Sunday, August 21, 2016

Our New 1715 Pet

1715 LR Sourdough Starter - Day 3
Over the years, two of 1715's favorite foodfolk, Mark Bittman and Alton Brown, have extolled the virtues of "growing your own" sourdough starter, a ready resource for producing your own fresh bread, homemade pizzas, etc.  Stories of legendary bakeries husbanding sourdough starters that were decades old were just that in our minds: legends.  But, our recent love affair with a small bakery/pรขtisserie in Madison (Madison Sourdough is worth the trip, folks.....truly amazing breads and pastries) renewed our interest in simple but exceptional bread.

Then, three weeks ago our favorite subscription EVER arrived with a special 3-page story, complete with graphic timelines, written by Andrew Janjigian about starting, nourishing, and loving your very own sourdough starter.  And, as is often the case when the newest Cook's Illustrated hits our doorstep, the 1715ers were off to the store to lay in the needed supplies.

The picture at the top of this post is our little pet on Friday, August 12th, just three days after it was started.   This was the end of the crucial 3 day start/incubation.  It started with a simple mixture of 1/2 cup King Arthur Whole Wheat Flour, 1/2 cup King Arthur All-Purpose Flour, and 2/3 cup room temperature filtered water (the filtering is important because chlorine would inhibit the growth of nasty bacteria as well as yeast, both crucial ingredients in the maturation process for the starter).  When we removed the plastic wrap after these first 72 hours, we were warned by Janjigian that the smell would be bad...that was an understatement!  But, every 24 hours since that first opening we have reopened the fermenting pet, carved out some of the old, added some new flours and water, stirred well, resealed in plastic, and returned the jar to its warm resting spot on the counter.  And each day it has bubbled and grown and smelled better and better when we removed the plastic for the daily feeding, just as Mr. Janjigian had predicted. Each day now, as we draw near the end of the maturation process, the starter grows about double in size.  In the picture below, the black line on the masking tape stuck to the Weck jar shows the starting size 24 hours earlier.

Sourdough Starter - August 19 (Day 10)
Sometime this week we will move our mature starter to the fridge where it will then "rest" and need feeding just once per week.  Forever.  Unless, of course, we decide to use our new friend to grow the ingredients for a loaf of actual 1715-baked bread.  Stay tuned....