Before you bake sourdough you must prep your starter.

IMG_0442(Here is an example of bread made with my starter-before I had all the fancy stuff I use to bake with now like my la cloche and proofing basket-so obviously you don’t need that stuff…want and need are so similar.)

This post is actually a prelude to the post on sourdough bread because unlike bread machine or instant yeast breads this bread needs a bit of time.  That is not to say that it can’t become a very easy process that naturally fits in to your schedule, but it does take a little bit of time to master.  I am not a master .  As with most everything I’ve done in my life, I worked at learning this until I could pass at it, but truly I never worked beyond that, and if you peel away just a few layers my talent stops preeeeeeety fast.

Sourdough starter is your yeast so if you don’t have a starter you need to somehow procure one.  Make it!  It’s easy, albeit slow.  Notice I didn’t say time-consuming.  This whole process is slow, but not time-consuming.  I would help you make it, but all I would be doing is directing you to breadtopia to learn from Eric, the dude who via the internet has taught me pretty much everything I know.  He has videos and sells what I believe to be necessary items for baking true artisan breads.  Go here to watch Eric show you just how to make a sourdough starter.  See you in a few days:( (Didn’t think that one through did I, oh well do it.)

Ahhh…now that you have a live and bubbly sourdough starter (which you can order through Breadtopia as well) let’s begin.  First, some basics on sourdough starter.

-Never close the lid tightly because the bacteria in the starter creates co2 and that can cause an explosion!

-Never touch metal to the starter as it can kill the wonderful bacteria!

-Store your starter in glass with a lid just set on top. (I use plastic ball lids.)

-If you plan to use your starter daily, store on your countertop and feed once a day.

-If you plan to use your starter more like once a week, or less frequently, store in fridge and feed it once per week.

-Before you use your starter in a recipe you must feed it a few hours beforehand.  Depending on the weather and temperature in your home it could take 3-10 hours for your starter to be viable.

-Don’t be intimidated!  This sounds cray, but it isn’t.

How to feed your starter:

Begin by dumping half  your starter out, or giving it away.

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Next you will measure 1c flour (I use bread flour because of the higher gluten content, although lately have switched to Shepherd’s Grain low gluten flour because they are local and for some reason the low gluten is magic.  If someone can tell me why I would be delighted.

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Measure and mix in 3/4c filtered water.

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And voila!  You are ready to wait.

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I fed my starter in the morning around 8, and got home at 5 and it was happy and ready to mix into a dough but I am sure it was probably ready more like 2 or 3, I just wasn’t here to use it.  In the summer I don’t have the luxury of going as long because it proofs so quickly it can deflate by the time I get home, so I have to be more careful.

Here is a happy bubbly starter.

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Truth. I took these photos the following morning.  My starter was more bubbly when I returned home yesterday but because I simply did not have the energy to mix bread last night I put my starter in the fridge because I knew if I wanted to, I could pull it out this morning and use it because starter is pretty darn forgiving.  I knew I could do this because the cold of the fridge slows down the bacteria from “eating” the flour/water mixture, which is why if you are just maintaining your starter, you pull it out of the fridge, feed, and return to the fridge and don’t have to feed it again for one week.  Left out of the counter, it will metabolize much more quickly because of the warmth.  I sometimes do the same with bread that is proofing; slow it down by sticking it in the fridge.  I can do this because I’ve learned (after many, many silly mistakes ending in me crying on the floor in the kitchen, no joke) exactly WHAT I am seeing when I look at my starter, bread dough, etc.  Because of this I get points on the awesome scale, no?

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Happy starter.

There you have it.  Maybe I will do a post on how to make sourdough starter sometime, but for now with all the catching up we need to do, I’m going to stick with the basics of feeding starer and mixing and baking sourdough bread.

Soon we will move on to sprouting grains and baking with those, including but not limited to wheat, rye, spelt, and sometimes dehydrating and grinding our own flours.  So awesome.

Next post I will share with you a little bundle of joy I like to call Dub.

Love,

Bee

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