The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

where's the starter?

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kitchencookie's picture
kitchencookie

where's the starter?

 Hi, I am so impressed with this site and have been browsing for a few weeks. By way of introduction, I have been baking bread since the age of 9. My mom's bread is known throughout the community but its not a sour dough. I recently got married and my husband has raved about European breads. Since we just came back from Germany, I now know what he's talking about! I love the hard crusty stuff!! And I want to make it myself! But I have seached all over this forum and can't find directions on 'starting a starter'. All I find is what folks are doing with their already established starter. Can someone direct me? Thanks!

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

Hi, kitchencookie! 

Welcome to TFL! 

Here's a link to one discussion with clear instructions: 

http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/2390/firm-starter-glezer-recipe 

Most of the books reviewed on this site have instructions, and betting a good book with lots of sourdough recipes is a good way to get started. 

Mike Avery's web site, www.sourdoughhome.com is another good resource. Mike has instructions for getting a starer going at http://www.sourdoughhome.com/startingastarter.html. I happen to agree with his advice which is to beg, borrow or buy a known, established, reliable starter rather than making your own, but others will swear by one method or another. It's ultimately your choice. 

David

Eli's picture
Eli

You can also peruse this site which is helpful for sourdough.

www.northwestsourdough.com

Welcome to the TFL!

SourdoLady's picture
SourdoLady

Here is a link to the starter recipe that I and many others have had great success with. http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/233/wild-yeast-sourdough-starter

 

Yumarama's picture
Yumarama

I'll second this one, I tried a whole bunch of others, this is the one that fired up with a vengeance.

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Paul

kitchencookie's picture
kitchencookie

Thanks so much for the help. The pineapple/wheat one has me really intrigued since I have read many reports on it. I think I need to go rummage around for some juice in my pantry and see if I can get something growing!

Yumarama's picture
Yumarama

so that's what I used, it workd great.

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Paul

kitchencookie's picture
kitchencookie

I'm so impressed! I made  Sourdolady's pineapple starter and it worked! I used her recipe but formed it into 'sub buns' instead of one boule. I admit I sat on my kitchen floor and stared into the oven to watch it spring! Pathetic, I know but was fun! My husband and I ate all of it in the first 2 days. Now my starter is ready again and I want to bake another one. My question is how do I keep the hard crust? It had a beautiful hard crunchy top out of the oven but after it cooled down and by the next morning it was soft and chewy. I just kept them in a basket with a towel covering it? Whats the secret?

 

Brian D's picture
Brian D

I must be in an anti-starter area. I tried for seven days to get the pineapple thing going and no go. (;_;) Maybe I'll try again at a latter time.

LindyD's picture
LindyD

 

I struck out with the pineapple culture as well, Brian. I had used the juice from a can of Dole crushed pineapple. Juice is juice, so it shouldn't have made any difference.

No matter, as I'm quite content with my current starter.

SourdoLady's picture
SourdoLady

There are several factors that come into play when you are creating a starter that can cause problems. I will list a few:

  • Flour used might not have enough viable yeast cells (old flour, processed flour)
  • Water may have chloramines or chlorine
  • Room temperature is not warm enough (85 degrees F is ideal)
  • Starter is fed too much
  • Starter is fed too frequently
  • The cook is too impatient (this takes time and patience!)

Regarding the last item--so many people expect too much, too fast. Sometimes the mixture will just sit there for 2 or 3 days and appear to be dead. You need to just tough it out and WAIT! This is a normal occurance. A lot of times people think that because it is not bubbling it needs more food and keep feeding more and more. When this is done before you have an active starter it will just make it take longer to activate because you are smothering the few yeast cells with too much food. Patience is the key. It can take a week to 10 days in some cases, whereas other people will have good activity in 4 or 5 days. A week is about average.

Brian D's picture
Brian D

Thanks for the checklist. Here is a basic rundown of what I did.

Last Sunday, I got me some R.W Knudsen, Organic Pineapple juice with No Sugar Added. It was a little on the expensive side considering I don't normally drink the stuff. Anyway, I mixed per instruction with KAF Bread Flour and bottle water. Followed the feedings per instruction. On the evening of the third day I did see some activity. It was encouraging.

Changed feeding according to the 4th day. Evening of the 4th day the starter was runny with hooch on top. Mixed it back in and continued. Each day after that was the same, hooch and very runny, no activity. Added 1/4 t of Apple Cider per recommendations. This evening, the starter was runny and contained hooch. So I decided that I'd try again later.

The temperature was controlled at 25C (77F) and maybe that is why I was having problems. But my room temperature is not 29C (85F). So that is why I use a proofing box with regulated temperature. Next time I will increase the proofing box to 29C (85F).

Like I said, I will try again later. Thanks.

SourdoLady's picture
SourdoLady

Brian, you said that you used KAF Bread Flour. Is this a whole wheat bread flour, or just a white bread flour? You need whole grains for the starter to work well. I personally prefer to use a mixture of whole wheat and rye. Most of the wild yeast spores are on the outer layer (bran) of the grain. If you use white flour, this part has been removed along with a lot of the yeast that you need.

I bought my whole grains at the health food store from the bulk bins. You can buy in very small quantities that way. You don't even have to grind it up if you don't want to. Just soak the whole grains in some water overnight and then put the soaked grain in a strainer along with the liquid and pour the juice over the grain (be sure to have a container underneath to catch the liquid). Then you can stir some flour into the yeast-seeded juice.

Brian D's picture
Brian D

For my attempted starter, I used all rye bought from my local market's bulk bin.

kitchencookie's picture
kitchencookie

I made my second batch of sour dough and it turned out beautiful, and tastes even better! But still wondering if someone can answer my previous question about storing my bread to keep the crust 'crusty' and not have it soften up and get all chewy? Thanks!

susanfnp's picture
susanfnp

Hi kitchencookie,

Good to hear your sourdough loaves are turning out great!

Here's what I do to maintain crisp crust:

I keep the bread uncovered on the counter, with the cut side down to keep the crumb from drying out.

If I won't eat all the bread within the first two days, I freeze it.

To get the crispest crust in the first place (hearing crackles and seeing the crust crack when you take it out of the oven are good signs), make sure the oven is dry during the latter part of the bake. I.e., remove any steaming devices. Once the bread is done baking, I leave it in the oven for 5-10 minutes with the door cracked and the oven turned off, to allow it to dry further.

Don't add any fat or milk to the dough, this will produce a softer crust.

Susanfnp

http://www.wildyeastblog.com

kitchencookie's picture
kitchencookie

Thanks so much. I will try that. and thanks again for the simple and very tasty starter recipe. We are enjoying the benefits!