Another acquisition from New England was a sourdough starter from King Arthur Flour. Since I’m learning to be a dedicated baker I’ve been testing out new recipes and visiting places where bakers go. If you are a baker then the King Arthur Flour Baker’s Store is your candy store. The shelves were piled high with every gadget, appliance, and (surprise) flour you could imagine. From interesting cookie cutters to specialty ingredients the place was amazing, and overwhelming. The one thing that did catch my eye was the 250-year old sourdough culture peeking out from the refrigerators. Assured that it would make it back to Vancouver safely, I figured it may as well keep my pound of chevre company so I packed the little guy up and brought him home.
This little sourdough starter is much like a pet that you keep in the fridge. You feed it and it grows. You have to discard some waste. If you are neglectful it will die. If you are nurturing it will thrive. Just like any new pet my sourdough starter was a lot of work in the beginning. Once I started the process of feeding it I had to keep dividing and feeding at intervals, one of which I didn’t time right so I had to wake up at 2AM to make sure I did it on time. Seriously, my sourdough starter needed a 2AM feeding.
Three days later (that’s right, three) I had finally produced my first loaves (twins!) and put the starter in the fridge for week of rest. Since then I have experimented with a number of different recipes including rustic sourdough, tangy sourdough, whole grain caraway, and olive loaves. I’ve been slowly increasing the amount of whole grain and alternative flours with no reduction in texture and lots of improvement in taste (I’m not really a fan of plain, gluey, white flour). The yummy whole-grain spelt waffles and a braided dinner loaf made out of ground 7-grain cereal were proof of that.
I’m proud to say that baking with my sourdough starter has been an overall success. And my new little pet has matured into a typical family member: requiring occasional feedings and a bit of cleaning up afterwards but all the while giving back lots of entertainment and some company…to a nice soup or sandwich that is.
There is something about keeping sourdough starter that I just love. Perhaps it is its need for nurturing. A while back created my own wild yeast starter and really enjoyed checking its progress every few hours. Seems like you are enjoying your new pet as well.