Sourdough bread-making methods
Leave a Comment

Refreshing the starter for a new batch of bread, and an oops

Since that last loaf, I’ve researched various methods for making whole wheat sourdough. A soaking and fermenting method by a woman named Helen Dickey looks promising. So does a University of Washington scientist’s unusual way to knead the dough.

I decided to try Dickey’s method, but first, I had to wake up my two-week-old starter.

Day 1

Yesterday evening, I fed the starter, the first of three feeds at twelve-hour intervals or less. This is the starter right after feeding it.

The two-week old starter is divided, fed and incubating in a clean jar

The two-week old starter, fed and incubating in a clean jar

The batch bubbled and gurgled just fine. That evening, before heading for bed, I fed it a second time.

Day 2

In the morning, the twice-fed starter was bubbly and wide awake. I measured out 150 grams to feed, and refrigerated the rest to use in sourdough biscuits later in the week.

While I readied my third–and last–feeding before making the bread sponge, I turned on National Public Radio (NPR). Immersed in a news story about wacky conspiracy theories, I wasn’t paying enough attention to the measurements.

To the starter, I added 125 grams each of flour and water, exactly half of 250 grams. What I needed was 75 grams each, or half of the 150 grams starter I had measured. Oops!

The resulting glob was so stiff, I could barely mix it with a fork.

The flour-heavy mixture does not mix well

The flour-heavy mixture does not mix well

Of course, I could remedy that problem easily enough: Just add 100 grams starter to bring the total to 250. I had plenty that I had culled from the last batch for the biscuits, so starter was not a problem.

My distracted mind was, though. Still listening to NPR, I made another mistake. This one, thank goodness was not as big a problem. Or was it?

I still had 125 grams on my mind, and that’s how much starter I added, not the 100 grams I needed to even out the mix. The ratio of flour/water/starter was now off by 25 grams, in favor of the starter.

The starter is ready to set on top of the fridge to incubate

The starter is ready to set on top of the fridge to incubate

Mon Dieu! Rather than add 12.5 grams each flour and water, I lightly capped the jar and set it to incubating. After all, 25 grams isn’t much, right?

Four hours later, longer than it usually takes for the third feed, the starter was only about two-thirds of its way to doubling.

4 hours later, starter is about half an inch from the double mark

4 hours later, starter is about half an inch from the double mark

Could that small amount of extra starter have slowed yeast development? Or had the extra beasties greedily eaten their fair share of the food before the starter could fully rise?

Perhaps the problem was merely that our apartment was chilly, retarding growth. I set the starter in the oven with the light on and watched it closely so I could use it to make the sponge as soon as it had doubled, and while the yeast organisms were still active.

Sure enough, in just a couple of hours, the starter was gurgling fat and happy. Whew! Dodged that one. Now I could try this new bread making process.

Nearly two hours later, the starter bubbles high in the jar

Nearly two hours later, the starter bubbles high in the jar

Next: Trying out Helen Dickey’s Whole Wheat Sourdough Bread Soaking Method

I'd love to hear from you!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s