Author Topic: newbie to sourdough  (Read 12594 times)

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Offline Kidder

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newbie to sourdough
« on: September 26, 2006, 11:08:13 AM »
Well, I finally decided to try my hand at sourdough. I mixed a starter last night, 2 cups King Arthur AP flour with 2 cups whole milk, put in a glass bowl and covered loosely with plastic wrap in my kitchen. I have the Williams-Sonoma Essentials of Baking book which is really nice, put together well. Hopefully in three days it'll be soured nicely. Being my first time I don't expect much.

I plan on baking a loaf or two before I even attempt at using it in a pizza dough. I need to be comfortable at feeding and maintaining the starter. I'm a little intimidated at the whole process, just because it's such a delicate beast from what I've observed. Any tips you guys recommend for a beginner?

I love sourdough bread though and I imagine it produces an extremely flavorful pizza dough as well. I don't want to resort to buying starter either. I'll see what the Dayton/Fairborn air can offer before I buy a starter.

Thanks......


Online Pete-zza

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Re: newbie to sourdough
« Reply #1 on: September 26, 2006, 04:55:57 PM »
Kidder,

I think you will find that most of the members don't use milk as part of a starter culture. However, I recently read a post on the PMQ Think Tank where a pizza operator in Australia combines milk, sugar and flour to make a sourdough type concoction. You might get some insights on how the process works by reading this post: http://thinktank.pmq.com/viewtopic.php?p=2101#2101. You might also read other posts in the thread to get further information.

Peter

Offline varasano

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Re: newbie to sourdough
« Reply #2 on: September 26, 2006, 05:45:38 PM »
I agree with Pete. I've not heard of the rationale for using milk.

Offline Kidder

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Re: newbie to sourdough
« Reply #3 on: September 26, 2006, 06:21:03 PM »
The ingredient section of the book says use whole milk but the directions say water. But I've seen recipes online that use equal part milk as well. Who should I believe? Should I make another starter tonight, using 2 cups AP flour with 2 cups water and wait a few days until soured?

http://southernfood.about.com/od/yeastbreads/r/blbb548.htm

Offline Kidder

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Re: newbie to sourdough
« Reply #4 on: September 26, 2006, 06:23:11 PM »
Well, I found another person that has noticed the issue with the book as well. Looks like I'll be dumping what I made last night and using equal amount of water and flour. It was awfully hard to mix together it tell ya. It's just water and flour, correct? There's no need to add yeast like the guy in the link below did, right?

http://www.lunchpail.com/fourandtwenty/index.php?p=16
« Last Edit: September 26, 2006, 06:27:50 PM by Kidder »

Offline varasano

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Re: newbie to sourdough
« Reply #5 on: September 26, 2006, 06:49:55 PM »
adding yeast is not needed. That's not the strain you are after.  Keep in mind though that what you catch in your kitchen is kind of random. It could be amazing. It could be terrible. I usually recommend going with a known high quality starter, but if you have the patience for trial and error, then by all means see what you catch.  Also, just leave the culture exposed to the air, as you are trying to catch something. There is some yeast in the flour also, but there is in all likelyhood a dominant strain in your house/neighborhood. 

Jeff

Offline Kidder

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Re: newbie to sourdough
« Reply #6 on: September 26, 2006, 07:53:18 PM »
Yeah, that's what I thought. The guy from that link didn't seem like he understood the whole concept of sourdough. I'm hoping I can get a loaf baked by Sunday at the latest. This little mishap just added another day. Oh well.

Thanks for the response. I'll let you know how it turns out. Or at least how the yeast is up here.

Offline ernestrome

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Re: newbie to sourdough
« Reply #7 on: September 27, 2006, 07:16:18 AM »
I just started a new starter a few weeks ago, and it is only stabilising now.

I have cooked with it a couple of times already, but it took longer to rise than normal, so factor that into your plans as a possibility. Sunday might be a little ambitious, imo.

Contrary to what varasano says, i resolutely keep my jar covered (with small airholes) until it is bubling so that other organisms cannot get into it until it is established.
« Last Edit: September 27, 2006, 07:18:26 AM by ernestrome »

Offline Kidder

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Re: newbie to sourdough
« Reply #8 on: September 27, 2006, 09:40:28 AM »
I just started a new starter a few weeks ago, and it is only stabilising now.

