Tuesday, August 03, 2004

It’s Alive?

I do believe that's a bubble! (dark spot on the edge)

I started a starter – or I’m hoping I have. Today is Day 4, which is a make or break day for the starter. I’ve been following the directions given in Nick Malgieri’s book, “How to Bake”, and on Day 4 he tells you that if the starter has not begun bubbling, you should start over.

When I started, I was a little worried about what might take up residence in that blob of dough. I hunted around on eGullet a little and am now reasonably reassured that the good bugs (i.e. wild yeast and “friendly” bacteria) will win out over the bad. Apparently the acidic environment that is formed is inhospitable to the things you don’t want, including commercial yeast.

What is interesting but confusing is that there are so many conflicting instructions for starting sourdough out there. The only things they all seem to have in common are: flour, water, and periodic feedings. The proportions vary - mine is one part water to two parts flour but many are equal parts. The timing varies with some calling for feedings as frequent as eight hours apart. Even advice on temperature varies – Nick Malgieri calls for room temperatures between 60 and 75F, but many others call for warmer temperatures. I turned down my thermostat for that little blob!

So today I had to decide – feed it or trash it? I’ve seen a few bubbles on the surface, but I’d be hard-pressed to call it “bubbly”. However, while my starter is not all bubbly on the outside, I would say it is on the inside (sort of like me), so I am granting it a reprieve for now.


Anonymous said...

Wow, talk about synergy...I have just spent the last three days reading all about sourdough starters and non-commercial yeast leavened bread. I was very happy to read your site tonight. Definitely keep that starter and see what comes of it!! From all of my reading, it seems like nothing is guaranteed...the best you can do is experiment and learn from your own cultures. I just baked a bread which I had to let rise for 14 hours!! I don't think my sourdough starter was at the truly "active" stage when I mixed the dough. Anyway, possibly too much info here. I'll be tuned in to hear your outcome, though!


Cathy said...

Hi Alice - Look forward to hearing about your sourdough adventures on your blog! If you haven't already, you might also want to look at Alberto's blog, Il Forno. He has several posts on sourdough.

I have a sponge rising (hopefully) as I write this. Keep your fingers crossed!