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More Sourdough Questions????

post #1 of 16
Thread Starter 
Alright, I have did the usual search thing here for this and came up with a lot of good information so much so that my computer desk now looks like I am writing a dictionary. I have really gotten interested in sourdough but everyone makes it sound like your feeding the family pet. Several questions I have are:

(1). Best flour to use? Wheat,bread,AP,organic. May have trouble getting organic where I live.

(2). What exactly is a barm?

(3).Where do you get raisin water?

(4). What special equipment is needed?

(5). What is a good starter for a "rookie"?

KyleW I am going to take your suggestion about Peter Reinharts book and try to pick it up this coming weekend. What would be a good book for a begginner at this? Is his book alright to began with? Think I will do a little more research here.
post #2 of 16
Thread Starter 
OK I went off on my own here and found a sourdough recipe on King Arthurs Flour site:

450 grams warm water or 2 cups
1 package active dry yeast
1 tblsp sugar or honey
450 grams Unbleached AP King Arthur Flour

It said to mix the warm water,sugar or honey, and the yeast together and add the flour slowly. According the recipe it was suppose to bubble almost immediately. You know what, I got no bubbles. Also said to use a glass bowl or ceramic bowl, I used a plastic bowl.Will that matter? At first I used a metal whisk to stir the ingredients then changed to a wooden spoon. Someone got any ideas here. I know its got the whole house smelling pretty good, that fresh baked smell. Boy I know I screwed up now.

Regards Cakerookie...:confused:
post #3 of 16
Real, true sourdough starters do not contain any commercial yeast, nor do they contain honey. They do contain flour and water. Reinhart's starter formula from Bread Baker's Apprentice is a pure flour and water starter.

(1). Best flour to use? Wheat,bread,AP,organic. May have trouble getting organic where I live.

Reinhart's starter begins with dark rye flour and then switches to bread flour. I use King Arthur bread flour.

(2). What exactly is a barm?

Barm is anonther name for 'mother' starter. Once your starter is alive and well it can be referred to as barm.

(3).Where do you get raisin water?

You make it by soaking raisin in water.

(4). What special equipment is needed?

None really, although I find a scale and a good stand mixer indispensable.

(5). What is a good starter for a "rookie"?

Reinhart's Bread Baker's Apprentice. The book is designed for home bakers of all levels.
"At weddings, my Aunts would poke me in the ribs and cackle "You're next!". They stopped when I started doing the same to them at funerals." D. Barry
Reply
"At weddings, my Aunts would poke me in the ribs and cackle "You're next!". They stopped when I started doing the same to them at funerals." D. Barry
Reply
post #4 of 16
Wild yeast seems to grow in abundance on certain fruits like grapes and plums, etc. When the grapes are dried into raisins, much of the yeast remains and when you soak the raisins in water, after a while you will see a slight film that is the yeast floating. The bread baker at work here says this will kick start your starter. You need quite a lot if raisins though - at least 1 lb and water to cover by 3 or 4 inches. Thre raisins get drowned, not just a soak.

Jock
post #5 of 16
Thread Starter 
Day 1: My starter has not risen. I stirred this day. It rose about 25% the first 4 hours and has not risen no more.
This stuff has went flat not even rising. Is the sugar suppose to introduce the wild yeast into the dough? I have raisins, how long do I soak them for? And has anyone got or know of a recipe they can direct me too using raisin water in the dough? Secondly is using a plastic bowl affecting the outcome of my rise? Don't know, maybe this stuff is over my head..

Regards Cakerookie...

PS: It had a brown spot on the dough before I stirred it? Anyone know what this is? Me thinks, me messed up!
post #6 of 16
Deep cleansing breath CR.

You can use raisin water in any bread you'd like. Just swap it for the water or part of the water.

The sugar does not introduce the wild yeast, rather it is a food for them to eat.

Browns/Grays are OK. Pinks and Oranges are not. Pinks and oranges are signs of bad (make you sick) bacteria and you need to toos the starter.
"At weddings, my Aunts would poke me in the ribs and cackle "You're next!". They stopped when I started doing the same to them at funerals." D. Barry
Reply
"At weddings, my Aunts would poke me in the ribs and cackle "You're next!". They stopped when I started doing the same to them at funerals." D. Barry
Reply
post #7 of 16
Thread Starter 
Thanks KW. I think I am going to toss the starter and just start over with the rye flour and King Arthurs AP like you said. The recipe/formula I got was off the King Arthur website and it won't rise. I know I did not kill the yeast because I was very meticulous about the water temp it was exactly 109F when I added the yeast. And the recipe did not say to feed it just stir it, why feed one, and not the other?:bounce:
post #8 of 16
WHile I do not nean to question the good folks at Kng Arthur, any wild yeast starter formulat that includes commercial yeast isn't a wild yeast starter formula.

PS I use KA bread flour not AP. It's higher protein.
"At weddings, my Aunts would poke me in the ribs and cackle "You're next!". They stopped when I started doing the same to them at funerals." D. Barry
Reply
"At weddings, my Aunts would poke me in the ribs and cackle "You're next!". They stopped when I started doing the same to them at funerals." D. Barry
Reply
post #9 of 16
Thread Starter 
Never thought you were doing that for a moment there KW. Thanks, I have the KA bread flour more than I will ever use actually. Might get started after while if I feel better, a little under the weather, sinus problems I sound like froggy on the 'Little Rascals'.

