Flying Flour, Splashing Spices, Roomful Aromas

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Sourdough, Finally, but Worth the Wait

We have all had that scrumptious crust crackling chewy tang bread.  Having lived in places where bread is spongey, foamy and a good substitute for a rubber ball when squished together, I did like the bread variety in Milwaukee, and New York.  Now in Florida, there are some bakery breads, mass produced breads, the Costco variety of breads but none is really that wonderful sourdough flavor I seek.  Studying my bread books, reading blogs of bakers online and everything on he Fresh Loaf site, I began to consider a sourdough event in my won kitchen.  A friend and fellow baker, blogger and almost famous beekeeper in Louisville, KY( makes sourdough breads, brownies, etc.  We chatted via email about sourdough starter strategies and I took the leap.  At first, it didn't look to good... but I persevered.  Followed his advise.  I split, fed, stirred and repeated for a sequence of days.  Then finally, yesterday, August 31, 2010, I had BUBBLES of LIFE!
Here is how you create a wild yeast starter: 
from Elwood at Flour Today, Bread Tomorrow
"I used Classic Sourdoughs A Home Baker's Handbook by Ed Wood for instructions.
I took 2 cups of flour and 1 1/2 cup warm water and stirred it well, put it in a jar with cheesecloth on the top set it outside and then stirred it every now and again.  I brought it in at night, but if you don't have any critter problems I guess you could leave it out.  After about 2 days you should see some bubbling. Add another cup of flour and enough water to keep the consistency. You might have to do that several times over a couple of days. You know you have a good active starter when there is a 1 to 2 inch layer of foam on the top." 
Mine took about 6 days.  I divided a cup of a rather thin slurry into a sterile glass  container.  I added  1 cup of whole wheat flour and a half cup water.  To get the results in the above photo.  I continued to whole wheat flour to feed the starter.
Next, I prepared the sourdough bread dough knowing a long rise time was needed.  Four hours, six hours and little happened.  I allowed more time.  Night, late night arrived so I placed the entire batch in an oiled zip bag, and placed it in the fridge.  It came out with hope of life this morning. I allowed it to come to room temperature at which time I formed two loaves. 
By the time I had the second loaf formed, the first had shown a tiny bit of rise.  Now, came the excitement!  But disaster loomed.  The dough was sticking to the corn meal sprinkled peel. MMM???  Time to call on an old friend, parchment paper.  With that placed beneath the loaves, I spritzed them with oil, covered with platic and waited.
And there was RISE! This made me happy.  I performed a careful diagonal slash on one and a full length midline on the other.  The oven was at temperature with the steam feature ready.  POOOWHWWWSSHH!  Door closed, timer set, we wait.  Ah yes, soon there was a wonderful aroma filling the house.  Wait,     w   a   i   t  .   Out of the oven they come.
You can see the difference in the size of the loaves and the slashes.  The crust is a bit pale.  The bottoms are nutty brown and crisp in appearance.  We tried to wait for the loaves to cool but that didn't happen.
The aroma was too alluring and I was anxous to see if I achieved holes.

The knife made firm contact with a crunchy draw across the crust, some crumbs popped.  I think that is a good sign.  The first piece fell away and the center looked dense.  I sliced a another and VIOLA!
HOLES!  Despite  the    l   o   n   g    rise time, that the loaf is a tad heavy, the crumb texture dense and the outer top crust a bit pale, I still count this as a sucess for the first effort is ages for a sourdough.  The Combsman's commment, "You have made sourdough many times and it never tasted this sour."  SCORE! Doing the victory dance, oh yeah, oh yeah!!  Yum and yum. . . .   


  1. Lisa, I'm a bread addict. I eat mostly unleavened bread here in India, but I actually love Irish brown bread so much, I'm practically having 'bread sickness' at the moment, pining for it so much. The white sliced loaf with the soft crust is available, but that is so nothing in comparison with what I love.

    Lisa, Judy and I would love if you would join us in the Tuesday Morning Writings. Usually, my daughter MelRoXx (blogging id) joins us but she's busy with studies nowadays. At the height of our activities we had around six members, now there's only two right now, Mel will rejoin when time allows. I'll let you know when the next set of photo prompts and sentences are posted. I think it will be on my Wordpress blog. I'll find out from Judy the USA time for posting. This is very exciting for us to have a new member and thanks for your interest. It's a great way to practise your fiction writing skills. We try to comment and encourage each other on our pieces. Judy had a few problems this week and will post a little late....

    Back with you soon....delighted to have you on board....

  2. Lisa, I second Gaelikaa's welcome. When I read her email listing your name and website, I thought I would pop on over and say hello and that I look forward to your stories. I also love bread, though I'm not much of a cook. Your profile says you live in Florida. I'm not sure if that's central or eastern. This time around, we're posting by Gaelikaa's time, she is ten hours and thirty minutes ahead of central time, which means I schedule my post for 10:30 PM Monday night, and if you're on eastern time, you would post at 11:30 pm. I'm going ahead and post your URL to the post I'm doing for this evening for all to read Gaelikaa's story. Again, let me say how delighted I am to have you join us. My website is

  3. Thanks for the shout out! 6 days isn't bad for starting a culture. I hope that with time it will get stronger. It seems that you may have more bacteria than yeast. The bacteria give the bread the sour tang and the yeast provides the rise, along with some flavor. I think that I would take a cup of the starter and feed it with one cup of flour and 3/4 cup of water. Leave it for 12 hours and then do the same thing, a couple of times. That might build up your yeast and give you a more reliable rise. I have to say..your bread looks really good, nice crumb!

  4. Great to have a coach! For those reading, Elwood and I have known each other since junior high.... and have lived far apart since college so this is a great treat! I did separate off the starter yeaterday and fed both parts. 12 hours? Time to fed the jar pets, then. I am sharing starter with a neighbor just beginning her bread baking adventures ...

    Thanks El,

  5. Lisa, I doff my topi to you for your patience. I would not be able to emulate. I am too lazy anyway to make breads and simply buy. Makes sense when only two small eaters are regular bread eaters in my home.

  6. Thanks. The next sourdough batch won't take so long to rise.
    I made great crunchy toast.

  7. Congrats!!! I love sourdough but I haven't ventured into the "starter" field of bread making....although It is rolling around in my head more and more these days and I suspect will take flight eventually LOL. It looks fantastic!