sourdough saga

A few weeks ago I decided to start my own sourdough. I was making an Irish soda bread and had to soak the raisins and I remembered a starter recipe I’d seen that called for water from soaking raisins mixed with flour and water to grow some good little beasties to raise the dough.

5 days of feeding and adding water and it was ready. or so i thought. Upon re-reading the recipe (I’d only read up to the part where the starter was finished, not the making of the actual dough) I realized that I had 12 hours of three more rises before I would have bread. Without that much time I decided to give it a little push with some active dry yeast.

The rise was shorter and the bread nice and round, looked like one of those sourdough soup bowls you see in San Franciso. The taste was OK, but I knew that the taste would improve as the starter aged.

A few feedings and about a week later I started the “intermediate” starter again and waited. It seemed OK, not bubbling madly as I’d hoped but I went on to make the dough, and waited. Not much action, but I decided to keep going, it was getting late and I had to go to bed at some point, so I made the loaves and waited. 4 hours later I put the flat looking loaves in the oven, and they didn’t puff up much, but when done it tasted great. Dense and bagel-like with a great flavor. The “sour” part worked, but the dough part needed work.

So I kept feeding the starter every few days and brought it up to room temp before attempting the next go.

this time I figured I’d be quasi-scientific about it and make two batches, one with the help of commercial yeast, and one with only the natural bacteria to rise the dough.

As expected the “intermediate” with yeast doubled in volume first and I made the final dough for the next rise. By the time it was ready to form into loaves the “au naturale” had doubled but without another 10 hours to let it rise I put it in the fridge to put it on hold until the next day.

On the left you can see the commercial yeast loaf which has that ball shape and a good taste, but still dense.

sourdough2

The next day I took the au naturale intermediate out of the fridge and let it warm up, then made the dough and let it rise. It was slow going again. I was worried, since it had really shown great progress the day before in doubling and having real oomph.

I made loaves and it looked as if it wasn’t going to make it so I decided to let it rise overnight. This was good and bad, they got really flat and didn’t get the big round loaf, but the texture and taste was stellar. it’s on the right in the picture above.
I think the night in the fridge was not good for it, and it was pretty cold here in the kitchen about 67 degrees.

The starter also may need some feeding, I don’t think I’ve got it full strength yet, but it’s tasting good, and made right here in Brooklyn.

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