Sourdough Revival

 


I have seen a lot of folks looking for sourdough starter cultures in the last while and I decided to post about how to revive a dried culture here as I have been mailing out some to folks who do not have one to start with – these directions will come in handy.

If you’re looking for a kombucha, ginger beer or sourdough starter ~ I could be your guy. Send me an email or post a comment on this blog and I’ll be more the happy to help you out.

What you have to know is that reviving a dried sourdough starter can be a pretty bulletproof and simple task – most of the time. Like all cultures that go dormant however, you do not know if they are “alive” again until you go through the process to wake them up. Some have gone to sleep forever and you need to start all over again. No big deal – just let me know and I can ship you out another.

Day 1 Instructions: 

Soak 1 tsp. dried starter in 1 Tbs. lukewarm purified or spring water for a few minutes to soften

Stir in 1 Tbsp. all-purpose or bread flour (orgainc), cover loosely with a tightly woven cloth or Abeego wax/cloth wrap and let sit at 20 degrees (plus) for 24 hours. If you stir the mixture a couple of times during the 24 hours you will aerate and push the process along a little further.

Day 2: 

Stir in 1 Tbsp. of flour and 1 tsp. of purified water and let it sit as in day 1. Bubbling should start within 48 to 72 hours of this process. If not, your culture might be stagnant. Try again.

Day 3: 

Add 1/3 cup flour and 1/4 cup of water to activate culture.  Build the starter one or two times per day until you have what you will need for baking – remembering you will need to keep some to set aside for future batches. Equal amounts (by weight) of flour and water usually give you the best culture consistency for baking.

Aftercare: 

Your starter can be stored in the fridge with a loose fitting lid or Abeego. You can then feed it once weekly to keep it alive. You may also go the route of drying your culture out on a silpat if you feel that you are done with baking.

Sourdough bread & starter

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Bread is something that I find hard to leave behind. Of course not all breads, just the delicious, tasty, homemade goodness without preservatives and warm out of the oven.

Sourdough – rye especially – is one of my absolute weaknesses. I’ve even joined a grain share recently to get the BEST local, organic, pesticide free and heritage grains possible. Bring on the bread and buns!!

In order to make a sourdough loaf, you need to have a sourdough starter. There is a time commitment with anything you ferment – and THIS is fermentation. Same as Kombucha or Ginger Beer or Sauerkraut, just a little different end product.

You need to commit at least 5 days to this process, so if you cannot mind your starter for this amount of time, do NOT start this recipe. Pick a time during a staycation or a week when you are not rushing around getting life in order. Your project WILL fail, I speak from experience. You also need to ensure that your home has a consistent temperature. Wild yeasts LOVE warm and are way more active when they are kept that way.

If you are ready to embark, here we go!

Starter ingredients & method:

So easy the kids can do it!

So easy the kids can do it!

Day 1: Make the Initial Starter

Just under 1 cup all-purpose flour
Just over 1/2 cup water (non-chlorinated/spring/filtered if possible)

Combine flour and water in a deep metal bowl/container. Stir until mixed and thick/rubbery. Scrape all excess down sides of bowl & cover loosely with a cloth/cheesecloth. Place container somewhere that is at least 20 degrees consistently. I like to store mine in my pantry on a shelf with the door closed.

24 hours later (Day 2): 

Just under 1 cup all-purpose flour
Just over 1/2 cup water (non-chlorinated/spring/filtered if possible)

You may see some bubbles today – Yay! If not, do not worry.

Repeat day one NOW. 

24 hours later (Day 3): .

 

bubbly

Still no bubbles? That’s ok. Lots of bubbles? Yay – you have some active yeast baby!! Carbon dioxide and alcohol are working their magic. Can you smell the sour?

Repeat instructions for day one NOW. 

24 hours later (Day 4): .

You should be bubbling by now. If not – see troubleshooting below. If so – we are nearly at the finish line and ready to start making bread.

Repeat instructions for day one NOW. 

