Start at the Start(er) by Terrence Salmond

 

Summary: 

1. This is a quick explanation of what not to do with a starter. 

2. At the time I made the starter I did not know what I was doing.

3. I still do not know what I am doing though my current starters are alive and seemingly well. 

4. I have visual aids in the form of digital photographs taken with my phone which I will share. Please do not mock the quality of the photographs.

5. A starter the wild yeast product used to make sourdough and old-style breads. 

8. Starters are equal parts gross and cool

 

A starter is a colony of wild yeast which takes up residence in a bowl flour and water of your choosing. Many/Most baking or cook books will not refer to your yeast colony as such because it conjures the vision of insects or "bugs". But make no mistake, when you create a starter, you are harvesting a colony of fungus who will eat the sugars you feed them and then fart bubbles of CO2 of various size which you will then use to judge the quality of the bread you just baked. Life is gross, process it. 

My first starter was created following Ken Forkish's method in the book "Flour Water Salt and Yeast" (heretofore referred to as FWSY). Great read, check it out if you haven't.

A starter is a colony of wild yeast which takes up residence in a bowl flour and water of your choosing. Many/Most baking or cook books will not refer to your yeast colony as such because it conjures the vision of insects or "bugs". But make no mistake, when you create a starter, you are harvesting a colony of fungus who will eat the sugars you feed them and then fart bubbles of CO2 of various size which you will then use to judge the quality of the bread you just baked.

Life is gross: process it. 

I'm not going to dwell on the method as it is very straight forward, can be found in the FWSY or anywhere else online, and pretty much just involves one leaving a bowl of flour and water mixture out over night for like a week. What I am going to tell you is one thing that will fuck up the process. Allow me to give you a clue through digital images or "pictures". Incidentally, my camera had been stolen so these were taken with my phone. Please forgive the quality.

 

 

You see that? 

You see what's different? Mid week I switched the colony over to a tall jar from a pyrex bowl. I have no idea why I did this. The jar has an air tight top, so maybe it was that I feared insects, who the fuck knows? It was a little while ago and I have the short term memory of a common grandpa who lives in the backroom of your house making weird noises and says inappropriate things at the dinner table. The next day the telltale bubbles of a healthy starter were absent and the funky smell had been replaced with a funkier smell. 

The important thing here is that you don't do the same thing that I did. Don't do it. Leave your gross fungal wheat sludge in it's bowl. It likes it there. All of it's friends live there. 

t

 

The Steam-Injected Furnace of Creation by Terrence Salmond

Prior attempts at blogging have yielded varied topics and varied quality. I'm going to try to narrow the focus of this newest endeavor and use it as a recording device in my ever-evolving bread baking experiences, from mistakes with starter maintenance and slack dough (so very many) to success with tweaking recipes to get the  

In addition to the one-off recipes will be my white whale project that is the hunt for the Detroit Rye. A few months back my boss, a Detroit native and member of the tribe was explaining the difficulty in finding quality rye bread not only on the West Coast but really all over the country. Some cursory research confirmed that any learned deli eater turns their nose up at even New York rye and looks towards Detroit for their real rye fix. Since then I have been experimenting in trying to match those recipes with, at best, moderate success. I'll post a few attempts in here and my ongoing tweaks and changes to the recipes I'm trying. 

You have been warned. 

T