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Sourdough

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Celia

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Sourdough

by Celia » Thu Jan 25, 2007 5:27 am

Good and gentle fellow foodies...

I've had a fantastic time these past couple of weeks playing with sourdough, and wanted to share. Making a reasonable sourdough loaf was on this year's list of to do's. After a frustrating week or so of trying to make a starter from scratch, I stumbled upon http://www.northwestsourdough.com (no affiliation yada yada :)) - a website which sells dehydrated starters via mailorder. Crossing my fingers, I sent them my $5.99 for their Northwest starter, and was both delighted and somewhat disconcerted when a little envelope of white powder appeared in my mailbox. I've spent a few days waiting for the federal police to knock on my door.. :)

Anyway, to cut a short story shorter, the dehydrated starter worked a treat ! It took off two days after being rehydrated and has been bubbly and active ever since. It makes what I consider to be a very sour loaf - each loaf takes nine and a half hours, plus a couple of hours to cool before cutting - so if I start making it at 7am, it's ready to cut just in time for dinner.

Two books have also made a big difference to how I do things breadwise this year - Dan Lepard's The Handmade Loaf and Richard Bertinet's Dough. Both GREAT breadmaking books which suggest a much gentler approach to handling dough than books I've read previously. Lepard in particular advocates multiple gentle 10 - 15 second kneads during the initial rising process, which folds copious air into the dough, and helps to create lots of holes in the finished loaf.

Finally, I've been baking the risen loaf in my big Le Creuset pot - I think there really IS something to the pot baking phenomenan. With my beloved welding gloves (welding gloves are the kitchen find of the decade for me - they cost less than $10 at the local gas welding outlet, are made out of sturdy lined leather, and have saved my forearms numerous times), taking the big pot in and out of the oven isn't scary. I've given up trying to plonk the dough into the pot whilst it's in the oven. I've also taken the lid off the Le Creuset and replaced it with a stainless steel lid I had in the right size, so that I can blitz the oven right up to 250' C (before turning it down when I put the bread in).

Hmmm. Now if only someone could figure out a way to make low carb sourdough, I'd be completely happy. Though sourdough IS low GI...
There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle. - Albert Einstein

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Larry Greenly

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Re: Sourdough

by Larry Greenly » Thu Jan 25, 2007 11:48 am

I have a half dozen different kinds of sourdough starters (I would have sent you one). My northwest starter is an 1847 Oregon Trail starter that was handed down through the family that migrated there. My latest is an old Tennessee starter.

Have fun.
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Re: Sourdough

by Celia » Thu Jan 25, 2007 6:02 pm

Larry, thanks, I'm actually having a ball. Today's loaf has just been mixed, and I've tried mixing in chermoula, marinated feta and King Island cheddar with my standard recipe. Wish me luck ! :)

Can I ask, please - do you keep all your starters in the fridge ? How often do you feed them ? I'm struggling with throwing any starter away at all, so the house is FULL of small bubbling potions and loaves of bread. Do you keep them covered airtight, or loosely so they can breathe ? And lastly, do you find they "cross-pollinate" (for want of a better word) if you store them together (ie. do the yeasts start to mingle) ? Sorry to have so many questions - I'm a real newbie at this...

Thanks !!
There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle. - Albert Einstein

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Re: Sourdough

by Larry Greenly » Thu Jan 25, 2007 9:32 pm

celia wrote:Larry, thanks, I'm actually having a ball. Today's loaf has just been mixed, and I've tried mixing in chermoula, marinated feta and King Island cheddar with my standard recipe. Wish me luck ! :)

Can I ask, please - do you keep all your starters in the fridge ? How often do you feed them ? I'm struggling with throwing any starter away at all, so the house is FULL of small bubbling potions and loaves of bread. Do you keep them covered airtight, or loosely so they can breathe ? And lastly, do you find they "cross-pollinate" (for want of a better word) if you store them together (ie. do the yeasts start to mingle) ? Sorry to have so many questions - I'm a real newbie at this...

Thanks !!


I keep all my starters in the fridge in glass or plastic containers with no metal (glass Mason jars with glass tops and rubber rings or Tupperware/margarine tubs, etc.).

I feed them every month or so if I'm not using them.

Don't worry about throwing starter away. If you feed the starter, you have to throw some away, otherwise you eventually won't have any room left in your home to live in.

I keep them airtight so they won't cross-contaminate. And I also don't use the same utensils for the other starters for the same reason. Be careful if handling more than one type at a time. I use nothing but wood or plastic spoons.
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Re: Sourdough

by Celia » Thu Jan 25, 2007 9:40 pm

Many thanks, Larry ! :)

I didn't realise about the metal - thanks for the headsup - at the moment my starter is in the fridge with a piece of plastic wrap over it. I'm happy to hear you only need to feed yours once a month - I am planning to feed mine once a week, but it's good to know they're fairly resilient if I get lax. Oh, and mine is named Priscilla - is it odd to name your starters ? <grin>
There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle. - Albert Einstein

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Re: Sourdough

by Larry Greenly » Fri Jan 26, 2007 12:57 am

The refrigerator slows down their metabolism.

My starters have names, but descriptive ones like red grape, Oregon Trail, San Francisco, etc.

BTW, for insurance, you should take some well-fed and vigorous starter and dry it on a saucer or preferably in a dehydrator and store the pieces in a Ziploc. Or you can freeze a hunk. I prefer the dried--I got enough stuff in the freezer.
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Re: Sourdough

by Celia » Fri Jan 26, 2007 1:08 am

Cool. I have a friend with a dehydrator, we might try drying some starter in there. As for freezing - won't freezing kill the starter ? I've had trouble in the past storing fresh yeast in the freezer - it just diiied. Thanks again, Larry !
There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle. - Albert Einstein

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