Sunday, August 7, 2011

Starting the seed culture

Here's what I'm doing to make a seed culture for a sourbread dough starter...  It's a pretty involved process but, what the heck, I've got plenty of time :)    Oh, so you know, I purchased a digital kitchen scale from Amazon.  Turns out,  that in order to do make bread precisely, it's best to do it by weight rather than volume.  This makes perfect sense if you think about it....  Here's day one so you can follow along:

28.5 grams or 3.5 tablespoons of flour  (whole wheat, rye or unbleached bread flour)  I'm using unbleached all-purpose so we'll see what happens...

56.5 grams of filtered water (or unsweetened pineapple juice).  I'll explain the reason for the juice option later...

Whisk it all together until all of the flour is hydrated, wrap it in a bowl and leave it at room temperature for 48 hours.  Two to three times (each day of this process), you need to mix the culture in order to aerate it (so it doesn't spoil).  You shouldn't see any activity (bubbling) during the first 24 hours but you'll probably see it in the next 24.  This is what it looked like after mixing on day one:

What is all this doing?  The flour mixture will be fermenting over time.  Various strains of bacteria will metabolize the sugar and convert it into acetic or lactic acid.  This is what gives the "sour" taste to the dough.  Interestingly though, the low pH of the dough inhibits the growth of commercial yeast but allows for the growth of the preferable or "wild" yeast that gives this bread its distinctive flavor.  Geez, I sound like Alton Brown :)


Bargegirl said...

I don't know who Alton Brown is (don't watch tv cooking shows)but you sound great! Interestingly, it is common here to weigh all baking ingredients. The Swiss seem to be huge bakers -- the grocery store has many different kinds of flours for different kinds of bread, but no cornmeal. I'm going to try to make cornbread with polenta.

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