in the beginning . . . wild yeast bread starter

for the last week i have been getting up every morning to feed fresh flour and water to my wild yeast bread starter, and to check it for signs of life . . .  
today i found all of the indications that it's ready to use to make bread.

          the past 7 days i have been conducting a science experiment in my kitchen. did you know that you can capture and grow your own strain of wild yeast bread starter? that's right. you don't have to bake with a commercially produced yeast, just like you don't have to buy a loaf of bread that came off of an assembly line or from a bread store.
          like everything i decide to do, i tend to take things to the extreme. so, naturally it is time in my baking experience to try to make bread that will have a flavor unique unto my kitchen, and that cannot be reproduced with any other strain of yeast.
          stay tuned then, and we'll see how it comes out. i made the first sponge this morning which will need to ferment all day. tonight i hope to see the frothy bubbles telling me it is ready to knead into a dough which will have to rise for hours more before it can be formed into a loaf. apparently the whole process for baking just one loaf of sour dough bread can take up to 24 hours . . . and at the pace i go, it is good to have a reason to slow down.

my first attempt at sour dough bread sponge which i will hopefully use this evening to knead into a loaf of bread.
here is how i made my own wild yeast starter:
• 1/2 cup of rye flour
• 1/2 cup of whole wheat flour
• 1 cup of lukewarm water
1. mix and knead the flours with the water to made a dough.
2. put the dough in a glass bowl and cover it loosely with plastic wrap.
3. set the bowl with the dough in a warm, dark spot.
4. after three days, the dough will have a crust on the top– just pull it off and discard it.
5. add 1/2 cup of lukewarm water to what's left in the bowl, and stir well with a wooden spoon.
6. add 1/2 cup of flour (i used unbleached all-purpose) and mix well. it will be a little wetter this time.
7. cover the bowl again, and put it back in a warm, dark spot.
8. after one day it should develop a dry top again. discard the crust and feed what's left with 1/2 lukewarm water, and 1/2 cup of flour. this time, the consistency should be like thick pancake batter. i also added about a tablespoon of sugar at this stage because i thought it needed a little help along.
9. pour the mixture into a clean bowl, cover it loosely with the plastic wrap and return to the warm spot.
10. each day, discard half of the mixture, and feed what's left with 1/2 cup of lukewarm water, and 1/2 cup of flour. i did this for five days.
11. when the mixture becomes bubbly and frothy, and a dark brown liquid forms on the top (that's called "hooch" which is baker's alcohol made from fermentation) it is ready to use to bake.
12. to store the chef, mix 1/2 cup of starter with 1/2 cup of water and 1/2 cup of flour. pour it into a clean mason jar and don't clamp down the lid, just let it rest slightly open. set the jar on the counter and every morning stir in the hooch, measure out 1/2 cup and feed it again with 1/2 cup each of water and flour.

1 comment:

Virginia Taylor said...

Okay, maybe a bit more work than I am up for right now!! I have saved the recipe though and will put it on my list of "to do in 2010"!! Virginia