The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

The state of my starter

kung fu bbq's picture
kung fu bbq

The state of my starter

Hello bakers.

I've been making my own bread now for about half a year. The italian bread over in the Favorite Recipes is probably the most difficult I've done. I have some other main stay recipes that I use for white/wheat loaves but what I really want to make is sourdough.

 So after checking my calendar and making sure I'm not traveling anywhere I started my starter.

The starter I'm using is a Amish friendship starter. May or may not be the best but I had all the ingredients at the house.

I began this yesterday and the recipe calls for me to mix 2c AP flour, 2c h20, 2.25tps yeast. and let it sit for 5 days uncovered. After reading many threads on the this forum I assume that is to capture more wild yeast.

This is my question, since it's flour and water mixed it has created a hard shell over the top. 

Does this shell get removed?  Do I smash it into the mixture on day 5 when I add more ingredients? 

fancypantalons's picture
fancypantalons

"and let it sit for 5 days uncovered."

Simple.  Don't leave it uncovered. :)  This recipe is based on the erroneous presumption that a starter is created by the innoculation of yeast from the air.  The truth of the matter is that a sourdough starter is primarily fueled by yeast present on the wheat grains that were milled to create your flour.  As a result, leaving the starter open to the air only does two things 1) increase the odds that bugs or nasties will get in there, and 2) dry out the top.

As such, if you're going to use that recipe (and I gotta tell ya, based on the description, I'm not sure it's a great one... *no* sourdough starter should include commercial yeast. But, it's your choice :), at minimum you need to cover the proto-starter up.  I'd also suggest using wheat or rye as a component of the starter slurry... about 25% should be sufficient.  For whatever reason, starters seem to *love* wheat/rye flours, and so including them as a component in your proto-starter increases the chances of success (my own speculation is that because these flours include more of the grain, more wild yeast is incorporated into the starter).

kung fu bbq's picture
kung fu bbq

thank you for the reply. I called my father inlaw, he makes a killer sourdough and I've refused a cup of his starter cause I wanted to try it on my own. But the consensus is the same, I'm using a wacky recipe. 

fancypantalons's picture
fancypantalons

I can't blame ya... there's nothing quite so satisfying as building a starter from scratch.  In case you're curious, to build my starter, I used this method (with the modification that I use 25% whole wheat as a component of my maintenance feeding schedule):

http://www.wildyeastblog.com/2007/07/13/raising-a-starter/

And it worked great.  It's dead simple, just requires a bit of care (the schedule involves twice-daily feedings of straight flour and water), and a lot of patience (my starter took 7 days to hit it's stride).  But the results were definitely worth it, and it was incredibly exciting to get that first whiff of real yeast in my culture. :)

Eli's picture
Eli

Remove the crusty parts and discard. Feed and begin to build and you will have to contniue to remove the crusties. This is the instructions and recipe I used. Just to get a feel for more ways.

http://www.exploratorium.edu/cooking/bread/recipe-sourdough.html

 

Eli