Monday, February 4, 2013

Sourdough, thy name is...

Lenin. At least, thats the name so far. I couldn't help it. Its a twofold joke, the first being that I started it with Red Star brand yeast; the second, thats about as far as I can see a communist culture getting. If left too long without an influx of resources (built by the hardworking farmers and millers), it will generally lose vigor and die. If you get it mixed into the dough, it will eventually cause an uprising, and it generates a lot of hot air and alcohol. So I asked My Lovely Wife who her favorite Commie is, and here we are. Hopefully, this will prove more useful in the long run.

I've now had this starter running for a week or so, and it seems to ne doing pretty well. I've used it to make two loaves of bread and a batch of tasty pancakes, and I've split it twice. The first split I put in the fridge, to see how it wakes up. I think that test will come tomorrow. The second split I gave to a cousin of mine, so we'll see how it fares at their house (they don't bake quite as often as I).

Some observations so far:

It seems to be developing the sourdough flavor more than I expected. Even from the first loaf (about three days in) it had developed to a degree. Since then I baked one more loaf, that I didn't taste, because I gave it away with the starter. I don't know how much flavor it has, but it certainly has the scent of sourdough. In an artisanal sense, this is a good thing. In an EOT situation, this is a bit limiting, as I don't know if I would like sourdough cinnamon rolls, for example. I may experiment later on with ways to reduce the sourdough flavor, but keep the yeast.

Baking and rise are giving good results. I generally eschew formal recipes, basing my bread from the 6-3-3-13 ratio I got from 'Artisan bread in 5 minutes a day'. In this case, I adjusted my volumes down to one loaf, and replaced one cup of water and one cup of flour with a cup of starter. I don't add any additional yeast, not because I am a purist, but becase this is an experiment for EOT breadmaking.

Care- My goal here is to see how easily I can maintain the starter. Feeding a copious amount of sugar, or using fancy supplies are not conducive to my goal. So my care regimin is pretty minimalist. I keep my starter in a quart mason jar, covered with a paper towel secured by a jar ring. Once a day, I feed it at least a half cup of flour and a half cup of water. On baking day, I feed a whole cup (to replace the cup I removed) and place the starter on the back of the stove, to make sure it stays good and warm while it eats. The one quart container lets me keep at least a cup of original starter, the added cup of feeder, and still have room to bubble and grow. If I were intending to bake more than a single loaf, I would transfer the usual cup of starter to a large bowl and double it for a day or so, to build up the supply.

So that's where I'm at with the sourdough project. Overall, proceeding rather well thus far. I'll keep posting as I keep experimenting.

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