Sourdough Bread – Wild Beast Management
Working with wild children in the kitchen is both satisfying and challenging. No, no, not talking about your favorite kids – we’re talking about wild yeast, specifically in baking sourdough bread.
As in winemaking, a natural yeast colony evolves and can be subject to a hostile takeover and the winemaker or baker doesn’t really knows this happens until the end result. However, there are ways to tame the wild beasts to retain their desired characteristics by providing friendly environments and regular feedings with the right nutrients to keep them healthy and happy. They are so much like kids!
No technical talk in this section about wild yeast floating the air or the fermentation process. You’ll just find periodic posts as we journey through sourdough bread making, batch after batch. Check back every so often to see how things are progressing!
See what Gin’s Kitchen has creating!
Gin’s Kitchen is pretty cool during winter months but it’s beginning to warm up with spring around the corner. This boule was last weekend’s project.
After a summer hiatus, the starter is again out of the fridge. Experimenting with feeding the starter with increased whole wheat to increase the sour in the bread. Seems to be working!
Fellow sourdough baker John Hyde of 26-Brix.com has been baking almost weekly with a starter we shared a year and a half ago. His loaves are beautiful and he has rediscovered the secret of creating complex flavor and aroma of the “sour” in naturally fermented sourdough breads. Stay tuned – more to come!
April 12, 2o14
Warmer weather = active wild starter. Loaf #197.
January 2, 2014
In December 2012, I embarked on a sourdough bread experiment and shared it with you in this April 13, 2013 post. I had no idea this endeavor was going to take so long with so many surprises.
Since then, over 150 loaves of sourdough have emerged from Gin’s Kitchen, in all sorts of looks and tastes, some more desirable than others. The loaf above was one of three baked on this past Christmas Eve morning – nice early Christmas present! However, loaves #168 and 169, coming out of the oven on New Year’s Day weren’t so pretty, even on that fuzzy day.
Playing in the kitchen for over a year with sourdough fermentation has been some experiment! Loaves are not getting thrown out as much, and friends and family are more open benefactors. No one has called about broken teeth or ripped up mouths, even with the crustiest loaves.
I’ve loved them all! – just some more than others.
I’m still learning. Learning that sourdough beasties are not unlike us humans.
The Starter, The Mother, Sam, or whatever else people call their sourdough starters each have their own personalities. Some act like they’re in a drunken stupor if ignored for too long (the alcohol they manufacture floats on top of the starter). Once fed, some take a long time to get going. The starter is a little like humans, thriving on regular feedings, moderate warmth and attention. They don’t like to be ignored.
Sourdough bread dough is temperamental. It behaves differently in different environments. Leave it out too long and it runs amuck (literally). It can predict damp weather by staying too damp itself. Maybe sourdough bread dough will be the new arthritis in predicting inclement weather.
Surprise! You don’t know what it’s gonna be until it comes out of the oven as the loaves morph from the start to the end. It’s the element of “what’s next?” that keeps the experiment going. I’m looking forward to the “coming out” party!