Jump to content


Welcome to the eG Forums!

These forums are a service of the Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, a 501c3 nonprofit organization dedicated to advancement of the culinary arts. Anyone can read the forums, however if you would like to participate in active discussions please join the society.

Photo

Sour dough starters.


  • Please log in to reply
22 replies to this topic

#1 Brad S

Brad S
  • participating member
  • 510 posts

Posted 23 August 2002 - 11:58 AM

One of my favorite breads are sourdough based.

Does anyone have one growing around the house? or restaurant?

I use organic black grapes for mine.
Turnip Greens are Better than Nothing. Ask the people who have tried both.

#2 spqr

spqr
  • legacy participant
  • 310 posts
  • Location:midwest

Posted 23 August 2002 - 07:13 PM

After reading Jeffrey Steingarten's account of making a sourdough starter, followed close on by reading John Thorne's account of making a sourdough starter, I was compelled to give it a go. It took several attempts, but I finally got a starter started. I didn't use additives like your black organic grapes, instead I attempted to get the natural airborn yeast cells to take root, so to speak. I succeeded after a couple of failed attempts. I succeeded after I stopped using tap water and began using natural spring water. More recently, however, I've found Amy Scherber's (of Amy's Bread fame) procedure to reliably give me a strong starter. Her secret is to use a bit of rye flour to get the starter started. Then it is progressively diluted with white flour until the starter is essentially all white flour-based.

What I really need is more instruction regarding turning the starter into a dough. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't for me.

#3 Jaymes

Jaymes
  • participating member
  • 7,457 posts
  • Location:Houston, Texas

Posted 23 August 2002 - 07:41 PM

Sourdough is probably the quintessential Alaskan food, other than the ubiquitous salmon and halibut of course.

Lots of people up there have starter from some of the original brought North by the prospectors so long ago.

When I moved there, the first day, along with the movers, a neighbor showed up. She brought me a welcome gift... sourdough starter.

I kept it alive for years and years, moved it from Alaska to Calif and then Texas and cooked with it at least three or four times a week.

When the last kid left home, let the sourdough die. Just don't cook that much for myself.

Alaskans make many, many baked goods from their prized starter.... sourdough pancakes were the main thing (the memory of those Alaskan sourdough pancakes with fresh-picked blueberries brings tears to my eyes)..... But also breads, white and wheat, waffles, muffins, cookies, everything you can imagine. And even, at Christmas, sourdough fruitcake. :rolleyes:
"And you, you're just a stinker."

#4 Oreganought

Oreganought
  • participating member
  • 191 posts

Posted 23 August 2002 - 07:48 PM

One of my favorite breads are sourdough based.

Does anyone have one growing around the house? or restaurant?

I use organic black grapes for mine.

I...could...tell you,but then I'd have to kill you.....sorry :laugh:

#5 Fat Guy

Fat Guy
  • eGullet Society staff emeritus
  • 29,303 posts
  • Location:New York, NY

Posted 23 August 2002 - 08:15 PM

How much difference do these starters really make? I mean as between one starter and another, assuming both have adequate rising power, what is the range of results in terms of quality if all other procedures are followed identically? Is it a lot of hype or is the starter the magic ingredient that makes or breaks the loaf?

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)


#6 Rhea_S

Rhea_S
  • participating member
  • 648 posts
  • Location:Coquitlam, BC

Posted 23 August 2002 - 09:27 PM

I have one that I also started from organic grapes. I used the Silverton method a year ago and my starter is still doing very well. It's a bit dormant at the moment since I've either been too busy trying non-sourdough recipes or not in the mood for bread. However, I'd have to say that the breads I made using my sourdough starter have generally had more flavour than ones that are direct yeast-risen or even from a biga. I bought a wild yeast loaf from a local bakery recently when I didn't have time to bake and I'd have to say that my sourdough loaf has a better flavour. There's definitely something lacking with the loaf I bought. I don't know what type of starter they are using, so I don't know if it's the starter or something else. Or maybe I just had high expectations from a bakery named Incredibly Delicious.

Caped Chef: Do you remember the URL for Kyle's website? He might be a good one to answer the Fat Guy's question.

#7 Brad S

Brad S
  • participating member
  • 510 posts

Posted 24 August 2002 - 08:41 AM

One of my favorite breads are sourdough based.

Does anyone have one growing around the house? or restaurant?

I use organic black grapes for mine.

I...could...tell you,but then I'd have to kill you.....sorry :laugh:

Ouch!!!

