Saturday, July 5, 2008

Growing a new pet

"Walking the new pet" while enjoying another yeast-based product

Late last year I started experimenting with making a Sourdough starter from scratch. Basically the idea was to create an environment that is conducive to capturing wild yeast and then helping it grow and multiply. Once alive and thriving, the starter can be fed and used as a sponge for making sourdough breads, pizza crusts, pancakes etc etc. It's amazing that "starter" cultures have lived and been maintained for hundreds of years. My prior efforts failed when we went to the UK for three weeks over Christmas and forgot all about it.

So today I decided to try again. The initial "recipe" is simple enough - 1 cup of bread flour and 1 cup of warm water. Store in a plastic or glass container in a warm place (do not use metal containers or cutlery). Every day for about the first week throw out half the mixture and add back in 1/2 cup of water and 1/2 cup of flour. I have dubbed this process "feeding the bitch" (it's just like having a pet). If I've done it right, after 2 or 3 days I should start to see a lot of bubbles and notice a pleasant, sour, "beer-like" smell. At that point I will move it to the fridge and feed it once a week until it's needed (I'll cover the "proofing" process if I ever get there).

This is a picture of the starter just after mixing - the surface is pretty smooth with no signs of activity. Hopefully that will soon change. I'm going to store it loosely covered on the kitchen bar and see what happens. Nancy says I can't keep referring to my new pet as "the bitch", so any suggestions for another name are welcome.

And finally, after posting yesterday's blog entry which highlighted the cultural, intellectual and historical significance of the Welsh, I came across this. I think I need some more wine :-)

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