Wednesday, July 05, 2006


i baked my first batch of my very own sourdough today!
first, i created the starter:
in a clean glass jar, i made a soupy mixture of whole wheat flour and filtered water, whisking it energetically to aereate. i walked around outside, midday, as i did this~~to invite floating yeast-beasties that were passing by.
then: i tossed in a couple of fresh organic grapes *unwashed* to add a little sugar and boost the yeast production process. (i learned this from Sandor Ellix Katz's _wild_fermentation_. i rubber-banded a square of linen cloth over the top for breathability, and left the jar of dough out in the sacramento summer sun to warm up.
by AFTERNOON the frothing bubbling dough had overtaken its linen covering. i removed the grapes and stirred down my starter. for the next two days i added a little more flour and water, whisking and aereating, and set it outside again.
the stuff sure smells sour, alright!

i used this starter to make Bernard Clayton's California Whole Wheat Sourdough. the recipe called for adding molasses to the starter, but i didn't have any, so i substituted an equal amount agave nectar with sucanat mixed in. i think honey would have worked well, too. i used a combination of organic whole wheat and whole spelt flours, a few tablespoons of organic butter (in place of vegetable shortening) and added a cup of wheat berries that i soaked overnight. (do i need to specify that i use all organic products, or can it be assumed?)
i kneaded it vigorously for ten minutes.
i set it out to proof, covered, in the sun for several hours. molded into rounds and placed in a greased loaf pan (mine was a stoneware baking dish), and let proof for another couple hours.
i baked it until it was brown and crusty on the outside, and it made a nice hollow-sounding "thump" when i knocked my finger on it.
the never-used (but thrift store-bought!) stoneware baking dish soaked up the oil i smeared on it, so that the bread stuck, and fell apart before i could get it out of the dish. it was a cosmetically-imperfect loaf that came out well in other regards, especially for a first try.
it produced a brown, moist, hearty loaf with a crust, crunchy berries, and a touch of brown-sweetness. although it was hearty, it was not too dense. the sour aspect especially came through in the aftertaste. of the many samplings i tasted (and tasted and tasted!), i thought it was best accompanied by the hard, robust sheep cheese we had in the fridge, and a touch of salt.

photos: the sourdough starter.
finished loaf.

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