The Fresh Loaf

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SourdoLady's picture
SourdoLady

I have been baking with wild yeast sourdough for the past 5 years. It all began when I purchased a starter from Sourdoughs International. One starter led to another starter, until I had 5 different ones. Recently, I felt up to the challenge of making my own wild yeast starter from scratch. I had tried this once before, many years ago, with no success at all. At that time I knew next to nothing about wild yeast and how it works.

This starter recipe is awesome because it really works, and it explains why it works. The starter I made is very good. The flavor is amazing and it rises very well. I purchased rye and wheat berries at my local health food store and ground them in a coffee grinder to make flour for my starter. It was kind of tedious to grind but I only needed a few tablespoons. I'm sure that you could just buy freshly milled flour at the health food store and it would work just as well. The wild yeast is on the grains and you just need to provide the right conditons to wake it up.

Procedure for Making Sourdough Starter

Day 1: mix...
2 T. whole grain flour (rye and/or wheat)
2 T. unsweetened pineapple juice or orange juice
Cover and let sit at room temperature for 24 hours.

Day 2: add...
2 T. whole grain flour
2 T. juice
Stir well, cover and let sit at room temperature 24 hours. At day 2 you may (or may not) start to see some small bubbles.

Day 3: add...
2 T. whole grain flour
2 T. juice
Stir well, cover and let sit at room temperature 24 hours.

Starter at Day 3:

Day 4:
Stir down, measure out 1/4 cup and discard the rest.
To the 1/4 cup add...
1/4 cup flour*
1/4 cup filtered or spring water

*You can feed the starter whatever type of flour you want at this point (unbleached white, whole wheat, rye). If you are new to sourdough, a white starter is probably the best choice. All-purpose flour is fine--a high protein flour is not necessary.

Repeat Day 4:
Once daily until the mixture starts to expand and smell yeasty. It is not unusual for the mixture to get very bubbly around Day 3 or 4 and then go completely flat and appear dead. If the mixture does not start to grow again by Day 6, add 1/4 tsp. apple cider vinegar with the daily feeding. This will lower the pH level a bit more and it should wake up the yeast.

Starter at Day 7:

How it Works

The yeast we are trying to cultivate will only become active when the environment is right. When you mix flour and water together, you end up with a mixture that is close to neutral in pH, and our yeasties need it a bit more on the acid side. This is why we are using the acidic fruit juice. There are other microbes in the flour that prefer a more neutral pH, and so they are the first to wake up and grow. Some will produce acids as by-products. That helps to lower the pH to the point that they can no longer grow, until the environment is just right for wild yeast to activate. The length of time it takes for this to happen varies.

When using just flour and water, many will grow a gas-producing bacteria that slows down the process. It can raise the starter to three times its volume in a relatively short time. Don't worry--it is harmless. It is a bacteria sometimes used in other food fermentations like cheeses, and it is in the environment, including wheat fields and flours. It does not grow at a low pH, and the fruit juices keep the pH low enough to by-pass it. Things will still progress, but this is the point at which people get frustrated and quit, because the gassy bacteria stop growing. It will appear that the "yeast" died on you, when in fact, you haven't begun to grow yeast yet. When the pH drops below 3.5--4 or so, the yeast will activate, begin to grow, and the starter will expand again. You just need to keep it fed and cared for until then.

Once your wild yeast is growing, the character and flavor will improve if you continue to give it daily feedings and keep it at room temperature for a couple of weeks longer.
After that time, it should be kept in the refrigerator between uses/feedings.

My First Loaves From New Starter:

Floydm's picture
Floydm

Yesterday I made Vienna Rolls and an Onion Braid:

Many more pics of the Onion Braid over in the forums, as well as the recipe.

I think the high point of the weekend, food-wise, was the fresh strawberry pie. The local strawberries don't ship as well as California strawberries, so you don't see them outside of Oregon, but they are *so* good. Particularly when they are picked ripe, as these were.

The pie was a simple one I had never tried from the Joy of Cooking. Basically you just filled a baked pie shell with 4 cups of fresh berries and poured over it a glaze. The glaze is made of 2 cups pureed berries, 2 tablespoons of lemon juice, 1/4 cup corn starch, 1/4 cup water, and 1 cup sugar (I used a bit less). Bring all that to a boil in a small saucepan, pour over the fresh berries, and... YUM! Serve it with a little bit of whipped cream on top.