I use the grapes because of their own natural yeast,it helps to attract the wild yeast in the air.

Fat guy,

If your question is in regards to sour dough breads then I would have to say yes.

Growing up in my grandfathers bakery I remember all the customers on Sunday mornings lining up for his breads.

I made my first starter in 1968 at the bakery and haven't stop since (well maybe when I was a teen when I was interested in other types of fermantation)

As for the medium you use to develope your starter (in my case grapes) doesn't add flavor it developes the fermantation process. Allowing the starch to convert to sugars for the yeast to eat and ofcourse gas up the whole shabange.

I love Nancy Silvertons sourdoughs from LeBrea in Berkley.

Also a key, which I don't have the luxury of at home is a wood fired stone or brick oven to create the perfect crust.
Turnip Greens are Better than Nothing. Ask the people who have tried both.

#8 plunk

plunk
  • participating member
  • 110 posts

Posted 24 August 2002 - 09:29 PM

Caped Chef: Do you remember the URL for Kyle's website? He might be a good one to answer the Fat Guy's question.

Is that this Kyle? Talk about food porn.
http://www.kyleskitchen.net/

I just started making a starter from the Bread Baker's Apprentice, and it is coming along nicely due to help from the folks at the Baking Circle.
http://www.bakingcircle.com

It was kick started with rye flour but all subsequent feedings have been with wheat bread flour. I had a bacterial problem initially but the Baking Circle folks helped me to save it. Can't wait to make the first loaf.

#9 mynamejoe

mynamejoe
  • legacy participant
  • 121 posts

Posted 25 August 2002 - 12:04 AM

I made my first starter in 1968 at the bakery and haven't stop since (well maybe when I was a teen when I was interested in other types of fermantation)

Like you've stopped being interested in other forms of fermentation recently, Mr. Ketel One! :rolleyes:

And, yes plunk, that's the very same Kyle.

#10 Robert Schonfeld

Robert Schonfeld
  • participating member
  • 802 posts

Posted 25 August 2002 - 09:05 AM

How much difference do these starters really make? I mean as between one starter and another, assuming both have adequate rising power, what is the range of results in terms of quality if all other procedures are followed identically? Is it a lot of hype or is the starter the magic ingredient that makes or breaks the loaf?

FG, the starter used most emphatically makes a difference in the final product, for the most part because the taste it contributes to the loaf is characterized by the combination of wild yeast and lactobaccilli prevalent in the location in which it is fed. The acidity of the starter at the time of use, which is governed by the ambient temperature and the amount of time it is left to develop before use will also affect taste. As always, details are available at the rec.food.sourdough faq's.

The best way to get a starter, unless you are determined to go through the motions, is to acquire a known, stable starter. An excellent one can be gotten, free, here.
Who said "There are no three star restaurants, only three star meals"?

#11 jciel

jciel
  • legacy participant
  • 17 posts

Posted 25 August 2002 - 03:42 PM

Hello as this is my first post to the site, I will keep this brief. I seem to recall a swedish(scandinavian in general?) variant of a starter that utilised milk. I could be wrong but have any of you tried this? I tend toward the grape style to attract yeast myself, but would love to try the milk starter.

BTW La Brea (think tar pits) is in LA not Berkeley

#12 Rhea_S

Rhea_S
  • participating member
  • 648 posts
  • Location:Coquitlam, BC

Posted 26 August 2002 - 08:40 AM

I tried a starter that uses milk (from a Bernard Clayton book), but the smell became unbearable. It also didn't seem to do much except develop a stronger odour each day. I flushed the stuff down the toilet.

#13 KyleW

KyleW
  • participating member
  • 69 posts
  • Location:NYC

Posted 29 August 2002 - 03:47 PM

My ears were burning! Now I know why :smile:

I am a rank amateur when it comes to sourdough and wild yeast. By that I mean I am possessed on the hobby level rather than the professional. I have made 3 different starters; one with grapes, one with raisin water and one with nothing but flour and water. They came from Breads From the La Brea Bakery, Crust & Crumb and The Bread Baker's Apprentice respectively.

They all worked and in terms of their leavening power and flavor they were remarkably similar. I can't see pay money for exotic starters from distant lands. Feeding these starters over time will transform them into a local starter before you know it.

