Must Feed Starter
February 3, 2010
The first time I tried the bread was dense and flat, extremely salty and very stuck in a bread pan. The next try the boules were disk-like and chewy, but tasted great. This time it tasted like real bread. Soft, but firm with some air pockets. We dipped it in olive oil and both boules were gone before a day passed.
I think the key was, well..first to use the proper amount of salt and not use a bread pan, second to let the dough rise fully in a nice warm spot (under some desk lights) and bake at a lower temperature than The Joy of Cooking suggests. Otherwise, The Joy of Cooking is the best. It helped me make a natural sourdough starter and has a great section about yeast breads. My favorite part is the shaping.
It amazes me that you can just combine flour and water and days later you will have a bubbling, spongy sourdough (starter) to which you need only to add more flour, salt and a lot of time. Say yes to bread. A starter is an active culture, your pet yeast if you will. Once you combine flour and water, the yeast that lives in the air and on the surface of the flour comes to life. You let the yeast grow for 3 days and then it is ready to make your bread rise. Like a pet, you have to continually feed a starter. If you leave it out at room temperature you have to feed it twice a day, if you keep it in the fridge just once a week. Alright, it’s not quite like a pet. The recipe in The Joy of Cooking makes just enough starter to make one recipe of bread. If you feed the starter for a couple more days before you bake, then you will have some left over and you can make bread indefinitely. A natural sourdough means that you don’t add any commercial yeast. I didn’t believe it would work either, but it certainly does!
One more successful set of loaves and I’m on to bagels!