:4:4.  For me I like the idea of starting them out with 2 oz. of starter so I can be sure it is an even pool of established starter going into the feeding.

Im not trying to claim the role of expert in this, you know my story.  But this is what Im doing in case it helps.

TT

 

bluezebra's picture
bluezebra

Tonight I decided to do 2oz of the little guy instead of the 1oz I've been doing thinking I was reducing their numbers too much, you know? Mike Avery told me it would be much harder doing it with smaller quantities but the scrooge in me just hates wasting so much flour! LOL, silly right? I guess there were too many days in the 70's when my dad lost his business where we added every penny together to make $20 at the grocery store feed 4 for as long as possible!

But I did feed 2oz: 4oz : 4oz tonight so we will see how they're doing. I think they did right at 75% rise in 12 hours at around 74 degrees today so maybe I'm not too far off? Maybe be able to bake with it this weekend?

I think your idea of stirring them at 2 hours is a good one and I will try that for tomorrow to see if that helps jolt them! The dough at the end of the 12 hours is bubbley and gooey. It isn't runny. There for awhile it was but not anymore. But the smell is definitely better than before. It's still an acidic sour vinegar smell but isn't stinky like throw up.

Will it ever smell like my yeasted preferments after 12 hours? I miss that lovely yeasty smell of bread rising. :D Thanks for your help! I can hardly wait to make the apple bacon onion bread!

tattooedtonka's picture
tattooedtonka

I would be surprised if it will ever smell like that.  My yeasted preferments smell great.  My starters stink.  I know some folks says their smells like candy and such.  I havent come across any candy that smells like my starter.  I probly wouldnt eat it if I did.  My starters are smelly.  The wheat one is much stronger, I even turn away a little when I stir it due to its sour smell.  My white isnt so bad, but it still isnt candy.

But I am trying to make sourdough so I dont have big hopes for sweet smelling. Thats why I continue to love my yeast poolish breads.  It just smells GREAT, before during and after the bake.

Have a good night...

TT

bluezebra's picture
bluezebra

No one has told me that! I just kept expecting it to smell like warm and yummy bakers yeast. This was started as a whole wheat but I would guess it's now a white starter since I'm using AP flour.

I guess I won't ever give up the poolishes then cuz I love that smell!!

Oh btw, I meant to say your stirs 2 hours prior to the twelve hour mark sound like a good idea but I wrote it wrong! :D

Have a good evening yourself. (Hey I made a pretty interesting dish tonight to go with our "crack slaw"). It was a "calzone" of sorts made with pizza dough I made this past weekend. So it's been in the fridge since Saturday. I filled it with a potato, onion, garlic and mushroom, a bit of roma tomato and a tiny bit of leftover zucchini and mozzarella cheese and 3 crisp pieces of bacon crumbled into it. Then baked it at 475 for about 25 minutes. Seasoned it with salt pepper thyme and a bit of basil. Then had fresh grated parmesan.

I thought it was pretty awesome and it made a very large calzone. It gave me and dh a serving each with a leftover serving each per person for tomorrow's lunch!

bluezebra's picture
bluezebra

COMMENTARY: This is a brief account posted in retrospect since Day 9 was yesterday. The little guy had a good day. Kept mostly quiet with a bit of muttering but was altogether happy to be back on his "home planet" or should I say in it. I moved him to an empty Claussen dill pickle quart jar thinking that yesterday would be his "breakout" day.

Now some of you might be gasping at doing this thinking you're messing up your culture with the smell! But I contest. The little tike was already smelling like vinegar. So I figured it couldn't hurt too bad! So he had room to spread out and stretch all his fingers and toes (he looks more like an amoeba than a yeast).

METHOD: (this is an effort to fix a screw up. not the original recipe.)

1:4:4 at the a.m. feeding

1 oz General Chaos:  4 oz AP flour:  4 oz bottled water

2:4:4 at the p.m. feeding

2 oz General Chaos:  4 oz AP flour:  4 oz bottled water

12 hours apart at a 10:30/10:30 schedule

Elevation  Right above Hell (at or below sea level)

Ambiant Temp  74.0(before refilling the ice water glasses for the morning)

Starter Temp - still too stinky to measure the temp!

