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Friday, February 24, 2012

Whole Wheat Sourdough Starter Day 2

Today is the second day of life for my 100% whole wheat sourdough starter. I did not post a picture because there aren't yet any visual transformations yet but we are definitely getting the yeasty smell going. I think the whole wheat flour makes the smell even stronger. I have a little extra blog time today so the following is the recipe for this starter.

Whole Wheat Sourdough Starter
(from The Breadman's Healthy Bread Book by George Burnett)
(makes 2 cups of starter)

2 cups (1 pint) warm water (100 degrees F)
2 1/2 tsp active dry yeast
1 tablespon honey
2 cups whole wheat flour

1.) Put the water, yeast, and honey in  a medium mixing bowl and stir until the yeast dissolves. Let the mixture stand for 10 minutes.
2.) Stir in the flour and beat until smooth.
3.) Cover the bowl with plastic wrap or a clean kitchen towel and let stand at room temperature for 2 to 5 days, stirring occasionally. The longer the starter stands, the stronger the flavor. The starter will bubble and a sour smelling liquid may form on top (this is a type of harmless bacteria known as "hooch"). This is normal for a healthy starter, so simply pour the liquid off and discard.
4.) To store the starter, pour it into a sterilized crock or jar. (To sterilize, pour boiling water into the container, let stand 5 minutes, drain, and dry well.) After you have left your starter out for the desired length of time (2-5 days) refridgerate until ready to use.
5.)To use starter, stir and pour off as much as required. To keep your starter going, feed it after each use. To feed, add equal amounts of (the same as what you used in your bread recipe) flour and warm  water. For example, if you used 1 cup of starter then replace it with 1 cup of the same flour and 1 cup of warm water (2 cups of new ingredients added total). Stir and let stand at room temperature until itbubbles again, then cover and refridgerate.

*VERY IMPORTANT!: Make sure the container you store your starter in is big enough. If there is barely any space between the starter and the head of the jar when you make it, you could find yourself with an overflowing mess the next time you check on it because it is very alive and it will expand. Also it can overflow if you put a tight lid on it, it needs room to breathe.

*To keep the starter from going rancid, use at least 1 cup of the starter every week. The starter may be frozen and thawed in the fridge 24 hours before using. After thawing, pour off as much as require and feed the remainder as described above

*If it begins to look dead and inactive (i.e. no bubbles) don't get discouraged. Be patient and wait another few days. Starters can be intimidating but what I have realized from making them is that you can never really mess it up that badly. The only problem I have ever encountered was that the loaf of bread it produced was not as sour as I would have liked. Just remember that it is your baby and it needs only a little daily attention to be happy. If it goes completely rancid or begins to grow mold then simply discard and start over, no biggy.

*Even though these specific directions do not require a daily feeding, I do it anyways because I have come across others that do, although I don't believe its necessary.  I think you can get away with feeding it once a week just make sure that when you feed it you discard (or use) an equal amount first or you could end up with enough starter for a New York Bakery. I got one of my first starters from someone who claimed they accidently forgot to feed it for 3 weeks and it still survived. I have also heard stories of starters lasting for years and becoming inactive then being revived from the dead and still creating a beautiful loaf.

*Remember to have fun! For me, I almost feel like my starter is a pet....that I eat? Ok thats kind of weird but I really do enjoy caring for it and having the yeasty aroma of baking sourdough wafting through my house.

I will most likely be posting the recipe for the loaf when I make that too, so keep reading!

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