The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

New from Toronto!

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Dough-No's picture
Dough-No

New from Toronto!

Hey Guys!


 


   Just started getting into bread making and love what I see here so far.  I am trying my first wild yeast loaf as I am typing this and hope to have many stories to share and learn lots!! 


 


  I will also be posting question(s) quite a bit so thank you in advance.


 


    _D

cdnDough's picture
cdnDough

Greetings. I'm lurking these days more than posting but I started a post a long time ago with local sources/supplies in Ontario.

Dough-No's picture
Dough-No

This was going to be one of my first questions!!  Thanx.

Mati's picture
Mati

Hi,


 


Welcome to this wonderful site.  I'm also in Toronto.

swiggin's picture
swiggin

I am sure you will find all the answers you need somewhere on this site, and if not, someone will be glad to help. The great thing about living (or 'having lived' in my case) in Toronto are the many places to find flours, seeds, and even equipment. Hope the first sourdough turns out well.


Seth

Dough-No's picture
Dough-No

Well, it actually did not work out.  I think that maybe the wild yeast that I am able to capture with the weather like it is in Toronto doesnot have enough "oomph" to rise anything.


  My starter looks bubbley and smells like I think it should.  However it has yet to look really active.  I guess I just need more time?  I am going to try to feed it twice a day for a while and maybe stop using tap water...


 


-D

cdnDough's picture
cdnDough

It took me about a week (and two attempts) to make my first wild starter. It probably isn't the water (TO uses a combination of chlorine/chloramine) but I've always started with a bag of organic, unbleached flour, a little rye flour and some bottled spring water. What formula are you starting with?

Yumarma's picture
Yumarma

So it depends on what sort of flour you're starting out with more than anything else. You aren't "catching" them out of the air - the wheat or rye did that out in the fields many months back before getting milled.


If you can, get ye to your local Bulk Barn and buy yourself about 100 grams (less than 1 cup) of rye flour. Rye contains more of the yeasties and supplies more of the food they like than your normal store bought Robin Hood bleached white.


100 g will be plenty to start off your starter and/or boost the one you already have. If you plan on making rye bread, you will obviously want a fair bit more.


Temperatures will also play a big part in how lively your starter is or how well it starts out. If your kitchen is cool - and with the temps you folk are getting these days, it's probably not exactly toasty - it would help a lot to keep your starter warm, about 70 - 75ºF (21 - 24ºC) so it remains active and doesn't fall back to sleep.


A few questions for you at this point: 


How old is this starter? Tell us a little about the process you used to make it, the times/amounts, type of flour, etc.. Did you use a specific formula/steps we can check out online?


What recipe are you using for your bread? Again, is it one we can check out online or if it's from a book, which book? We can probably help you diagnose where it went off track with a bit more info, if you'd like.


 


Happy baking,
Paul 
Yumarama


 

Dough-No's picture
Dough-No

I started with a tbsp of White rose non-bleach AP flour and the same amount of (tap) water.  4 hours later I added the same thing.  4 hours later the same thing.


 


 I went to bed and then when I woke up I added 1/3 cup flour and water.  Then about 8 hours later 1/2 cup of each.


 


  I then had to start thowing some out and add 1/2 cup of each at a time every 8 hours or so.


 


 By the end of the 3rd day it was really bubbley and would expand a bit when I fed it, so I put it in the fridge.  I since have read that the initial bubbles are often from bacteria that will make the mixture acidic before and yeast will grow.  So I brought it out of teh fridge and fed it daily for a few days. 


It got bubbley again (after looking like it was doing nothing) so I assumed I had a good to go starter. I put it in the fridge.


 


 I pulled it out 4 days later and made a sponge out of it.  By adding 1 cup flour and 1 cup water.  8 hours later I had what looked like a sponge (by picture online) but it had not risen that much, it was goey and bubbley though.


 


  I used 2 cups of this sponge, with 2 teaspons of salt and sugar, 1.5 cups whole wheat flour, 1 cup AP flour and a tbsp os olive oil.  I worked this into a dough and set it aside to rise.


 


  It did not rise.  My ktchen is kinda cold (not sure the temp) so I am not sure if that is the problem.  I have fed the leftover starter a few times and it doesnot seem to be doing anything.


