Author Topic: The Italian starters are here!  (Read 22178 times)

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Offline Arthur

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Re: The Italian starters are here!
« Reply #60 on: December 03, 2006, 04:18:31 PM »
My starter is activated.   I was lucky enough to get Ed Wood to help me through it.

If you go through this Topic from the start many posts where right on the mark - especially Bill/SFNM.

Here are a few things I can add to those who are starting out:

- I'm pretty sure that a hooch in the middle/bottom really does mean that it is contaminated.
- Perform enough washings that the hooch goes away (for me it was 3-4)
- The total number of days for me from start to activation was about 8-9.  This is more than what's said in the instructions but probably because mine (and it sounds like many others) required washings.
- The most difficult thing to understand for me was the expected smell.   When it was contaminated it had a poor smell - not horrible for me and that's why I was confused.  Now smelling the activated culture I can see what a "good" smell is like.  The final activated culture smells like...well...yeast or beer yeast or fresh bread or (if you've ever eaten some of this) fresh multi-grain bread.  I only used Caputo flour and water to feed.

« Last Edit: December 03, 2006, 05:17:31 PM by Arthur »


Offline Finnegans Wake

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Re: The Italian starters are here!
« Reply #61 on: December 04, 2006, 01:49:42 PM »
You got Ed Wood's book to help you, or Ed hisself?

My three had been out of the fridge for Thanksgiving, and per Wood's section on washing I think the experience was not good for them.  They had been grumpy, revived well, then all three developed a weird skin on the surface.  I was going to go through the washing process, but when I plucked the skin off, the batter below seemed fine.  So I simply did a normal feeding, pouring off all but a cup of each and then adding flour and water.  Voila.  They were back and running in no time, happy as clams.

I think there's a different smell to each culture, and I wouldn't say it's exactly like beer or yeast or fresh bread.  There is a sourness to it, that's what it's producing and that's why it's named what it is.  But I think you can tell a lot about the culture by the smell, including what I've characterized as happiness or grumpiness.

Incidentally, I was going to make chicken parm Sunday but decided to use up two refrigerated pizza doughs instead.  It just seems that each new attempt gets better and better.  Previously used a combo of parchment paper and cornmeal to transfer to the stone, but I had to slide the pie off the paper after a minute so it wouldn't burn.  I had also stretched with a wet-finger method, and it didn't get as thin as I liked. 

Sunday, I went back to rolling out on a floured surface.  This enabled me to really get the dough thinner, I'd say it's thinner than 1/4", and the surface flour helped with browning at my oven temp of 550F-575F.  Nice rise, nice crust ratio of chew to crunch, nice interior bubble.  They're starting to like a lot more like the pics of pies posted here.  If Santa brings me the digital camera I've asked for...

Oh, and the French culture made a superb pain au levain.  Really tasty, and I even got a nice rise despite having to retard the dough in the fridge longer than recommended due to my work sched.  Probably my best loaf and best pizza doughs yet.  And I can't bake for sh**!!!  Well, it's starting to look like I can after all...    ;D
Education: that which reveals to the wise, and conceals from the stupid, the vast limits of their knowledge. --
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Offline Arthur

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Re: The Italian starters are here!
« Reply #62 on: December 04, 2006, 03:05:02 PM »
Actually Ed himself (via email).   He was nice enough to help me out.

As for the smell mine doesn't smell sour (yet?) but it has a "nice" smell as the term someone else used.

I used to use cornmeal but then I switched to just flour once I got better at using my peel.   The key is to build the pie on one surface with flour and then transfer to the peel with a minor amount of flour.

Offline abatardi

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Re: The Italian starters are here!
« Reply #63 on: December 31, 2006, 12:57:00 PM »
So I had ordered these starters a couple years ago... the first time I activated them was a huge pain in the ass (used oven light method) and they never really got going. 

I finally decided to try again, and built a proofing box this time and to try and help prevent 'contamination' in any way possible (because it seems like everyone on here had the culture contaminated at some point, including me in my first go) I boiled all the tools like you would if you were going to can tomatoes or something (jar, lid, tongs, spoons, etc) and cleaned out the inside of the cooler/proofing box.  Didn't think this would really help as I figured contaminants would come from the air but I figured it couldn't hurt either.