I have cooked with it a couple of times already, but it took longer to rise than normal, so factor that into your plans as a possibility. Sunday might be a little ambitious, imo.

Contrary to what varasano says, i resolutely keep my jar covered (with small airholes) until it is bubling so that other organisms cannot get into it until it is established.

What do you mean by 'stabilizing', meaning it's starting to sour? Should I leave my kitchen window open in hopes to speed up the process or do you think there's enough yeast in the house? My kitchen is around 70F so I don't want it to get any lower than that.


Offline ernestrome

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Re: newbie to sourdough
« Reply #9 on: September 27, 2006, 10:25:11 AM »
By stabilising i mean becoming ready to bake with, or becoming reliable to bake with. My starter showed signs of life quite quickly, but the first few breads i made took a long time to rise.

Well i ahve been arguing with these guys about whether the bread is in the flour or in the air. Let's not get into that now though.

Put it somewhere warm, like on top of your fridge near the back where the warm air rises.

Offline Kidder

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Re: newbie to sourdough
« Reply #10 on: September 27, 2006, 01:19:03 PM »
Some people say not to use tap water because chlorine in the water kills yeast. I know this is NOT true when using any brewer's yeast. Perhaps airborne yeast is more fragile, I don't know. I'm a homebrewer and have used city tap water before with no problems at all. But I can't smell the chlorine in our water like some other cities. I also use tap water all the time when making my pizza doughs, no problems with my yeast dying. I know beer yeast and ADY/IDY varieties have 'evolved' over the years and can withstand a good amount of abuse, airborne yeast is probably more susceptible to damage.


Offline varasano

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Re: newbie to sourdough
« Reply #11 on: September 27, 2006, 01:22:18 PM »
You are right. These guys are hard to kill. In fact all the recipes that talk about warm water, and sugar to feed them and salt will kill them, etc, are pretty much all wrong. I have never, ever proofed yeast and had it fail. Even if it didn't bubble up right away, there'd be some lively ones in there and all that would happen is that it would rise slower, which is better anyway.

Jeff

Offline ojuice

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Re: newbie to sourdough
« Reply #12 on: September 27, 2006, 01:30:33 PM »
It's pretty easy to get chlorine out of tap water.  Either use a water filter, leave it in a cup on the counter for a day or boil it--and it'll be ok to use.

http://www.thefreshloaf.com/ has a decent sourdough how-to.  I had great luck getting a starter going using their rye flour/pineapple juice method.  The rationale behind the pineapple juice is that the elevated acid will kill the bacteria that we don't want, and wake up the yeast (wild yeast requires a fairly acidic environment).  This is also the method used in The Bread Bakers Apprentice, a book by Peter Reinhart, who we all know from American Pie: My Search for the Perfect Pizza.
« Last Edit: September 27, 2006, 06:05:29 PM by ojuice »
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Offline Kidder

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Re: newbie to sourdough
« Reply #13 on: September 27, 2006, 04:52:37 PM »
Thanks so far guys. I appreciate it.

I'm assuming it's normal for the water and flour to separate a day after mixing the starter? There was a little less than a 1/4 inch of fluid above the mixture in the mason jar this morning. I know you're supposed to stir it with a wooden or plastic utensil once a day until it 'takes off'. The flour is pretty heavy so I assume this is normal.

Has anyone tried the cultures from www.sourdo.com? They have some nice strains of yeast from all over the world and seem to be really passionate about sourdoughs.

Offline varasano

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Re: newbie to sourdough
« Reply #14 on: September 27, 2006, 04:55:28 PM »
yes I always recommend sourdo.com. If you click the globe under my name you will see my recipe where I talk about sourdo.com and techniques for managing pizza dough with natural starters.

Offline scott r

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Re: newbie to sourdough
« Reply #15 on: September 27, 2006, 05:10:27 PM »
couldn't live without the Italian starters available at sourdough.com that one of our members Marco collected.  They changed my pizza from good to great.

Offline Kidder

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Re: newbie to sourdough
« Reply #16 on: September 27, 2006, 07:33:35 PM »
I just stirred it (hour ago) after the first 24 hours and it's separating already. Thin amount of liquid on top. I thought this was supposed to happen a few days after creating the starter. Anyway, there are lots of tiny bubbles on top of the liquid so I guess that's a good sign for now.

