Tuesday, December 7, 2010
My starter sitting pretty with a layer of yeasty smelling liquid (called "hooch" in sourdough lingo) bubbling on top.
I've been working on my to-do list, and it's still a work in progress- but it's been happening- knowing that I have to tell you all something is helpful. My Sourdough is progressing the most though- I've got a starter- and I've tried to recipes- neither of which were fantastic, but together they would have made a good loaf- so it's a good starting point.
The idea behind sourdough is to capture wild yeast with your starter, and then use that to raise your dough, instead of commercial yeast- that's what gives sourdough that sour taste. As you can imagine wild yeasts differ from place to place which is why true sourdough (with no added yeast) will taste differently depending on where you are. However it can be tricky to produce a nice textured bread with wild yeast alone.
To make sourdough you need a starter- which is essentially a colony of wild yeast in flour and water. I made my starter using these directions- it's very simple- you mix flour and water and then let it sit in a warm spot stirring and 'feeding' (discarding some, and adding fresh flour and water) daily until it gets the desired amount of funkiness (4-10 days)- then you refrigerate it.
When I made a dough using no added yeast it only rose slightly and then it was kind of-doughy, I'm not sure if it just needed a bit more time to rise or if it would ever rise on it's own, but the flavour was really nice, it even smelled like great sourdough despite the denseness. The next bread I made was similar but it used commercial yeast as well- and it didn't have the same tangy flavour but it was a nice texture. I think the big difference in these two recipes is that in the first you let the starter sit out of the fridge to 'proof' before you use it- the longer it proofs for the deeper the flavour. In the second dough it doesn't specify to use proofed starter.
Somewhere in these recipes there is a great sourdough bread- perhaps I need a proofed starter in the second- or a little yeast in the first- either way it needs a bit more experimenting, but it's definitely on the way.