the sourdough starter-batter-breadmaking cycle
A couple of weeks ago I posted a problem I was having keeping my ADY starter going and received truly excellent and helpful advice. I've now developed my "friends of Carl" sourdough starter and having no problems at all with it.
I'm a very smalltime home baker. All I want is to be able to knock out a very good loaf two or three times a week for my very small family, and I want to do that without overly much thought or fuss, getting into a reliable routine and not even consulting a recipe. I have other things to cook, and other interests than cooking. This is the technique I developed for myself after consulting with TFL community sourdough experts. It satisfies my small needs, and seems to be a foolproof method of keeping the starter in good shape for the next baking day. It's one of those "just in time" delivery systems where you don't keep a lot of inventory on hand.
So I have a big mason jar in the refrigerator with anywhere from 1.75 to 2.5 cups of sourdough starter. The mason jar never leaves the refrigerator except to be stirred and/or replenished.
The evening before baking I remove almost all of the starter into a big mixing bowl. I leave only 1/2 cup in the mason jar.
I add 1 cup water and 1 cup bread flour to the mixing bowl along with the starter, mix that and leave covered overnight on the counter. That is "the sourdough batter". It is very active by the next morning.
I gently stir that, just to disperse the yeast, then return 1/2 cup of batter to the mason jar, mixed with 1/2 cup of water and 3/4 cup of AP.
So this is how I refresh the starter now, using a fresh infusion of active wild yeast plus some flour for it it be feeding on whilst in the refrigerator between baking days. This is backwards from that part of the advice given to me by TFL experts, but so far it is working very well and goes along with my admittedly rather cavalier attitude towards the sourdough process -- if it can't be simple I know I'm not going to persevere with it.
For the breadbaking itself with the remaining batter -- it couldn't be simpler. In a separate bowl, mix 1 cup bread flour, 1 cup wholewheat flour, 2 tsp. salt. Start mixing this into the batter gradually, starting off with a fork and then switching to a stiff latex spatula to fold in as much flour as what you want. I make only two kinds of bread, a sandwich loaf and a focaccia. For the loaf I mix in more flour than for the focaccia.
I have learned so much from reading TFL. Thanks to the teaching here I now know how to manage the sticky high hydration doughs, and I couldn't be more pleased with my new bread.
Someone asked me on the last thread I posted if there was any difference in taste between an ADY starter and a proper sourdough starter. The answer is no. The "yeasted" bread tasted as good as if not better than the sourdough. I'll run and duck for cover now :>)
many thanks to TFL community for being here