The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Don't think, bake!

BXMurphy's picture

Don't think, bake!

Dear Diary,

As you know, it's been four years since our last sourdough bake. Long time, huh? Do you think we'll remember anything?

It was fun rocking out Debra Wink's Pineapple Juice Solution (TL;DR... go to the end of Part 2) for whipping up a new starter from scratch.

And then it was frustrating when nothing happened for what seemed like forever. Thank you for keeping me from hitting the stupid thing with a baseball bat. You knew better.

We kept at it, didn't we? Just you and me! We loved reading all the posts here from more experienced bakers. You know I've only done three dozen loaves in total so reading was better than swinging the bat.

But what started from a lifeless mass of flour and pineapple juice on October 30 came to life when I came home on the morning of November 11. That was about a week and a half of patience!

Anyway, we began the starter with some whole wheat i had kicking around on that Friday at the end of October because you know how I think... I don't.

Remember how we learned that thinking gets in our way? Its better to don't think, right? That's the Irish way. And I've had interesting "times," if you will, that kept me away from you. Some of those times were even fun! But let me keep on topic...

I shopped on Sunday, November 1, and switched the starter feed to dark rye flour and switched to bottled water on Nov. 3 because Ms. Wink said I could (man, her post is long, isn't it?)

Somewhere along the way, after following Debra Wink's instructions to the letter, she let me off the chain! I free-styled. I learned that my schedule only allowed for one feeding of the starter every day so I doubled the amount of food. Not bad! It worked!

I moved into 1:2:2 which is 1 part lifeless starter, 2 parts water, and two parts dark rye. And, we read where we should stop feeding it for 2-3 days to "let the acid build."

Whatever, don't think. Just do what they tell you to do. And, of course, it worked. It always does when I get out of my way.

But!... Weren't we overjoyed on November 11 when we saw that our starter had doubled? And didn't we like the larger feeds so the only work we did was stir every 12 hours and feed every 24? Remember when we saw the starter double in 12 hours after we stirred it down and ready for its next feed? We like our new schedule.

Playing with the starter and reading The Fresh Loaf is fun. But, we're starting to think again. Not good. Not good at all...

Dear Diary, you're always here for me as I wind down for the day. You watched me build a levain at 1:45 this morning with only 38g of the1:2:2 rye starter, 38g bottled water, and 38g bread flour. Yes, I reserved some starter to keep it going but that'll give us the 100g of a separate levain that the instructions tell us (and a little left over for jar-and-spoon-stickage).

("Levain!" Har! Har! Fancy-Schmancy name for Dead Starter Walking. It is doomed to its fate in the oven. Ain't these kids precious with their fancy words? Pshaw!)

We're going to do the 1-2-3 No Knead, Do-Nothing Bread exactly like they tell us to do sometime this weekend.

We don't know WHEN we're going to bake, but the dough and instructions will tell us. It's better to don't think. Just bake.

Yeah, the starter is 3-4 days active. What, you think it's too soon? Don't think. We either make bread, croutons, or bird food. Either way, it's a win, right? Right? What could possibly wrong?

I'm sure I'll write again. Like soon. Not like some of those other "times."

Yours, dearly,



Benito's picture

Great post Murph.  Can’t wait to see your first loaf in 4 years raised by your new starter.  Did I miss you naming it?


BXMurphy's picture

Nah... no name. I'm not that warm and fuzzy... :) Maybe Stupid Starter. To keep it family-friendly.

Dummy me, I didn't follow the instructions EXACTLY. I missed the part about 10g starter and 45:45. I just used "some starter and some flour and water" (38:38:38) to get 100g+ levain. Which fit my schedule exactly. Accidently. (Wrote THAT neat trick down!)

Newbies: More starter = faster doubling. The "recipe" says to use less starter and wait 24 hours for levain to double. I built with more starter. It shortened the levain-doubling time. I think they say I'll sacrifice some of the sourness. But, if I refrigerate the levain for a day or two, I should be able to get the sourness back. Do it how you like. This stuff doesn't care.

Newbies: I keep ~40 grams of starter in a small jar. 38g was all that came out when I built the levain. I used the jar scrapings and threw in 20:20g each flour:water to build back up my original starter. Don't worry. This stuff doesn't care. You shouldn't, either.

You know, I used to worry about exactness four years ago. Back then, I didn't quite grasp the flexibility of SD. That is, no real recipes, just guidelines... do what works for me and it will STILL work!

That's my new mantra (Besides the last one I posted about. I forgot it already. I'll look it up.). 

New mantra: Sourdough is FLEXIBLE, not predictable. Until I flex it to be predictable the way *I* want it.

Or something like that.

This is going to be much more funner this time around!