Monday, May 30, 2011

Figuring out homemade sourdough

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We all have friends (at least, I hope that's the case). It's just that one of mine, Rebekkah, is a new found expert in the world of sourdough bread. And lucky for me, she came down to my level and laid it all out. A few times, actually, because I'm easily confused. I have previously looked into getting a sourdough starter, but it always lasted a whole 5 seconds. Once I started reading the instructions, I was completely turned off to it. Who has the time, right?

So like I said, I'm completely clueless about this kind of stuff, but this is actually so much easier than it looks. Rebekkah referred me to some amazing websites, so here they are, in the order you'll be needing them:

Getting your starter:
Rebekkah and I split this King Arthur Flour sourdough starter, so we each paid a little over $3. Not a bad deal, if you ask me. Now the great thing about this starter is that it can provide you with what you need to make sourdough for as long as you feed it (instructions on how to do that will be in the next link). And you know what the best part about this is? It's cultured, unlike myself. The website says that "it’s descended from a starter that’s been lovingly nurtured here in New England since the 1700s." That, my friends, is some mature starter. Clearly I'm out of my league here, but sourdough has something to do with bacteria and yeast and beer-smelling goo. But it turns out to be that glorious chunk of carbs shown at the top of this page.

Feeding your starter:
Since I'm an amateur,  I'm going to copy the dummy-proof directions that Rebekkah wrote on my wall last week after I harassed her enough. I was genuinely scared to touch my starter, but this helped me a lot:

You need to get your sourdough starter out of the container. Put it in a bowl and add 1/2 cup water and 1 cup flour (Rachael here-I actually ended up adding equal parts water and flour because it was more of a paste, and it's supposed to be liquidy). Mix and cover. Leave it that way until it starts bubbling. The bacteria and yeast keep reproducing in your starter, turning the entire mixture into starter. You can infinitely keep adding the water/flour mixture to make an infinite amount of starter.

Once you get the amount of starter you want to keep - a few cups worth - either use some or put it in the fridge. If you are going to use refrigerated starter, take it out and feed it a few hours before you plan to use it. Every time you use some starter, feed it again to keep it at an even amount. If it's been unused in the fridge for a week, take it out, stir it, discard a cup, then feed it again.

Baking the bread:
The picture at the top of this blog is of King Arthur Flour's Extra-Tangy Sourdough. This is actually the first sourdough recipe that I've made, but there are hundreds of different variations out there. But hey, if it's not broke, why fix it?

So before you run away screaming, I'd just encourage you to take one step at a time. You don't have to do this all in one day—just grab the starter and take if from there.

Also, if you are in the Seneca/Clemson/Greenville area and would like some free starter, just comment on here or message me on Facebook. I'd be happy to get you some of mine so you can start making your own bread without going through the hassle of ordering it. Because remember, I have to keep feeding it indefinitely, and you're supposed to get rid of some of it every time you go to feed it. Better it end up in your kitchen than in my trashcan!

Love and bread-'n-butta,
Rachael

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