Friday, June 4, 2010

Stalking the Wild Kentucky Yeast

Early on in my baking adventures, I developed a fascination with sourdough and wild yeast starters. Twenty years ago I kept a culture that my Mother had given me. It was the kind that required feeding with potato flakes and sugar. It was vigorous and had a great rise, and though the baked loaves, or cloverleaf rolls that I loved to make, were very good, they hardly tasted like sourdough. After some months of neglect it expired and I went for years with no starter in my fridge. Then the bug bit again and I ordered a starter and book from Sourdoughs International. They have quite a selection, but I chose the original San Francisco sourdough. This culture served me well. But again, neglect and life got in the way and I discovered that starter way in the back of the fridge, looking like a science experiment gone very wrong. So once more I went for several years culture free.

Now, after baking for this blog, I felt the call of the siren’s song. This time I decided to attempt a capture of my own yeast. Armed with info gleaned from many resources, most contradictory, the journey began. I mixed 2 cups of all purpose flour and 1 ½ cups of warm water in a plastic jar I found in the cabinet. No doubt left empty by the lost lives of past starters. Covered with cheesecloth, it went out on the deck. After one day there seemed to be some activity, could this be? Or had I captured some mutant urban bacteria hungry for my flour?

I added another cup of flour and ¾ cup of water. The next morning, definite signs of life! I did this for two more days and had a respectful head of foam and rise. I took one cup of this and added 2 cups of flour and 1 ½ cups of warm water. The next morning it was ready as far as I could tell. Using the recipe for World Bread from Classic Sourdoughs, A Home Bakers Handbook by Ed Wood, I started my dough. It behaved beautifully and made two nice high loaves, each with a nice sourdough twang. I only got a picture of one loaf, since the other was scarfed up while still warm, with plenty of butter.

Now, once again, there is a starter snuggled comfortably in the fridge, waiting for this weekend’s feeding.


Joanne said...

I still haven't tried sourdough yet! i need to get on that!

Judy's Bakery & Test Kitchen said...

Well, I am a newbie at this starter stuff. Glad you got yours going, and you were able to get your bread to rise. Great going!

LISA said...

I am doing a sourdough today. I alternate making breads from HBinFive and Bread Bakers' Apprpentice. This one is from BBA.

I like that you created your starter as a wild yeast starter.

LISA said...

Elwood, did you add any commercial yeast when you made your sourdough loaves? Your photos indicate a nice rise, looks yummy.

Elwood said...

I didn't use any commercial yeast at all. I wanted to see if I could capture a wild starter that would work. I'm very pleased with it so far. I made some raisin and nut bread with it last week that was delish.

Femalechef said...

So you had 5 cups of flour in the jar before taking one cup out and adding two more cups of flour? The one cup you took out did you trash it? When you made your dough how much of this starter did you use besides dry flour for your two loaves? And how much do you feed it once a week now? Thanks for your post.

Elwood said...

I had 5 cups and took out the one cup to continue making the starter. I tossed the other 4 and added 2 more cups to end up with my final starter. I use 1/2 cup of starter to make my bread, feed the reamaining with 1 cup flour and 1/2 cup water. I let that sit out for an hour and then pop it back in the fridge for the next week.

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