Keeping the D’oh! Out of SourdoughMay 18th, 2012 | By Cecilia | Category: show tips, the show
It may be a little too hot for most of us to crank up the oven to bake bread. But when you’re ready, consider using Chef Benjamin Baker’s recipe for sourdough bread, which begins with making sourdough starter.
These are the basic steps to starting a starter. Honestly it can take a number of tries before you arrive a one that really works for you, and tastes good, too. Do not fret, practice and persistence will produce the results that you are looking for.
In a bowl
- Take about 1/3 cup of flour and work in roughly 2 tbsp of water (spring or distilled is best).
- Mix until this forms a soft dough.
- Knead this dough for about ten minutes, to develop it’s elasticity (gluten development).
- Place in a bowl and cover with damp towel.
- Set in a slightly warm spot for a few days (80-85 degrees Fahrenheit).
- Remove external crusty bits from dough and reserve the remainder.
- Mix the remainder with roughly 1/4 cup of water, and a half cup of flour (6. and 7. are the refreshing process).
- Repeat the kneading process.
- Allow to sit for another 2 days, covered with a damp cloth.
- Repeat the refreshing process, this time with roughly 1/4-1/2 cup of water, and a full cup of flour.
- Allow to sit once more for about 8-12 hours.
You may use this to make your bread; always reserve some of your starter to refresh, in order to keep your culture alive.
How to keep the D’oh! out of making Sourdough Starter
Although making sourdough starter is basically very simple, a lot can go wrong–dumb stuff, really. And so the following tips are intended to help you navigate around some of the hazards associated with the care and feeding of sourdough starter.
- Use a clear glass jar or bowl so you can see what’s going on with your starter.
- Keep it clean! Containers must be properly sterilized before you begin. Chef Baker says not to use anti-bacterial soap, or any soap for that matter, to clean out the containers you plan to use for your sourdough starter. Instead, he uses steam, or boiling water, and says either will kill potential contaminants. The starter is particularly vulnerable early on.
- Use filtered or spring water where possible. While most tap water is fine to drink, it tends to have chlorine in it, and chlorine inhibits yeast growth. And we’re aiming for your starter to attract and incubate wild yeast.
- Whenever possibly–go organic. Why? It maximizes the concentration of microorganisms in your ingredients, and avoids preservatives, pesticides or fungicides that might have been used on the grains. Those substances may potentially inhibit starter growth.
- Do not skip the refreshing steps when making starter. These steps are intended to add extra food to the container for the organisms you are culturing. Refreshing the starter simply means that you are adding additional flour and water to your container. You may have to throw out some of the starter that’s in the container to make room for the fresh stuff. Of course, you can always use what you remove.