Anything I should be worried about? Do I just stir it once every 24 hours up until I use it in a bread? Or do I decant/pour out the liquid that has separated every 24 hours? The W-S book is a little vague at expalining the separation and what to do with it, if anything........I'll shut up for a while now......too much worrying I guess.....


Offline ojuice

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Re: newbie to sourdough
« Reply #17 on: September 28, 2006, 12:33:17 AM »
Kider,

It probably isn't yeast yet, but various other bacteria which multiply before the yeast and lactobacilii really get going.  It'll probably start to smell really rank, almost vomit inducing, settle down for a few days, then get yeasty. 

In regards to the liquid on top, I just stir any hooch that accumulates back in.

Here's some links to read:
http://www.thefreshloaf.com/lessons/sourdough
http://groups.google.com/group/rec.food.sourdough
http://www.schoolofbaking.com/sourdough_tips.htm
http://www.nyx.net/~dgreenw/sourdoughqa.html
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Offline Kidder

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Re: newbie to sourdough
« Reply #18 on: September 28, 2006, 09:21:31 AM »
Last night before I went to bed I had this feeling that something was going to happen overnight. The layer of liquid 'shifted' towards the middle of the jar. So I put the jar in a Tupperware bowl in case something violent happens overnight (I'd hate to clean that crap off the top of my fridge). I don't know why I put it in such a small jar.

This morning the starter filled about half the bowl, overflowing the jar! And yes it stunk bad. Definitely a vomit-inducing stench. I cannot begin to explain how bad that stuff smells. I dumped the contents of the jar into a much larger pyrex measuring glass, stirred, and covered loosely with plastic wrap.

I wasn't expecting it to take off so violently. You think this is a good sign? How soon do you think I could try it in a bread, until it subsides and settles down?

Offline scott r

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Re: newbie to sourdough
« Reply #19 on: September 28, 2006, 11:46:59 AM »
that's a VERY good sign.  You have yeast in there.  I would start baking as soon as it starts to smell really good.

Offline DNA Dan

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Re: newbie to sourdough
« Reply #20 on: September 28, 2006, 01:23:25 PM »
adding yeast is not needed. That's not the strain you are after.  Keep in mind though that what you catch in your kitchen is kind of random. It could be amazing. It could be terrible. I usually recommend going with a known high quality starter, but if you have the patience for trial and error, then by all means see what you catch.  Also, just leave the culture exposed to the air, as you are trying to catch something. There is some yeast in the flour also, but there is in all likelyhood a dominant strain in your house/neighborhood. 

Jeff

Being a molecular biologist, I would highly advise against trying to capture wild strains with an open container. For one, many people who do not know microbiology are not familiar with the smell, consistency or characteristics of a "normal" wild culture. You can easily capture pathogenic organisms that can be harmful to your health. More times than not, the pathogenic strains are dominant because they have some part of their genetics out of whack (They divide quickly, have resistance to extreme temp, etc.) You are much better off (and Safer) buying a "known" culture from a repudable company that specializes in yeast or bacillus strains.

If you are going to attempt this method for capture, I would highly recommend you educate yourself on the characteristics of  s. cerevisiae (baker's yeast) and other bacteria used in cooking. One huge misconception is that if it grows really fast, it's a good strain. Strains that have unregulated cell cycle growth are often pathogenic to some degree. Also, if you see any bright colors, Yellow, pink, etc. that is also not a good sign.

I don't want to see you folks die in pursuit of a better pie. (cause then you won't be able to share your recipes with me! :P) BE SAFE!

Offline varasano

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Re: newbie to sourdough
« Reply #21 on: September 28, 2006, 01:40:27 PM »
Just to clarify, I always recommend sourdo.com and tell people that I don't recommend capturing anything wild.

Offline Kidder

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Re: newbie to sourdough
« Reply #22 on: September 28, 2006, 02:26:15 PM »
Being a molecular biologist, I would highly advise against trying to capture wild strains with an open container. For one, many people who do not know microbiology are not familiar with the smell, consistency or characteristics of a "normal" wild culture. You can easily capture pathogenic organisms that can be harmful to your health. More times than not, the pathogenic strains are dominant because they have some part of their genetics out of whack (They divide quickly, have resistance to extreme temp, etc.) You are much better off (and Safer) buying a "known" culture from a repudable company that specializes in yeast or bacillus strains.