Barometric Pressure 31.5 mb and rising

Humidity 225% (Houston)

I think he continues to get stronger each day. Each day he improves his rise percentage at the 12 hour mark. By last night he had risen by about 65 to 70% in 12 hours. I fed him the 1:4:4 yesterday morning thinking he just needed "more food" to play around in and it didn't really impress him too much. He only rose to about 60%. What I'm seeing is that with each feeding he improved about somewhere between 5-10% on strength of his 12 hour rise.

So thinking he just needed to increase his sample meaning going from 1oz to 2oz, there would be more yeast in the remnant to reproduce quicker...makes sense. More yeast to bud and propogate, the quicker the numbers increase and the more CO2 they give off causing a bigger rise. Which is indeed what happened.

After talking to TattoedTonka last night, he suggested also going to the 2:4:4 feeding and to also stir General Chaos at the 10 hour mark then let him rise again until the 12 hours are up. He was looking for an increase in "runniness" of the starter which is an indication of fermentation activity.

So following his advice I stirred GC this morning at 9am and will let it go till about 11.

kjknits's picture
kjknits

Wonderful, bluezebra!  You'll be baking by the weekend, I know it!

I made some english muffins using some of my starter this morning--delicious.  Check my blog entry if you'd like to try the recipe. It's a good use of starter that you'd otherwise throw out.

Katie in SC 

bluezebra's picture
bluezebra

Wow homemade english muffins sound great! I will go read about it. I sure hope you are taking piccys of everything!

Well I bit the bullet this morning and made the decision that although General Chaos may not be the strongest starter in the world, that he wouldn't kill us at least, if we used his extra parts up! :D So after mixing his 2oz of self up with the new feeding this morning I took his "remains" and mixed up a batch of Bill's Sourdough Pagnotta since I know that has worked for me in the past in a yeasted version. I'm going to use half of it as pizza dough tonight and the rest will take as long as it takes in order to get a loaf of bread out of it!

If I have to I can always add yeast to the little bugger! :D It took every smidgeon of starter I had to make up the 1 cup of starter. I added 1 cup of starter or 8oz (which is almost 400 grams) to 800grams or 1.75lbs of flour (a mix of 100g of WW and 700g of AP flour). I have him in the oven right now with the light on and am using the helpful tip about removing the oven knob so I don't spaz and turn on the oven accidentally! :D I'm anticipating that I will have to yeast him in order to give him a boost but we'll see how it goest by about 4 this afternoon! :D Maybe he'll surprise us all! His siamese twin is already bubbling in it's new home of a real bonified quart sized mason jar. So I think they may be "feeling their oats" a bit!

Maybe I will have enough starter to make the english muffins with tomorrows leftover after the feed!

Katie it sure has been fun doing this kinda together! The moral support has sure helped me out no end! :D

Happy baking girl!

BZ

kjknits's picture
kjknits

Well, I have enjoyed it tremendously.  It really does help to do it with someone else, so you can compare notes.  I was surprised at how simple it really was, feeding ratios and related maths notwithstanding.  I don't care for the maths too much. =)

I will be waiting with bated breath (where does that expression come from, anyway?) to see how the pagnotta comes out!  I just slid two pugliese loaves into the oven (BBA recipe).  I am almost as excited about yours as I am about mine.  We really are baking geeks.

Keep us posted...

Katie in SC 

bluezebra's picture
bluezebra

you can walk just fine immediately following the birth! :eek: <who said that? did you say that Katie! For shame!> hahaha!

One of my little problems is that I haven't been able to afford buying baking books yet. So I don't have those and am going by recipes here and also at sourdoughhome.com. I did buy Mike Avery's two online books and they are very helpful with beautiful recipes and a steal for the price doing the online versions! You should look at them. www.sourdoughhome.com

 

kjknits's picture
kjknits

Ha, BZ.  I couldn't walk at all after my two were born--I had c-sections (they wouldn't turn, stubborn little animals).  So there.

I will check out Mike's recipe books.  I have the BBA and a few others, but none of the other "esteemed" books like the BBA is.

Katie 

Susan's picture
Susan

Shakespeare was the first writer we know of to use bated breath, in 1596 in The Merchant of Venice, I.iii.125:

With bated breath, and whispring humblenesse.

 

Susan from San Diego

kjknits's picture
kjknits

Wonderful to know, Susan!  Thanks!