Food Porn? I think I like it!
Nuthin' says luvin'...
www.kyleskitchen.net

#14 Suzanne F

Suzanne F
  • legacy participant
  • 7,398 posts
  • Location:NY, NY

Posted 29 August 2002 - 03:55 PM

Hey, Kyle, if you are a rank amateur vis-a-vis bread baking, then I am Marie of Romania. :wink: :wub: :wub:

#15 Robert Schonfeld

Robert Schonfeld
  • participating member
  • 802 posts

Posted 30 August 2002 - 10:56 AM

I can't see pay money for exotic starters from distant lands. Feeding these starters over time will transform them into a local starter before you know it.

There is considerable debate on this point. Some say that a starter that is fed before it acidifies to a certain ph level, and is fed regularly and maintained at a cool temperature, will maintain its original characteristics. Others believe as Kyle does. My guess is that very few home bakers, including me, have the discipline or schedule to allow a rigorous maintainance of a starter and hence to retain its orginal qualities. Also, starters made with grapes, or anything else would have to be fed the same yeasts and lactobaccilli in order to remain original.
Who said "There are no three star restaurants, only three star meals"?

#16 KyleW

KyleW
  • participating member
  • 69 posts
  • Location:NYC

Posted 30 August 2002 - 01:10 PM

RE: Grapes

The grapes or raisin water or anything else that may be added to the starter at the beginning, are usually added for their skins rather than the fruit. If you look closely at organic grapes you may be able to see a fine white, almost powdery substance on the skin. This is wild yeastThe skin acts almost like a magnet. The stuff is everywhere! The grapes themselves provide sugar which the little beasties devour. The grapes don't play a big role in the long term charachteristics of the starter. Just one man's opinion :smile:
Nuthin' says luvin'...
www.kyleskitchen.net

#17 Robert Schonfeld

Robert Schonfeld
  • participating member
  • 802 posts

Posted 30 August 2002 - 01:51 PM

The grapes don't play a big role in the long term charachteristics of the starter. Just one man's opinion :smile:

I share your opinion, as do most devoted sourdough bakers.

A kitchen in which sourdough has been prepared for a long time will be teeming with wild yeast, so a starter begun with just flour and water in such a kitchen should get itself up just fine.
Who said "There are no three star restaurants, only three star meals"?

#18 KyleW

KyleW
  • participating member
  • 69 posts
  • Location:NYC

Posted 30 August 2002 - 02:15 PM

Of the three methods I've used, the one from The Bread Baker's Apprentice was far and away the easiest and most basic. It has flour and water, period! It starts with dark rye to get things going but then switches to bread flour. 5 days from start to finish.
Nuthin' says luvin'...
www.kyleskitchen.net

#19 gknl

gknl
  • legacy participant
  • 520 posts

Posted 30 August 2002 - 02:37 PM

I think I lucked out with mine. I just let bread flour and water sit out for a couple of days. I did do it in the middle of a miserable heat wave though. I think the heat helped get things going. And living across the Bay from San Francisco doesn't hurt either. It's been a couple of years now and it's really resillient stuff. I keep it refrigerated between uses.

Has anyone else ever fed their starter by adding some sugar (1 tablespoon for 1 1/2 cups starter) rather than refreshing it with flour and water? I've done that a few times with seemingly no ill effects.

#20 KyleW

KyleW
  • participating member
  • 69 posts
  • Location:NYC

Posted 30 August 2002 - 03:43 PM

I've never used sugar in my starter. For me, one of the benefits of starters and wild yeast is slow fermentation. This includes feeding the starter. I would think that sugar is like speed for a starter.
Nuthin' says luvin'...
www.kyleskitchen.net

#21 Robert Schonfeld

Robert Schonfeld
  • participating member
  • 802 posts

Posted 30 August 2002 - 03:46 PM

Has anyone else ever fed their starter by adding some sugar (1 tablespoon for 1 1/2 cups starter) rather than refreshing it with flour and water?  I've done that a few times with seemingly no ill effects.

No sugar.
Who said "There are no three star restaurants, only three star meals"?

#22 plunk

plunk
  • participating member
  • 110 posts

Posted 31 August 2002 - 12:25 AM

Hi Kyle :laugh:

Do you still have all three starters or did you just keep one since they were so similar?

#23 KyleW

KyleW
  • participating member
  • 69 posts
  • Location:NYC

Posted 31 August 2002 - 04:13 AM

I have 2 of the 3. I took one to my GF's and depleted another. By the time I moved one and killed the other I could not tell them apart so I decided to save fridge space in the EasyBake kitchen :smile:
Nuthin' says luvin'...
www.kyleskitchen.net