The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Active sourdough starter

MmeZeeZee's picture

Managing a Long-Term Starter

June 27, 2010 - 1:14pm -- MmeZeeZee

There's a great thread on starting starters.  What about managing them?

I bake three to four times a week out of necessity.  I have two children under the age of four and a husband in the military.  I'm not really able to cultivate three or four different starters, so I'll let you in on a secret: I'm actually hacking a starter.  I made one according to Lepard's instructions and it worked like a charm.  Since then, I've been refreshing six days a week or so with whatever flour I'm using at the moment.  I'm guessing it's 50% whole wheat, 40% white, and 10% rye at the moment.

phxdog's picture

Active Dry Yeast in place of 'Captured"?

June 24, 2009 - 9:40am -- phxdog

At the risk of committing heresy, I wonder if instant or dry active yeast could be the basis of a good sourdough starter. Here's my reasoning:

I'm told that dry active yeast has been 'engineered' to be very active and supplies a very high concentration of yeast to make bread rise quickly and consistantly. Intant yeast is very easy to use but works so quickly that it sacrifices the depth of flavor one gets with a long, slow ferment.

madzilla's picture
madzilla

So I have been learning to bake bread.  I did NOT buy a bread machine, which I did consider for a while.  I was thinking about what would be easy, simple, less time consuming.  But when it came down to it, I just didn't like the constraints of a bread machine.  The loaf pans are so small, sometimes square, and the whole paddle thing just leaves me cold.  I had a bread machine when I lived in Germany.  I used it and hated it. It dumbed me down and I never understood the whole process of bread baking.  This made it impossible to troubleshoot or use anything other than the basic settings. 

Now, without a bread machine, I am so happy.  I feel like I have found a new hobby [that hopefully won't make me TOO fat!] and it is very exciting to create such wonderful works of edible art.  The breads that I have made so far, that have been successful, are a half-white, half-wheat loaf that is very nice, and would be great for sandwiches, cinnamon toast, and just about anything else.  The other loaf I have made that needs a bit of work is the artisan bread.  I have managed to get the right size, rise, and color...but need to work on the scoring and taste. 

Next I will try making a huge starter in the fridge and flavor it with some sourdough starter I already have.  Another really interesting thing I am doing, is using the bread mixes I am getting delivered.  Hodgson Mills makes some great mixes, but I don't use them as is.  I use them as additives to my breads for more flavor and the dough conditioning properties.  I could buy dough conditioner, but this is much more fun to experiment!

I also am working with gluten, and this addition is particularly helpful up here in the mountains.  I am at almost 8000 feet, so the high altitude is also a challenge.  But I am figuring it out as I go.

Thats it for now. Will post my recipes soon.

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