#21  
Old 08-14-2007, 02:09 PM
KiwiPete's Avatar
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Default Re: Proofing - raising questions????

Or you can buy some from an outfit like Sourdoughs International: sourdough bread starter, sourdough bread recipes, bread machine recipes They sell a variety of wild yeasts and they come with some instructions etc.

(No connection with them, other than being a satisfied customer).

Peter

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Originally Posted by CanuckJim View Post
Neill,

Call it a sourdough, a levain, a barm, wild yeast or what have you, they all refer to propogating a culture of the resident airbourne yeast in a particular area. The are about a zillion ways of going about beginning one of these, but there's really no mystery to it. Just create a receptive environment of water and flour, and the yeast and other good bugs will take up residence. It takes a while to do this, but once you've got it, you've got it. The flavour of wild yeast bread beats commercial yeast hollow.

Jim
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  #22  
Old 08-14-2007, 03:11 PM
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Default Re: Proofing - raising questions????

Peter,

Sure, you can buy your initial starter, then build from there. It's important to point out, though, that unless you have a microbiology lab handy, there's no way to prevent the resident yeast in your area from invading the store bought culture and taking over eventually. The other guys simply will be outnumbered once the mix is exposed to your atmosphere. Buying it at first will definitely save you some time, though.

Jim
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  #23  
Old 08-14-2007, 06:04 PM
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Default Re: Proofing - raising questions????

You know that white film on the skins of table grapes? Yeast. They similarly grow on wheat grains, so if you get some organic stone ground flour it's gonna have yeast in it already. There's a lot of talk about hundred year old yeast cultures, but yeasts are all around you. Give 'em something to eat, and a warm place to propagate, and they will go to work for you.
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  #24  
Old 08-14-2007, 06:21 PM
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Default Re: Proofing - raising questions????

Plums. I made a tangy starter from some plums in an untended field on time. Definitely organic.

It seems as though tending your starter is where the real effort comes in. A good starter will go bad if you don't look after it. Worse than kids and pets.

Is that right?

James
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  #25  
Old 08-14-2007, 06:40 PM
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Default Re: Proofing - raising questions????

Hey James,

You are right very much like a child. Raising a starter (culture) is like having a newborn. You have to feed it every 4 hours or so, make sure its comfortable, check its temperature.

If I remember correctly during the process you need to pour some off every so often then once its going you need to maintain it. I had one that I kept going for about a year then lost it I made it out of the peals of oranges and I swear it had a orange nuance to it it might of just been psychological though. I was kind of anal about it though, using only water that I had soaked the peals in (we had several trees at the house)

Jim forgive me if I'm off a bit. I seem to have the process jumbled in my head.
There is the ferment stage creating the yeast well not creating it is there it just needs the right conditions to create spores. Then there is the process of building this yeast up to strength enough to raise the dough (thats the every 4 hr part hu? then its a matter of maintaining it. I'm gonna have to get the books out.
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  #26  
Old 08-15-2007, 07:03 AM
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Default Re: Proofing - raising questions????

Uno,

Like I said, there are about a zillion ways of going about starting a culture, the main ones being using fruit and not. Some are incredibly elaborate and time consuming; unnecessarily so in my opinion. The easiest, most straightforward and successful method I've found is in Peter Reinhart's The Bread Baker's Apprentice, pps. 227-232. You start by making a seed culture. This takes four days, using a combination of dark rye and high gluten (strong) or bread flour. During this period, the culture is cut in half, then fed, then cut in half, etc. After four days, you move on to what he calls the Barm stage. Essentially, you're building up the seed culture with flour and water. This mixture won't achieve its full flavor for several weeks, over several feedings, because lactobacilli need time to establish themselves, too.

Once the barm is established, some should be used and the remainder doubled for next time. It's that simple; no four hour feedings, no excessive time spent.

The pic I'm posting in the Gallery is of a feeding, build, elaboration, call it what you will, of 8 ounces of barm, plus 16 ounces of bread flour and 16 ounces of water. I let it sit overnight at room temp, and you can see, I hope, the frothy bubbles on top, as well as the bubbles deep in the mixture. At this stage, it's ready to use. I've made more than I need, but the rest will go back into the fridge until next time. This overnight development is an adaptation of Hamelman's method in his book: Bread.

As I've said elsewhere, it's important to use the best high gluten or bread flour you can get, plus the best water you can find. Sourdoughs of this sort are sensitive to water quality and the presence of grain sugars in the wheat.

As feedings progress, you can manipulate the sourness by using proportions of whole wheat or whole rye to increase it or going with straight bread flour to reduce it.

Jim
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  #27  
Old 08-15-2007, 03:20 PM
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Thumbs up Re: Proofing - raising questions????

Thanks for that Jim,
I will see if I can get the book and 'try' the wild yeast propogation.
I am leaning a little towards the dry yeast receipe, (Yeh, yeh, the bland easy way out, I know), but I don't honestly feel that my taste buds are that sensitive (or caring for that matter especially at this stage in the oven offerings), to 'appreciate the delicate nature of the special flours, yeasts and especially the tastes given off through buring almond or fruit wood'. I seem to be very happy with the results of burning dry gum (Eucalyt) timbers and cannot tast the oils given off during the burning.
I haven't yet developed a taste difference for the fresh or dry yeasts, maybe a little down the track.

Neill
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  #28  
Old 08-15-2007, 03:30 PM
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Default Re: Proofing - raising questions????

There is NO equal to naturally leavened bread in my mind. Maybe we could put together a "starter" exchange or something? Lets see.... who has more "copious amounts of free time" ?? ...and the room goes silent..

Hey thanks again Jim
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  #29  
Old 08-15-2007, 05:00 PM
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Default Re: Proofing - raising questions????

Uno,

I've dried my starter and shipped it to as far away as Arizona. It's chancy, but it can work.

Jim
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  #30  
Old 08-16-2007, 10:49 AM
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Default Re: Proofing - raising questions????

Jim
I couldn't really tell from the photo, is your levain softer or firmer? I usually work from the firmer, and less messy, mother "dough" as opposed to the softer versions. Just wanted to know what your preference was. I knew someone who spent a good bit of money on a starter from Egypt. He was very disappointed when after a few months his bread tasted nearly the same as loaves baked using one cultivated locally. Waste of money if you do it just for taste, convenience on the other hand is a better reason. My starter was developed using Reinhart's instructions from the BBA and I can say it was the least time consuming of any I or my wife tried. We did the fermented organic grapes and many other methods.
Best to everyone!
Dutch
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