 


  -D

Doc Opa's picture
Doc Opa

Are you going to bake your bread in the wood ovens in the public parks?

Dough-No's picture
Dough-No

Not that I know of...

Dough-No's picture
Dough-No

Yes I do actually...

Dough-No's picture
Dough-No

So I think that my starter is just not active enough and that it may be too cold in my kitchen.  I did read in the pineapple juice explanation that a starter will seem to lose its gluten just before yeast starts to grow.  That seem to be the case in my starer yesterday and this morning.


 


  I am thinking I tried to bake with a starter that was active only with the PH lowering bacteria and no yeast.  I have also started to taste the starter.  It is slightley sour but other than that it tastes like flour smells (I know that is kinda subjective but there is no real strong flavour of anything)


 -D

Yumarma's picture
Yumarma

... will get this puppy on it's way. 


Yes, it may be that your baked a little too early, a starter will take a week or two under good conditions; if it's cool in your house - which is likely with the temps you folk in T.O. have been hit with lately - then that slows the process down a fair bit.


Here's a couple of suggestions: 


1) Find a warm spot for your starter to hang out in for the next couple of weeks. Usually, people find sitting on the top of the fridge offers a nice spot as the coils in the back give off a nice bit of warmth. Others find atop their water heater stays consistently warm. Perhaps near a table lamp you can keep on or next to the computer or TV is enough to bump that average temp to 21 - 23ºC (70 - 75ºF). Note it doesn't need to be in the kitchen, just bring it back there for the feeding.


Mini O has often suggested putting it in a plastic zip bag and keeping it in a pocket (pants pockets are probably not the best choice though) or in your shirt so it is kept warm by your body heat would work too - it's what the "old timey gold prospectors" did.


But warmth is a good thing. Cool slows it all down. And no putting it in the fridge yet.


2) Be careful with your measurements. Using a half cup of water (~ 117g)  and a half cup of flour (~ 65g) will make a pretty soupy liquid which isn't going to be able to trap much of the gas. Instead the bubbles just work their way to the top and pop. You want a thicker solution, like thick pancake batter which will trap the gas bubbles and give you that tell-tale expansion which in turn lets you know how active the starter is.


How to get that on a consistent basis? A scale would really help and you'll find it's a great tool to add to your bread making kit. Digital scales can be found at most any kitchenwaresection and can be got for $20 - $25, sometimes even cheaper. Canadian Tire had a Starfrit scale on sale for $9 a couple months ago - I paid $26 for the same one a year back.


With a scale you'll now be able to accurately measure out your starter components accurately. What I use is 10g starter, 20g flour and 20g water. This gives me 50g which is a little under 1/4 cup and that's plenty to keep you in bread production. 


Until you get a scale, you can use 1/2 cup of flour (~ 65g) and 1/4 cup water (~ 60g) with 2 tablespoon (~ 30g) of old starter. Not exactly 100% hydration but close enough for the time being and a lot better than 


Keep feeding twice a day, "morning and evening" is accurate enough, it doesn't need to be spot on 7 am and 7 pm. Keep doing this for the next week or two and your new baby - who'll need a name, of course - will be good to go soon.


If you want to see Debra Wink's pineapple juice method in action, you can follow it's day by day progress here on my blog. I did it alongside a plain water and flour version to compare the two. Both worked even if somewhat differently.


 


Happy baking,
Paul 
Yumarama


 

Dough-No's picture
Dough-No

Thanks!!


 


   I have a scale on the way so that will help out quite a bit as you say.


   As a matter of fact I just read your blog entry yesterday and found it VERY helpful. 


   I think I will survey my apartment and see if I can find a warm spot and hope that helps. 


   Thank you so muh for all the assistance, I will report back in a week or so with the results!!


 


  -D

Doc Opa's picture
Doc Opa

I place my starter in my oven with the oven light on when I need a warm spot in winter.

Yumarma's picture
Yumarma

Here are a couple of suggested steps before using it:


1) Tape a note on the oven knob or button that says something like "WARNING! Starter in oven!" so no one forgets and starts up the oven without taking it out. (I speak from experience - a close call)


2) Check your oven's temp after a half hour with the light on before you decide to keep the starter in it. My old rickety oven was fine as it stayed top 70's. When it died and got replaced, the new oven was better insulated and the temp easily got to 90º+ so I needed to prop the door open a bit to let some of the heat out.