Here are some pics (this is the Camoldoli starter):

proofing box
http://www.mongee.com/camoldoli/IMAGE_248.jpg

temp:
http://www.mongee.com/camoldoli/IMAGE_247.jpg

at 16 hours:
http://www.mongee.com/camoldoli/IMAGE_249.jpg

at 24 hours after first feeding:
http://www.mongee.com/camoldoli/IMAGE_251.jpg
http://www.mongee.com/camoldoli/IMAGE_252.jpg

this morning, 36 hours:
http://www.mongee.com/camoldoli/IMAGE_254.jpg

I fed it one more time this morning and have some of it in a 2nd container now as well... It looks good to me but I wanted an expert opinion.  Like I said before I never really got it right.  The smell is pretty sour, as is the taste (I tried a dab on my finger off a spoon I mixed with after feeding).  It's not a bad smell I guess, but it's not something I'd want to bask in either, heh. 

Anyway I will update progress if something else happens... Right now it looks okay to me (hooch on the top and not a horrible smell) but I think this would be too lucky (activation with no contamination in 36 hours?).  Would appreciate any input though... 

- aba
« Last Edit: December 31, 2006, 01:01:55 PM by abatardi »
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Offline Bill/SFNM

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Re: The Italian starters are here!
« Reply #64 on: December 31, 2006, 01:27:43 PM »
The smell is pretty sour, as is the taste (I tried a dab on my finger off a spoon I mixed with after feeding). 

In my experience, the taste of the starter is not much of an indicator. All of my starters have a pretty unpleasant taste IMO.

Bill/SFNM

Offline abatardi

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Re: The Italian starters are here!
« Reply #65 on: December 31, 2006, 01:32:49 PM »
okay cool, good to know. 
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Offline abatardi

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Re: The Italian starters are here!
« Reply #66 on: January 01, 2007, 11:36:16 AM »
it's a new year's miracle!  :-P

So last night around 1:30 or so I got home stumbling around drunk but still had the mind to feed my starter that was activating and it looks like this morning it's pretty much done activating.

I had been using the "improved" instructions that got sent out by sourdo with this batch, but those mention nothing of the consistency of the starter.  I had washed the culture yesterday and it looked pretty watery but I put in exactly what the instructions said so I figured it was ok.   Then I remembered a post on here where someone had mentioned that another member's starter looked watery as well and to thicken it up as it needed some body to actually rise... So I ended up adding another half or 3/4 cup of flour to get the consistency a lot thicker and I think that is what made the difference. 

So these pics are taken about 7 hours after last feeding... One container looks like it rose more than the other, but that one was also closer to the heat source in the proofer also. 

- aba
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Offline abatardi

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Re: The Italian starters are here!
« Reply #67 on: January 03, 2007, 02:44:24 PM »
well here is a pie and some bread I made with the starter.  I am having some problems with this oven (I moved to a new place and this oven is different).  The temp is getting up there but on the clean cycle the oven is heating using the bottom element instead of both like my last oven... so it is hard to get heat on the top even though I'm getting to about 750 on the stone.  I ended up taking a hearth kit and turning it upside down over my pizza stone on the bottom shelf to try and trap the heat but it's not working that well...  So this may be as good as I'm going to get with this setup.. 

Anyway, pics are below..  Pizza was not the greatest but the bread was pretty good.

- aba
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Offline Arthur

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Re: The Italian starters are here!
« Reply #68 on: January 05, 2007, 10:33:12 AM »
Great job.  Wow, you do a lot of baking in a day!

Did you find that your pizza dough rose at all when using the starter?  25%; 50%? in how many hours?

Your bread looks amazing.  What that using the no-knead recipe?

Arthur.

Offline abatardi

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Re: The Italian starters are here!
« Reply #69 on: January 05, 2007, 08:37:59 PM »
You know to be honest I should've paid attention more with this... It was just on a whim and I didn't really keep track of anything, just kind of threw everything together until the dough looked good and gave it an overnight counter rise.  It did rise, just not sure how much.  Of course the one time I don't pay attention it comes out decent.  Maybe I just discovered the secret.  Don't give a crap, and your bread will come out good just to spite you. 

That wasn't the no-knead bread, that was actually some left over pizza dough that I just made into a circle and cut the top up on and threw it in the oven while it was cooling down.  I want to try the no-knead stuff though, maybe in a couple days.