And, I confess: I used a frozen pie crust from the grocery store instead of making it from scratch. I can knead dough for 12 minutes, no problem, but I hate making pie crust. It bores me to tears.

Oh yeah: I tried a new banana bread recipe today. It was good, a nice change from my standard banana bread recipe, but not worth the additional work in my mind. I'll try to post that recipe in the next day or two.

crumbbum's picture
crumbbum

my starter has died of black plague. either that or neglect. yesterday I dumped it out and started over. I really have a way with words, don't I?

anyhoo, I began with 3/4 cup white bread flour and 3/4 cup water. in yesterday's still pretty warm temperatures, it separated early on with much liquid on the top, and there was very minimal action there. I stirred it back in after about 12 hours and it had thickened some, but this morning at 0530, there it was separated again and still no real action. I dumped half out and mixed in 1/3 cup whole wheat bread flour and 1/3 cup white bread flour, and just a little less than 1/2 cup water. there is now a small bit of action happening, so I'm hopeful to have active starter again shortly. and it's really too bad it isn't good yet, because I have black bananas ready to go into a loaf ...

meantime, I made some very tasty cookies from the Quaker Oats website.

the real bonus for me on these cookies is that it only makes about 3 dozen, so you don't spend an hour hanging around in a hot kitchen, shuttling cookie sheets back and forth, in and out. I admit to being a lazy baker.

Oatmeal Cranberry White Chocolate Chunk Cookies

2/3 cup butter or margarine, softened
2/3 cup firmly packed brown sugar
2 eggs
1-1/2 cups Old Fashioned Quaker Oats, uncooked
1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
One 6-ounce package dried cranberries
2/3 cup white chocolate chunks or chips

Cook’s Tip: To use Quick Quaker Oats, decrease flour to 1-1/3 cups.

Heat oven to 375F.

In medium bowl, beat butter and sugar with electric mixer until light and fluffy. Add eggs, mixing well. In separate bowl, combine oats, flour, baking soda and salt. Add to butter mixture in several additions, mixing well after each addition. Stir in dried cranberries and white chocolate chunks. Drop by rounded teaspoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheets.

Bake 10 to 12 minutes or until golden brown. Transfer to wire rack. Cool completely. Store tightly covered. Makes 2-1/2 to 3 dozen cookies.

click the photo for the big view

Floydm's picture
Floydm

The family was in town,which meant I had two things: free babysitting and more mouths to feed. That meant it was time for a baking bonanza!

I made:

Corn Bread


Orange Oatmeal Bread


Nubby Peanut Bread


Italian Bread


Struan Bread

And cookies. And enchiladas. And a bunch of other food.

I'll add links to all of these recipes as I get them written up.

crumbbum's picture
crumbbum

I used the scone recipe posted by qahtan recently, when my grocery store had new strawberries for 98 cents a pound over the mothers day weekend, but that's about all I've done lately. I think I'm going to work on some baking powder biscuits and try using different fats. I'm not afraid of lard, so I'll try that along with vegetable shortening and butter versions. I've been looking around at another site, and would like to throw it into the links section, but I don't know how or if I can do that.

It's baking911, and for people like me, who can't afford to buy all the books (or really don't need another cooking book), it has a wealth of basic baking information available. It explains why things work (or don't) in simple terms. In design terms, the site looks too busy, but it's well worth a visit for beginners or the nervous looking for information. Recipes and tips are also included, and there is an associated cooking911 site.

Good sites if you don't have a cookbook library. Or for those leaving the nest and needing guidance.

Floydm's picture
Floydm

A little bit of everything: oatmeal raisin cookies, banana bread, and pain sur poolish.

I tried baking some of the poolish bread in a ciabatta sized loaf instead of a baguette. We'll try it tonight.

I can't decide whether I am just really bad at shaping and scoring or whether my dough is too wet to score. I keep trying to score it but ending up w/ the blade stuck in the goo. So my loaves aren't pretty, but they've been tasting great.

Altaf's picture
Altaf

I have always been fascinated by artisan breads, i wanted to explore the world of hand crafted breads knowing every single detaile of this art .So suddenly at age 30, i decided to educate my self by diging websites and searching through cookbooks and wishing to end with courses.
Normally i bake on weekends either for my home or familly gatherings. And the following photos shows my first attempt with pesto bread made from the (Italian Baker) by Carol Field.


Rised dough......ready to go to the oven.


Fresh baked bread.