Katie in SC 

bluezebra's picture
bluezebra

Specifically to the zebra pen at the zoo! Things are always poppin and colorful round these part so set a spell and I invite you to explore your inner blue!

Thanks for the literary reference I will be sure to file this away with my other treasures in my little book borrowed from Cliff Claven from Cheers: "Cliff Claven's Book of Archane Facts". I am known in my family to start sentences with, "Well you know, Naaaahhhhhhmmmy, it's a little known fact that..."

But what do you think "bated" means in this reference? :D

 

Susan's picture
Susan

"Waiting with bated breath" to me means "I'll be holding my breath until you return." Have you ever found yourself anticipating something so much that you hold your breath until it happens? My favorite scene in The Rocky Horror Picture Show is where Tim Curry is on the elevator and beautifully delivers the line "I see you shiver with antici...pation." Sorry, got off-topic there!!!

Susan from San Diego

bluezebra's picture
bluezebra

Love the show Rocky Horror! And great line too!

And yes, "I'm holding my breath until...fill in blank!" is commonly used in our family! I never knew that bated was short for abated. That's cool to know. So thanks!!

zolablue's picture
zolablue

Just wanted to say hello.  I have been on the site very infrequently over the past several days.  I have a lot of catching up to do so will look forward to taking the time to read your blog.  I'm sure it will be entertaining! :o)

bluezebra's picture
bluezebra

I've noticed your absence and I would like to know if you have a note from your doctor for this? In order for it to be an excused absence we MUST have a note from your doc!

I don't know about entertaining lol but I know the three stooges are funny! And since I'm pretty close to a stooge maybe? I know my follies here sure should help reassure other newbies that dough is more forgiving than previously thought! :D

Glad you're back and don't be gone so long next time! Work should NEVER interfere with your posting and community responsibilities you know! ;)

edh's picture
edh

Bluezebra and Katie,

I just wanted to thank the two of you (and Bill and TT etc) for all this! I've been checking this blog sporadically, but finally sat down and read it all today, and what a lesson! I've had two starters going, one revived from near death by chlorination, the other a brand new one, but was getting very depressed at how slow it was all going.

I jumped the gun and tried baking with one the other day, and produced an exceedingly tasty paving stone. I went back to regular feedings and realized it was taking both almost 12 hours to double after a 1:2:2 feeding.

Of course, things are so crazy-busy here that I'm too spaced out to even remember when they were both started (no really, I can't remember if it's two weeks or three!), but along with everything else, I suddenly noticed what kind of temperatures you all were talking about. 70's? Wow, I had to light off the woodstove this morning. My kitchen is still in the lower 60's.

Having had that moment of blinding insight, I moved both starters over next to the stove which was on to roast a chicken and then bake a couple of yeasted loaves, and voila! Doubling in something less than 9 hours, stirred down, and rose up again inside the hour. Hooray!

So thank you for a great blog; between this and the JMonkey/TT escapade, my hope of a sourdough starter springs once again eternal!

Have a great evening!

edh

bluezebra's picture
bluezebra

in bread baking or I fear I will lead you down the primrose path and leave you lost in your own private idaho somewhere, looking down countless oak streets trying to find home! :eek:

Thanks for your kindness though because it makes me feel comfort to know there are others out there as clueless as myself! ;) NOT! I'm the queen of clueless!!!! :D bwahahaha!

Sorry you have been having starter woes! :(  And glad to hear you have worked them out. Wow 60's! You da man! It's already hotter n hell down here and I'm drivin' the bus! I'll trade ya ok? :D

BTW, never underestimate the power of sacrificing a chicken to the sourdough gods ok? :D As long as you promise the Big Kahuna it's only in jest and you KNOW he's the only one, you shouldn't get in any trouble with the guy upstairs. :D Hope your starter continues to strengthen! Hope you will come back and keep us informed! We will also add you to our starter prayer list.

kjknits's picture
kjknits

Isn't this a wonderful resource for sourdough, among everything else?  I'm totally new to it, and yet with BZ and bwraith's help (plus the countless other posts from other people that I have read), I have a new, rip-roaring starter that has already baked bread and english muffins, no commercial yeast added.  I hope you'll update us with your progress!  Hey, why not start your own blog here?