- Aaron
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Offline mrbthree

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Re: The Italian starters are here!
« Reply #70 on: January 06, 2007, 03:32:37 PM »
I just want to share that I made my first batch of dough with the Ischia starter and what a joy it is to taste bread and pizza made from this 200 year old starter. A gift that will last a lifetime(if I don't screw it up and kill it); the same goes for the Camaldoli starter. Many thanks, Marco.
I don't have a camera at this time to take photos, nevertheless, the bread has a wonderful aroma and flavor just I had imagined.
I really need a hotter oven to make good pizza with this dough, but the flavor came through wonderfully, even though the dough consistency suffers from the low oven temp.
If you have been hesitating or riding the fence about whether to get into the Italian starters, let me encourage you to go ahead and do so. I have not been disappointed by any means. Patience is the key, along with temperature control. Marco offers excellent advise in this forum as to handling these starters; follow his recommendations and you'll be fine with it.

Toodles, gs
 

Offline yongjoo

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Re: The Italian starters are here!
« Reply #71 on: February 01, 2007, 11:16:35 PM »
Just got my Italian starters today and will begin activating this weekend. I have a whole bunch of questions, but after reading all the material and forums, I have one big question. How do you know the cultures are finally activated?

Offline Bryan S

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Re: The Italian starters are here!
« Reply #72 on: February 02, 2007, 12:45:59 AM »
Just got my Italian starters today and will begin activating this weekend. I have a whole bunch of questions, but after reading all the material and forums, I have one big question. How do you know the cultures are finally activated?
I use 1/2 gal Ball Mason jars, and you will know when they are active. The culture will climb up the sides of the jar and maybe, just maybe try to blow the lid off. You'll see the tell tale signs of the culture on the sides of the jar or whatever vessel you use to store, feed and them in.  ;)
Making great pizza and learning new things everyday.

Offline yongjoo

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Re: The Italian starters are here!
« Reply #73 on: February 02, 2007, 10:23:02 PM »
Thanks. Just picked up 1 quart mason jars, and will be picking up my styrofoam cooler tomorrow from a friend. Try finding a styrofoam cooler in the middle of winter, not the easiest thing.  :pizza:

Offline Bryan S

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Re: The Italian starters are here!
« Reply #74 on: February 03, 2007, 12:32:59 AM »
Thanks. Just picked up 1 quart mason jars, and will be picking up my styrofoam cooler tomorrow from a friend. Try finding a styrofoam cooler in the middle of winter, not the easiest thing.  :pizza:
Wal Mart usually has them. I just used a cardboard box lined with a bath towel and a heating pad set on low beneath the towel. Put the stater in and closed the lid of the box and added some weight to keep it closed. Temp held a steady 84-86 in there.  ;)
Making great pizza and learning new things everyday.

Offline deb415611

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Re: The Italian starters are here!
« Reply #75 on: February 03, 2007, 08:58:06 AM »
I just recently activated the Camoldi starter without the cooler setup.  I just put it in the oven with the light on.   It held pretty steady at around 85 degrees. 

 

Offline yongjoo

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Re: The Italian starters are here!
« Reply #76 on: February 04, 2007, 10:04:16 PM »
Would you say the chance of contamination is a lot less after the initial 24 hours?

Offline Bryan S

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Re: The Italian starters are here!
« Reply #77 on: February 04, 2007, 10:13:28 PM »
Would you say the chance of contamination is a lot less after the initial 24 hours?
As long as the culture/yeast are active, yes. If they are not active then bad things can take over.  ;)
Making great pizza and learning new things everyday.

Offline yongjoo

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Re: The Italian starters are here!
« Reply #78 on: February 06, 2007, 09:30:43 AM »
So, 8am this Tuesday morning (started activating Saturday 8pm), my yeast spilled over. Now I did have the jar 3/4s full. Don't think it's activated. It's too short of time, right? And, the smell is not very "yeasty". The foam was almost fully up the jar. About a 1/2 cup spilled out.

Anyway, I poured some out fed it, proofed it, and left for work. I am right to assume this isn't ready yet. Sorry for all the stupid questions. Just obsessed with this thing.

Offline scott r

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Re: The Italian starters are here!
« Reply #79 on: February 07, 2007, 03:17:33 PM »
if you feed again with a 1/2 full jar and it spills over you are up and running!  I don't consider my starters to have a yeasty flavor.

When I finally get a culture active like this I like to go through a few rounds of feeding and falling before finally putting it in the fridge.

good luck longjoo! 
« Last Edit: February 07, 2007, 03:21:25 PM by scott r »


 

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