The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Please help me, I have yet another obsession,

JackWells's picture

Please help me, I have yet another obsession,

Greeting, I'm Jack.  Nice to meet you all.  I'm a chef from Rhode Island, and have recently become overwhelmed by an urge to make my own fresh delicious breads.  Although I have had my share of brushes with the baking world in days past, I never really took the time to learn about this segment of the culinary world.  I did however learn to make my own sweet delicious homebrewed beer.  Well, beer and bread share many things in common, and it was only a matter of time until I felt the need to conquer this beast which is bread making.  Hey, its fun growing and nurturing yeast.

 I love sourdoughs.  I had read "Kitchen Confidential"-Anthony Bourdain, and recalled the chapter where Adam Last-Name-Unknown called in for someone to "Feed the Bitch", or kindle the restraunt's  giant starter.  My first step was obvious.  I had to have my own starter.  So I went and mixed some whole wheat flour and water.  I let it sit.  I doubled it.  I moved it to every corner of the house including my bedroom.  I threw some down the drain and refreshed it.  I saw "hooch" form on top.  I saw bubbles and I also saw things do nothing for 24 hours.  I was baffled.  This thing was not easy to get going.  One night I came home to find it exploding with activity, and triple its size.  I fed it.  The next day, it barely burped.  Eventually I just left it at 62f on the kitchen counter, and fed it once daily.  Now its alive.  Slowly and steadily it eats it eats its flour.  I named it Flour Baby after the sack of flour I was made to carry around for 3 days as part of some highschool home economics thing.

 I'm just a mad kitchen scientist, and hope to have some fun with this.  I have some ideas that I will post in other topics.


Ramona's picture

That is funny about the home-ec flour project.  I was required to carry an egg.  Real fun, especially when I needed to go to basketball practice.  We were required to get babysitters, if we couldn't keep watch.  We had to do ours for a week.   What kind of restaurant do you work for?  A starter is the way to go with bread, although I have not done that yet.  I still use dry yeast because I am a beginner and still have a few things to accomplish yet.  I didn't realize that it was going to be like taking a college course to learn all that is needed to make good bread, when I first started all this, but it is worth it.  This is a very informative website, with many experienced bakers. 

Floydm's picture

I think of that bit from Bourdain's book every time I feed my starter.

I had to carry an egg too. My sister tried to reach for it. I tried to smack her hand and ended up squashing the egg. Thank goodness I've done a bit better with real children.


ehanner's picture

You seem to have a sense of humor Jack. That's a key to this baking thing. There are so many moving values that it can drive you crazy if you take it seriously.

It sounds like you have a starter going to some degree. The more stable and vigorous it is the easier it will be to bake with. If you can establish a twice a day feeding schedule at a warmish temp for a while it should be active quickly and doubling in 4 hours or even quadrupling in 8 hours. Oddly, you can influence the bacteria and encourage the ones that pump iron!

What I discovered is that even if you just add a little starter to a preferment and give it a good 10-12 hours to multiply, the flavor will be amazingly better than straight yeast. Yes you can use the wild yeast alone for levain but it will take longer. So I usually suggest starting by adding the SD starter as a flavoring agent and use a smaller amount of instant yeast. Once you get the hang of that, dive in and start making sourdough boules for your guests.

Hope this helps. Look forward to seeing your work and posts.