Happy weekend,

Katie in SC 

bluezebra's picture
bluezebra

It's you and Bill helpin Remedial Rita!! Remember? In nothing else remember the alliteration girl! I didn't start your english muffins last nite. Was too dog tired! We ended up not even eating till almost 10 last night! Sigh Brain kept threatening me with Dominoes. He said you know, if you were Dominoes I'd be getting my pizza for free to which I told him...he oughta be happy cuz right then pizza was the only thing he was certain of "getting"! Threats of withholding! That'll shut him up! For about a minute! ;) :D bwahahahahahahaha!

kjknits's picture
kjknits

No, no--on the sourdougn front, I am as clueless as the next newbie. Really.  Don't let my good luck with this one fool you.

Pizza at 10?  Did you have awful heartburn? =)

Katie 

bluezebra's picture
bluezebra

COMMENTARY: This is a brief account posted in retrospect since Day 10 was yesterday. The little guy had a good day. He wasn't quite so happy cuz I put him into a bonafide canning jar. I think he preferred being in the pickle jar (the land of his own people). It was quite an eventful day for him. I fed him in the morning and used his remains to make the charter run or maiden voyage although he's a guy not a maiden.

Now some of you might be gasping at doing this thinking you're messing up your culture - it's too soon! But I contest. GC was rising 75% although it was in 12 hours not in 4 hours...Sigh. The events of the first baking can be followed in a separate blog posting. Here's yesterdays feeding method.

METHOD: (this is an effort to fix a screw up. not the original recipe.)

2:4:4 at the a.m. feeding

2 oz General Chaos:  4 oz AP flour:  4 oz bottled water

2:4:4 at the p.m. feeding

2 oz General Chaos:  4 oz AP flour:  4 oz bottled water

12 hours apart at a 10:30/10:30 schedule

Elevation  Right above Hell (at or below sea level)

Ambiant Temp  74.7(before refilling the ice water glasses for the morning)

Starter Temp - still too stinky to measure the temp!

Barometric Pressure 29 and falling (I've been informed the units are NOT mb - millibars and if we were at 29 milibars we'd be dead. That's why I'm Pinky the Blue Zebra and my hubby is the Brain Blue Zebra.

Humidity 225% (Houston)

I think he continues to get stronger each day. He rose to 75% yesterday morning. I knocked him back with a stir a couple of hours prior to feeding then let him sit and ruminate on who's boss in this kitchen! Then I fed him. He was more runny than gooey at the feed thanks to TT's tip on the stirring!

Yesterday he didn't rise a full 75% for some reason. Maybe he doesn't like having a lid screwed on? I had been covering only with plastic wrap that was kinda loose. Who knows? Maybe he was missing his fellow yeasties?

So I fed him last night and put him in yet another home. This time a plastic measuring cup. He rose to about 60%. Not sure he's happy yet.

kjknits's picture
kjknits

Well, keep on keeping on, BZ!  Mine is now faithfully rising to double at 6 hours, doing 1:4:4 feedings (not ounces but by ratio--if I start with 40 g of starter, I then add 160 g water and 160 g flour--I've been increasing my amounts so I have a full cup to make with).  I have been feeding it every 12 hours and it seems to be happy.  It never does fall back between feedings. 

I'd like to do a pizza crust tonight with it--what recipe did you use? (Or did I just imagine you saying you were going to do a sourdough pizza?)

Katie 

edh's picture
edh

You two are becoming a serious lifeline for me at the moment! I know I should start my own blog (as well as learn to post photos), but could I continue to kibbitz here for a couple of days?

My two little dears are snoring away next to the stove, with bubbles, but not a whole lot of height goin' on, 6 hours after a 1:2:2 feeding. Of course, it's only 64 in there, and I never lit the woodstove today as we had to drive 3 hours inland (to where it was 20 degrees warmer; 79! I so wasn't ready for that...) to pick up a new hive of bees. Ours all died over the winter :-(

I think I'm just going to feed them (the starters, not the bees) for a bit, and try to make myself bake with yeast for a while. The other day my husband said, rather plaintively, "The sourdough was nice when it worked, but couldn't we just have some plain bread again?" Guilt! So yesterday I tried Hammelman's country bread. Very nice, though it would have been nicer if I hadn't gotten distracted at work and forgotten the dough for several hours. Comes out kinda dense without folding...

thank you both for all the information (and humor) here. Your recording of your processes is inspiring! Maybe someday soon I'll pull myself together and start writing down what I'm doing...

edh

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