Sliced pesto bread.


Crust & Crumb.

Notes: 1-The bread smells pesto but does not taste as pesto.
2-There was no crust at the bottom of the bread (Hmmmm.....) may be the baking stone was not too hot.
3- The bread was a little bit heavy....could it be the oil of the pesto. :-?

CookieHugs's picture
CookieHugs

My first attempt at creating a sourdough starter. I used the raisin water technique because I wasn't sure I wanted some of the other things that could be found floating in the air around here. This is approx 48 hours after I started it. It now sits safely in my refrigerator until I get past the spring allergy season LOL

Well, I was going to tell more about it last night, but my husband distracted me. As Paul Harvey would say, "Now for the rest of the story."

I started my starter using what I had here based on Floyd's Featured Story ""When Yeast Attacks"

I had a box of california raisins from Wal-Mart and I used stone ground whole wheat flour (this was ground by a friend about 6 weeks ago). I started with the 3/4 cup of raisin water and 1 cup of ww flour. When I checked it about 10 hours later, it looked to me like there was a little bit of bubbling going on. So I added a cup of water and a cup of ww flour. Waited another 8 - 12 hours with it sitting in my cupboard with just a paper towel placed very loosely over it. It didn't look very promising when I checked it this time, but I figured I didn't have much invested in it and a couple more cups of flour wasn't going to break the bank, so I put a cup of wal-mart brand, all-purpose flour and a cup of water in, stirred it all up and left it to grow. I came back Wednesday morning to a very happy starter. I wasn't sure what direction I was going to go at that point, so I fed it (all growing babies need to be fed, right?) and let it sit until I took the pictures last night.

I probably won't be able to do any baking until Monday with it being Mother's Day weekend, but that gives me more time to search for "the" recipe that is going to knock my husband's socks off. He isn't thrilled with the SD bread that comes from the store, and I have to keep reminding him that my homemade from scratch food 99.999 percent of the time tastes much better than anything we buy at the store or from a restaurant :lol: I just know he's going to love this bread and I won't be able to buy loaf bread off the shelf anymore.

More to come next time on the Cookie Bakes Bread channel.

Floydm's picture
Floydm

While coming home from a computer conference last week I managed to hit a couple of artisan bakeries.

The best one I stopped at was Wild Flour Bakery in Freestone, California (halfway between Sebastopol and Bodega in west Sonoma County... "the wine country"... find it on my bakery finder).

As the sign out front says, everything there is organic and they bake in a brick oven. Note the reflection of a grain silo in the front window. It is hard to tell in these photos, but the bakery is out in the country in the middle of a beautiful valley.

Unfortunately, I got there right about the same time that a bus load of people doing the winery tours stopped there and I had a car full of family, so I did not get a chance to talk to the bakers or get many good pictures of the place. I did pick up a loaf of their Fougasse, a picnic bread containing olives, onions, and blue, jack, and chedder cheeses. The loaf was still warm, and it was a great thing to munch while driving out to the coast.

They have wonderful looking scones and sticky buns too.

I took a quick snap of their menu (large image so it is easy to read).

crumbbum's picture
crumbbum

I was going to make the valentine's day pain rapide au chocolat tonight because my boy wanted me to buy him chocolate chocolate chip muffins at the grocery. Well, I just couldn't see myself making mashed potatoes just for that, so I went to google and dug up two C-C-C muffin recipes and between the three recipes I came up with this. And they're quite good, like the bread recipe, not too sweet, but in the middle they have some melty chocolate chip goo that makes them just right.

1/2 cup sugar
1-3/4 cups all purpose flour
2 Tbsp. powdered milk
6 Tbsp. unsweetened cocoa
2-1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

mix all the dry ingredients together, and if necessary, squish out any hard, rocky lumps in the baking powder.

in a smaller bowl or 2-cup measure, mix together:

3/4 cup water
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1/3 cup butter, melted
1 tsp. vanilla extract
I also splooshed in 2-3 Tbsp. Irish Cream, lacking rum or any other appropriate spirits

Make a well in the dry ingredients and pour in the liquids, mixing just until blended--as usual for muffins, leave it slightly lumpy.
Spoon into a 12-cup muffin tin, greased or lined with paper accordion cups. Bake at 400F about 18-20 minutes. A toothpick should come out clean unless you've struck a chocolate chip.

and of course, you can use 3/4 cup dairy milk in place of the water/powdered milk ingredients.

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