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It’s Always Better the First Time

Ok, not really. A lot of things get better with age and experience, but what makes firsts exciting is the newness. Remember how thrilled you were the first time you went driving on your own after getting your license? Now remember the last time you drove…not so exciting.

That’s how I feel about this post. Totally geeked out, just because it’s my first time making it. I’m talking about sourdough from scratch. Let me first say that although I love bread, I am not a fan of sourdough. Perhaps the tang is an acquired taste. However, I decided to give it a shot since most things are better when homemade from scratch, am I right?

sourdough boule

Yes, I was right! I hadn’t begun blogging at the time I started the Seed Culture for my sourdough, otherwise I would have taken pictures of the various stages. Anyways, in the beginning it’s just a dubious paste of flour and water. Pretty soon though you can see evidence of the wild yeast and bacteria you’ve activated and it’s exciting! To kitchen nerds, that is.

Sourdough mother starter

The black lines show how much the dough rose. This bread has no added leavening agents! It’s pure nature!

sourdough boule

I love it when I impress myself! And pretty happy about the crust results I got with my average home oven. Not perfect the first time around, but this reminds me that amazing doesn’t necessarily mean perfection.

The recipe is a lengthy source, adapted from Peter Reinhart’s Artisan Breads Every Day and it contains the recipe for the bread shown here. It’s definitely a worthy investment for serious bread bakers, but your library may have it for free. Below is the starter recipe I’ve adapted for this blog and a quick internet search will show how it can be used in many recipes such as pancakes, muffins, cakes and more.

Phase 1 Seed Culture

Mother Starter

Mother Starter (Phase 5)

  • 1 oz whole rye, whole wheat or unbleached bread flour
  • 2 oz unsweetened pineapple juice, spring or filtered water

In small non-reactive bowl stir flour and liquid together to make a paste. Be sure the flour is completely hydrated. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and leave at room temperature for 48 hours, stirring 2-3 times a day with a wet spoon or whist to aerate it. Bubbles may begin to appear after 24 hours.

Phase 2 Seed Culture

  • 1 oz whole rye, whole wheat or unbleached bread flour
  • 1 oz unsweetened pineapple juice, spring or filtered water
  • All of the Phase 1 Seed Culture

After 48 hours, add the ingredients to your Phase 1 seed culture and stir to fully hydrate flour. Cover with plastic wrap, leave at room temperature for 24-48 hours, stirring 2-3 times a day. There should be signs of fermentation during this time (bubbling and growth). If the signs take longer than 2 days (but not longer than 4 days) don’t worry, just keep stirring regularly.

Phase 3 Seed Culture

  • 2 oz whole rye, whole wheat or unbleached bread flour
  • 1 oz spring or filtered water
  • All of the Phase 2 Seed Culture

Add the new ingredients to the Phase 2 Seed Culture and stir. Place in a larger bowl if necessary. Culture will begin to expand. Cover with plastic wrap, leave at room temperature for 24-48 hours, stirring 2-3 times a day. The culture should be active and bubbly after 48 hours. If not, don’t worry and continue daily stirring for another day or two until it doubles in size.

Phase 4 Seed Culture

Proofed sourdough starter

After proofing

  • 3 oz whole rye, whole wheat or unbleached bread flour
  • 1 oz spring or filtered water
  • 4 oz of the Phase 3 Seed Culture (what to do with remainder: discard, give away, begin another starter or save as a back up)

Combine the above ingredients and mix to form a soft dough. Cover with plastic wrap and leave at room temperature until culture becomes active. It should swell and double in size within 4-24 hours. If this doesn’t happen, don’t worry and keep mixing 2-3 times a day until it is active.

Phase 5 Mother Starter

  • 12 oz whole rye, whole wheat or unbleached bread flour
  • 9 oz spring or filtered water (8 oz if you’re using white flour)
  • 4 oz of the Phase 4 Seed Culture

Mix the ingredients by hand or combine the ingredients in a stand mixer with paddle attachment and mix on slow for 1 minute. Knead by hand or in mixer for 2 minutes until starter is a smooth ball. Place in large lightly oiled, non-reactive bowl and cover loosely with plastic wrap. Leave at room temperature for 4-8 hours or until doubled in size. Then, punch it down, form into ball, place back in bowl, cover tightly and refrigerate. After a few hours, vent the bowl to release gas and re-cover.

This is the mother starter and can be used to make various recipes. I used mine to make Pain au Levain, but I will also be trying a San Francisco style sourdough and other goodies.

sourdough boule

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said-simply

Friday 25th of October 2013

How yummy! Nice result, how'd it taste?

Rebekah | The Kitchen Gidget

Friday 25th of October 2013

Thank you! It tasted awesome, if I may say so myself. Really nice flavors from the fermentation.

Regina

Thursday 17th of October 2013

I am a big fan of sourdough bread. I thought the flavoring and texture were very good. Tom thought it was most excellent!