Cooking: Sourdough bread

I love sourdough bread.  It’s my favorite kind of bread, hot and fresh out of the oven, with that slight tang, with a generous swipe of creamery butter.  Mmmmmm….

I know how to make a reasonably decent bread, I do so quite frequently.

I’ve tried to make sourdough on at least two separate occasions before as well, but failed.  It’s all about getting a good sourdough starter going, and it’s an exercise in patience and attention to detail.

I started with two cups of unbleached white flour, two cups of warm filtered water, and a teaspoon of baker’s traditional yeast.  The bleached flour, and normal tap water are slightly acidic.  The filter removes chlorine from the water and brings the acidity closer to neutral.  Also the chlorine is there to kill microorganisms in the water, which is better for human consumption, but not so good for yeast.

I mixed those together in large glass container and let stand for a few hours.

After a few hours, it frothed and expanded right up to the rim of the jar (and it’s a big jar), so I had to scoop some of it out and toss it, lest it spill out all over my counter top.

Over several days, I’d stir the starter, and every 3 days, I’d add some extra flour and filter water.  After a week, I was ready to give it a test run.

I mixed approximately half the starter with cup of whole wheat flour, a tablespoon of olive oil, a sprinkle of sugar and salt, and kneaded for about 15 minutes.  I let the dough rest for about and hour, and kneaded it again for about 10 minutes.  Repeating the knead/rest process one more time, then shaped the dough into a tight boule and let it rise in a warm spot for two hours.

Then I sprayed it with water from an aspirator pump, and popped the loaf into a 425F oven for about 40 minutes.

The result was a pretty nice crusty loaf of whole wheat bread.

But unfortunately, it wasn’t really “sourdough” like.  It tasted pretty much like any other loaf of bread that I’d made in the past.

And to top it all off, 3 days later, the starter was dead.  Adding additional flour and water had no effect.  It was done.

Since it did not yield the desired result, I have to consider this a failed experiment.

If I try this again, I’m going to see about buying an active batch of sourdough starter from a local bakery or something.  This is the third time I’ve tried this, and

a) I can’t get a starter to stay alive

b) it never tastes very “sourdough”-y.  I just get something that tastes like an ordinary loaf of bread.


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