Faking it

My sourdough experiments have left me massively frustrated and quite discouraged. Despite having had my starter do the bubbly-foamy dance that one time, it just hasn’t reacted the way recipes indicate it should every time I’ve fed it since. They say it’s supposed to foam up nearly double its size within about an hour of feeding it and despite that one time, the day I took this photo, it hasn’t reacted as awesomely since. And as of yet I haven’t made a single successful loaf of pure sourdough bread. This little experiment is starting to cost me (flour ain’t cheap these days you know).

Sourdough cheat
Sourdough loaf cheat

What you see above represents a total cheat. You see, in the world of bread baking, there are sourdough purists, and then there are those who are willing to cheat by creating a starter using a commercial yeast, and/or baking the bread with a starter combined with commercial yeast. I tried to be a purist, but that really hasn’t panned out for me. I had a recipe on hand that called for doing both, so I thought I’d try it out, using my “pure” all-wild starter but using commercial yeast in the baking process. The result was a very lovely bread, a nice combo of whole wheat, rye and all-purpose flours, but it can hardly be called sourdough.

Sourdough cheat
Sourdough loaf cheat

It didn’t taste sour at all, and that’s likely because the length of time the bread is left to rise was your standard 2 to 3 hours, as with any commercial yeast bread. That’s just not enough time for the bread to ferment and develop a fully-ripened sour taste. Chris commented that he thought it might have tasted a bit more sour the next day after I baked it, but I’m not convinced.

I thought my next attempt might be to combine both processes used in sourdough baking and regular bread making. That is, using my wild starter to get things going and let the batter proof for 12 hours overnight, and then add some commercial yeast in the second stage of rising to help encourage things to fully rise. I have yet to give this a try though, because I’m just not seeing my starter “do the foamy”. Sure, it bubbles, a little hooch develops and it’s certainly got some “air”, but it seems to need at least 5 or 6 hours to get that way, post-coming to room temperature from the fridge and post-feeding.

*sigh* … I’m nearly ready to throw in the towel on this whole thing and just keep my bread baking to the kind I know works, using commercial yeast, or my bread making machine.

One Comment

  1. Michelle says:

    Everytime you feel like you are failing at the sour dough starter thing, I want you to remember one important thing: the last time I tried, it EXPLODED. So you are at least failing LESS than I did 12 years ago.

    You’ve never lived until you’ve cleaned yeast & flour off the ceiling, I tell ya.

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