Our greatest glory is not in never failing, but in rising up every time we fail. ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Sourdough Update

I have been working on an easy, tasty, chewy sourdough to make on a regular basis around here. I have the starter rolling-I used Emeril's potato water starter. The flavor is developing nicely. My issue now is getting the chewy part down. The bread rose well, with just the starter as yeast. One thing I've noticed is that many recipes calls for more yeast once you get to actually making the bread. That just counters the whole point (save the flavor) of making sourdough bread. The starter is the yeast. I found a recipe that called for just the basics: the starter, some salt, some flour. I didn't even use water, as it used enough starter to take care of that. It turned out okay, but I want a softer crust and a slightly lighter inside. I have been baking long enough at this point to have some ideas on how to make that happen, so I will continue to experiment. Once I have it down-trust me, you'll get the recipe :)
On a related note, the 5mad bread did sour very, very nicely on the counter. I simply did not refrigerate it after the initial rise. It does get more and more liquidy, so it takes more flour to make it work. In a pinch or you really want a sourdough-it works, but my quest is for something I never have to add yeast to again. I will still keep yeast on hand for emergencies, but there is so much you can do once you get your sourdough skills down. I am sure we will work on a video series with the starter once it is perfected. In the meantime, what you can do is to start a starter-they keep alive very well and with only a little maintenance. You can google Emeril's starter recipe for the potato water one, or find one of your own. I think in the Midwest area, at the very least, it is a good idea to start with a starter that has a base for it's fermentation-like fruit or potato water. This is due to the fact that we do not have as yummy a yeast base as say, San Francisco. I have made starters from just water and flour, and they did not end up with a pleasant flavor at all. Adding wild yeast to an already made base, though, seems to be working out very well. Also, if you are using a whole grain flour for your base, be sure to either use a very, very well ground one (I started with Paul's Grains 7 grain, and it just was too heavy for my yeastie beasties to get through very well so I had to cut it at least half way with white flour and have been feeding it that until it lightens up a little more) or be sure to half it with some pastry or white flour. Some sites say you have to refrigerate the starter. If you are forgetful, I would say yes, as you don't have to pay as much attention to them, but I just keep mine on the counter so it can keep finding yeastie beasties and adding a cup each of flour and water every few days, or every time I take starter out to bake with I replace what I took out. Eventually I give you all the details, but those should be a few hints to keep you going! Oh, and don't forget to stir it everyday-you will see separation of the liquids and solids. It's natural.


  1. I tried the 5mad dough last week but never got it to rise beyond the initial rising... mixed it, rise, fridged it, settled, pulled some out to bake, let it sit for HOURS & it didn't do anything. it tasted just fine just didn't get any bigger than I pulled out. what did I do wrong? Thanks for sharing!!!

  2. My 5mad bread doesn't usually rise much after the first one. It is more of an artisan bread than your standard. I usually would pull mine out of the fridge and shape, then just bake without letting it rise again. It tends to be a chewy, kind of dense bread. I like it for a lot of things, but there are so many bread out there-which is why I am working with trying to get a different sourdough rolling. I wouldn't worry about the rise. Just use it!

  3. I agree - that's the whole point of wild yeast. When I get busy and forget about the starter, it will rise and then fall flat. So only then will I add yeast to that batch because I hate to throw out starter (even then, I'll add artichoke hearts or blue cheese to it, just to mix up the bread).


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