If you are going to attempt this method for capture, I would highly recommend you educate yourself on the characteristics of  s. cerevisiae (baker's yeast) and other bacteria used in cooking. One huge misconception is that if it grows really fast, it's a good strain. Strains that have unregulated cell cycle growth are often pathogenic to some degree. Also, if you see any bright colors, Yellow, pink, etc. that is also not a good sign.

I don't want to see you folks die in pursuit of a better pie. (cause then you won't be able to share your recipes with me! :P) BE SAFE!

How many people have died from eating bread? Even when homebrewers get a contaminated batch of beer they don't really have any health problems when they drink it, other than that bitter beer face. Hell, with lambics they are inviting wild yeasts to contaminate the beer, throughout the Belgian air and in the lining of the barrels they use to age the beer in. Everything about a lambic is controlled by wild yeast.

Won't baking the dough/bread for 40-45 minutes kill any bad organisms that may be in the bread? I know to look for pink off-colors in the starter so I'll keep an eye on it. Hopefully it'll start smelling good soon, when it subsides. Do most bread books warn the reader about capturing harmful bacteria when making sourdough? I know the W-S book didn't.

Thanks for warning though, I'll keep my eye on the starter for off-colors.

Offline DNA Dan

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Re: newbie to sourdough
« Reply #23 on: September 28, 2006, 03:09:14 PM »
I found this from the KA website.

Catching a "Wild" Yeast of Your Own

A second way to get a starter going at home is to capture the wild yeast that resides in your own kitchen just as the Mediterranean baker did. Capturing wild yeast is fun though a bit unpredictable. The summer and fall are times of the year when there will be more of them around. If you bake with yeast fairly often there may be enough wild yeast in your kitchen to activate a starter. If you can afford the time and the haphazardness of the results, it's worth a try. When you've captured some wild yeast successfully, you'll feel very accomplished. Here's how to set your trap.

 •  2 cups warm water
 •  1 tablespoon sugar or honey (optional)
 •  2 cups King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour

Mix the water, flour and optional sweetener together thoroughly in a clean, scalded glass or ceramic bowl. The scalding will ensure that you're starting "pure." Cover the bowl with a clean dishcloth. Put it in an area where there's apt to be the highest concentration of airborne yeast as well as the warmth that is needed to begin fermentation.

If the surface begins to look dry after a while, give the mixture a stir. It should begin to "work" in the first day or two if it's going to at all. If it does, your trap has been successful. As you would with a dried starter or active dry yeast, let this mixture continue working for 3 or 4 days giving it a stir every day or so. When it's developed a yeasty, sour aroma, put it in a clean jar with a lid and refrigerate it until you're ready to use it.

If the mixture begins to mold or develop a peculiar color or odor instead of a "clean, sour aroma," give a sigh, throw it out and, if you're patient, start again. Along with the vital yeasts, you may have inadvertently nurtured a strain of bacteria that will not be wonderful in food. This doesn't happen very often though, so don't let the possibility dissuade you from this adventure.


The link to the full page can be found HERE http://www.kingarthurflour.com/tips/tip.php?id=48481

You are correct in that the hazard is probably minimal because it's a cooked product. However, there are bacteria for example that live in underwater lava vents. The point here is that people assume that because they are using a specific food source to attract them, they will attract ONLY critters that like to eat on it. This is probably a fair assumption, however in the Biology world there is a mantra that states "what CAN happen, eventually will." Part of the essence of bacteria is that they fill virtually every single niche on Earth. They mutate rapidly and take over niches. Part of the hazard here is also not the food per se, but keeping that stuff in your fridge, or in your house with other food that you eat raw, such as veggies and fruits.

I am not saying the risk is high, it's actually probably quite low, but just know what you are growing. Is it a mold or a yeast? That sort of thing. I mean no one wants to be that .000001% person that died of some mutant pizza, or inhaled mold spores that gave them a respiratory infection.
« Last Edit: September 28, 2006, 04:14:12 PM by DNA Dan »

Offline Kidder

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Re: newbie to sourdough
« Reply #24 on: September 28, 2006, 08:45:34 PM »
Here's a couple photos of my starter from this evening...my fiance decided to get a camera tonight, though I'll be the one using it the most probably.....