May 31, 2009

Wild Yeast Starter

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Wild Yeast (Sourdough) Bread

When I baked the Greek Celebration bread a little over 2 weeks ago, I had to use a poolish because my 7-month old wild yeast starter died on me. The last time I used it was 2 months ago for rye sandwich loaves, but the jar got pushed at the very back of the fridge and I forgot to feed it. When I saw the very dark "hooch" and the bubbleless firm starter I knew it's a goner. I tried to revive it, took out half and added bread flour and warm water, left it overnight on the kitchen counter but nothing happened so I threw it away.

Please note that I am not jumping to letter S but since we will be using a starter for future BBA challenges, I made 2 new batches using both PR's BBA recipe and this method. PR's fell asleep on the 6th day after showing great potential. It wouldn't grow or bubble or anything, I just left it alone and kept it on the counter for 2 weeks before finally throwing it away. The one from The Fresh Loaf site is another story. It behaved as described and on the 6th day I divided it, added bread flour to one half and whole wheat to the other, they started growing steadily with every feeding and by the end of the second week have gotten stronger and developed a very fragrant sweet aroma. I immediately baked half a recipe of Basic Sourdough Bread from The BBA to check the flavor and acidity. Both starters are doing well and now resting in the fridge.
A bit of fun with wild yeast starter: I read in one of the BBA discussion threads that the son of a member baker calls us BBA challengers The Bread Freaks and The BBA The Bread Freaks' Bible. I totally agree, we are some sort of freaks! A few (or maybe a lot) of the bakers give their starters a name (and perhaps a personality); Nicole of Pinch My Salt calls hers Lyle after Lyle Lovett. My husband thinks it's weird, I think it's cute and fun. I want to be a certifiable Bread Freak and decided to name my two starters Brad and Angelina, Brad being the fair one.

Wild Yeast (Sourdough)
meet Brangelina

For the [taste test] sourdough bread loaves, I used equal amount of both starters and equal amount of bread and whole wheat flours. I was very confident that Brangelina will perform well and produce a flavorful bread. They did not disappoint. The twins loaves are perfect: tangy but not too sour, very tasty, and chewy yet soft. I am recommending this wild yeast starter recipe to anyone who doesn't have a starter yet because it uses a very small amount of flour so you won't feel wasteful if it is not successful the first time. I will give PR's recipe another try but will reduce the initial amount by half as I don't want to waste too much flour.

The BBA Basic Sourdough Bread Loaves:

 Wild Yeast Dough
top: the dough doubled in volume after one hour
bottom: the dough more than tripled in volume after 3 hours

Wild Yeast Bread
the finished loaves


susies1955 said...

Love your write up. Great job.
I need to check my starter that has been in the fridge for a while with no feeding. :)
Great baking along with you,

Manang said...

that's cute -- brad and angelina..haha!

I have always been curious about sourdough...but never really got to making any...

Sidney said...

I am really amazed at your baking and cooking talent !

oggi said...

Susie, yes we will need it later, better check if it's still alive.:)

Manang, we never liked the too sour sourdough. If you bake your own you can make it just tangy enough or very sour depending on your preference. I like it tangy but not sour. I
I was thinking of Dagwood and Blondie but Brangelina sounds better.:)

Sidney, I try too much!:)

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