The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Alton Brown's Proto-Dough?

jstreed1476's picture

Alton Brown's Proto-Dough?

Anyone here have experience using Alton Brown's "Proto-Dough"?

I have a container of it percolating in the fridge right now. It's been there for about two weeks, actually, unused while I've worked on some other baking projects. Earlier tonight, I mixed in the quarter-inch or so of hooch sitting on top, and it smells fine, I guess, so maybe I'll use it in a simple recipe like Beranbaum's Basic Hearth Bread.

Seems an odd middle ground between a true sourdough starter and the "artisan bread in five minutes a day" approach. Is this something worth pursuing?

LindyD's picture

It is a sourdough starter.  It just uses a bit of yeast and sugar to get it off to a fast start.  Something the purists frown upon, but I'm betting there are never any complaints that the starter didn't rise.  This is the Godzilla of cultures.

I tried it a couple of years ago - that was my first foray into sourdough and I didn't use a container large enough to handle the subsequent explosion of yeastie beasties. You really a need a gallon container.

After I had fed it a few times, I used it with AB's country style french bread.  I distinctly remember that bread because it was so good, I ate half a loaf on the spot.

I stopped using it simply because of the large amounts of flour involved.  You could take a tablespoon of the culture, move it to a separate (smaller) container, and then just continue refreshing it as you would any sourdough culture.

subfuscpersona's picture

LindyD on March 22, 2009 wrote:
It is a sourdough starter.

Respectfully submit that this is *not* a sourdough starter.

Alton Brown's recipe for Proto-Dough uses commercial yeast - specifically, it calls for

1 teaspoon instant or rapid-rise yeast

This may produce excellent bread. It's just not a sourdough starter.

LindyD's picture

As I said, purists will frown upon it - but I still think it can be considered as a sourdough starter.  It's just not a "wild yeast" starter.

Plus, if one keeps on refreshing it with flour and water, the wild yeast will eventually take over.