Wednesday, January 23, 2013
Here's an update on my sourdough experiments : my first batch without any added commercial yeast rose all on its own! Previously, I'd relied on 1/4 tsp of commercial yeast as a sort of training wheels, but now I'm excited to be able to bake bread without it. It feels empowering to know that if I maintain this starter, I can make bread even if I don't have access to yeast.
Two days before baking, I removed the sourdough starter from the fridge and fed it with 3/4 cup flour and 1/2 cup water. I covered it with a wet cloth and let it sit on the counter overnight. By the next day, it was dotted with tiny bubbles and smelled quite yeasty. By feeding it and letting the starter sit out of the fridge for a night before baking, it really activates the yeast - unlike the cold in the fridge, which suppresses it.
I prepared the dough by combining half the starter with 2 cups of all purpose flour, 1/2 cup of whole wheat flour, 1/4 cup sunflower seeds, 1/4 cup flax seeds, 1 tsp salt and a little less than 1 1/2 cup water. I went easy on the whole grains this time so as to not hinder the rising process. Since it worked out, next time I'll try adding a greater proportion of whole wheat and other grains. I let the dough sit out on the counter for another night, before baking it the next day according to these directions.
I returned the sourdough starter to the fridge to wait until the next baking. I added just a little flour and water, so that the yeast won't run out of "food" over the week or so. When I'm ready to bake again, I'll follow the same process as above.