Saturday, March 12, 2011

Sourdough at last!

After almost a month and a half of trying, I finally have Sourdough Starter! What a long and frustrating process this has been! I finally resorted to purchasing a small packet of dry Sourdough Starter mix, as I had given up on trying to capture wild yeast from the air. In each test batch of culture, all seemed to go well for the first 2 to 3 days, but after that, nothing happened. The mixtures all tasted (not unpleasantly) sour, the color was nothing atrocious, and there were bubbles present after the feedings, but the mixture was NOT bubbly like I expected it should be. Every recipe I attempted stated that the culture should be bubbly… I took that to mean that when it sat all night long and I awoke to feed the culture again… it should be BUBBLY, perhaps even a little foamy, yet there were only very faint bubbles within. So after 5 or 7 days, I’d toss it all and try again. After the fourth (fifth?) time, I broke down and bought the packet through my co-op buying club. All seemed to go well, but on the seventh day, when I was supposed to have a working, bubbling culture… you guessed it… NOTHING. I starteded to dump it down the drain, but I stopped this time, and on a whim I added a large pinch of sugar and another feeding of flour and water, along with a good pinch of yeast. Lo and behold, the next morning, it sure WAS bubbling! So I made a batch of Sourdough Bread, fed the remainder of the starter, and put it to the back of the stove, where it continued to NOT bubble. I’ve kept it going regardless, and have made several batches of Sourdough bread, Pancakes, (I’m not overly fond of pancakes, but these were light and heavenly), Biscuits and Bagels. I want to thank my dear friend Amy for all the information and encouragement she gave me, including this link to share! )
Oh… and the packet of Sourdough Starter I purchased??? When I went back to check the magical ingredients in the packet… it was simply flour and yeast, exactly what I had been using in every batch of Sourdough I had tried! So, I probably threw away a lot of usable culture without realizing it. My house can be (too) warm during the day and averages about 55 degrees at night due to wood heat, probably not very consistent for Sourdough development. I feel perhaps the culture went to sleep in the colder evening temperatures, and thus was the reason it never truly bubbled. I knew from previous experience with Sourdough that stainless steel implements were a no-no, but foolishly kept stirring it with a table knife. All in all, I’m glad I took that last-ditch chance and kept the culture, as it has been a lot of fun experimenting with various recipes and incorporating the starter into them! I have yet to put it to sleep in the refrigerator, as I have been trying new baked goods out daily! I’ve yet to search for a recipe for Sourdough Doughnuts, but it’s on my list!