24 hours later (Day 5): 

If you are bubbled up, vinegary smelling and thinned out, you are ready. If you see no bubbles by now you can continue the process for 1-2 more days. If no bubbles appear you will need to start over. Make sure you have a COZY spot for your yeast to thrive.

LETS MAKE BREAD!

bread

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Starter Maintenance tips: 

It’s ok to scrape off mold in sourdough as in kraut – but NOT with kombucha. Use your discretion if you see mold on your starter.

If you are intending on keeping a regular ritual of bread making you will need to maintain your starter. Daily,discard half and feed your starter as you would on day one.If you are not using the starter every couple of days, cover it tightly and place it in the fridge.

A pinch of commercial bread yeast can kickstart “weak” starters. Try this if you are having any day 3 inactivity.

Take your starter out for 24 hours weekly, feed as in day one at least once per week. Yeast needs time to reactivate – don’t smother your starter with cold!!

Thicken your starter by adding enough flour to make it nearly “unstirable” or dry 2 cups of your starter out on a very low setting in your dehydrator, crumble and place in an airtight mason jar. To reactivate, add crumbles to 1/4 cup of warm water and stir. Begin feeding as you would from the beginning. This is called inoculating your starter. Sourdough “chips” will store for at least 3-4 months.

Your starter gets liquidy if left too long between food or if you used too little flour to water. Pour off excess water or add small amounts of extra flour.

 

Lets make some bread and break some bread!

Recipe by thekitchn.com

I have to say that this ISN’T the best recipe out there however, it is a great starter recipe. The last batch of starter I made I used this recipe with and the results are in the pics above. I wanted to roll out something easy and approachable for any of you newbies. This site also has some good beginner breakdowns for folding and kneading bread.

I hand mix and knead all of my breads which is sort of an art form really. You have to open up and free yourself from the fear that you will screw up your bread – you will. Keep staying lighthearted and playful and soon you will be able to start getting adventurous with your breads. This means….stay tuned for some interesting NEW recipes with some of the crazy flours I’m ordering in.

Ingredients/method and tips: 

1 1/4 cup water
1 1/2 teaspoons dry baking yeast
2 cups starter
4 to 4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon natural unbleached salt

Combine the water and the yeast in the bowl of a stand mixer or in a large mixing bowl. Give the yeast a few minutes to dissolve completely. Stir in the sourdough starter until the starter is mostly dissolved.

Add 4 cups of the flour and the salt, and stir to make a shaggy dough. With the dough hook attachment and your mixer on low speed, knead the dough for about 8 minutes. Alternatively, turn the dough out on a lightly floured counter and knead by hand. Add flour 1 tablespoon at a time as needed if the dough becomes sticky like bubble gum, but try to avoid adding too much. The dough is finished kneading when it comes together into a smooth ball that’s slightly tacky to the touch and holds a ball-shape in your hand.

Clean out the mixing bowl, film it with a little oil, and return the dough to the bowl. Turn it a few times to coat with oil, then cover. Let the dough rise at warm room temperature until doubled in bulk, 1 1/2 to 2 hours.

Once risen, turn the dough out onto a lightly floured counter and divide it in two. Shape each half into rough balls and let them rest for 20 minutes. Meanwhile, grease two  loaf pans.

divided loaves

 Transfer the loaves to the loaf pans and cover loosely. Let the loaves rise until they’re starting to puff over the rim of the pan, 1 to 1 1/2 hours. 

Slash the top of the loaves a few time with a serrated knife or baking lame, and slide them immediately into the oven.

For a crispier crust, spritz the inside of the oven with water using a water spritzer before closing the oven.

Bake for 10 minutes, then reduce the heat to 400°F. Continue baking for another 25 to 30 minutes, until the tops of the loaves are deep golden brown and the loaves sound hollow when tapped on the bottom. (Total baking time is 35 to 40 minutes.)

Shake the loaves out of the loaf pans and let them cool completely on a cooling rack.