Let me just start out by saying this is all my friend, CJ’s fault. So much of what happens around here is CJ’s fault and I’ve always believed in giving credit where credit is due so . . this whole blog post, the credit card bill that is going to send Vince into a fit, the hours and hours I’ve spent figuring this out . . all CJ’s fault.
Through the years, I’ve made sourdough bread. I even had Herman for a while. He was kinda like sourdough. Like all the previous sourdough I’ve messed with, the Herman starter came from a friend, probably wasn’t real sourdough at all but I did it and I enjoyed it. I haven’t had sourdough going for several years but after seeing CJ’s bread, decided that I had to get some real sourdough and try this.
What CJ didn’t mention in those posts was that you need a Ph.D. in Sourdoughology to do this. I swear . . it’s worse than having an infant around. I’ve been messing with this for almost two weeks and we enjoyed our first sourdough bread this afternoon.
I started by ordering a starter from these folks . . just as CJ recommended. It arrived. I read the instructions . . which is where I realized I was probably in over my head. The first indication that I might have a problem was when I said to put it all in the “proofing box”. What proofing box? No one told me I needed a proofing box! CJ??
There had to be some way around that. All I had to do was keep the starter at 90º for 24 hours. I dug out a thermometer and on my front porch in the shade, it was exactly 90º. But, at night, it would be about 72º. That created a bit of a problem. So, I rigged up a proofing box . . my big canner in the laundry room with the a/c vent closed with my Scentsy warmer (minus the smell good) down in the canner, with the lid partially on. That worked. Feed it, stir it, divide it, do this, do that. Oh . . and if it smells really bad, it’s probably contaminated and needs to be ‘washed’. What? Wash the sourdough starter? And did it smell bad? Oh, my . . the whole house smelled like someone threw up . . last week!
At this point, I decided my starter was definitely contaminated . . and they say most all flour has some contamination so it’s not unusual to have the starter get contaminated and need to be washed. This is when the decision was made to order a different starter . . maybe one that didn’t require quite so much expertise and babysitting. I ordered a starter from King Arthur, as well as a starter from Breadtopia. Then I read on a website that it’s normal for the starter to smell like someone threw up . . last week . . and after a few days, that smell goes away. So, I kept feeding and watering and babying the first starter and sure enough, the smell went away.
Saturday I decided to start a batch of bread . . two batches to be exact. This picture was taken after I’d fed the starter, let it sit 2 – 4 hours, then divided it and fed it again and then it needed to sit at about 70º for 2 hours and then at about 80º for 8 hours and then mixed up for the bread dough and allowed to sit for . . heck I don’t know . . I sure hope this all gets easier after a few times or either the bread is so good that it’s worth what I’m going through. Notice the little container . . that’s the King Arthur starter that I haven’t even been brave enough to open yet. I do believe I’m going to need another fridge for all this starter and culture and whatever else they call the various steps.
I’m happy to say that the bread worked. It’s delicious and I’ll write another post about that.