Regards Cakerookie...
post #10 of 16
Thread Starter 
Can you use wholewheat flour and switch to bread flour? I want to try that Barm formula. Another thing I cannot get malt powder, I can get malt in the fine seed type stuff, could this be used and just grind it in a coffee grinder. I purchased some whole wheat flour today but I still lack the malt or diastatic wheat powder.Sorry I am asking so many questions. Gotta get that book this weekend.

Regards Cakerookie...
post #11 of 16
Get the book :-) In Bread Baker's Apprentice he uses only flour and water. You can use whole wheat to start. He just uses whole grain at the beginning to jump start the process.
"At weddings, my Aunts would poke me in the ribs and cackle "You're next!". They stopped when I started doing the same to them at funerals." D. Barry
Reply
"At weddings, my Aunts would poke me in the ribs and cackle "You're next!". They stopped when I started doing the same to them at funerals." D. Barry
Reply
post #12 of 16
Back in the pioneer days not much was available to make bread. Flour, water, salt, maybe a little sweetner. The bread made back then was akin to perhaps a very simple hearth bread we make today. Bread was probably made everyday on the homestead.

Somewhere along the way someone caught a specific bacteria (Lactobacillus) in their dough. Maybe leftover dough sat on the table and then found its way into the following days dough. Sourdough was born. Someone figured out the process and the "starter" became a part of everyday living. All that was really needed was flour and water to make a slightly firm solid starter. Everyday a portion would be taken away for that days dough. The portion used would be replaced by the same flour/water ratio and mixed with the original starter to be ready the next day. This bread was eaten everyday. They didn't have the shelf life extenders we use today.

When daughters got married, mothers would give them a piece of their starter to carry on the tradition. Women would praise their "starters" and would offer comments like, "my starter is 25 years old

Today commercial bakeries buy "lactobacillus san-francisco" and incorporate it into solid sponges starting new everyday. Smaller bakeries may continue the tradition of "starters" or whatever it may be called. In any case the key to sour dough is lactic acid and commercial yeast will not give you that. Commercial yeast will give you ethanol and CO2. Some commercial bakeries will "kick" the sour with additives like lactic acid or vinegar, etc. Some would consider this cheating. Lactobacillus will give natural lactic acid.

The key is to keep this simple. Use a high protein wheat bread flour. Make a somewhat solid starter with an appropriate amount of water. You really don't want to refrigerate it; you defeat the purpose. The starter shouldn't "rise" much, it's not supposed to. It should just sit there slowly fermenting. Replace in the starter what you take out.

There's two problems you are going to run into:

1. How do you get the proper bacteria you need to make it all happen? 2. You probably won't be doing this everyday to keep the cycle going.

I don't have the answers. Maybe you know someone on the west coast who could send you some starter and you could get going. Even if you don't bake everyday you still could remove some starter and refreshen with flour and water. The refreshen cycle is very important. Just throw away what you take out.

There are reams of research papers and highly technical information written on this very subject. Specialized equipment is used especially in Europe to make continuous sours thru tubes hundreds of feet long that wind around bakeries with transit times of 12 hours. Though it works mostly for rye sours. This is a very complicated subject. But obviously some bakers figure it out and make excellent sour dough bread.

Keep it simple and find the right bug. Good luck.
post #13 of 16
Thread Starter 
Informative. Thanks cookieguy I will take your advice under consideration. Well written by the way...

Regards Cakerookie...
post #14 of 16
I would imagine "sourdough" has been around much longer than that. The Bible says, "a little leaven ferments the whole lump." Natural leavain has been used for thousands of years. I guess American (San Francisco) sourdough has specific qualities that differentiate it from other breads. I was able to start a starter by just using unbleached flour and spring water and alternating days of stirring/feeding equal parts until it was lively. It took about a week. However, my bread was so sour (for my taste) that I discontinued using it and finally tossed my starter. I'm thinking of starting again and using another suggestion I heard of only using about a tablespoon of starter (the way one would use a packet of yeast.) I may try again.
post #15 of 16
You're absolutely right. But I couldn't cover all of history, I thought my reply was long enough!

But it's unknown what strains of Lactobacillus were in the breads mentioned in the bible and it's unknown what strain ended up in your bread. You may have picked up a strain that generates more acetic acid than lactic acid. This wouldn't taste good. Some strains generate acetones.

You specifically want "lactobacillus san francisco" which generates lactic acid. This is why I mentioned problem number 1; natually somehow getting the right strain into your dough. And then you have to consistently keep it going. Good luck to all.
post #16 of 16
Starters contain both yeast and bacteria. Fermentation produces both lactic and acetic acid. The sour tang in sourdough bread comes from acetic acid. The flavor profile of sourdough bread is determined in part by the balance between lactic and acetic acid. The environmental conditions underwhich fermentation takes place will help determine this balance. Firm starters maintaind in cool environments will skew the balance in favor of acetic acid. These will produce more sour breads. Loose starters, say 100% hydration, maintained in warmer environments will allow the lactic acid to dominate the profile. These will produce less sour breads.

Sour salt is sometimes used to boost the tang in breads. Sour salt is citric acid. If your starter is healthy and active it should at least double in volume within 6-8 hours of being refreshed.

I currently have 3 starters and rarely bake sourdough more than once a week. All 3 of my starters spend most of their life in the fridge. There really isn't a need to feed a starter everyda if you are not going to use it.
"At weddings, my Aunts would poke me in the ribs and cackle "You're next!". They stopped when I started doing the same to them at funerals." D. Barry
Reply
"At weddings, my Aunts would poke me in the ribs and cackle "You're next!". They stopped when I started doing the same to them at funerals." D. Barry
Reply
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