This is indeed a great spot for extended warmth though.



Happy baking,
Paul 
Yumarama


Dough-No's picture
Dough-No

That is a brilliant Idea!!  I have thickened my starter on this feeding, and I am taking a temp reading in the oven in about 15 minutes..


 


  Thank again guys!!

Doc Opa's picture
Doc Opa


I have a gas oven and gas ovens are vented so excessive temperature is not a problem but ajaring the door will solve any temperature issues.  Have you a chance to check out the wood oven at the park?  If you do check out the public wood oven, could you take and post a picture of it?  NYBAKERS.COM gives away free sourdough staters but I don't know if they will ship to Canada.  I have thier SoCal starter going right now.  Very happy with it.  If you like a sample of dried starter, let me know.  Here is a picture of my oven.

Doc Opa's picture
Doc Opa

I could figure out how to post two pictures.

Dough-No's picture
Dough-No

I have not been to see the ovens yet, I live close and have been by before (not as an ametuer bread maker though).  I realize that there are many places that give starter away, but I really want to create some myself so that will be a "last resort" type of thing.  I have been following the tips I have got on here the last 2 or 3 days and I have already started to see results (I think).  My starter is getting more sour, is starting to smell a bit like beer, and is starting to increase in size more and more after feeding.


 


  -D

CanuckJim's picture
CanuckJim

D,


I'm to the north and east of Toronto (south of Port Perry).  My starter is seven years old now and doing just fine.  It came to life here, using the BBA method.  I'd suggest that AP flour is not strong enough (not enough protein) to make a strong starter.  I maintain mine at half hard, unbleached bread flour (13.5 %), half spring water by weight.  For city water, Toronto's is pretty good.  Not so here, and I always recommend filtered, bottled (no salt added) or spring water.  Chlorine is anethama to wild yeast. Seems to have worked so far.  Just be patient.  Around 75 degrees F is about the ideal maturing temp for a build.


Just a thought, but maybe we should arrange a GTA Fresh Loaf Conference when the weather improves.  Perhaps Dufferin Park could be the venue or even here using our wood fired oven.


CJ

Dough-No's picture
Dough-No

I have switched to robin hood bread flour (I think it is unbleached) I have yet to get out to find a place close to me that has King Arthur flour.  I also have some Robin Hood Whole wheat flour here, would that benefit my starter? 


 


  What I am still confused about is whether this is is actually making any progress.  I have been feeding it twice a day, 1/4 cup water, 1/2 cup flour, with about 1/4 old starter.  It will rise a tiny bit after it is fed but that is it.  After about 12 hours, it will be bubbley and have what I assume is hooch on the top.  Am I just being impatient?


 


  -D

jackie9999's picture
jackie9999

As far as I know ..Robin Hood bread flour is bleached - I contacted them a while ago to ask and that's what I was told..I won't use it. I get all my unbleached bread flour from my local Bulk Barn - I wait until there is a $3 off coupon and stock up :)


As for keeping the starter warm..I used to do that but it's too difficult for me here (I'm in Aurora, ON). After some excellent advice on these forums I decided to train my starter to like the colder temps :)  I keep mine on my basement floor (around 60degrees) and it's doing wonderful. I feed it at least every 36 hours ..but it's good to use after 24 hours. When I use it, it rests on my counter (around 67degrees) and generally will more than double overnight. It's maintained at 1:2:3 (10 grams starter, 20 grams water, 30 grams unbleached bread flour). I found putting the starter in and out of the fridge was just too hard on it and I killed my first one :( This current one I started from Debra Winks pineapple method - it took about 2 weeks but it's a pretty bulletproof method IMHO.


Good luck...I'm looking forward to seeing some pictures in future!

Dough-No's picture
Dough-No

It is funny that you mention this.  I just looked up the Robin Hood flour today and found out it was bleached.  I am think that has been the problem.  I had a starter that I actually put some real yeast in and within a day or 2 of using the robin hood flour in it, it stopped rising.


  I am going to bake through this flour and then start again wwhen I have some unbleached.  Good to knoww that a cold temp is not so bad for it!!


  Now I just need to decide on a mixer!!


   -D